In this episode, Stacy speaks with Predictive ROI CEO Stephen Woessner. Stephen is a digital marketing authority, author, and host of the “Onward Nation” podcast who shares his knowledge on creating profitable podcasts for your business.
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- The O is silent. It’s Woessner.
- Just Woessner.
- Why do they put that Woessner? It’s screwed up everyone for you since childhood.
- I know. Stupid Germans. Seriously, I have heard so many creative variations. It’s [Woesner 00:00:16], [Woezner 00:00:16], [Wasner 00:00:17], [Weissner 00:00:18]. My favorite is [Wussner 00:00:20]. I’m like, seriously, how did you put a U in there? Nobody ever gets it right. I’ve thought about changing it many times.
- Well, you shouldn’t change it, but you should change it.
- Thanks for sort of not giving me a complex there.
- Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). Here’s your host: Stacy Jones.
- Today’s guest is someone that I’m so pleased to be speaking with and I wanna give a very warm welcome to Stephen Woessner. Stephen has hosted the Onward Nation podcast, CEO of Predictive ROI, and a digital marketing authority, speaker, educator, and bestselling author of three books. The Small Business Owner’s Handbook [00:01:00] to Search Engine Optimization, and Increase Online Sales Through Viral Social Networking, and, what may have become my team’s literal bible of late, Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans. An awesome book and if you have interest in podcasting, one you should rush to buy.
- I first met Stephen through an agency owner group that we both belonged and have had the chance to learn so much from him. Stephen has been absolutely instrumental in my turning our Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) podcast into one where we now [00:01:30] also interview specialists who can provide awesome insights to our listeners. While Stephen’s company specializes in all things digital marketing, one of the areas of his business that I am most impressed with is the division he’s built around creating owned branded content, where he and his team help B2B marketers create turnkey podcast programs to leverage as a marketing tool.
- Stephen leveraged his own knowledge of building a daily podcast where he has … and get this … as of today, 827 podcasts published to date. That’s a lot of podcasts. [00:02:00] Plus, Stephen happens to be one of the most positive people I know, which means just being around him is an absolute pleasure, which you are about to discover for yourself. I wanted Stephen to join our Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) podcast today to specifically talk about his experience in hosting, as well as building podcasts for businesses as there’s probably not a better expert out there to provide you with the knowledge of how to get started, and give additional information on what his advice is for companies who are interested in leveraging this fantastic marketing practice for their own brands and agencies.
- There’s a lot involved to creating a weekly podcast and there are a lot of mistakes you can make that Stephen’s experience and advice can help protect you from. Stephen, welcome.
- Well, thank you very much for the invitation, my friend. It’s a joy and pleasure always to spend time with you and thanks for inviting me here. This is gonna be a lot of fun.
- Of course, we’re so happy to have you again. You have quite the background in digital marketing and you’ve been doing this for the last 20 years. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got started in this field? How you got [00:03:00] involved in general? Where it actually led to you to becoming an every day podcaster for your business, as well as creating podcasts for other people too?
- As far as digital, I mean, that goes way back before the advent of the commercial internet. We’re talking early 90s. I got a start in an agency in Rapid City, South Dakota, as doing an internship when I was still on active duty in the [00:03:30] United States Air Force and, after that internship was done, I became a full-time member of their team and I’ve just always been interested in computers and networking and that kind of stuff. Not a maybe through-and-through geek, but kind of geeky.
- And then came the mid-90s and my wife and I, we moved to Wisconsin and I joined an agency there and we built one of the first websites in La Crosse, Wisconsin, if you can believe that and that was 1994, and I sort of was [00:04:00] hooked. I#m like, “Hey, this internet thing, this is kind of awesome,” and then once I saw the homepage for Amazon, I’m like, “Holy bananas. This is gonna be really, really interesting for how companies do business and relationships and all of that.” And so then that’s sort of started a 20, 25 year career in digital at several agencies and my own companies and whatnot. I just kind of fell in love with the development community. Built a voice around that that’s [00:04:30] helpful and being helpful to the community, and when you do that, they wanna support you. They wanna do business with you in whatever shape or form.
- How the podcast came about, how Onward Nation started, I would love to say that it was like this fanciful thing and we had this strategy for a while and then we decided to execute on it and, boy, was it flawless and blah, blah, blah. But as you and I both know this is about marketing mistakes and how to avoid them and what are the pitfalls, [00:05:00] and the reality was is we were doing a really poor job of building our sales, our lead in sales pipeline of Predictive ROI.
