Why SaaS Companies Are Embracing Owned Media and How to Make it Work for You

Hello and welcome to The GTM Newsletter – read by over 50,000 revenue professionals weekly to scale their companies and careers. GTMnow is the media extension of GTMfund – sharing insight on go-to-market from working with hundreds of portfolio companies backed by over 350+ of the best in the game executive operators who have been there, done that at the world’s fastest growing SaaS companies.

The B2B playbook is changing. This entire newsletter highlights key changes – from ecosystem-led growth, to the featured live events, to owned media.

On owned media, digital advertising was once the name of the game. However, the next generation of marketing emphasizes the importance of media that’s owned, not just earned.

So, owned media. What is it? Why are SaaS companies embracing it? How do you make it work for you?

We’ll break it down – let’s get into it.

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Why SaaS Companies Are Embracing Owned Media and How to Make It Work for You

Let’s break it down 👇

What is owned media?

Owned media refers to content distributed through a brand’s channels, including self-hosted video, company blogs, and email campaigns. Through these content channels, they can fuel conversations, educate the market, and build strong relationships with potential customers. 

Unlike earned media (press, customer reviews, and social mentions) companies have full control over owned media. This allows brands to be more intentional about messaging to make sure it aligns with their product and company values, and provides real value to an audience.

By distributing content on owned channels, SaaS companies are less at the whim of social media algorithms and anything that stands between you and an audience. Through these channels, you gain more valuable first-party data about customers and prospects to inform content and product decisions. 

Leveraging owned media for your GTM strategy

Owned media can fuel your go-to-market strategy in the early stages of building a company and beyond. 

Consider the overnight success of a celebrity-owned product. Because they’ve already established their brand, audience, and distribution, launching a product to their supporters garners immediate sales. 

Of course, SaaS products can be a harder sell than Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, but the same strategy applies: build value for your network before selling to them. This might look like: 

  • Community events
  • Campaigns and activations
  • Newsletters 
  • Podcasts
  • Thought leadership and other blog content 

Establish your brand as a valuable, trusted resource that aligns with your product, and encourages your community to follow along by subscribing directly to your content channels. By owning the distribution, you won’t be constantly at the mercy of algorithms associated with earned channels.

Learn through this example

AudiencePlus, a platform that enables B2B marketers to build, engage, and convert audiences through owned media, used this very strategy.  

Before launching their product or even telling the world what it did, AudiencePlus set their brand and media engine in motion. Through owned distribution channels, they spent the first year marketing the “problem,” rather than the product, to build an audience that could validate the brand’s story. This allowed them to find their product market fit early on, gaining feedback from their network to inform marketing decisions.

Simultaneously, they built distribution by driving people to subscribe to their content. By the time they officially launched the product, they already had an engaged audience. Through roadshows with portfolio companies, CMO events, and newsletters, AudiencePlus is able to resource target buyers without selling to them explicitly. As a result, 60-65% of AudiencePlus deals are sourced through events and content.

Crafting value for a persona

In addition to launching AudiencePlus, Founder & CEO Anthony Kennada was also the founding CMO of Gainsight, credited as creating the category of customer success in SaaS. 

When Gainsight was founded, there was no incumbent competitor in the customer success space and only about 100 customer success professionals on LinkedIn. Strategies like outbound campaigns and list building would have been ineffective. Instead, Gainsight hosted a conference about the practice of customer success, theorizing that through early conversations, they could create value for a persona who would eventually buy their software. When the conference was successful, they expanded the concept across different channels, developing content, launching a podcast, and hosting live workshops and virtual events. 

The proof of their success came when the company went from $0 to $100M in ARR, and was later acquired by Vista at a $1.1B valuation.

People buy from people

Part of a successful owned media strategy is having internal and external stakeholders who can authentically evangelize your messaging and give a name and face to the brand. These spokespeople can directly connect to an audience through content like webinars and video podcasts, lending authority and expertise to your messaging and forging strong relationships.  

At early-stage companies, the spokesperson is often the CEO or founder. As the company grows, you can transfer the brand equity from the founder to a “master brand,” engaging other employees, partners, or customers to represent the brand and contribute to your overall initiative.

