Salesforce, Demandbase, and Terminus have each announced new streaming services for business users. And although they announced the same day and the reasoning behind the services is similar, each has taken a different approach to launch. Here’s my analysis.
Salesforce never does anything by halves of course, so it's no surprise that its new streaming service comes with a bang, pitched enthusiastically/optimistically - delete as applicable - as ‘Netflix for business’. Salesforce+ includes both live experiences and original content that supports pretty much everyone in business today.
The streaming service is run by the new Salesforce Studio, which includes over 50 writers, editors, directors, and producers creating content (with plans to bring in more).
When it goes live, it will have six original series, including:
- Connections - Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin talks to innovative marketers who are changing the way marketing is connecting with its audiences
- Boss Talks - career advice and professional growth
- The Inflection Point - looks at the career trajectories of big-name CEOs, including where they came from, their influences, and values
The service is also customizable to the viewer by role, industry, or topic, allowing the narrowing down of content relevant to the individual.
According to Salesforce, the pressure is on in digital-first world to shift to new forms of content delivery. CMO Franklin argues:
Over the last 18 months, we've had to reimagine how to succeed in the new digital-first world. We reimagined our events, shifting them to all-digital brand experiences and introduced new, relevant, original content. We’re not going back, we're creating the future now.
The idea is to give people the information they need to be successful and at the same time build a "social connection" that brings the company top of mind when it comes time to purchase products and services. Eventually the idea is have its clients produce professional content for the streaming service, which is an ambitious goal given the standards of Salesforce’s own content out of the gate.
There's a fair amount of chatter about Salesforce+ on LinkedIn, most positive. One of my favorite points came from Robbie Kellman Baxter:
What's really happening is that Salesforce is layering in more value, both in the form of "content" (the videos) and "community" (by inviting members of their ecosystem to create and share their own content). Salesforce has long been a favorite example of a Membership Economy company that continues to layer in more value for its members, to help them achieve their ongoing objectives and solve ongoing problems."
The streaming service goes live in September with Dreamforce, including a mix of 100 hours of live and on-demand content over four channels. We'll also see other Salesforce broadcasts like the Success Anywhere World Tour, Connections, and TrailheaDX streamed on Salesforce+, offering both live and on-demand content.
DBTV (Demandbase TV)
Jon Lieberman, Vice President of Content, Social and Influencer Marketing at Demandbase for Demandbase, has been at the firm for almost five months, coming in from a six-year stint at SAP, where he ran SAP TV. At Demandbase, he's responsible for the team that looks after all content, social, and influencer marketing.
Lieberman told me that Demandbase felt it needed to be more empathic to its audiences, and part of that was to provide more content in a digestible format - DBTV (Demandbase TV) . In his view, the company has been creating content that it thought its audiences wanted, but it wasn't actually asking them. So when Lieberman joined the company, he went on a listening tour across the company, talking to customer-facing employees about what content their customers and audiences were asking for. Video content was a top request, so they needed to fill that vacuum.
But it wasn't just a case of creating more one-off video content pieces. It was about providing a cohesive experience with content that is digestible, relatable, and in one place. As a result, Demandbase has developed a streaming hub where its audiences can consume helpful content that is geared toward personas and customer journeys.
The firm analyzed what content was to hand for defined journeys and identified the gaps that needed to be filled. They looked at metrics on current consumption, and they talked to people.
DBTV is the only one of the three streaming services announced that are live today. It launched with 70+ pieces of fresh content, including series like:
- I'm Thinking of - a thought leadership interview series talking to B2B experts on today's hot topics, including people like the CMO of HubSpot.
- What Customer Success Really Looks Like - customer stories
- Sunny-Side Up - a podcast talking to marketing and sales leaders on various topics
Lieberman talked about a series soon to come called "It's All B2B to Me." He described it as part entertainment, but also informative. It's hosted by Vin and Jake, two Demandbase salespeople with active LinkedIn profiles - you might have seen Vin's video where he gets Demandbase employees to eat hot chili peppers). Vin and Jake will be doing some ‘crazy things’ apparently, like singing a rap song - crazy! - and jumping out a plane to describe Demandbase's four clouds - OK, crazy!
