Ep 049 - Why Every B2B Company Should Start A Podcast (Marketing Spark)

December 1, 2022

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In this episode of Confessions of a B2B Marketer, Tom & Mark discuss how podcasts can be used to connect with prospects, customers, and influencers and generate a ton of content (blog posts, social media updates, videos).

In theory, podcasts are a great thing for B2B and B2B SaaS companies.

They allow companies to connect with prospects, customers, and influencers and generate a ton of content (blog posts, social media updates, videos).

But podcasts can be a hard sell for marketers. One of the challenges is that the value and ROI of a podcast are more than data-driven.

When a marketer is asked by a CEO about how to measure a podcast's success, the answer is "a podcast can be quantified but many of the benefits aren't visible".

We talked about:

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Episode transcript

The best way to become famous in any B2B niche basically combines three things. It's very simple. Just start written posts on LinkedIn. They can have a video and image in them, and so the CEO can do this. They can get the insights from the show, start hosting their own podcast around the niche, and then go guest on other podcasts in the niche.

Do those three for six months. And that's gonna like make the c e o and the business famous.

I launched the Marketing Spark podcast in mid 2020. It has been one of the most rewarding professional decisions. The only regret is that I didn't start a podcast earlier. Podcasts have become a huge part of the media landscape and many B2B companies have jumped on the band wagon. As a marketer and podcaster, I'm curious about the state of the podcast landscape, where it's heading, and how companies will embrace podcast to answer these questions and tackle some other marketing topics as Tom Hunt.

Founder of Fame, which starts and grows profitable podcasts for growth focused B2B businesses, and Bcast s which host podcasts. Welcome to Market Spark. Thanks so much for having me. I'm very excited about the next 30 or so minutes. Let's start with your thoughts on the B2B podcast landscape. You and I both live in the, either hurricane, we live and breathe podcasts you more so than I because it's your business, and my question is whether.

B2B companies are still excited about podcasts. That's a leading question. I admit. I know that companies love being guests on podcasts by the number of invitations that I see in my inbox. But I get the impression that not every company wants to create a podcast or they're afraid of creating a, a podcast.

What are your thoughts in terms of the overall B2B podcast landscape? Yeah, it's a great point and uh, I've got a couple of angles on this one. I'll take the first one, the most bullish of angles. Which is what I typically use in sales calls as well. If someone asks me this question and it's that, well, actually I'm gonna refer it back to you, mark.

Do you know how many YouTube channels there are in total? 50 millions. I guess that's my 5 million. There are 50 million. Right. Yeah, nearly about a hundred million 70 apparently. And then like Act way, let's not do active, but like total podcast, like two to 3 million. And so if you really think about like what a podcast actually is, it's just an r s s feed of audio content.

Just like a blog is an r s s feed of written content. And so if like literally every. Business has a blog. Why shouldn't every business have a, a , an audio feed of, uh, RSS feed of audio content? Now, that's the most bullish, but what are the other angles that I can come at this question to, which are like maybe a bit more realistic or reasonable

The first is I think there is a drive for B2B companies to create their like audiences that they. Like an email list, like a podcast subscription list, because no one can stand in the way of that. I guess Apple or Spotify, et cetera, can stand in the way of that, but you, it's a bit more diversified. And then at the same time, so the, like this control, like no one can take that away from you and like, like a LinkedIn following.

But then the second point is that, It's much cheaper for you to then get the attention to those people cause you just release the thing versus having to pay Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube for the ads. So I think there is a drive towards owning, creating own media properties on the B2B side. That's one other angle.

And then actually the biggest benefit I think of podcasting isn't necessarily building up the subscriber list or getting the downloads. It's like everything else that can come through. Like learning about the niche, about building relationships with guests. That could be customers and partners. And then also, Those are the two big ones.

Oh yeah. All the other content that you can create from it, not just the audio. So those are a few different viewpoints on that question. That's a lot of. Topics to discuss in, in, in one, uh, in one answer, why don't we step back and look at the suggestion that every B2B company should have a podcast. Just as nearly every B2B company has a blog, there are people out there that fervently believe that this should be the case, but obviously it isn't right now.