- It was the spring of 2015, we had lost one of our largest clients and here I am … jeepers, the business is overstaffed, what are we gonna do? We don’t have enough revenue to support the team. And so I got frustrated in May of 2015 and said, “Gosh, darn it. We’re gonna launch a daily podcast. I’m gonna interview the best business owners on the planet. [00:05:30] We’re gonna call it Onward Nation and it’s just gonna be awesome. It’s gonna be so awesome that people are gonna listen to it and then they’re just gonna call us and do business with us.” Clearly-
- I’m sure your team was like, “Holy hell. What is he doing to us?”
- That’s to put it nicely. Clearly, that’s not a strategy, right? But that was sort of what I thought was the strategy. And thankfully a couple of months after Onward Nation was launched, we had a couple of guests come to us and say, “Hey, [00:06:00] could you do that for me?” And I’m like, “Do what for you?” And they’re like, “Oh, for Pete’s sake. Seriously, could you build a podcast for my business?” And like the typical entrepreneur would say, “Yes, we can. Absolutely. How much should we charge for that?” “I don’t know.”
- Anyways, so we did that and then a few months later, one of those business owners came back to me and said, “The show you built for me is awesome. Onward Nation is awesome. Why in the world are you not doing this for more business owners?” I said, “I have no idea. [00:06:30] Like who? Who would we do this for?” He’s like, “Seriously, you got this guest list. Get out there and sell it to them,” and so I did. And in six weeks, we sold $224,000 worth of podcast-related services and I said, “Holy bananas. I think we’re on to something,” and we haven’t looked back ever since.
- That is fantastic. And how do you do it? Every day, you have podcasts that are coming out. That is just a tremendous number [00:07:00] of hours spent talking to other people and learning, which is fantastic, but that’s just a tremendous amount of hours.
- It is, but, I mean, one of the things that I love are systems. Everything back from my military days. I mean, I worked on systems, technical systems. I worked in nuclear missile silos. Everything had a process and a flow and a structure. Everything had a place where it needed to be, and we’ve kind of built the business that works like that. We give the impression [00:07:30] that the only thing I’m doing is … because we’re putting out so much stuff … the only thing that I’m doing is sitting behind the microphone and doing interviews, when the reality is is that Tuesdays mornings, I record three interviews back to back and I’m done.
- Or maybe it’s a Tuesday afternoon and I might record a fourth, or whatever, and we’re so far out in our schedule, we’re actually scheduled out four months in advance. I’ve got two months of inventory recorded and in the can, so if I wanna take two weeks off, no big deal. [00:08:00] It’s about being really, really strategic and being kind of disciplined on a single day and it’s possible to get ahead and it not be that much of a burden.
- That’s fantastic. In your book …
- And from talking to you, and from listening to you speak, you have always called podcasts a Trojan horse to marketing. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, and how you see podcasts as a B2B marketing tool?
- Going [00:08:30] back to the $224,000 that November in 2015, I sent out … Actually, our mutual friend Drew McLellan is the one who gave me this idea, and he goes, “Seriously, you need to reach back out to guests who own businesses who have been guests, obviously, on your show, and they like to guest on podcast, maybe they’d like to have their own.” I’m like, “Huh, okay.”
- I did that and then it made me think, ” [00:09:00] Well, the reason I have that at bat for that conversation is because I have some degree of relationship.” Now, I didn’t invite them on the show like, “I’m gonna try and sell Stacy something.” But I invited her on the show. She said yes to me because now I had an audience. I was a media channel. I was no longer an agency owner looking for a new client. I was a media channel who represented an audience that she wanted to influence.
- And so then [00:09:30] it was like this great door-opener, where a business owner or executive is normally blocked off. They’ve got a gatekeeper or high city walls. How are you gonna get past? You get thwarted if you’re a salesperson. But if Stacy Jones were to send out an invitation to Sarah Smith and say, “I’d like for you to be a guest on my show,” Sarah says, “Yes,” because Stacy represents an audience that, hopefully, is a good fit for Sarah.
- The defenses are down. The gatekeeper is down. [00:10:00] It is now a media opportunity. Now, you have a 60-minute one-on-one conversation with an ideal prospect, and then it’s really important to make sure that the business owner doesn’t say, “Okay, we’re done recording. Say … here’s the capabilities presentation for Hollywood Branded.” That would feel really schmutzy.
- But if now Stacy features Sarah in an e-book, in a blog, in an Instagram, in a Facebook campaign, in a LinkedIn long-form post, in an email campaign over a series of a couple of months [00:10:30] highlighting Sarah’s insights and wisdom, genuinely highlighting the wisdom that Sarah shared, now when Stacy reaches back out a couple months later and says, “Hey, when you were on the show, you mentioned X, and, you know what, that got my team and I at Hollywood Branded thinking about Y, and, you know what, we do Y really, really well here. Can we have lunch next week and we can chat a little bit more about how I think we might be able to be helpful to you?” Sarah says, “Um, yes, please.”
