Why so many SaaS companies are launching their own media operations

Around 2003, as blogs began to take hold in the internet psyche, it became clear that these writing tools could be more than an outlet for an individual’s ruminations — they also had vast potential for business and marketing.

In 2006, Hubspot launched as a way to take advantage of the trend, giving marketers a platform designed to get inbound leads via blog posts. That meant customers came to your website drawn by the content on the blog without a sales team explicitly having to call and ask them to buy something.

Around the same time, a marketing professional who had grown tired of corporate life, David Meerman Scott, was writing a playbook for marketers to understand this new way of delivering content. That book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” was published in 2007 and proved to be a seminal work in the field. It helped marketing teams understand they needed to produce compelling content, not reproduce the slick brochure copy of the past, on the internet.

It turns out that writing a corporate blog was just the first step in a longer, broader media journey. Over the past couple of years, we’ve started seeing content marketing take a leap forward as SaaS companies like Salesforce, Hubspot and Shopify began behaving more like media companies, with content at the center of everything they do.

But why is it happening? And, can startups imitate the sort of content production we’re seeing at incumbent SaaS companies?

It’s time for richer content

Although content marketing is evolving, as with any technology, the old doesn’t simply go away. The venerable blog post is not going anywhere anytime soon, but over time, companies have been layering on richer content like podcasts and video.

Last year, Salesforce took it to another level when it announced a massive media arm called Salesforce+. The company built a Hollywood-style studio to produce entertaining content with the ultimate goal of attracting customers.

In another example, Hubspot, which has expanded over the years to offer a range of sales and marketing solutions, last year bought Hustle. The deal included a free newsletter with 1.5 million subscribers, a subscription newsletter called ‘The Trend,’ and a podcast called ‘My First Million.'

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

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