About Corey Haines
Corey Haines is the creator of Swipe Files and cofounder of SwipeWell. Previously, he was the Head of Growth at Baremetrics and the first marketing hire at Cordial.
He's invested in and advised over a dozen SaaS startups on marketing, growth, and launch strategies.
<div class="podcast-note"><span class="podcast-note-time">02:15</span>A Unique Membership Community for Marketers</div>
<div class="podcast-note"><span class="podcast-note-time">08:15</span>The Specific Needs of Non-marketers vs. Hardcore Professional Marketers</div>
We're able to kind of meet each other where they are and try to be as prescriptive as possible. But you know, largely I think that that's one of the big things that a lot of marketers need, because they might be a marketing team of one. It's probably the most common like persona that we have in the community is they don't have another marketer to go and ask a question of. They're not gonna ask their boss. They're not gonna ask an engineer at the company. They're probably not also gonna put out a feeler on Twitter either because it might be a little bit embarrassing in some ways, or just might not yield very good answers. And so in this way, it's basically a support group, right? It's we know this is a safe place to ask any sort of dumb question. In fact, that's one of like the basic values and roles of community is there are no dumb questions. And now they have a safe place to ask the real deeply technical challenges and really get into nitty gritty of what they're going through day to day on their job.
<div class="podcast-note"><span class="podcast-note-time">11:00</span>The Three Most Common Themes Marketers Need Help With</div>
<div class="podcast-note"><span class="podcast-note-time">13:20</span>What "marketing like a media company" Looks Like in a B2B SaaS Setting</div>
If you wanna market like a media company it really comes down to two things, comes down to treating your content like a product because when you're a media company, the content you produce is the product that it's the thing that attracts people through the door. And that is why they subscribe. That is why they follow you. That it's the thing that they are looking to you for. And two, is the media personalities behind the media company because no one follows a media company, they follow the news anchors. They follow the journalists, they follow the podcast voice. They follow the fill in the blank of whatever the person is (...) when you market like a media company, you're really putting plenty of flag in the ground of this is who we are. This is our team. These are the people, the voices behind the media company. And what does that look like in a B2B SaaS setting, right? Like it's kind of weird, but really that is the next frontier. That is what a lot of people are asking about is, Hey, how do I get buy-in from my boss to build a personal brand and grow my social media following on LinkedIn or on Twitter or on Instagram, even on, on TikTok or how do I get my boss involved as the founder or the CEO or the CMO in producing more content and giving them a voice in helping them build a personal brand or social media following.
<div class="podcast-note"><span class="podcast-note-time">17:55</span>The Two Types of Relationships Marketers Have With Performance Marketing</div>
<div class="podcast-note"><span class="podcast-note-time">20:50</span>A "crawl - walk - run" Approach to Marketing Like a Media Company</div>
The sky's the limit. If you just wanna get started, if you wanna start crawling, start really, really, really small. I think consistency is the key, but just ask about that question. If our content was the product, what would we do differently? We wanna start walking, thinking about media personalities in house, how do we get people in the company committed to creating that content and multiple people? And then run, you know, go for it, dream big. Really go for it, swing for the fences and think outside the box.
Okay, Corey, we're here.
We made it.
Let's start with the first question I have for you. Describe Swipe Files in two sentences.
So Swipe Files started as just a newsletter where I would do tear downs of landing pages and emails and ads, and this whole commentary about what makes them great. And since then, it's evolved now to be this whole kind of bucket of member benefits. So there's a community aspect. There are three courses I've produced. I do a live monthly office hours where people can come with questions and I'll help them brainstorm and problem solve for them. And so basically now how I describe it is it's a membership community. On top of that, there's also a newsletter and I write blog posts. I tweet all the time. I go on podcasts like this, but so Swipe Files is kind of my mini media company focused around SaaS marketing. If you wanna call it that.
I do wanna call it that. That's amazing. And you sort of have touched on this already just in the way you've described it, but how is this different than the other many B2B communities that have popped up, particularly since COVID?
Yeah, I think that a lot of communities have kind of popped out of actually marketing. They're sort of this marketing ploy to get people looped in and build a community. It's just like another tactic and strategy that people are throwing out there to see if it sticks and how it works. But for me, Swipe Files has been something that I wanted to build from the ground up very intentionally, not as a marketing ploy, but it is the product itself. And so there is no free version. It's completely paid. You have to pay annually upfront. So it's very curated in that way, where it's high quality. We really, really, really prioritize signal over noise. And so when you come in, it's not like the busy, noisy chatty communities like you might be used to in Slack, it's built on circle and the questions are really intentional and we get really in depth and there's these big, long, massive threads about you know, SEO and technical aspects of sub domains and like all the sort of nitty gritty things you'd really wanna get into with people who are really smart in SaaS marketing community.