- And [00:11:00] not because that was a great sales pitch, but because you invested in context and relationship first and now it feels really good. It doesn’t feel business stuff at all. That’s the Trojan horse.
- It is so much better than having to pick up the phone and cold-call someone and say, “Let me explain what we do. How can we help you? We don’t know your problems at all, but I’m gonna say that I do.”
- Let me give your capabilities presentation. Isn’t this a really interesting 54-slide slide deck?
- Yes. Yes.
- Ugh, no. No.
- I just mentioned it as a B2B [00:11:30] marketing tool and I know that’s kind of your specialty from our conversations, but how about brands who are using podcasts more for B2C marketing? Trying to hit that consumer target. Is there really a difference in structuring and building and creating that podcast?
- From a technical perspective, creating the show, no. I think the context of content does need to change because then really what the brand is focused on is building [00:12:00] community and how they add value to the community through every piece of content that’s shared. So, then it might be … let’s say that a B2C brand was all about the family or like being able to support the family, and whatever their consumer package goods products were, for example. Well, so, then maybe the strategy for them is to have other thought leaders or experts about parenting or whatever other issues that a family would care about. Maybe it’s healthcare, [00:12:30] maybe it’s whatever, and then building a community around that, similarly to like what Johnson & Johnson has done with babycenter.com. They’ve built a community around that and now they know that if moms need a resource, they go to babycenter.com.
- It’s similar to that, and then … so, it’s not necessarily Trojan horse, but it is absolutely about building a community and being super helpful with that, and then that can still be branded content. There still could be calls to action [00:13:00] for whatever those maybe online conversions might be. The strategy is different. From a functional, technical perspective, it’s still the same.
- Okay. And, again, it’s just all about building engagement as well within that community and given someone something that’s of value, that they feel that it’s worth their time tuning in, listening to you, because the takeaway is going to be that great.
- Exactly. Very, very well said. I think that audiences are consuming such a high amount of this content, [00:13:30] one, because it’s super mobile. Listen to it while you’re walking the dog, working out, whatever, as opposed to like a YouTube video. Not that video’s bad. That’s certainly not the case at all, so I don’t wanna give that impression. But it is all about the host being helpful with his or her community. Developing relationship. I mean, like I hear our clients hosting … When I go to our clients’ events … a client is hosting an event and I attend. That’s the way I should say it. And [00:14:00] the attendees might be people that our client has never ever met in person before, that event, and I hear their prospects or customers come in and say, “You are exactly the person who I thought you were.”
- I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. I’ve been listening to you for the last two years. You’ve been in my ears when I walk my dog, and, oh, my gosh, it’s such a pleasure to meet you.” What? This is awesome. Every marketer would fall over themselves for that kind of reaction.
- [00:14:30] Yeah. Yeah. And as your audience grows, it’s interesting to have people say, “Oh, I heard you. This is what I thought about it. You made a good point,” and it’s interesting to be able to extend that conversation deeper than your active sales conversations and client conversations that you’re having, and so easy to just say, “Hey, this might be …” Even when you’re in the sales mode, “This is a podcast that I recently did [00:15:00] that I think you actually might learn something from. It expands …” I can’t talk. “It expands what we’re discussing in your issue into a deeper level,” and, all of a sudden, you have a secondary takeaway that’s fantastic.
- Yeah. So, running a podcast, it takes some considerable effort. It’s not something that you just wake up and you start doing, or you do and then you have a lot that you have to fix of the mistakes. [00:15:30] And I think I’ve done a lot of fixing. You said you’ve done a lot of fixing. I think-
- … you’ve hit perfection by now at 827. But what are some of the most important things that a business needs to know before they even start? And what is the actual commitment and team and resources that they need to plan for?
- Okay. I wanna actually flip my answer, and what I mean by that is … so, [00:16:00] time, I think it’s reasonably dependent upon how you dial in the system and if you have a supporting kind of cast of characters, a supporting team that can help. I think for the host itself, or himself or herself, it’s about five to six hours a month if you’re doing a weekly show. That’s the assumption of you record and turn that over to somebody on your team to do everything else downstream. If somebody’s trying to do that themselves, I think it’s [00:16:30] reasonably about 15 hours … 10 to 15 hours per episode if somebody is trying to do that themselves, which I certainly don’t suggest a business owner do that. Because he or she has other more valuable priorities to building and scaling business, and it’s not about the production of the podcast.
- [crosstalk 00:16:50]
- Their hourly rate, it just doesn’t even make sense if …
- It does not.