So a, do you think. This should be the case that every B2B company should have a podcast and what's holding companies back. When you look at the benefits, the obvious benefits, and the ROI of a podcast, why are many companies just sitting on the podcast, podcast? Well, yeah, the, the first question I think was about like why people should have the audio feed, and then I'll then I'll take the second one.

The first one, and I'll just zoom into one. And it's the ease of which you can build a relationship with someone through creating that content. Relationships are built by going on like a rollercoaster with friends, like the friends you end traveling with when you're younger, like your closest mates. And so if you think about collabing on a blog post versus collaborating on a podcast episode, Like, for example, this, like we are gonna become friends in theory or we're gonna become closer after this and it's taken us literally 30 minutes each, maybe a bit more for you for researching, et cetera.

Um, whereas if we were gonna collab on a blog post, one of us is gonna have to write it, the other one is gonna have to review it or add stuff. That's probably gonna take more time. And so I think that's the biggest benefit here is that the host or someone from the B2B company is gonna get to know other people in the spaces are gonna learn.

And so why people are sitting on the sidelines? It's a great question. I think five years ago it was quite hard. It was much harder than it is now. It's getting easier every year, like script anchor, et cetera. All podcast agencies are making it much easier and cheaper to do so. I think people think BBB company think is like a bigger effort than Ashley is, which is great for my business.

Obviously . Yeah, obviously. I mean, a couple thoughts here. One is, Two or three years ago, I was intimidated by the idea of doing a podcast. The technical requirements, the costs involved, but the barriers to entry have come down dramatically. I spend probably, if you don't include the time spent to edit and prepare, I spend 30 bucks a month preparing my on my podcast.

But the other angle is that I think a lot of marketers, Have a tough time selling a podcast to the C M O or the C E O because many BDB companies, it's all about data. It's all about KPIs, it's all about metrics. And when you go to a CEO and you say, I wanna do a podcast, and the CEO says, well, how are you gonna measure ROI?

How you gonna quantify whether this podcast is the success or not? And. You could turn, as you say, to his number of subscribers, streams, downloads, but that's not the number. So a marketer may say, but it's gonna build brand awareness. It's gonna help us build relationships. It's gonna build trust and affinity, and the CEO is gonna go, well, I can't really measure that.

So what's your advice to marketers who need to convince a C E O that this is no brainer idea? First point, and you did touch upon this in the short term, we always advise like the ROI in the short term probably isn't gonna come from the. Podcasting's actually not a great way to build an audience. It's a great way to build a big, a better relationship with an existing audience.

So if you think you're gonna start a podcast, everyone's gonna listen, then they're all gonna buy us stuff. It's probably unlikely. So what we say is that, let's say we're doing a biweekly show, over six months, we're gonna build relationships with 12 people, 12 guests. Now, we're not gonna pitch them, and they might be ideal customers, or there might be ideal partners, but you're gonna build those relationships and you make the guest experience.

and then you may expect one or two of those people to like progress down your sales or partnership funnel. So that's what we typically say is actually don't look at the listener side for the first six months, because if you then get a deal, let's say from the guest side, you can reinvest into the content, make it better, build the audience, increase the likelihood of the ROI on that side.

That's the first point. Now the second point is that the way we're gonna get the ROI from the listener side is not by tracking those numbers, it's by adding a free text field on the demo form saying, how did you hear about us? And then over 12 months, if we are doing things right, that should start to happen typically after like six months.

The third point, and this is something that I've been exploring recently in my own like. World of B2B is that I think they're the new metric that B2B marketers should be tracking, and it's a leading metric to revenue. And I think it's the closest thing you can get to, to measuring brand, and I'm calling this total targeted impressions.

And so this is just the number of impressions that your content. Is getting every month targeted means that from people that ideally could be buyers and one feed into their metric, I think is the podcast, download An oppression is essentially like them showing that they want to listen to apps. So basically, And so I combine that with like LinkedIn impressions, podcast downloads, impressions on any other social platforms, email opens, and these are the metrics I think are the great thing to measure, to show the goodwill that is building for you in the marketplace.

And so podcast downloads would feed into that. So those are the three things I would speak to the CEO about. Those are all great points. But I think one of the tough times, one of the, well, let me step back here. In the B2B world, everybody accepts the reality that content is king. That if you produce insightful, valuable content, that's a good way of building trust, establishing relationships, positioning yourself as the go-to resource in a particular area.