Finding talent within the company to help with content creation is a critical factor in these corporate streaming services. Lieberman reckons that it is out there, you just need to look for it. Quality is going to matter as well - everyone with an iPhone can be a content creator.
Lieberman said almost all of DBTV’s content is created online through tools like Zoom. COVID prevented a lot of in-person shooting, (which kept the costs down considerably!) but that doesn't mean it came at the expense of quality.
Another advantage to DBTV is that employees are also ingesting the content and finding it helpful. And employees are like all people; if they like something, they'll share it. The goal in the end for Demandbase is about building brand affinity. DBTV does have some product-focused content, but there's also much more focus on the strategies and approaches to creating account-based experiences (ABX) today.
Terminus is also known for producing great content around ABX, such as Sangram Vajre, co-founder and Chief Evangelist, sharing his thoughts through books, webinars, and events. So a streaming service is a logical next step.
I spoke with Justin Keller, VP of Brand Marketing for Terminus, about their new venture - TerminusTV. He said Terminus feels a responsibility to marketers to set the standard of what B2B marketing looks like (and get away from this idea that marketing is boring). It understood that video was a critical format and started small with a video series called "The Roof." The idea, Keller said, was to give their audience consumable, tangible ways to interact and engage with the brand.
The web series did well, so they decided to go big and get an AppleTV channel and TerminusTV was born. It's not live yet - the launch date is set for September 20th - but the content is ready with 5-6 shows, including:
- Terminus Rockstars Unplugged - customer stories
- We Hired an Intern - follows the story of Keller hiring someone sight unseen who turns out to be a puppet (they hired a real puppeteer) and teaching him the principles of ABM
- Kicking it with Daniel - Terminus CMO, Daniel Incandela, talks about how marketing can and should interact with sales.
- The third season of The Roof
- Syndication of the BreakSh!t event
The new streaming service will also have a ninety-minute documentary called "7 Truths and One Lie" by Vajre and Terminus Chief Strategy Officer Brian Brown. Thislooks at the history, current state, and future of B2B through the lens of go-to-market (Vajre is coming out with a book on this topic as well). The documentary includes talks with market leaders like Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm), Christopher Lochhead, Sydney Sloan (CMO of Salesloft), Megan Eisenberg, and Scott Dorsey (founder of ExactTarget).
B2C and B2B's convergence plays an influential role here, as does the need for B2B marketers to step up and start acting more like their progressive B2C peers. That means thinking about what video content can do in a B2B context. Keller argues that people don't want to read ebooks anymore and they don't want to fill out a form for content that ends with a high chance of getting contacted by sales. Terminus wants to create content that people will consume by turning on the TV while warming up their dinner.
TerminusTV and DBTV will constantly be evolving. Keller talked about taking the documentary on the road and filling movie theaters with marketers. It will involve popcorn and question and answer time for Vajre and Brown. Now I would go to that – waaaaay post-COVID.
Lieberman said that the next evolution of DBTV would be a full content hub where people can "choose their own adventure." He said everyone consumes information differently, and they want to provide people with the ability to build a content experience the way they want. That includes persona, topics, format, and more ways to personalize their experience.
Importantly, the budgets are not significant for DBTV and TerminusTV (of course, that’s relative). Lieberman said you could replicate these streaming services in all sizes of companies. Keller said the most expensive part was the documentary (because there was travel involved), but that overall, the budget was low. For example, the Roof web series is filmed on an iPhone, and each episode is edited and turned around in about a day.
As for Salesforce+, one can only imagine where it will continue to grow and evolve and budgets will reflect that. Bringing in client content will be very challenging, but great for building out Ohana engagement, so a worthy aspiration.
I'm not going to call this the business streaming wars. I think there is room for many of these services from all types of companies. What would be cool for smaller companies that may not have the budget to create a standalone streaming service would be the emergence of a broadcast provider which would supply the streaming service infrastructure as-a-Service and allow companies to broadcast individual shows or series.
For now, I'm excited to dive into DBTV and TerminusTV, and Salesforce+ when they are live. Time to Salesforce+ and chill?