Today, it is vital marketers help customers discover and adopt their products and services until they become the de facto solution. But customers are looking for a relationship with a brand, not a transaction.
A podcast is the perfect way to build a relationship with consumers to increase all stages of your funnel. Benefits include:
- Extended audience visibility to prospects
- Increased brand affinity
- Subject matter authority
- SEO dominance
My goal today, is that you have at least one big idea on how you can leverage podcasts to build a deeper connection with your customers. My second goal is that you leave here with a tactical plan to execute your idea.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a real tactical plan that you might even decide to execute.
Already have a podcast? I’d love to hear from you! Please offer any feedback on the template and this blogpost to @jaminbrazil. I’ll also be happy to give you a shutout if you use find any value in this content.
Biggest Problem with Podcasts
One of the biggest problems with podcasts is that it is hard to quantify the outcome.
This puts podcasts into “branding” which is always less important than measured spend.
But! There are ways to measure the impact which will help you justify the investment and help your company achieve their full potential.
The Podcast Template
I have put together a one-page worksheet designed to walk you through the process of creating and maintaining a podcast.
What is brand?
Let’s start with the question, “What is a brand?” There are many different definitions. The most popular is, “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. ‘a new brand of detergent.’” So, for example, Tide is one of many detergent brands.
From my point of view, this definition is dated. It limits the brand to a problem and solution framework that ultimately degrades into a set of features such as power of cleaning, fresh smell, whiteness, sanitary, price, etc. In this framework brands frame themselves as commodities.
Now let’s take a look at the modern definition. According to Ignyte Branding Agency, a brand is the way a product, company, or individual is perceived by those who experience it. This is about relationships. And, relationships transcend features including price.
The job of marketers
Our job, as marketers, is to help customers discover and adopt our products and services until they become the de facto solution. Do you want to know who is doing this really well? Qualtrics.
They are not selling a survey platform. They are selling an experience platform. Oh, BTW, it is really just a survey platform. But that isn’t how they think about it.
Their intent on building the de facto solution manifests itself through everything they do.
How Qualtics achieved market dominance through brand
At TMRE, back in 2018, Qualtrics announced their 26 new templated survey options. Now, these are just templated surveys. But to celebrate they started a “Dream Team” that would literally make your dreams come true.
They gave you an email address and phone number to make your requests. People got in room dining, golf trips, messages, and job interviews. Qualtrics even had exotic cars at the event for people to drive along with professional drivers.
Their marketing team connected unique and exotic experiences with their brand. Brilliant.
Podcasts can help do this too.
But, to understand how podcasts can drive your brand, you need to understand the answer to this key question…
The most important question we never ask
“Why do your customers choose you?”
There are many ways to get to the bottom of the mystery of why you vs. everyone else. For this, I’d recommend using the “Five Why” line of questioning. For those unfamiliar, the Five Whys are primarily used in problem solving.
The questioning can be taken further to a sixth, seventh, or higher level, but five iterations of asking why is generally sufficient to get to a root cause. The key is to encourage the trouble-shooter to avoid assumptions and remove layers of abstraction to understand what the root cause of the problem actually is.
However, this works great for customer discover. Here is an example of what this looks like in practice…
- Why did you choose us? Because I had a project that you are a good fit for.
- Why are we a good fit? Because you are faster than your competitors.
- Why is speed important? Because my boss measures my performance on how quickly and accurately I’m able to get to an answer.
In just three questions, we identified that you are being chosen because the customer is making a career decision. So, what are your customers really buying? How does that matchup to what you are selling?
This will help inform your meta. Marketing needs to be clear but it needs to address your customer’s “why.”
Action: We will spend the next 60-seconds doing a micro brainstorming session. Write down 3 customers you will interview.
Outcomes of your podcast
There are many many benefits to having your own podcast. These are three that I think are huge.
First, you can access anyone. Lets say I want to sell you a survey platform. My outbound rep or sales person will send LinkedIn DMs, cold emails sequences, and even phone calls. The whole thing is to try and get a meeting so you can pitch the customer. Well, there are five to 10 other companies doing the same thing to your prospective customer.
To combat this, we, being brilliant marketers, put webinars together or other interesting reports designed to grab the attention of your prospects. The problem is that your topic needs to be top-of-mind for your prospect at the exact moment you send the email. There is so much spray and play in marketing.
A podcast transcends this. Instead of trying to sell them on your value, you ask them to sell you on theirs. You offer them a platform for expressing and connecting and giving back. For them, it is a voice amplifier that they simply don’t have access to without you.
Before starting my podcast, I was selling into middle management. Now I have access to pretty much anyone. For example, I connected with the head of insights from GoDaddy. She was a guest on the podcast. Then, I DMed GoDaddy’s CEO letting him know about the episode and he added me to his network.
Podcasts are the perfect product placement.
During 2020 I did two standout series:
- The role of diversity in your research team
- The anatomy of a good research question
Let me explain my format. I pick a specific topic that is trending or relevant in or around market research. I then identify experts among brands that I think would have a great POV and I do about five interviews.
