Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

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Sweet Fish’s Birthday & the Evolution of Content-Based Networking

dog-wearing-birthday-party-hat

Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

Believe it or not, Sweet Fish wasn’t always a B2B podcasting company.

For our sixth birthday, we’re looking back on our humble beginnings and how they shaped what we do for customers today. It’s a story of twists and turns and Swedish Fish consumption.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the story of our conception and birth. 👶

Sweet Fish: The Conception

The year was 2015. It was a balmy, 50-degree January day in central Florida. Ryan Drawdy and James Carbary had just kicked off their first day as a blogging company.

They decided to call it Sweet Fish after James’ favorite Nordic candy.

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But there was trouble in paradise. James and Ryan came to the realization — as many new parents founders do — they weren’t making any money.

They had customers. Quite a few customers, actually. Just not the right ones.

There had to be a different way to get their ideal customers (those with 💰) into their sales funnel.

The Riches in the Niches

The duo decided to limit the types of customers they were working with and up their prices for more niche work. One particular customer they worked with was a church plant. Maybe that could be their target market?

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Indeed, Ryan and James began targeting church plants across the country. If they could take what they’d done for their first church plant and execute it for every church plant in America, Sweet Fish might actually become profitable.

[RELATED: Hear James and Ryan talk about what they almost called Sweet Fish.]

Meanwhile…

James and his friend Kenny had launched a podcast called Inspiring Awesome where they interviewed guests who’d done something, well, awesome. During this time, James realized that essentially anyone he asked to be on the show agreed to come on and be interviewed (aside from Taylor Swift).

Perhaps asking church planters to be on a podcast about church planting would be more effective than booking straight up sales calls… (Spoiler: It was.)

Podcasts > Sales Calls

People hate being sold to. So James thought…

💡 If they don’t want to get on a sales call with me, I’ll make content with them!

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And his plan worked… for the most part.

James developed a list of 100 church plant pastors and sent each of them a cold email, asking if they’d like to be on his podcast. 80 pastors agreed.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with cold email response rates, you’d be lucky to get one response out of 100. It was clear that people were excited about being on a podcast.

Something still wasn’t right, though. Through his conversations with pastors, James pretty quickly found that churches — especially new ones — don’t have the budget for Sweet Fish’s content marketing services.

Even so, Ryan and James knew they were on to something.

It’s Content-Based Networking

Baby Sweet Fish learned from the bumps in the road. And, ultimately, Content-Based Networking was the result of all the hiccups along the way.

Finding the Right Market

You see, James and Ryan discovered that they had the right process — it was the target market that wasn’t working. B2B companies, on the other hand, have the marketing mindset (and the money) that’s necessary for making Sweet Fish profitable.

Using the CBN method for B2B companies — reaching out, asking for a podcast interview on B2B Growth, fostering a mutually valuable relationship — was the exact recipe Sweet Fish needed to get off the ground.

More Than Blogs

It was clear to the Sweet Fish OG’s that they had something special here. Something that could help other people enjoy their jobs more and drive revenue at the same time.

If CBN worked for B2B Growth (aka, Sweet Fish), it could work for other people. And we could help them! So, in addition to blogs, the team started offering podcasting services to businesses that serve businesses.

Now, our customers are meeting their ideal customers via podcast interviews instead of awkward sales calls. Plus, we help them…

  • Launch their podcast
  • Identify potential guests (aka, ideal buyers)
  • Book guests
  • Figure out topics to discuss
  • Record interviews
  • Edit the audio
  • Write show notes, blogs, social updates, etc.
  • Distribute episodes
  • Repurpose episodes into other marketing assets like micro-videos

Since 2016, our team has been focusing on producing podcasts for B2B brands. Just think if Ryan and James never started Sweet Fish on that fateful day in January 2015.

Started From the Bottom

Now. We are here.

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Turning six has been really monumental for us because most new businesses don’t make it past five years (then throw in the dumpster fire that was 2020).

Not to get all sappy on ya, but it hasn’t been all roses and Swedish Fish — it’s been challenging. But through the ups and downs, our core values have kept us focused on the bigger picture:

  • Never Stop Learning
  • Own the Result
  • Love People Well

Cheers to 6!

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