And one of the things that I think many CEOs don't understand is, The content from a podcast can be repurposed and reconfigured in lots of different ways, and it can be your, your content catalyst, it can sit at the core of your content engine. Is that something that you think many business leaders aren't aware of?

Because maybe they're not content people. They overlook the idea that there's a treasure trove of intelligence and insights and content just sitting there waiting to be exploited. Yeah, you are. You are totally right. I would expect. Why do people not realize that? Yeah, I'm not sure I. It's just quite shocking the amount, well, like when you do one video podcast episode is shocking the amount of information you can pull from that.

So A, you're gonna get a load of information from it, but then B, because you're including someone else in the process of creating it there, incentivized to share it. Right? And so I'm gonna bring this back to them. The third point in my previous answer where, And I didn't actually make this clear, but if we think about total, total targeted impressions, again, like doing the podcast and getting all the video snippets and having someone else incentivized to share your posts or comment on your posts is gonna blow up.

Ey, it's not gonna blow up, but it should increase that total targeted impressions metric over time. So I think you're right, uh, as to why people are not doing it and don't understand it. I think it's just something that you have to experience. The first time you record this, you realize you get the transcripts and you're like, okay, I could probably have seven videos from this episode.

So yeah, if you, you make a very good point. The other question I wanted to ask you about podcasting before moving on to other topics is the idea of internal podcasts. So I saw a buffer post. Essentially saying that companies should look at creating internal podcast for employees to engage, inform, educate, maybe even entertain.

And then I was talking to Steve Schmidt, a very well known salesperson on LinkedIn, who was talking about the idea. You could use an internal podcast to bring marketing and sales together. The head of marketing and the head of sales can do a mini podcast every week and talk about the things that they're working on and the things that they've achieved.

So I wanted to ask you about whether an internal podcast, Is maybe a way to get companies to get on the podcast fan mark, not to paying you for this consulting session. Like that's such a good idea. Sales and marketing combined. I'm literally gonna go and pitch that to our clients or no, that's such a good idea.

I think if we like back out, like. Take a step back. So I actually asked you a question. Yes, you're totally right. People should start to experience like the magic. It's really the closeness you experience when you listen to someone else's show. I listen to True Crime pods all the time, and so I just know all of these true crime journalists like, like they're my best mate.

I think if we step back and really understand what happens when you put someone else's audio in your ears is that you build this like incredible relationship and you can use that to, I don't wanna say influence cause it sounds dark, but you can use this to try to change people's behavior in a good way.

And that's what we're kind of trying to do with the podcast externally, because they're trying to influence the market subtly to come and understand the problem that I. The objective is exactly the same. Internally, what are the things that you need to educate your employees about to influence their behavior?

To increase productivity, increase job satisfaction and increase employee engagement? And a show is just like it should be part of an external marketing mix, I think should also be part of an internal marketing mix, which is basically internal com slash. I think it'd be a great idea if it's a great way to really engage your employees, because that's one of the biggest things that we're struggling with right now is the fact that you've got a hybrid work environment.

You've got remote workers, people, some people are even working together in person, but they're not connecting, and maybe a podcast is a good way to make that happen. I wanna jump around a little bit into some other marketing topics, and to be perfectly transparent, these came from a, a post that you did on LinkedIn.

You as a podcast guy, you obviously, this is an area of expertise, but you're also interested or passionate about a lot of different things. So why don't we bounce around and I'll ask you some questions about some of the things that you talk about and gimme some, you can elaborate on some of what you're thinking.

You talked about something called interruption based marketing, which is a term that I hadn't heard before. How is. Different or better than other approaches to marketing. Yeah, marketing. Totally understandable that you wouldn't have heard that before cause I made it up. Now interruption for like for fame.

The way that, like the impact our business has on other B2B companies I think are like enemy or the opposite of what we do is interruption marketing. And the way I define the difference between interruption marketing and like value add marketing is. The reaction to the ideal buyer as they see the thing.

And so let's just take a really obvious example, like a cold Facebook ad that's driving someone that's like getting in the way of someone's feed and driving them to get a demo of your software, even though they've never heard of you before. Versus a podcast they've been listening to for half a year.