For diversity, I connected with Maya Kantak, head of insights for Disney Parks and Pepper Miller, founder of the Pepper Miller Group. For the anatomy of a good research question, I interviewed head of insights from the Gap and head of UX from Shopify.
After these interviews are completed and produced (but not published) I do a capstone episode that is about 15 minutes long. It weaves excerpts from each interview into a story that is both informative and entertaining.
We will talk more about format later. But, I know many of you have not listened to my show and we need to context so you can understand how you can feed your brand as “the authority.” In 2020 I had two colleges thank me for the show because they now use my capstone episodes in their curriculum.
Where do podcasts fit in your customers’ journey?
Now lets look at the customer journey to see where podcasts can best be leveraged.
We crave human connections above all else. Podcasts are perfect for that. When you think about your content, think about your audience. What do they care about? I have three types of listeners:
- Brands: They use the podcast to safely and discreetly curate prospective vendors.
- Sales People: They listen to brand interviews and use it as a foot in the door.
- New Entrants to Market Research: They listen to deepen their understanding of the space and get to know key players.
So, I design my questions around each audience type. For example, anytime I interview a brand I ask, “What problem do you have right now that you wish someone would solve?” This is perfect for sales people.
My point is, create content that is highly relevant to your target customer.
Consideration stage in sales is when there is some dialogue (you may or may not know about it) happening within the customers’ walls about potentially choosing you. One of the best ways to improve your chances is by creating social proof and fear of missing out (fomo). As we’ve already discussed, these both come through brand association.
The final stage in the sales funnel is purchase. What if you had some unique service or product specific content that was only available to customers? Would that help? The content should be highly curated around your customers’ “why.” For example, thinking about our customer who buys because speed improves their career advancement. What if you had an episode on exactly this point. Break down time savings, ROI, impact to gross margin, etc. Really illustrate how they are the tail that wags the dog of success because they are using you…but in a practical way.
New customers are hard to get. So, love the ones you have. In fact, 80% of your organic growth should come from existing customers. Cultivate loyalty by having guests your customers want to hear from or by having them on the show.
ACTION: What stage do you want to engage your audience?
We covered a highly simplified customer journey. At what sales stage do you want to engage your audience?
Is it at the awareness stage? If so, think about trending topics that have marginal connections but are widely interesting to your target customer.
Consideration stage? Maybe more subject matter expertise relative to your core offering. For example, if you are a focus group facility, do a series on, “What it is like for a participant post Covid.”
Loyalty? Consider interviewing existing customers or highlight work they are doing that is public. For example, the Gap’s commitment to carry extended sizes to help combat body image and support inclusion.
Action: We will spend the next 30-seconds doing a micro brainstorming session.
Step 1: Establish your Goals (OKRs)
There are at least a hundred reasons to do a podcast. Most of the time, when I ask, “Why are you doing a podcast?” I hear, “It is part of our marketing strategy,” or “It is another way to get in front of potential customers.”
Both of these are good answers. But, be specific. Have a specific goal. I have listed three common ones here:
- Improve top of the funnel
- Gain an audience
- Establish subject matter expertise
But there clearly are many others. Try and be specific with yours. Go ahead and write one down now. You can always change it later.
Step 2: Define what to measure
Now that you know your Objective and Key Result (OKR) it is time to figure out how to measure it. Many years ago I had a board member tell me, “Document your objective so you get credit for achieving it and it just doesn’t look like an accident.”
Have a clearly documented and simple to understand picture of what success looks like. It should directly drive your OKR.
Here are a few examples:
- Want to improve your lead volume? Use a referral code in your podcast. You’ve all heard it, “For a 20% discount, visit XYZ.com and enter 123.”
- Building an audience? Measure downloads per month.
- Establish your brand as subject matter experts? Measure number of interviews with relevant and respected guests.
There are many things to measure. The key is to pick just one and stick with it.
Once you’ve established a baseline. Then it is time to establish a reporting cadence.
Step 3: Establish your reporting cadence.
As companies get bigger, it is harder and harder for everyone to know what marketing is up to. Podcasts can be a unique asset to the entire organization.
They can be great for Project Managers to share with the people they service. They are great for Account Execs, sales, etc. etc. Literally everyone in the company that interacts with a customer can add value by talking about the podcast to the customer.
I recommend having a one page very simple and lightweight PDF that is distributed to the entire company and highlights in your all hands meetings.
By reporting on your OKR you are given a platform to talk about recent episodes, why customer care and how successful employees are leveraging the podcast to generate oversized returns.
Step 4: Create a content calendar
Every marketing division has its own content calendar. This is the blueprint for the entire calendar year. Here are a few things to include in your content calendar:
- If you are just starting, get five interviews in the bag before you publish your show. Then make a release schedule based on those interviews. Releasing episodes consistently is key.
- Make use of time blocking. What is time blocking? Create specific calendar items for your work. Then, you will not give in to doing the tasks that will keep you from launching and growing your podcast.
- Take a look at our worksheet. The right-hand side has a time blocking strawman designed to help you set aside the right amount of time for a successful show.
Honestly, if you are not investing in all three areas then you are reducing the impact your podcast will have by two thirds.