Other than that, you know, I think one of the other aspects is that I'm really, really hands on with it. I think we all find with a lot of other communities is there's a community organizer, community manager. There might be like a founder quote unquote involved the community, but largely it's sort of like taking on a life of its own and to see there may be ebbs and flows with who's there who's around, who the active members are. I am always there. I'm always the first one answering questions. I'm always the last one, answering questions. People are, you know, basically I tell people, Hey, when you have a question, post it in the community. That way everyone can see it and we can all benefit from it, but I will go in there and answer it for you. So I'm very hands on that that way it's basically like asynchronous coaching or consulting.
I like that. You mentioned this a little bit. There's a community. And then there are other sort of modules almost to this membership. Can you walk through what all of those are?
I'm a big believer that community isn't just about connecting people together. It's about, it's about grouping people together, all who have a common goal and a common interest and something that you're striving to achieve, basically an outcome or a milestone that is shared between all the community members. And to do that, it's not just about like rah, helping each other, encourage each other you know, all sort of charge together to the battlefield. It's also about empowering people with content and with education and with actual tools and resources they need to achieve that outcome. And so part of that, for me, it's been developing three courses. They're all full length video courses, about 40 modules each, 10, 20 minutes long presentations, where I'm going through step by step instructions and examples and case studies. And they all focus on a different aspect.
So there's mental models for marketing, which is very high level sort of principles of marketing, what is marketing and how to loop in a lot of persuasion and sort of psychological hacks, if you want, if you wanna call it that. The next one is the five factors of growth, which is a real sort of framework for how to think about SaaS marketing and what actually drives the, what I call interdependent factors of growth, because you need customer research with a product with the right activation model and pricing model along the right messaging, positioning, Along with the right channels. And each one of those working independently doesn't work so well when, you know one of those other parts are broken and then the third one is marketing like a media company. And that's about scaling essentially. It's about this new paradigm of how do we break out of the mold of just tricks and hacks and optimizations, and really build a brand from the ground up.
And so each one of those really supposed to act as like a pillar of, Hey, whatever, you're struggling with, whatever you wanna learn about. Actually, I just had a call yesterday with a new member and he was, I also just hop on a call with every member if they want to. And I was like, well, why don't you just it to me, like, what are the areas that you're struggling with? And then I was able to prescriptively say, Hey, you should go through this module, that module, jump over to this section, skip over these parts over here, but just really zero in on, these are the exact places that you need to be. And that way it gives them a really quick win. They can go in there and get actionable advice. And then with all the nuances of how that advice applies to their business, to their situation, then they can come in the community or they can DM me on Twitter. Send me an email. And they already have all that information to work with now. We're just kind of like making the fine tunings, right. We're making the tweaks to really apply it to their situation. But yeah, I mean, in a nutshell, the, like the overall member benefits are the courses, the live office hours sessions, access to me where I meet with all the members and on top of the community itself, right. Where people are connecting with each other, making great friendships, helping each other out, answering questions.
And what are you hearing from your members? Where are they kind of pulling the highest value?
I think that for a lot of people, they, we've sort of split into two buckets. There are non marketers, essentially we have founders, developers, indie hackers, people new to marketing or in a tangential role to marketing where they're doing it, but they're, it's not like official part of their job or what they would consider themselves. And then we have like the hardcore professional marketers. And they each come with a little bit different backgrounds and they each have very different things that struggling with or the ways that they get value out of the community. I think that for a lot of the founder, hackers developers, non marketers, essentially what I'm trying to do for them is help them wrap their, their mind around what is marketing really even mean. It's not just about advertising. It's not just about growth hacks, right? It's about, it's all encompassing way in order to get in front of the right people at the right message at the right time.
And, and then I'm also providing really actionable kind of playbooks, like, all right, you know what, you wanna launch on ProductHunt? Here's the exact step by step playbook because you probably have never thought about this ever before, and we definitely don't want you to wing it. So just follow this checklist step by step. Whereas with the marketers they already have a good amount of knowledge. They already have a good amount of experience. They know what they're doing, and now they're just looking to expand their skillset and really get into the nitty gritty of like the deep challenges of, Hey, you know, we're investing in SEO and we sort of hit a ceiling, a plateau. We're not really sure where to go from here. Do we build more links? Do we need to go back and rejigger our content?
