Mission is a Trailblazer

Learn how a media company found a new way to pair storytellers with brands.

 
Small Business < 20
Salesforce customer since 2018

2

Podcasts Named "Best of 2018" by Apple

 
 

Media company Mission improves lives through the power of storytelling.

Most companies have a mission statement. The great ones live their mission every day. But straight up calling your company “Mission”? That’s setting the bar very high.

Founded by army veterans Ian Faison and Chad Grills and ex-Googler Stephanie Postles, Silicon Valley media company Mission produces original written, podcast, and video content meant to lift people up through the power of storytelling. The stories are backed by a business model designed to repair an industry Mission’s founders see as in need of repair. After adopting Salesforce Essentials and launching its podcast network early in the year, Mission took 2018 by storm. It became one of the most-read publishers on Medium, and grew its audience to millions of monthly readers and listeners. Two of its podcasts were selected as "Best of 2018" by Apple: Mission Daily and The Story.

Mission is a Trailblazer in media.

Mission’s mission, if you will, is to improve lives through the power of storytelling. For Chief Content Officer Ian Faison, the company mission — and the way the company pursues it — are one and the same. “You are what your business model is. Page views are not a customer-centric or community-centric metric,” he said. In other words, readers don’t read for clicks or page views, so why should creators create content with those metrics in mind?

Instead, Mission brings content creators and sponsors together to create high-touch branding opportunities in support of quality storytelling. “We want to tell stories to improve people’s lives,” Faison said. “It’s the antithesis of what you see on TV — talking heads yelling at each other.”

Mission works with advertisers to pair them with the right stories and storytellers, involving them in the content creation process from the beginning. This approach stands in stark contrast to the inventory-based advertising model that’s ruled the media business for some years now. CEO Chad Grills and Faison believe this model is broken, and that it leads to advertisers blindly supporting those screaming talking heads whom Mission thinks listeners and viewers have grown tired of.

To date, Mission has created seven original podcasts in its studio — a converted garage in Palo Alto next to the house where Grills and his wife, Stephanie Postles, Mission’s COO, live. "We started working on projects together as a way to stay connected when Chad was on deployment,” Postles said. “He's a writer, and I'm good at organizing everything, so it's just a perfect combination." The podcasts, four of which are sponsored by Salesforce, focus on marketing trends, IT trends, and the backstories of influential changemakers. Mission also publishes newsletters covering topics like business and IT trends, as well as health and self-improvement — what the company calls “accelerated learning.”

 
 

“Act like a big company now.”

Mission’s model is working. Its Medium channel counts more than 500,000 followers to date, and Faison has big plans for the future. “We’re doing more fiction this year, and partnering with bigger studios on more storytelling projects,” he said. Alec Baldwin and Jeffrey Wright are just two of the household names associated with Mission podcasts. And the studio’s new branded channels will combine podcast and newsletter subscriptions to deliver a unique combination of audio and written content around topics of interest — topics that organically align with sponsors’ business interests.

As part of its growth plan, Mission moved to Salesforce Essentials from another CRM platform it had been using. Faison was familiar with Salesforce from his first job out of the military: working in marketing and then in sales for another veteran’s media company. “It only took me two hours to learn Salesforce,” he said. Faison went from starting out at the bottom to being the number one sales rep in the company. He worked on strategic accounts and partnerships using Pardot, and went to his first Dreamforce in 2014.

When it came time for Mission to find a new platform to grow its business on, Faison looked to Salesforce Essentials. The company signed up for a three-user Essentials subscription, enough to cover Faison, Grills, and their head of business development. Even just three seats can be a lot of money for a small business, but one of Mission’s mottos is “Act like a big company now.” They transferred their data out of the old platform, and got up and running with Essentials in just two days. From there, the impact was immediate. “Within about 17 minutes of using it, Chad looks over at me and says, ‘It’s already working,’” Faison said.

 

Convert interviews into opportunities.

CEOs often don’t have the time to track all of their activities in a CRM system, but Essentials’ Gmail integration logs Grills’ email for him so the entire team can stay abreast of new opportunities. “When it’s tracked in email, it’s shared knowledge, and we’re good to go,” Faison said. Essentials makes it easy for Faison and his team to track their roster of guests and to track their sales pipeline, whether they’re in the studio or working from their phones on the go.

“Let's say we interview a thousand guests for podcasts next year. Many of them are CEOs, CMOs, CIOs — a lot of high-profile people who shape our pipelines,” Faison said. Essentials helps Mission turn those interviews — and the email correspondence around them — into opportunities instead of letting them fall through the cracks. “Essentials helps us on the creative side and the sales side,” Postles said. “Finding a product that can do so much for only $25 a month is what made us choose Essentials.” Faison will be the first to tell you that it’s money well-spent. “The cost of not having a CRM is the cost of not knowing where your things are,” he said.

Three Cs guide Mission.

Mission is guided by three Cs: community, customers, and creators. From the millions of followers who listen and read each month, to a growing roster of sponsors (including Salesforce), to the network of creators dedicated to their craft, those three Cs form the pillars of a new approach to the media business.

Behind it all, Salesforce Essentials is helping Ian Faison and Mission turn every interview into an opportunity to bring more quality content to their audience. “If you want to spend more time creating, and less time updating random stuff, Essentials is the way to go,” Faison said. Sounds like the right way to pursue a truly worthy mission.

 

If you want to spend more time creating, and less time updating random stuff, Essentials is the way to go.”

Ian Faison | Chief Content Officer
 

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