Measuring the impact of owned media

Owned media is an effective strategy for lead generation, but proving its impact and getting buy-in from stakeholders can be challenging. The real value of owned media is in building an engaged audience within your customer base and prospects, which can grow the pipeline, assist sales in closing deals, and improve retention.

Here are a few benefit sticking points:

  • Owned media can be measured by subscriptions. Platforms like Substack and Patreon allow consumers to connect and support creators through subscriptions. A similar trend exists in the B2B world, with audiences subscribing to a brand’s podcast or newsletter. With subscriptions, SaaS companies are able to organically build a targeted email list. With “Subscribe” as their call to action, AudiencePlus has seen an 8-10% conversion rate, while conversion rates for traditional lead generation tactics like demos and sales calls are around 1-2% for a typical B2B SaaS company.
  • Owned media generates first-party customer data. By interacting directly with an audience and removing any type of third-party, SaaS companies gain valuable, first-party data to understand customer behavior and determine if those who engage with your content are likely to convert into an opportunity. From there, you have more data to strategically build a buyer journey for different personas.

🗓️ Don’t miss these upcoming digital live events:

Using AI to Coach Your Sales Team or Yourself – March 6 at 11am PST / 2pm EST.

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How to Build and Execute a Signal-Based Sales System – March 8 at 10am PST / 1pm EST.

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👀 More for your eyeballs:

Our mission at GTMnow is simple: to help you grow your company and career. We do this by sharing insight and advice on go-to-market strategies and tactics from working with hundreds of portfolio companies backed by over 350 of the best CRO/CMOs. These are proven operators who have gone from zero to IPO at the world’s fastest growing SaaS companies. 

But what you might not know is the backstory is a full circle moment. Max Altschuler is the General Partner of GTMfund. Prior to founding the venture firm, Max founded the media company Sales Hacker, growing it to a well established media brand leveraging marketing automation with ActiveCampaign to fuel its growth.

In 2018, he successfully sold the company to Outreach. Fast-forward to the end of 2023, and GTMfund acquired Sales Hacker, the company Max once started. 

GTMnow is now one of the largest media companies in the space including a newsletter (this one!) with over 50,000 readers, a weekly podcast listened to by over 600,000 tech professionals, a robust media website, and more. 

Notable M&A:

👂 More for your eardrums:

Amanda Cole serves as Chief Marketing Officer, leading the execution of the company’s marketing strategy to drive further business demand and brand awareness. Amanda is a passionate marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience in helping SaaS companies build impactful brands, communicate differentiated value, and grow high-performing marketing teams. She previously served as the company’s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, having joined in January 2021 through the acquisition of Exponea. Prior to joining Exponea, Amanda served as Vice President, Demand Generation at Blueshift, a Customer Data Platform, and before that served as Vice President of Marketing, Americas and Global Programs at Basware, a financial software company.

In this episode, you’ll get insight on the challenges marketers face with AI, the future of AI in marketing, the transition from data to storytelling, and leadership.

Listen on Spotify or find it anywhere you get your podcasts by searching “The GTM Podcast.”

🚀 Start-ups to watch: 

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🔥 Hottest GTM jobs of the week:

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That’s it, that’s all. 

Not only do we see the immense value of owned media from working with GTMfund portfolio companies and the broader SaaS ecosystem, we of course directly see the value ourselves as a media brand.

If you ever have any questions or are excited to hear more on an area of insight, leave a comment or drop me an email response.

For now, have a great weekend ahead!

Barker ✌️

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Before helping found GTMfund, Scott spent 4 years at Outreach as Director of Strategic Engagement. He was in charge of aligning key relationships with VCs, BoDs, ecosystem partners and community members to drive revenue and strategic initiatives across Outreach. Scott initially ran revenue/partnerships for Sales Hacker (which was acquired by Outreach in 2018). Prior to Sales Hacker, he led and built outbound Business Development teams at Payfirma and MediaValet. Scott also advises for a number of high growth start-ups and is the host/author of The GTM Podcast and The GTM Newsletter. At GTMfund, Scott leads all fundraising efforts and runs the media arm of the firm. He’s also responsible for assessing investments, team management, LP/community relationships and GTM support for founders.

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