They see a new guest that they're really interested, come up on their podcast feed and they see that and they click on it. Right? So this I would say is interruption. This, I would say is like value add. And so the screen that I would ask every B2B marketer to look through as they're going to be sending that email as they're gonna publish a ad, as they're gonna publish our blog post is do I think that the reaction to this from my ideal.

Is it gonna be a positive one or a negative one as I interrupt them with this thing? So maybe I need to think of a better name because like technically whatever we send and put in front of Ida by is gonna be an interruption, but it's more about the reaction to it. Do they see it as an interruption or do they see it as something that's gonna improve their lives?

That's an interesting concept cause there are two kinds of interruptions. One annoys. , you see the ad it does or the piece of content. It's not relevant. It's not interesting, and in fact it's distracting and, and causes you to break down in whatever you're doing at the moment. And the other one is Aha.

That's interesting. I'm curious about that. Whether it's the title or the content or whatever. And it can completely generate a different reaction immediately. So it's an interesting game to play, and I think you're right. I think a lot of markers really need to think through what kind of content, what kind of advertising putting out there.

You talk about CEOs understanding their customers, and if you go through a LinkedIn feed, there are tons of posts about the value of understanding your customers and being empathetic to their needs and interests and talking to them. My take is, a lot of it is talk as opposed to walk is marketers in theory love the idea of talking to customers and prospects, but they don't do it because they're busy or they've got different priorities.

But one of the realities of being a C E O, especially as the company's growing, is you get farther and farther away from your customers when early days you love your customers and you're the c e O and the chief salesperson. So you're, you have very intimate relationship with prospects and customers, but as the company grows, you get busy and you do other things and you stop talking to customers.

So my question to you is, what are best practices to make sure that CEOs are aligned and connected with customers and prospects? How do they make sure. There's not this. Wall between them because a CEO has other responsibilities. Yeah, I mean, setpoint obviously host a podcast that I'm joking that typically isn't necessarily the ceo.

But here's a great question and it did get a good reaction when I posted on LinkedIn cuz my view is exactly that, that I think the CEO needs to be the person in the business that knows the customer the most, and people responding and saying, look, with bigger companies it should be like sales customer success, and.

Now, so I'm still of the belief that the CEO needs to know the customer the better cuz they are ultimately making the big decisions that impact like what products are being made and how they're being sold. So to you, I asked your question, which is, how does the CEO actually do this? I think, and I've thought about this a bit, I think the best way is for the CO to create content because for my life experience, pretty limited.

But the best way for me to learn is to teach, which is why I write on LinkedIn, which is why I host a podcast. . And so they're gonna learn about the thing that they're creating content about more as they create it. And then the great thing is that if they're creating it and posting it, ideally from their own social profiles themselves, then they're gonna see the responses to that content and even get into the comments and interact and really learn from the people that are reacting to the content, which I didly.

I also the. So I think that is probably the best thing. I, I guess the, the alternate is for like the CS team to set up calls for the CEO e to jump on and ask questions. But I don't know if that's gonna to get the deeper enough knowledge that they essentially think that creating content could build deeper knowledge for the CEO E.

And the benefit there is also there is gonna help grow the company. Yeah. As a content marketer, someone who totally believes in the value of content. I think the CEO should be creating content on a regular basis, but the pushback that I get when I suggest that is that they've got bigger things to focus on.

It's not a priority. It's really not a good use of their time. So how do you convince a C E O that yes, they should be creating content. And the other sort of adjacent question is, do you think the c e O should be hosting podcasts or co-hosting podcasts, whether it's to an external or internal audience?

Yeah, say I, the reason why you get that pushback is because it's so hard to source or attribute the source of a good idea. Do you know what I mean? Like a CEO. It's completely ignorant of the ideas they could be getting from their customers that's gonna completely change the direction of the business or how they sell their thing.

And so it's so hard to track that. And so that's how I tried to get it across. But obviously it's not gonna be that convincing. So maybe I would say, look, c e o, we're gonna do this for a month. If we don't see the numbers growing and if, and if we don't feel like you're learning about the customer, then we can stop.