- It does not. That’s probably a reasonable time [00:17:00] estimate. As far as the most important thing, and this might be surprising to your listeners, in my opinion, it’s not the technical. It’s not about all the components on the backend or how to edit audio or making sure that the sound is great or the microphone and … blah, blah, blah. That kind of stuff. It’s not that. It’s actually going back to something that you said a little bit ago, and that is how can you be helpful to your community? And getting that figured out, [00:17:30] and understanding, “Okay, if I’m helpful to business owners on this topic, that’s cool, but then how does that building … or how then if I build a community around that point of view or that area of expertise, how does that then tie into Hollywood Branded? How does that then tie into a course that I’m gonna launch or building an email list or whatever?” How does it tie into your core business?
- Because sometimes I’ve had conversations with business owners and they’re like, “Well, I do this for my core business …” Some sort of professional [00:18:00] service offering. “But I would really love to have a podcast on fitness.” Okay. Great that might be like your opus and all that kind of stuff, but that’s going to be a time-suck and it’s also gonna suck cash out of your business and it’s not monetizable. There’s no linkage there.
- Yeah, it’s a hobby at that point.
- Right. And you know what, if that’s your life’s work and you’re not concerned about monetizing and all of that, then, okay, fine. But if you’re wanting to do this effort because you [00:18:30] hope it builds your business, there has to be that linkage, and you’re done that really, really well with your show.
- Well, thank you. I appreciate that. With that, a lot of people are now doing podcasting. You started in 2015. No one was doing podcasting. I mean, there’s a boom that’s now happened, and how does one actually make sure that you stand out in the crowd and that you’re actually going to [00:19:00] best engage your audience as you’re doing so?
- I’m gonna sound a little bit like a broken record, but it is truly about being helpful to your audience from the perspective of realizing that it has nothing to do with the host and it has everything to do with how the audience is being served and how you’re serving, actually, your guest. Because I think the audiences are getting much more [00:19:30] sophisticated and can sniff out fake crap really, really easy.
- I think the days of like the egotistical host or the narcissistic host or the bigger-than-life host, I think there’s always gonna be some of that. But I think the shows that are doing really well are … They know exactly who they’re there to serve, not, “I’m gonna create a show that serves every single entrepreneur.” No. They know exactly who they’re going to serve. They know how they’re going to serve that audience and [00:20:00] they recognize that it’s not about them at all and they’re …
- Recognize that it’s not about them at all, and they’re only there to serve that audience. It’s amazing how cream rises to the top.
- Right. No, that absolutely makes sense. I think people like listening to people that are relatable more so than those big, loud voices who are just personality driven because, they’re loud. They’re very loud, but they don’t necessarily have realistic step-by-step options, directions, [00:20:30] advice, help, and guidance, but they’re great at telling you that you’re doing everything wrong.
- You podcast daily. I podcast weekly. Is there a magic number of times that you need to be podcasting to actually grow an audience and have engagement? What is that threshold in order to have that constant listener base?
- You’re actually a great example [00:21:00] for your audience. One time a week is the minimum, in my opinion, just like a primetime television show or whatever is typically once a week at a predictable day and time, because your audience needs to know so you’re not a moving target. They know you come out every Wednesday at 4:00 AM or whatever it is. One day a week is ideal, at a specific day and time so that your audience can depend on when it’s available.
- Okay. [00:21:30] We fail on the time. We totally fail on the time part. We’re like, “We got it on Wednesday?” “Is it before midnight?” “Yes.” “Is it after 5AM?” “Yes.” We can work on that.
- There it is. Yeah. Now with that said, I certainly do not have the idea that our listeners, our subscribers are sitting by their phones and waiting for Wednesday at 4:00 AM Central Time. “Oh goody, the Onward [00:22:00] Nation episode, the latest one is available now.” That’s not what I mean, but if you’re on Wednesday and all of a sudden it becomes Thursday, and then it became a Tuesday, and all of that, that would not be [inaudible 00:22:11].
- No, that absolutely makes sense. So, you launch a podcast. You’re all gung-ho and you’ve put all the pieces together and you’re like, “Yes. I’ve gotten the first, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth,” however many done, and maybe you’re not getting an audience that’s actually listening or [00:22:30] picking up. How do you fine tune it? How do you actually build that audience, and is there a point that you’ve gotten a dozen down, two dozen down, a hundred that you need to say, “Maybe we should do a new direction and refine what we’ve been doing a little bit” or just start over?
- Great question. By the way, this might be a stat that your audience doesn’t know: most people quit at seven. [00:23:00] It’s call “pod-fading.” It’s kind of like the equivalent of the holiday gym member a la podcasting. It’s like, “Oh geez, I don’t have a million downloads a month. I’m going to quit because this doesn’t work.”
- Just to have your audience buckle in and get prepared is that podcasting is absolutely without a doubt a long game. It does take time to build an audience, unless somebody’s putting a media spin behind it to amplify it.