Is it our site map, is there a technical issue? And now we're like deeply getting into the weeds with the professional marketers and each one of the scenarios, you know, we're able to kind of meet each other where they are and try to be as prescriptive as possible. But you know, largely I think that that's one of the big things that a lot of marketers need, because they might be a marketing team of one. It's probably the most common like persona that we have in the community is they don't have another marketer to go and ask a question of. They're not gonna ask their boss. They're not gonna ask an engineer at the company. They're probably not also gonna put out a feeler on Twitter either because it might be a little bit embarrassing in some ways, or just might not yield very good answers. And so in this way, it's basically a support group, right? It's we know this is a safe place to ask any sort of dumb question. In fact, that's one of like the basic values and roles of community is there are no dumb questions. And now they have a safe place to ask the real deeply technical challenges and really get into nitty gritty of what they're going through day to day on their job.
So you mentioned that you're, that you've got a lot of marketers of one. Are you noticing any other trends by way of the kinds of questions people are asking or the main struggles that people are having? Is there anything that pops up for you since you've been, you know, kind of curating this for some time now?
I would say the, probably the three most common themes are around launching cause there's a lot of founders and developers who are, you know, working on a product and then once they feel like it's sort of ready, quote unquote, then it's sort of like, oh, now what? What do we do? What's the launch strategy look like? How do we actually get users for this thing? And so launch strategy is definitely a big question and just, how do I find the right people and where do we launch? How do we get press coverage? Do we launch from Product Hunt? What are other ways we get early users. Another big one across the board, it's always landing pages. Rightfully so. I mean, it's probably the most important marketing asset that you have as a company, basically a hundred percent of people are gonna go through the landing page.
And so you wanna put your best foot forward there. And so a lot of questions around what makes a good landing page and what do you think of these headlines? Some we have several users who will often come in and say, okay, it's time for our quarterly test. Do you like version A or version B or what do you think about this new positioning that I'm working on? And so they're trying to get feedback on their work so far, or even like the approach to building a good landing page. And then actually pricing is another really big theme. What to charge, how to charge do we do a free trial? Do we do freemium? How do we mix in a sales process? Or what do we do with enterprise customers? How do I get my customers to upgrade after they've used up their quota?
Or how do I get them to upgrade after they've expired their trial? A lot, a lot of pricing questions. Like there's a lot of nuance needed in there, right? It's again, one of those things where, like, who do you ask about that? It's a, it's a very delicate subject within a company and it's all, it also requires a lot of context, a lot of nuance when you're talking to someone else about it. So you don't just wanna ask anyone. You also don't wanna like put something out publicly, cuz it's kind of weird to talk about pricing publicly. So again, they need a place to talk about pricing, really hash out all the nuances of what's the right activation model versus the pricing model, free trial or not, freemium, et cetera. There's a lot that goes in there
Because you have such a large community of marketers in particular. I'm curious, are there a lot of conversations around, for lack of a better way of putting it, I'll put like the new age of marketing. Like are there a lot of marketers that are coming into the group saying I'm really tired of some of these like old B2B tactics that I feel like my grandma did and they're not working for me and I'm running up against, this is something that we hear a lot, I'm running up against my executive team or my leader team who are still forcing me to generate a certain number of leads or MQLs every quarter. And I don't know how to get out of this kind of rat race. And I'm really siloed from sales. What, you know, is this something that you're hearing as well? And, what are those conversations look like?
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's, that's another reason why I created the course, marketing like a media company. Cuz I just kept hearing the same thing over and over again of like, what else are we gonna do if, you know, if like we're just gonna be on the same old ads, on the same old sales process, you know, do our webinars and our case studies and it just feels kind of boring and bland and, it doesn't work really to a large degree too. It just starts to feel, you start to feel the fatigue and the lack of interest from prospects and the lack of traction. Where just like when you put a message out there and it sort of crickets. Right. And so hundred percent, I mean, I went down a deep rabbit hole maybe in like September or October of last year in 2021 where I kept hearing all over all over the place like you should be marketing like a media company or the best marketing teams look like a media company.
And it got a lot of tweets or a lot of, a lot of likes, a lot of retweets, but like what does that actually mean? You know? And I was kind of like, I know that sounds good. And it makes like a great sound bite, but like what does that in practice mean? And look like. So I actually went and investigated. I spent a couple months really digging into it, trying to research and, talk to marketers at companies where it seemed like they were exemplifying that statement. Where they're exemplifying what it meant to be a like function and look like a media company from the inside. And it turns out that there's a lot of things that people are doing differently.