Maybe I just say we can. Do I think the ceo, well, we're actually gonna go full circle back to, we are talking about the benefits of podcasting versus writing blog posts. If you like, nail down the process as you were saying, mark, like this episode might take you like 40 minutes, including finding me and prepping the questions.

And then obviously if you can hand everything over to an editor, et cetera, or to, to the marketing team, then you can get the time down for a c e O to record an episode to like 35 minutes. And so they're gonna learn from the. Ideally they're gonna feed some feedback on the show or get a report from the marketing team about how it's doing, including like quality feedback.

And like the Theo ideally is gonna be a pretty good host cuz they normally know the subject matter and have good communication skills. So I think that is like one route to creating content for a CEO's podcast. Now we might be jumping onto another question, but I think there's like a, there's the best way to become famous in any B2B niche.

Basically combines three things. It's very simple. Just start written posts on LinkedIn. They can have a video and image in them and so the CEO can do this. They can get the insights from the show, start hosting their own podcast around the niche and then go guess on other podcasts in the niche. Do those three for six months and that's gonna like make the CEO and the business famous.

And so Oly that is gonna take the CEO quite a bit of time. So where possible, we're gonna hand over some of those tasks to the marketing team, like the marketing team together, booked on the other shows, and marketing team can do everything for the podcast. Apart from. And by actually writing that post, the marketing team can prep the video, but the actual writing of the post, I would say does need to be done by the.

I agree. I think authenticity matters. On a related note, in terms of understanding your customers, you talk about how organizations need to become better listeners, and I'm, as a reporter, a lot of the best information I got during an interview was simply listening and not talking. Letting people fill in the pregnant pauses with information that they would never have told you otherwise because they're uncomfortable with silence.

So I think that listening is an awesome thing and an awesome. How do you teach people to listen better? How do you make them understand that it's not about talking? Cuz we all love to talk and if you ask somebody a question, they'll talk until the cows come home. But what about listening? How do we improve listening from a, from a business perspective and even from a personal perspective?

It's such a good point and I don't know how much thought I've committed to understanding how to make people a better listener. So maybe I'll try and respond by understanding how I've become like a relatively good listener. I think it might have been like, In my earlier career, I was like starting small startups, like none of them worked, but I do remember reading like the Eric Reese book and the other one that inspired Eric Reese, Cecil's startup, and then the other one is called The Fourth Step to the Epiphany, and they just hammer so hard on the fact that your products, the product should be brought out of you by the customer.

It should be pulled out of you. Why Combinators? Let's. They just say, make stuff people want. And so I think it was hammered into me from like the startup world. I'm reading those two books. It becomes very clear that ultimately the gold, the thing that you're gonna create, that people actually want. And I got this wrong for like five years, right?

So maybe I learned through the pain. But maybe I would recommend like reading those books. I'm not gonna say the B2B market marketing manager in a big company should go and start their own company so they can learn how to listen. So , it's, but it's exactly the same in marketing. Like the messages that are gonna resonate, don't sit in your head.

Maybe they do kind of, if you, you used to be the ideal customer yourself. If you used to be the buyer, but maybe you didn't. So you just need to sit down and miss these people. So, I dunno if that was a good answer, mark. Well, I think it's a good answer, and I think what you're putting the spotlight on is the idea that, If you listen to your customers, they will tell you what you need to know.

They will tell you what they need to do their jobs better. They'll give you great ideas for content. They'll give you great feedback on your product. And so if you combine customer insight with listening, it's a powerful one to punch. Going back to our original discussion about podcasts, I wanna ask you about SEO o.

I listened to one of your other podcast interviews and a big focus was SEO o and the role that it plays in helping you promote your own podcast and those of your clients. How has Google's recent algorithm. Impacted SEO when it comes to, yeah, so my literally, the only thing I knew about the new algorithm is like, well, I read on a couple of LinkedIn posts and my understanding is that it is prioritizing content that people actually wanna read, like interesting content.

And I kind of thought they were doing that anyway with like score rates and like click, click rates, et cetera. So maybe they're just honing that and it makes total sense. And I think really for the last like seven years of seo, people have started to realize that you can't game it and you literally have to make content that people.

And so the opportunity for businesses for F e O with a podcast is simply just to ensure that you are able to pull out and create a webpage or a blog post from the episode actually adds value to people. And so this typically consists of like the embedded player, the embedded video, if you have it, the key takeaways and the transcripts, and then links to the guest.