- [00:23:30] In my opinion, one of the best ways to grow an audience from scratch, and we did this with Onward just because we sort of just did it; it wasn’t because we thought that this would be the right thing to do, whatever, is we made sure that it was really easy for our guests to share their episodes, and that the content was so focused on them that they would want to. We created Facebook campaigns, LinkedIn campaigns, Twitter campaigns, [00:24:00] we created all of that. We tagged our guests in that content, and all of a sudden, we started seeing shares, comments, likes, distribution. I’m like, “Holy bananas. How in the world are we in 50 countries already?” It was because, it was like, “Well geez, in our first ten guests, we had two people from Germany, and then all of a sudden from Australia,” and then it just grew, but it was because our guests were the driving force behind it. So, be a good host: focus on your guests’ smarts. Create social [00:24:30] campaigns around your guests’ smarts. Then make it really easy to share that stuff, and they will.
- Okay. So with creating social campaigns, there’s many ways to go about it. When you’re saying this, you’re advising “create a social campaigns,” are you advising boosting it? Putting dollars behind it? Doing anything along those lines, or just literally word-of-mouth, let the guests help share it out?
- Okay, so investing in it or boosting it, does that put gasoline on great content? [00:25:00] Of course, right? If a business owner has budget and they can amplify that content, then phenomenal. More power to them. Most business owners don’t. Getting a podcast created takes so much time and effort, and just the wherewithal to get it across the finish line or the launch line that the thought of, “Oh, now I’m going to put a couple grand behind a Facebook campaign,” they just don’t have the time, space, capacity, [00:25:30] just the mental whatever to do that, or even the budget. In my opinion, even though there’s so much pressure on the lack of organic traffic through social today, it’s getting really, really smart around highlighting your guests’ smarts so that they will essentially become your brand advocates and share it, but recognizing that can be a long game. That’s not like 30 days and you’re [00:26:00] getting a million downloads.
- Sure. I mean, when we started blogging, I started blogging for our agency back in 2012. I got you beat by three years on your podcast.
- Yeah, and we have 900 or 1,000 blogs out there now.
- Holy bananas! Seriously?
- Holy bananas to the man who has 827 podcasts, but okay. We started once a week. Then we added a third, and then we added a third. [00:26:30] We grew from there, and then we repurposed one to try to keep it fresh, but when I go back and look at the analytics, and that’s what’s kept me going as far as podcasting. You’re our 105th podcast.
- Whoohoo. What’s kept me going all of this last year, because we started last March; it’s not even been a full year yet. Actually no, it’s been a year-and-a-half. I’m totally lying. We’re going on [00:27:00] two years of podcasting this next March.
- Life goes fast, but with that, going back to the thing about the blogs and the analytics, we had no one reading our blogs at first. Then over time, the jumps were incredible.
- Up to the tens of thousands. It wasn’t an overnight. That’s kept me having the faith that knowing that if you’re producing [00:27:30] content that’s good and you’re finding other ways that you can leverage it, such as when we have sales calls and are talking to a new potential client or an actual client, we can give them additional valuable information. Looking at this in different ways of how to use this, which has made this podcast valuable to us to do versus saying, “Oh, overnight, we’re going to make $500,000 and we’re going to do all of this.”
- I’m excited for the day that a client calls you and [00:28:00] says, “Hey, I’ve been listening to your show for a while now, and I think you’re on point. You’re so aligned with how I think about marketing in wanting to do it right and avoid the mistakes. You know what? I’ve been a reader for your blog for a while; in fact, I started with your blog and then I realized you had a show, and so I’ve been listening to both. Give me your take on this whole ‘own media’ thing and voice, because you’re doing it really, really well, Stacy. Could you do that for me?” [00:28:30] At some point, it’s going to be like, “Abso-freaking-lutely” because you are the personification, you’re the embodiment of that. You’re living that already, and at some point, or maybe it’s already happened and I just don’t know, but where clients are going to say, “Yeah, I want to take your model and now put that into my business.”
- Sure, and for our blogs, that’s absolutely what has happened. I mean, we don’t do really outbound sales, which [00:29:00] we need to do, but we get qualified calls in based off of what people read and who follow, or even if we talk with someone and then six months later, they normally in the sales have fallen off but they’re still every Monday getting our blog newsletter. They come back and they’re like, “Oh, I’ve been reading this. This new blog that you just did, we had this meeting and it’s really relevant. Yeah, we’d like to do this now and I have this budget.” [00:29:30] We’re not finding ourselves having to be on the call on that first new business approach and explaining what we do, what our services are. People know. We’re already qualified, so we can cut to the chase of, “What does the brand actually need help with?”, so that we can find out why we can help them. I know podcasts will do probably, quite frankly, a better job of that than just even a blog that you’re reading because you have more of an emotional connection, I think, [00:30:00] to a voice, and having that tangible experience versus just reading it.
- That’s why blogs are so great, but podcasts to me, the potential is so powerful.
