It’s getting harder and harder these days to grab your buyer’s attention. It used to be that you paid for some ads and published blog posts and you were pretty much good to go, but as these channels become less efficient, SaaS companies are looking to more sophisticated types of media production to reach their target audiences.
This week, HubSpot has announced a program give creators money and a platform to produce podcasts and release them on HubSpot website. The company hopes to take advantage of access to a wider variety of content while giving creators a way to reach a wider audience.
“Breaking into the saturated podcast market can be incredibly difficult, especially for creators starting from scratch,” said Kieran Flanagan, senior vice president of marketing at HubSpot. in a post announcing the news. “Through HubSpot Creators, we’re able to leverage our leadership position in content to raise the profile of emerging creators who share our mission to help millions of organizations grow better.”
In addition to gaining access to the company’s platform and potentially wider reach, creators receive a monthly payment that grows as viewership grows. HubSpot has created four stages of growth that align with the notions of venture capital funding: Seed and Series A, B, and C. They can also access other resources such as publishers and producers as they go. as they move through this system.
Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, thinks the approach is a really smart move.
“Embracing creators and helping them tell their stories allows HubSpot to expand its content ecosystem, but also to be part of the larger ecosystem of creators. This approach can allow HubSpot to build important relationships with individuals and communities as they evolve their own content strategy into other formats and channels,” Leary told TechCrunch.
HubSpot was born in 2006 as an inbound marketing platform, using blogs to generate interest in a company’s products and services. As the idea of content marketing evolved, Flanagan wrote in a post on LinkedIn announcing the new program as the original idea of inbound marketing still resonates and has gained prominence with the development of product-driven growth.
Another important element here is building communities – people who matter to you as a brand – around these pieces of content. Flanagan said communities create a way to generate even more interest, either directly (a percentage of those people become customers) or indirectly (they at least share your content with a wider world).
The company kicks off the program with eight podcasts with names like “Content is profit » and “(No)sexy.” These podcast topics tie in some way to HubSpot’s mission as a sales and marketing platform, delivering content that HubSpot hopes will spark interest in its products and services.
It should be noted that HubSpot is not alone in creating programs like this. LinkedIn offers a similar approach for creators, just like MailChimp. But is piggybacking on these platforms the best way for creators to build an audience? What are the trade-offs?
According to a non-public creator term sheet provided to TechCrunch by a source, HubSpot will pay creators a minimum of $1,000 per month for creating their weekly podcast, regardless of how many downloads it gets. This seems like a good deal for new podcasters, as it can take a while to get an independent show to the point where it’s generating so much revenue. Podcasters at this lowest “seed” level also receive a one-time marketing investment of $5,000.
But podcasters have to give up certain rights to access this quick cash injection. By HubSpot public creator program agreement, participation in the program grants HubSpot a perpetual license to their broadcast, including modification thereof and the creation of derivative works therefrom. If HubSpot deems a host unable to fulfill their obligations, HubSpot reserves the right to replace them.
While the creators remain the owners of their show, HubSpot’s perpetual license makes it clear that this financial support comes with strings attached.
“HubSpot respects the rights of creators, and they believe this strikes the right balance between creators and HubSpot,” a HubSpot spokesperson told TechCrunch. “HubSpot will also consider waiving exclusivity for creators who leave the program in good standing.”
LinkedIn also recently launched a similar podcast network, but declined to share details about its deal with creators. A LinkedIn representative told TechCrunch that its podcast partners “retain complete ownership of their content,” but did not elaborate on its licensing agreement.
But as more SaaS companies launch their own podcast networks, podcasters will face tough decisions about the value of their creative control versus the access to funding these programs provide.