Typically. Now that's like the standard. And if you really think about the user journey there, like somebody, I don't know, they're gonna feed that on social post. They're gonna click, then they're gonna click on the Apple link on the player that, on their phone maybe. And then they're gonna subscribe and listen to it later, which is fine.

But then that's not really gonna help with F E O. So we can like brainstorm a bit on how to make that page better if we want. Okay. So the first thing we wanna do is try and get some back links. And so what we do here, we go to the guest and be like, Hey, we made this awesome page for you. Maybe incentivize somehow to get the link from their domain back to.

What we've been testing is like writing a written summary of the post, giving that to the guest for them to post on their blog, and in that we'd embed a link back to ours. We typically get like a tick box when the guest is booking. Like if we write, if we write a sub or you post this on the blog and say yes, then I'll write it.

So that's the first thing. Second thing is maybe I would like. Take out the, we haven't tested this yet, but take out the embedded player or video and just link to that at the bottom of the post, and then tell the story of the episode in the blog post. That's something to test. We do still recommend putting the full like transcript, like not, not if it's automated, but if it's a human review transcript, like getting that on the page, maybe with a click thing, so you click it to like fully release it.

That will probably help with Google as well, but like to zoom out. The way you're gonna get more organic traffic is by creating information that people actually want. And so if you are able to like pull out good insights in your episode and then communicate them on a webpage on your domain, then you should be able to get organic traffic.

One final question that's around fame. I described fame briefly off the top, but perhaps you can provide a more full-blown description of what FAME does, who it serves, and the value that it delivers to. And I'm also interested in your approach to marketing these days. What kind of channels are you using?

What works? What hasn't worked for you? Great. Yeah, so fame B2B company in one line. We've started great podcasts with B2B brands and the business started cuz I was head of marketing at B2B SaaS company. We started podcast went really well. I left. Fortunately they became the first client and then they're still a client.

And we've just then taken that process. We built in-house and applied it to 55 different B2B businesses. Now, in terms of marketing is such a relevant question mark, because I was literally spending this week working on this, and this is like a Chris Walker thing, but I've taken all of our growth programs, I call them, and I've added them into a tread board that's like, Ideas, experiments, positive signals, repeatability, operationalizing scale, fully integrated.

And currently we have nine on there. I'll quickly run you through them. Now, nothing is past repeatability yet, but in ideas, we have LinkedIn ads not started there yet. In experiments, we have my podcast, still an experiment. Uh, server led growth for this is how we can get exposure for fame through the content we produce for clients.

Well, if we get. We have LinkedIn Organic for another one of the team is in there. Then moving to Positive Signals. So these are things that we started working on. We're getting good feedback from. We have a community called SaaS Marketer, biggest SaaS marketing community on Facebook that I've had for like three years.

So that's in there. My LinkedIn organic is positive Signals me being a podcast guest, how relevant here is in Positive Signals. And then we just have two and Repeatability, which is Google Organic and Google. So those are like all of the programs and my job as c e o and C M O is like prioritizing and trying to move them through that, that trailer board.

So what, right now it would be the term repeatability. So it's Google paid in organic, uh, like responsible for the majority, I would say of our, of our revenue. And what's your approach to paid these days? Cuz a lot of companies are pulling back on paid. They may not be seeing the results they want, they may not be seeing the engagement looking.

Yeah. If they're working like our, a ratio of paid spend to revenue, if only Google paid. So people that if they're capturing demand, people that are, Googling for what we do are ratio of like 1.5%. And so I'm trying to push that up while still maintaining like, Cost per convergence are acceptable and we're kind of hitting a hill limit.

So I wouldn't say we're scaling back. If I could find a way to pay more, maybe I just need to get better at Google ads, I would, or I need to find someone who's gonna do it with me. But that's how, how we're doing unpaid.

Great. One final question. Where can people learn about you and Tom Han on LinkedIn? Fame, O Sierra Oscar is the domain for the. Awesome. Well, thanks Tom for the great insight about podcasts and lots of other topics that, uh, I'm sure people will enjoy as we, uh, bounce around from topic to topic. And thanks to everyone for listening.

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