There's a lot of a lot of room to be had. I think one, one of the big things that's been a discussion point and one of the big kind of learnings for a lot of members has been, if you wanna market like a media company it really comes down to two things, comes down to treating your content like a product because when you're a media company, the content you produce is the product that it's the thing that attracts people through the door. And that is why they subscribe. That is why they follow you. That it's the thing that they are looking to you for. And two is the media personalities behind the media company because no one follows a media company, they follow the news anchors. They follow the journalists, they follow the podcast voice. They follow the fill in the blank of whatever the person is.
You know, we all have our favorite sort of sources of news and influence, but when you market like a media company, you're really putting a flag up, plenty of flag in the ground of this is who we are. This is our team. These are the people, the voices behind the media company. And what does that look like in a B2B SaaS setting, right? Like it's kind of weird, but really that is the next frontier. That is what a lot of people are asking about is, Hey, how do I get buy-in from my boss to build a personal brand and grow my social media following on LinkedIn or on Twitter or on Instagram, even on, on TikTok or how do I get my boss involved as the founder or the CEO or the CMO in producing more content and giving them a voice in helping them build a personal brand or social media following.
And does that even work? You know, David Gerhard just came out with "Founder Brand" which has been fantastic. And he's also exemplified this in a lot of ways with Drift and with Privy and all the other companies that he's advised and been a part of in the past. But a hundred percent, there are a lot of conversations around like people are just tired of the same old, same old tactics, the growth hacks and the sales process and the, the this and the that that just feels like it's been tried and true, but is waning and it's effectiveness. And also just marketers today are, I think are too creative to just accept that as a status quo. Like we crave more, we wanna create great content. We wanna build a brand. We wanna, you know, say something that's that's worth saying and really be proud of the marketing that we're doing. And so this whole like marketing, like a media company idea has definitely been floating around the community a lot.
It seems like with marketers in particular, they're owning more and more of the buyer's experience. Like everything from brand awareness at the very top to post acquisition at the very bottom and unlike any other real department, it feels like marketing has their hands in every single thing. And not only is it becoming boring running these same playbooks, but it's becoming harder and resource strapped to do it across the entire experience. How do I staff for that? You know what I mean? Like this all feels sort of like interconnected. This huge problem around the way that we were taught marketing, the way that we measure marketing, the way that we talk to our sales counterparts about marketing's responsibility and how we, you know, also as marketers feel some integrity about the work that we do. Like how do we feel proud about what we're, what we're putting out in the world that has our name on it?
Mm-Hmm. It's funny because I think that you'll kind of see two things where either marketers have become really kind of jaded against performance marketing. And they're sort of just all in on brand and content and marketing like a media company where it's just sort of it's more about the art of marketing, right? And then you have marketers who are all about revenue and MQLs and hitting our numbers. And it's all just a, it's a little bit extractive, but I get it as well because you need to, you need to show the value and the proof right? Where are the receipts. And that's very performance driven. Think about it though, it's only been in the last 15 years, ish, that we've really been able to get the amount of data and and quantitative analysis on marketing. Before that it's always been content.
It's always been brand marketing. It's always been marketing like a media company. It's basically, it's become sort of like a, a crutch to look in Google analytics, look at whatever attrition tool that you want to. Any analytics tool and say, well, this is what's working. We just need to really do this more. The problem is that when you just keep extracting, you keep you keep taking, taking, taking, you never really give, then you end up sort of drying out the well, right. There's no more I love, I think it's Toby Lütke of Shopify, he calls it trust battery. This is more, he was talking about in the relation to employees, but I love it in the same way of marketing. It's like, if you're never recharging the battery, you're always just using, using, using eventually it just dies. And it's just nothing there left to take. And and so I think the same marketing, you have to keep recharging with brand marketing, but then you, you wanna take, you have to extract with some performance marketing, right. But you can't just be all in on one or the other because they both sort of have an end. The only sustainable sort of long term way out is when you can have a balance of both of them.
Yeah, yeah. Really, really well said. If someone else was, came to you and said, okay, I wanna, I wanna build my SaaS marketing, like a media company now. I'm ready to do it. Maybe Swipe Files can help me. Like, what are the things that you would share with them about how to how to go in on that while keeping this balance of brand and performance in mind?