- Agreed. You’re such a walking litmus test or example for your audience because you’re investing in this creation of this body of work, and that impacts your business development. That’s industry agnostic; [00:30:30] no matter what business an owner is in, it’s being able to pay attention to what it is that you’re doing because it’s written content, it’s audio content. It’s your thought leadership on a consistent basis. You’ve built an audience around it. Business owners in any industry can be taking that page out of that playbook and putting it into practice.
- 100% agree, and that’s why I wanted you on today. Okay, so we’re talking about, [00:31:00] you mentioned time. What about cost and monetization? I’ve said that. We’ve gotten clients from this, blogging at least, and I think podcasting and more so in the future, but how can people recoup costs and monetize, or really, should they be looking at podcasting like we’ve been talking about as a relationship builder tool?
- Well, a business owner going down this path really ought to think about monetization before they start content, [00:31:30] and the reason why I say that is because, let’s go back to your Trojan horse example. If somebody says, “You know what? I do think that I could do that where I could have [Sarah Jones 00:31:40] on the show, and then I could have a conversation with Sarah.” It’s funny how I just realized I used your last name in an example. I talk about Sarah Jones all the time.
- It’s okay. Don’t-
- I just realized. I’m like, “How funny. That’s Stacy’s last name.”
- I think a lot of people use “Jones” as an example.
- That’s hilarious. I’m like, “Wait a minute.” [00:32:00] Anyway, so it’s about creating a Dream 25 and not letting the Trojan horse happen by happenstance. That’s a monetization strategy: Trojan horse aligned with your Dream 25 prospects, the companies you most want to be doing business with, but you don’t have an at-bat. You don’t have an in with Sarah yet because she doesn’t even know who you are, right? Trojan horse can help with that. That’s like a direct sale to a prospective client, so that’s one piece of monetization. [00:32:30] The next piece is sponsorship, and we’re seeing sponsorships anywhere from 12 to, I know 12’s a weird number, but 12 to $40,000 where a third party brand is going to say, “Yes, Stacy, I really like the audience that you’ve built around that. I want to give you $30,000 to put my brand on your show as the presenting sponsor.” Awesome. That’s another piece. Then, it’s also taking the content itself [00:33:00] and recognizing that all of that content represents individual properties. In your case, the blog is a property. That blog is sponsor-able to somebody or from somebody.
- The newsletter is a property and that could be sponsored. The podcast, a property, could be sponsored. YouTube channel. Property, sponsored. Ebook. Let’s say you take the first 20 guests out of your show, create an Ebook around that. Sell that. One of our clients sold it for $12,000-
- Sponsoring an Ebook.
- Right. You’ve taken your content and created a course around how to be good at influence marketing. Well of course you’ve got expertise on that, so you let your podcast create the course content. Now that’s monetizable. It’s just getting strategic about how all the pieces can be sliced and diced and thinking, “Okay, would this be helpful to which brands? Then, how do I package that up to be helpful to them and sell it?”
- Right. Okay, well that’s that answer on how you monetize. Okay, so… when you’re thinking about how to get other brands to come in and sponsor your podcast, what’s the best way to approach that? Is it to make a list? Is it to dial for dollars? Is it to start posting out madly on social media, “Who wants to sponsor me?” [00:34:30] How would someone go about that the best way?
- Well I’ve seen all of those approaches, and the way that I think that business owners could be the most successful is by thinking about, so again, if they’ve built a community or what we like to call the “nation of true fans,” if they’ve built a nation of true fans around their point of view, around their thought leadership and so forth, and then that show is connected back into their business, so there’s that direct connection, then [00:35:00] I think it’s, “Okay, me as the business owner, what third-party brands, services, companies, or whatever do we use as a business?”
- Is it QuickBooks? Is it Chase? Is it American Airlines? Is it Marriott? Whatever. Then think, “Okay, would a QuickBooks or would a Chase or Capital One, Spark Card, would they also want to reach my audience? Would that be valuable to them and would that be [00:35:30] helpful to the audience?” If the answer’s yes, approach them. If it’s no and it feels weird, then don’t, but that’s how getting strategic about the list can be helpful early on in the process, and then go sell.
- How many listeners do you think you need before you decide to go out and do this?
- That’s an excellent question because in my opinion, it’s less about listeners and more about stability of the show. Again, people [00:36:00] quit at seven, so I would not go out at episode three and say, “Do I have a sponsorship opportunity for you,” because you don’t have enough traction yet. What we suggest to our clients is, “You know what? When you get around episode 50, that’s really legit.” That’s really stable. That’s like going to a brand and saying, “Hey, I’ve got 50 [inaudible 00:36:22].” That’s a good body of work. Then it’s less about, “Oh, I’ve got 27 million downloads” and more about, ” [00:36:30] I have a niche audience. This is what we know about them. This is my connection with them from an email list, open rate, click through rate, that kind of stuff.” It’s been our experience it’s less about numbers and more about relationship than anything.
