A few years ago, I hosted a podcast called ‘Ask Amanda About Marketing’. It ran for 30 episodes before going on a hiatus for over a year. Now, I’m relaunching it under a new name and with a more focused goal, and I’ve been reflecting on what I learned during the first go-around and the podcast tips I’ve acquired while getting ready to publish this next iteration.
Here are my biggest takeaways.
1. Have a narrow focus
This tip comes directly from Joe Pulizzi. I saw he and Robert Rose were relaunching their This Old Marketing podcast, so I reached out to see if he could share any wisdom.
I explained that ‘Ask Amanda About Marketing’ involved me (and sometimes guests) answering various questions people had about digital marketing.
The first thing he said? Narrow your focus.
There are hundreds of marketing podcasts out there, so in order to provide value that isn’t duplicative of what people can already access, you have to hone in your objective. Who exactly do you plan to help, and how exactly do you plan to help them?
He had a point. While I loved the first iteration of the show, it was topically scattered, and I knew we could benefit from honing in our purpose.
We landed on ‘Cashing in on content marketing’, a show all about proving content marketing ROI and getting buy-in.
Armed with a narrow focus, it was time to book guests.
2. Don’t hide behind the mic
It’s convenient to be able to podcast from home and have conversations with incredibly smart people all over the world through Zoom or Skype or some other platform.
But don’t forget to attend in-person events. While you can cold-pitch people (and we certainly have), you can build much better connections when you meet people in the real world.
Of the first 11 people I have booked to be guests on the show, seven of them are people I met in the last year at marketing events.
Because when you meet people in person, you’re forming a much stronger connection than people you sometimes interact with online. There’s still value in online interactions, of course, but nothing surpasses good ol’ fashioned IRL (in real life) meeting.
If you don’t have a lot of event budget, many conferences have free or cheap community passes, like Inbound. Also, check for local events; some companies host events and meetups in their cities, and these community connections can be just as important. For example, Orbit Media hosts affordable monthly events in Chicago.
3. Do your research
Once you book guests, it’s time to figure out what you’ll talk about.
My personal style is to keep it conversational, but you still need to set up a framework of questions so you make sure the chatting stays on-topic and that your guest feels guided through the conversation.
I generally have at least five questions that shape the direction of what I want to talk about. If the person has written blog posts, books, or conference presentations that are relevant, I read those and ask questions that refer to those materials.
Not sure if these materials exist? Ask them in advance.
Give them an idea of what you want to talk about, but allow them to switch up the angle based on what they’re passionate about and have expertise in.
For example, when talking to Mark Schaefer before having him on the show, I told him we could talk about his newest book “Marketing Rebellion,” but he suggested focusing on “The Content Code” since it might be more in line with the podcast’s goals.
When you touch base before the show, you’re able to establish directions that are better for your audience. And you can prepare accordingly. I brushed up on both books and asked questions about referencing material from them.
As a result, Mark said,
“Thank you so much for reading my books and being so well-prepared with your questions – it was a pleasure.”
Don’t underestimate how much prepping for the interview can set you up for success. You want your questions to be different from everyone else’s, otherwise, you’ll end up with a show that doesn’t stand out.
If you follow this advice – focus and differentiate your podcast’s mission, meet marketing professions IRL, and go above and beyond when preparing for interviews – you’ll be setting a solid foundation for your podcasting endeavor.
But most importantly – Keep your audience in mind. You’re not creating this for yourself, or your company, or your guests. You’re creating it to help, inspire, or inform your listeners. Don’t lose sight of that, and you’ll continue making the ideal decisions for your show.
Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.
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