How to build an audience?
At the time of this quote, Edwin had helped create the largest Facebook Group. The topic was food. My question to him was, “How did you build the largest Facebook Group?”
“It is easy. If you want to build an audience just go to where the people are and talk about what they want to talk about.”
Step 5: Show Format
Before you choose a format for your show, it helps to understand what everyone else is doing. While you don’t have to be like everyone else, there are good reasons that podcasters stick to the following popular podcast formats.
Each has their own pros and cons. As you go through the following list, ask yourself which would be right for your show.
An interview style show features a host (or two) who interviews a new guest in each episode who brings their unique expertise and experience.
After a brief guest introduction, the host takes over asking questions to guide the conversation around the episode’s topic working to unpack their stories and lessons. Since each guest is different, it’s best to stick to central them to keep your show cohesive.
Other popular show formats
The solo/monologue podcast format
This podcast format is fairly common. It’s used by people who have a specific kind of expertise they want to share. There isn’t much fanfare or setup. You simply talk into a microphone. Many new podcasters start with this format because it’s so simple. All you need to get started is a microphone and some free editing software.
- You don’t have to rely on anyone’s help or involvement. Everything happens on your own schedule and at your own pace.
- Your audience comes to know you intimately. This is powerful for brand building.
- Editing one voice is much easier than editing multiple tracks.
- If you don’t like how you said something, you can simply say it again and cut out the bad bits.
Conversational/co-hosted podcast format
This is another common podcast format. It involves two people having a straightforward conversation who generally have great chemistry together. Unlike an interview podcast format, however, these two people are both hosts.
- You’re only responsible for half the conversation. You might also split up all the other tasks that come with producing and promoting a podcast.
- Fans feel like they’re part of a club or group, especially when the hosts create an entertaining, friendly environment.
- It’s easy to listen to an organic conversation rather than a prepared script.
Non-fictional storytelling podcast format
Non-fictional stories are podcast episodes about real life events. You might dive into a series of murders, chronicle an expedition up Mount Everest, or recreate a historical event. You can tell one story per episode or span your story across an entire series. Or you could simply report the news.
- This podcast format is highly addictive for people who want to know more about a specific topic.
- You can splice in other audio elements, like news broadcasts, movie clips, or environmental sounds to enhance the experience.
- There are unlimited stories to choose from.
Repurposed content podcast format
Repurposing content is when you take content that already exists and transform it in a way to get more value out of it. You might add to it, split it up, or transpose it to a new medium. Some bloggers simply take existing written content and repurpose it into a podcast for an audio experience.
- Easy to produce this content because you already have it. You just have to do some editing to format it like a podcast.
- Since you don’t have to make the content, you don’t need a big budget.
Step 6: Write a Script
To end, write your script. I write each intro and outro as well as have a discussion guide which is provided to the customer ahead of time.
- Keep published episodes to a specific time that is ideal for your listeners. This will ensure your audience is getting to the end of your episodes as opposed to consistently listening to only the beginning.
- Ask consistent questions across your interviews. This will allow you to write blogs about the consistency and differences of your guests and their POVs.
- Take the time to script your intro and outros. This will create consistency for your audience and add professionalism that will help attract new guests.
Here is an example of my intro. I am very intentional to steer clear of adjectives when introducing my guests, their achievements, and their companies. However, that is my voice.
Establish your voice. I’d recommend spending five to 10 minutes documenting what you like about your favorite podcast host. Include their tone, word choices, and style that you want to emulate. And, stay consistent.
If you do decide to do an interview format podcast, determine your ideal length of interview. I have found that containing a time constraint keeps the conversation moving along which might be a better outcome for the audience.
Step 7: Convert your podcast episode into a Blog Post
Discoverability is the key that will unlock access to your audience. One of the best ways to improve your discoverability is to have SEO that places you on the front page for keywords that are used by your audience when they are seeking content, entertainment, or knowledge that is covered in your podcast.
The process around creating a blogpost is straightforward:
- Get automated transcripts of your episode. Note, transcripts do not perform well for SEO because they are not consumable by humans which is a factor in Google’s page ranking algorithm.
- Create headers for each question
- Reduce the conversation to brief bullet points.
- Keep your paragraphs to three lines of consecutive text OR LESS. You want to create white space to improve skimmability.
- Add an audio player to the top of the page.
- Add graphics. You can easily create graphics using PowerPoint Smart Art.
There are volumes on the topic of writing a quality blog post that achieves first place SEO. Podcasts offer the perfect core content that you can use to create your 1st place blog post.
Step 8: Promote your podcast
Three ways to get your podcast in front of your audience:
- Post about your interviews on platforms where your target audience is already spending their time.
- Warning! Having a multi-channel strategy is beneficial but keep in mind the context of each platform will drive the messaging and creative which can quickly become too burdensome. For me, my audience is on LinkedIn. So, about 95% of my effort is there.
- Always tag your podcast guests in your episode posts.
If you plan to use any of these insights, I hope you’ll let me know. I’d love to have the opportunity to partner with you to help you achieve greater connection to your audience.