I think there's sort of a crawl, walk, run approach where, you know, depending on your appetite, the culture, the abilities of the marketing team, or even the size of the marketing team, there's a lot of different versions of how this can play out. I think if you're just crawling, you're just starting out, you wanna kind of dip your toes in the water a little bit. Really just ask yourself that question. If our content was the product, what would we be doing differently, right. Or how would we be treating the content differently? Is our content a product, or is it not right? That alone can be a big paradigm shift in the way that you see marketing in the way that you produce content. That is enough to kind of like tip you in the direction of marketing, like a media company, where the content has to be valuable in and of itself.
It can't just be a means to an end for a signup or for some sort of revenue further down the line. Right. And that content can play out in a lot of different ways, really, that can be your personal brand, your social media following, that can be the blog. That can be a podcast that you start. That can be a video series. That can be an interview series on the blog. It can be case studies. It can be any number, I mean, the fun part about content is that you can, there are no rules, right? You can create any kind of content, in fact sort of the weirder and like the more novel the content is, the more interesting it is. And the more proud of your work, you're probably gonna be. If you wanna start kind of walking, used to go crawl now walk, you wanna take it to the next level. Maybe you're sort of bodying, you're starting to see some, some good results. I think that is the point where you really want to start building these media personalities in house, if you will. Where maybe that becomes you or the CEO or the CMO even, even sort of some sort of product person, the CTO or VP of product or someone on the technical side, if you're a B2B SaaS company where they can talk about all the nuances of the product and how superior their technology is, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But really we just wanna be thinking about how do we get into a cadence of thinking about our employees, our in-house media personalities, as someone worth following. Let's get them out on podcasts. Let's have them like commit to writing one blog post a month.
Let's have them commit to, you know, two tweets a week. Let's have them commit to showing up on this video series every other week with me. And then we'll kind of chop it up into these little sound bites, have them commit to anything that represents them, building themselves up as, you know, media personality within the company. Now, if you really want to run with it, and you really wanna scale with this, the sky's the limit really on what you can do. There are companies like HubSpot who just will acquire a media company, literally like The Hustle. Just drop, you know tens of millions of dollars on a company, and then integrate into your brand. Coinbase launched their own news division, where they have journalists on staff. It's Coinbase news, basically they said, we're tired of all the narratives that these these crypto you know, journalism or websites are spewing. We're gonna be the source of news. I think that's pretty badass. And that's a pretty good move to make.
You can acquire or partner with a community like Angel List did with Product Hunt or like Stripe with Indie Hackers. You can really just go all in, on producing high quality content. I think Wistia has always been up there as like cream of the crop of really embodying what it means to market like a media company. One of my all time favorite series is 1, 10, 100, where they gave a video agency, a video marketing agency, $1,000, $10,000, a hundred thousand dollars to produce a video for them as a, as a commercial, as an ad essentially. But then they documented the process of the video agency creating each one of those and then showed the final results of the differences of what 1000, 10,000, a hundred thousand.
And it just checks all of boxes of like, okay, really interesting premise, interests all the right people that they wanna get in front of, which are people interested in video and will eventually need somewhere to host that video. It's all about the creative process. It's kind of like three birds and one stone with like, you get the 1, 10, 100 videos, you also get the documentary of the one till 900, and then you get like the whole story of how they produced everything together and the end results of everything. But I mean, yeah, the sky's the limit. If you just wanna get started, if you wanna start crawling, start really, really, really small. I think consistency is the key, but just ask about that question. If our content was the product, what would we do differently? We wanna start walking, thinking about media personalities in house, how do we get people in the company committed to creating that content and multiple people? And then run, you know, go for it, dream big. Really go for it, swing for the fences and think outside the box.
I love it. Corey, thank you so much. Before we wrap, tell me where our listeners can find you and more info about Swipe Files.
I'm most active on Twitter at coreyhainesco. You'll see me tweeting lots of things. Mostly about SaaS marketing. Coreyhayes.co has all my projects and lists of things, but Swipe Files.com if you wanna sign up for the newsletter. Also, if people are interested in joining, I only do this for podcast interviews, but if they use the coupon code saasbreakthrough at checkout, if they wanna become a member, half off the first year membership. And so you can put a link in the show notes, or just remember that SaaS breakthrough should work if it's all caps or not.
Amazing. Oh yeah. We'll definitely put that in the show notes. Thank you so much. Corey, it was such a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your infinite wisdom with us. Really appreciate it. Looking forward to talking with you again.
Yeah. Pleasures on mine. Appreciate it.