- Right. Fair enough.
- Yeah. One of our clients, super, super niche, less than a thousand downloads a month, sold at a six-figure sponsorship deal.
- Six figures with less [00:37:00] than a thousand listeners per podcast or per month?
- Per month.
- Per month. So four podcasts-
- Right, because they’re the right listeners.
- Four podcasts a month probably, I’m assuming they’re not doing it daily, so averaging 250. 250. Two-five-zero. Not thousand, not hundreds of thousands, 250-
- Are getting six figures for a 12-month deal.
- That’s nuts. That’s crazy. That’s fantastic.
- It is. Fellow AMI agency owner, by the way. Again, it is not about numbers. It is about having the right people in the room, so to speak-
- Sure, the right buyers.
- Exactly. That’s what it’s about; it’s about degree of relationship, and then how can you take that brand and [00:38:00] put them into the podcast content? Have them as guests on the show? How can you have them at live events and they be the presenting sponsor to the events? Can the sponsor a webinar? Can they sponsor an Ebook? Really understanding all of these pieces of content that come off of the cornerstone of the episode that can really give that brand, and then how can you help the brand create content that they can then use with their customers, because they’re not creating that stuff.
- Right. It’s more own content that they can repurpose.
- It’s the same things that we do with social influences, because podcasts are influencers.
- Yeah, yeah. Okay. Then, how does your team decide which brand is the right partner?
- I think that really comes down to a values conversation-
- In my opinion. Is the brand going to try to hijack the content? Are they actually a product or service that you use and you like them? Again, because [00:39:00] you are going to be a conduit to your community. Your community at first is going to be like, “Well okay, Stacy said such-and-such a company, and I’m going take a look at that company.” If they have a bad experience, they don’t like that company anymore, and then they start to question you, right? It’s about really making sure that you’re selecting the right company not because of dollars, but because of how they’re going to treat your community, and I think that’s a values conversation.
- Right. Moving into the meat of what I love talking [00:39:30] about. Everything I’ve talked about is fantastic. Talk about challenges and mistakes and doing it right. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to deal with when working with a brand or agency to create their podcast?
- The biggest challenge is really fear and the imposter syndrome. What I mean by that is, I’ve sat across the [00:40:00] table from so many clients and/or, I should say.
- … people from so many clients and/or, I shouldn’t say clients, prospects at that point, who have said yes, and then when it actually came down to recording, the imposter syndrome rears its ugly head and then they can’t get the recordings done, just because of fear. And they’ll say, “Oh, it’s my schedule. It’s this …” It’s like, oh, for Pete’s sake, if Drew McLellan can be on 200 planes a year and the get the episodes done with excellence, [00:40:30] I don’t want to hear the excuses that you have too compressed of a schedule. That’s the first thing is the imposter syndrome.
- Then also, if their monetization strategy is Trojan horse, not being able to pick up the phone and call Sarah and say what I shared with you, your audience, 15 minutes ago, being unwilling to do that and push it forward, and then saying the podcast didn’t generate any revenue. Those are the … in my experience, been the two biggest mistakes. All the technical [00:41:00] stuff and all of that, that’s easy to get over, but having somebody really fully confident in their point of view and their area of expertise and how they add value is a stumbling block for a lot of people.
- And I think with the imposter … what do you call it, imposter …
- Syndrome, I feel that that is definite in the interview series as we’ve moved over to that, and it’s more so, “Wait, I’m going to ask people to be on [00:41:30] my podcast?”, and, no, it’s, “Am I a big enough deal to have them want to do that?” And I know our numbers and I know it’s worthwhile for people to come on and I get that, but it’s still getting in your head. And in doing my solo podcast, you’re sitting there and you’re talking and you’re chatting and then, all of a sudden, you get these thoughts of, “Wait, is what I have to say valuable to anyone? Wait. What am I doing? Who’s going to listen to this? This is all a crock of baloney,” [00:42:00] except that’s not what I say. And it’s real. The imposter syndrome is absolutely something that it’s a self-confidence issue that just pops up, even if you know you’re 100 podcasts in, you can still have things just surprise you and that confidence level, just because you might not be have a rock solid day, shake you a little bit.
- Absolutely. Absolutely. Again, for somebody to be successful at this, [00:42:30] that comes down to being confident in their point of view, confident in their thought leadership, really understanding how they’re going to add value and to who, and to who that they don’t want in the community either, who they can really serve and how they’ll serve those people. And then it just takes time, it just takes practice, it just takes experience, and eventually that stuff will fade, if the person has the discipline, as you have demonstrated, that [00:43:00] they have the discipline to work through those challenges because they know that, on the other side of it, some really cool stuff can happen.
