Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I look to where the industry is going and what you should be paying attention to.
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Last week I talked about what it looked like to get to 100 newsletters. This week I’m talking about what’s next. I will resume regular programming next week, but for now, I’m asking you, dear reader, to buy something. That’s right... Here comes TMW’s first step into monetization.
The sales pitch
Announcing TMW PRO, a premium subscription for those who take the marketing technology industry seriously. After two years of building The Martech Weekly and serving readers from more than 65 countries, I’m now super excited to offer something that’s designed to help busy leaders stay in front of what’s an incredibly fast-paced innovative, and complex industry.
The PRO subscription includes:
📚 Sunday industry deep dive with charts and data
📰 Wednesday market review
📦TMW Vault - a searchable database of all newsletters with thousands of vetted resources
🔓 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked
What it does mean for subscribers that won’t be on PRO is they will receive the Sunday essay newsletter only. The weekly market recap is now for PRO subscribers only.
One of the things that I’m particularly excited about is the TMW Vault. It’s like a mini version of Google Search, but for vetted Martech resources from the newsletter archives. We all know that Google Search is becoming less helpful. TMW Vault saves me about 4 hours a week when doing research for the newsletter. Friends of TMW frequently use it to get at hand news, content, and resources to support their work. Now I’m opening it up to subscribers who upgrade.
TMW PRO is my attempt to go all in on subscription media to resource marketing and technology leaders from around the world. For the PRO subscriber, the Sunday essay will be longer with deeper analysis and the Wednesday market review will have its own space to analyze and review the most important news, ideas, and research from the week in Martech. I’m also working with a variety of partners to bring even more resources into the PRO subscription.
TMW PRO is offered for free to students and people who work in not-for-profits. There’s also an option to onboard TMW PRO onto an entire team with some additional products and pricing options.
Go ahead and try TMW PRO, with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The first Wednesday market review edition comes out this week.
/end sales pitch
Building a media brand, in a post-media hellscape
So let’s talk why I’m going all-in with TMW PRO. About this time last year, I was going to launch a paid subscription, but when I got feedback from readers all they wanted was a platform where they can get access to marketing technology industry research.
At the time I thought to myself that pursuing the idea of an expert network and research platform would be a bigger opportunity until I recently read Adam Ryan’s reflection about newsletter collective WorkWeek on their first 12 months building a media brand. One thing that stuck out to me was his framing of the importance and value of media brands:
“Great media companies have such strong cultural influence. They own the narrative. The best part of this industry is knowing the power of influence we can have over an audience.
It can change election outcomes, create “overnight” success businesses, or have thousands of people show up to eat a mediocre burger.
Let’s look at the LA Times. Objectively, they own the narrative of the most culturally driven city in the United States. When they put something as a cover story, it becomes something that people recognize around the world. The narrative control they have is unprecedented.
But… The 141-year-old LA Times sold for $500M a few years ago. This is a mere 5% of what investors recently valued the 5-year-old HR software company that Workweek uses. Media companies historically have horrible economic liquidity, specifically compared to SaaS businesses.
The media company that can create a media company where its cultural liquidity is equitable with its economic liquidity will be the most successful media company of our generation.”
The big insight here is the value of media brands to create influence. And although not as financially viable as technology companies or data platforms, they hold cultural importance, even in a post-media world where social media, search, and digitally native publishers disrupted the entire media industry into the ground.
We’re now in a very fluid, and somewhat equally chaotic and exciting phase in information history as social media platforms start to decline, new innovative companies like WorkWeek, Semafor, and the Every build media for niche markets while publishers like The New York Times and other legacy companies continue to own the lion's share of audience and attention despite years of digital disruptors entering the media market.
One surprising trend over the past four years is newsletter subscription purchasing championed by platforms like Substack. Customers paying independent content creators for news came out of nowhere and forced a new conversation about the value of news, research, and commentary content in a digital ecosystem.
Right now, the media industry is a hot mess. But it’s also an opportunity to build a company with a legacy for quality, impartiality, and veracity in new digital formats. One thing you can count on is that people will want to be informed about what’s happening in the world, and the last ten years of digital products have been unsatisfying – in the current digital experience we've been served divisive tweets, engagement baiting hot takes, listicles, sponcon and viral idiocy. I firmly believe that more than ever people want content that makes them think and not just react.
So why go all-in with TMW? One of my biggest frustrations way back in 2020 was the content firehose that news media became in the marketing and technology industries. Back then as now, it was hard to discern hype from trends, noise from signals, and articles from sponsored content.
Because of the sheer volume of content, remixed, pushed, and pulled on social media, there’s a never-ending feed of things for us to consume. The scale of which is overwhelming, to say the least - every second produces more than 6,000 tweets, and LinkedIn generates 358 billion content updates in your feed each year. When it comes to published media, the world’s largest media organizations are pushing out upwards of 500 stories a day. There's just too much to get a hold of. It's a content firehose.
Because of this, none of us really don’t have time to dig through it all to find the main things that are driving an industry forward, the consequence being a lack of relevant, helpful information from which we base our product roadmaps, customer experience strategies, and company directions on. How are we supposed to respond to change, when we can hardly step out of the firehose?
And over the past few months, there’s been a lot of change driving the industry forward. From increasing pressures put on customer data collection and use from a privacy perspective, acquisitions like Adobe and Figma, the emergence of generative AI applications that will influence how content is created and data is analyzed, and the growing trend of Martech founders building products on the data warehouse, this is just a small sampling from the world of Martech over the past few weeks.
Martech, as an industry is unique in how much sell-side content proliferates the media domain. Almost all publishers in this industry accept advertising revenue from Martech vendors, run sponsored content from them, charge vendors to be included in their market assessments, expo booths, key speaking spots in conferences and to place them more favorably in technology marketplaces.
In so many ways, marketing technology companies are the ones directing discourse in the industry. To many, it’s a mild annoyance, to some it’s a pain, but to me, it’s an opportunity to create a media brand based on trust. And trust comes from being honest with readers about what you think about something. TMW has, and never will run ads.
This is unlike so many newsletter products in the world of tech or marketing. While some monetize with paid subscriptions, almost all of them drive revenue through sponsored posts or ad placements. And while I think that advertising is not all bad, TMWs opportunity is to make the reader its only customer and no one else.
Doubling down on curation and commentary
That’s why doubling down on curation and commentary is my bet on building a valuable media brand. By contextualizing media, research, and data for my audience, my job is to keep busy marketing leaders informed and ahead of what’s happening in marketing technology.
What could TMW look like in ten years? Who knows!? But one thing that’s clear to me is that there are now thousands of marketers and technologists that rely on TMW to keep them informed. There’s value in curation and commentary.
My hope is that The Martech Weekly can play not only a role in informing people who work in the industry but also raise awareness on the impact the technology we’re working on every day has on society, culture and business.
Helping others to make sense of what’s happening in Martech is my main goal with TMW. And with TMW PRO this will help the newsletter move into a new phase - from a newsletter side project to a media company built by and for marketing technology professionals.
Asking readers like you to purchase a TMW PRO subscription plays a big part in moving into this new phase of the newsletter. To achieve this vision TMW will never take sponsorships or run advertising and that’s why we need your help. Revenue will help TMW to create even more resources for marketing technology leaders with deeper research, insightful commentary, and critical analysis.
We’re living through one of the most fascinating times in the history of marketing technology, and it’s only accelerating. Get ahead of it all with a TMW PRO subscription.
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Want to share something interesting or be featured in The Martech Weekly? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.