A Canoo for Two

Abby Sullivan Jan 24 2020

We know brand awareness is important, but are you going too far? Plus, today we see sports raise $50 million, by way of the Athletic. And an urban electric vehicle company with… a waiting list?




Your top subscription news

Do you like me? Or do you like like me?

We know the idea of “brand affinity” has been this sort of buzz-worthy, industry-trending topic. There’s a huge surge in the content marketing sphere, supplemented by social media madness and competition for eye-catching, compelling ad space. But since marketers today have nearly all the same tools at their disposal, there’s an issue here. 

Wistia, the video software platform we know and love, reminds us that businesses have focused so much on making people aware that they exist, they’ve lost sight of what matters most : getting people to actually like their brands. So they dropped a blog post all about the common problems that marketers face when focused too much on brand affinity

Which is kind of wild, because the Wistia team is essentially comprised of brand affinity masters. Wistia defines brand affinity as “The most enduring and valuable level of a relationship between a business and consumer, based on the mutual belief that they share common values.”

And that’s really what caught my attention with this one. So here’s where we need to steer clear. 

First up, stop measuring your success by vanity metrics, like views and ‘likes’ on your videos, for example. They could point you in the wrong direction, because those measurements aren’t actually telling of whether a person is loyal to your brand or not.  

Number two: Your efforts don’t necessarily convert to revenue. Traffic and impressions don’t always equate to resonance, and they certainly don’t guarantee more revenue. Here’s a harsh example: The team at Wistia once spent $2 million on an ad campaign that featured some of their most creative work to date, they say. With 43 million impressions, it certainly seemed like a successful campaign. 

But once they dug deeper into the data, they found out that their campaign generated the same amount of web traffic as a reasonably successful blog post, converted minimal leads, and generated barely any business.

And finally, traditional tactics are getting more expensive and less effective. “As of this past year,” Wistia reports, “more than 25% of internet users in the United States used ad-blocking apps on their devices to help put an end to the noise.”

So what should you do instead? Focus on resonance over reach. Brand awareness is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle. Getting people to have affinity for your brand — in other words, to actually recommend your products or services to their people — is a much worthier investment for your 2020.

Here are some solid resources in this realm, so you can start cranking:

The Athletic
+ $50M

Normally I'm not the go-to gal for sports talk, but since this story's more so in the journalistic realm (and about sports' subsequent fandom), I'm going for it.

The Athletic, a subscription-based digital sports media company, has officially raised $50 million in a Series D funding round led by Bedrock Capital, now apparently valued at $500 million after this new raise.

"The success of The Athletic has so far played a very strong role in bending the narrative of ad-supported media business models to subscription-based models, which are much more aligned with what benefits the end customer." - Eric Stromber, Founder and Managing Partner at Bedrock

And that’s exactly why we care about this. Because now, The Athletic is considered an anomaly in digital media upstarts because it's focused on subscription revenue rather than advertising revenue. It’s been able to grow its subscriber base rapidly, especially overseas, while retaining existing customers.

The Athletic's strategy for the past three years has been to hire top-talent journalists in the sports space, getting people to pay for high-quality journalistic content. So this one proves what we’ve been preaching all along: People will pay for quality.

There ya have it. Subscription content—alive and thriving.

And now, we go Canoo-ing

...with Canoo’s electric vehicle subscription service. 

But not so fast, because apparently, there's a waitlist

From its beginnings in 2017, the Canoo team knew they wanted to run an urban electric vehicle company, offering an all-new pod-shaped EV to its subscription offering, which forgoes sales or traditional leases in favor of a recurring revenue model that allows anyone to get into a Canoo vehicle (for as long or as short as they like).

And the Canoo team just announced something called The First Wave, yet another way it plans to shine apart from the growing field of electric mobility companies. The waitlist is free and open to anyone, and includes a gamification situation that other startups and traditional automakers haven’t yet dabbled in.

With The First Wave, people who sign up will be responsible for finishing various tasks, like completing surveys and making successful referrals. And with referrals, you’ll take away prizes, like a Canoo hoodie or a design book. 

When Canoo actually launches its first subscription EVs—something that is currently scheduled for 2021 in LA, to be followed by other West Coast cities—whoever has the most points will get the first subscription.

And this is truly a genius idea. What’s better than a classic word of mouth referral and brand loyalty right off the bat? Not a lot, I’d say.

Weekend Wisdom with Brendan Schwartz

"We were just mimicking things that we thought real businesses should do."

Brendan Schwartz, Co-Founder and CTO over at Wistia, has spent a lot of time learning to trust his instincts. Because he knows big mistakes happen when you veer from your roots, pretending to be something you're not. Here, he shares his insight from being in the trenches and starting something powerful from the very beginning.


And that’s a wrap for your January 24 subscription news. Recruit your teammates into the subscription know: profitwell.com/recur/recurnow to sign up for episodes on the daily.

If you have news to share, hit me up at abby@recurnow.com and we'll collaborate.

By Abby Sullivan

Content Marketer

Subscription market insights you won't find anywhere else.