- Sure. When you’re working with, again, a brand or an agency and helping them with a podcast, are there any asks, like things that they just ask you that you’re just like, “We’re not doing that. No, I’m running out the door. Not a partner for me?”
- Well, I haven’t had anybody ask me something where I’ve wanted to [00:43:30] run out the door, but sometimes the ask is, because we’re so systematized, and so a client will say, “I want to create a custom intro and a monologue for every single episode, and then I want to be able to edit in little editorialized comments, like the guest says something and then I come in and say, ‘Now what you heard from Stacy there is …’ and then we’ll roll with the rest of the interview.” And I’m like, “Oh, like NPR?” “Exactly like NPR. I love Planet Money. Could I have a Planet Money show?” Well, [00:44:00] you know that Planet Money has a staff of 12 people and an operating budget of two million dollars, so no. That’s the only sort of conflict sometimes is because I think sometimes the eyes are a little bit bigger than the stomach and/or wallet because Planet Money has been super successful. They’ve invested millions of dollars. I think that’s probably the only thing.
- Okay. And then are there any agencies or brands with podcasts [00:44:30] that you think are doing it right, that are just rock solid, you think they have it dialed in and they’re go, go, going, besides, of course, Onward Nation because you all are doing it right?
- Well, let me tell you about this Hollywood Branded-
- Oh, look at that one.
- … yeah, because she has it dialed in, let me tell you. Some other agencies that I think are really rocking it, Nicole Mahoney from [00:45:00] Break The Ice Media.
- I know Nicole. She’s great.
- Oh, she’s fantastic. Chad Hendricks has really got a great show serving the recruit and retention, excuse me, for truck driving, and his agency is totally aligned with that; Vera Fischer has an incredible show around systems; Drew, of course, Build a Better Agency. There’s a variety of agencies [00:45:30] that are creating this great content that is on the front end. It’s like the tip of the spear for the agency and it’s so, so smart.
- Yeah. And when I’ve talked with, some of these are fellow AMI owners, the agency management group that we’re both part of, and they are all so happy that they have gone down the road of podcasting. I’ve been on Nicole’s podcast. It’s dialed in. She’s seeing results. And [00:46:00] I know Drew’s seeing results from podcasts and leveraging that and getting partnerships and sponsorships and probably making a mint. But this does work, and that’s what is so fantastic about podcast marketing is that brand agency owners and brands who are targeting that B2B market have a phenomenal opportunity here, as well as B2C brands.
- Very well said.
- Last question for you. Do you have any words of caution to a brand or agency who’s considering creating a podcast?
- It’s a great final question. I think my caution would be around the monetization strategy, because when an owner doesn’t see their weekly content driving results for them in the form of dollars, it starts to become a real chore. [00:47:00] All of a sudden, they don’t want to serve that community anymore because, really, what they’re after were the dollars, and so then they become short-term sighted and they should be long-term view. Excuse me. Getting that really, really clear is critical because it has everything to do with the stability of the show.
- Well, with that, thank you so much, Stephen. If you are interested in podcasting, I cannot recommend highly enough Stephen’s book, which you can get on Amazon, Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build [00:47:30] a Nation of True Fans. Again, Stephen, thank you so much for being on here today.
- Thank you very much.
- I’ll talk to you soon. Okay. Bye.
- The O is silent. It’s Woessner.
- Just Woessner. Why did they put that O in? It screwed up everyone for you since childhood.
- I know, stupid Germans. Seriously, I have heard so many creative variations. It’s Woessner, Woessner, Weesner. My favorite is Wussner. I’m like, seriously, how did you put a U in there? I’d have been stunned if you got it right. Nobody ever gets it right.
- I was listening to you or I read something recently where you phonetically did it, but then I couldn’t remember where I saw it or heard it, and so I [00:56:00] couldn’t do anything about that.
- Yep, no O, silent O. I’ve thought about changing it many times.
- Well, you shouldn’t change it, but you should change it.
- That’s awesome. Thanks for sort of not giving me a complex there.
- You just want to make it easier for kids, your wife, things like that.
- And, for whatever reason, also that’s a process that I [00:57:00] go through on every single interview, I double-check it, because, for whatever reason, Zoom forgets.
- Zoom gets weird, and so [00:57:30] I always have to check the settings because I’m constantly resetting it.
- Well, last time I forgot to actually, on Tuesday, close my Outlook, and so in the middle of someone actually saying something that was great, it starting going bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, [00:58:00] bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing with all the emails that were coming in. That was awesome too.
- In Zoom, and I’ve never had an issue with Skype, one time, in Zoom, where we’ve had it sounded like alien language, but that’s the only time it’s ever happened, just once.
- I’m sure you published it.
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