Join us as we discuss podcasting with Benjamin Shapiro, the host for the Martech Podcast. We talk about how you should approach launching your podcast by coming up with a proper name and target audience that will ensure the success of your show, and as well as what are some ways of growing a podcast and what are some skills that can help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can be an amazing show host. Enjoy!
[Excerpt] Ben: And so I feel like that’s what makes the podcast medium so powerful, the ability to consume content in a passive format without you know engaging your eyes, makes it really meaningful and powerful.
[00:00:31] Nemanja: Welcome to the Nootka Sound Podcast, I’m your host Nemanja Koljaja, a professional Sound Engineer, Audio Editor and Podcast Producer and a CEO and Founder of Nootka Sound, a professional podcast production facility. Today it’s my pleasure to sit down with Benjamin Shapiro, the host of the MarTech podcast, the show that we already talked about on our first episode.
Ben, so nice of you to join us, welcome to the show!
[00:00:56] Ben: Nemanja it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me as one of your first guests.
[00:01:00] Nemanja: Awesome. Since we don’t have a lot of time, let’s go straight to the point. Can you tell me what podcasting has done for your brand specifically?
[00:01:08] Ben: Yeah, it’s totally changed what I do from a business perspective. I guess the context is I’ve been running a consulting practice, helping growth stage companies with marketing about three or four years. And I had dabbled in podcasting as a hobby and a side project. But I started the Martech podcast and originally it was supposed to be a lead generation resource, a way for me to meet new people and find new clients for my consulting business and the podcast, it was an experiment gone totally wrong. The podcast grew much faster than I ever would have anticipated. And so before I started trying to take the content and the listeners and convert them to be my consulting clients, I ended up pivoting my business to focus on finding a sponsorship model and decided that I was basically going to be a full time podcaster and a part time consultant, as opposed to the other way around. So it’s really changed my entire business.
[00:02:13] Nemanja: That’s really interesting. In that regard, do you think of a podcast as a tool or more as an end goal?
[00:02:19] Ben: I think it’s different depending on what type of business you’re running for me as an independent consultant, it was supposed to be a user acquisition tool, a nice way for me to build awareness for my brand. And I think that’s how most companies think about podcasts in the same way they think about a blog or a YouTube channel. It is meant to be a marketing tool to help build awareness and then sometimes drive conversions for your products or services. On the flip side, there’s also media businesses, right? There are companies that just create content and that is their product. And so for me, I ended up making the pivot from using a podcast as a tool to having it be my product. But, you know, for most brands, my feeling is that the podcast is a marketing tool or something that’s supplemental to what they’re doing on a regular basis.
[00:03:15] Nemanja: Can you just tell me from your experience? So what is the most effective method of getting through to the audience at the beginning when the number of listeners that follow you is very low.
[00:03:24] Ben: Well, I think that there’s a couple of different challenges there. First finding your audience and making them aware of your podcast and getting them to listen to it as one challenge, making an impact and producing great content is a separate challenge. So do you want me to talk about how to find your audience or how to make something that’s compelling for them?
[00:03:44] Nemanja: Can you do both, because I’m interested in hearing both.
[00:03:47] Ben: Yeah. I think that, you know, first and foremost, you have to think of the product and think about what you are creating that is going to be interesting to your users and you don’t have to create the most compelling art project in the world to get people to listen to you. You have to understand who your niche is. My Martec podcast is meant for people that use technology to market their products or services. They are marketers. And so really I’m thinking of my audience first, what do marketers want or need to hear? And my content is all around, helping them understand the tools that great marketers are using, helping them understand who else is in the marketing community. That can be a resource to them and helping them understand how to navigate their careers as a marketer. And so by creating that type of content, You know, it doesn’t have to be something that is interesting and compelling to someone who isn’t a marketer. Like if my mom listens to the show, she’s going to be totally lost she’s, not going to understand it. And she’s not a marketer for the record. Right. And so you have to understand who your audience is and think about what content is going to be interesting to them and who is the best person to deliver that message. Sometimes I do episodes that are just me talking, solo acts, but most of the time I’m interviewing other people that are subject matter area experts on their area of expertise. I’ve found that for my show, 15 to 25 minute pieces of content is the right format because that’s how much time my audience wants to invest in listening to a piece of content on a regular basis. They’re not listening to three hours of content on the weekend. They’re listening to 15 minutes in their commute on the way to work or when they’re on the treadmill.
[00:05:27] Nemanja: That’s interesting. And speaking of which, do you have any tips on coming up with that target audience and creating the target audience for your podcast?
[00:05:36] Ben: It depends. Going back to the original question of how do you figure out if your podcast is a tool or is it the end product? If you have a product or a service and you want to find people that are interested in it, you need to think about what your consumers traits are and what they’re interested in. So let me give you an example to make it more tangible. If I am running a podcast production agency. Then I’m going to create a podcast that has content around why people need podcasts. What are some of the best ways people can take advantage of podcasts and where can they go to make sure that they are staying up to date with all the resources that they need? You know, I’m trying to understand what my audience needs are and building the content around that. I am not trying to create an art project that is talking to the entire world about what a podcast is and how they work and who they’re for and what are some of the best cases, it’s just too broad. So you really need to think about who your audience is first.
[00:06:39] Nemanja: Totally true. And here’s an interesting question. I may be wrong, but in my opinion, the podcasting format transcends culture and nationality, and it’s becoming more and more, a global medium that connects people from all over the world. And why do you think that is the case? Is it because of the way it’s formatted? Is it because of the content or is something totally different that’s going on?
[00:07:01] Ben: Yeah, I think the medium is interesting because people spend a lot of time listening to content. They can do it passively while they’re doing other things. Somebody who can listen to a podcast while they’re heading to work while they’re commuting, while they’re on the treadmill. They’re doing the dishes sometimes even while they’re working. And so that allows people to take in more information in a passive format than they would had they been watching a video. You actually have to keep your eyes on the screen, reading a blog. You have to keep your eyes on the screen, right? There’s all these other formats of media, television as well. When you have to really understand it, have to actively be engaged and podcasts can be a little bit more passive. Which means that people can take in more content and they generally do, the average listen time for my show is 18 minutes per episode. If you think about how much content you’re getting across in 18 minutes in a podcast, as opposed to how much content you’re getting across, when you have a Facebook post that’s, you know, 50 words, That’s a lot more, right. Just in terms of volume, people are consuming more content. And so I feel like that’s what makes the podcast medium so powerful, the ability to consume content in a passive format without engaging your eyes makes it really meaningful and powerful. I also think that there is a sense of building a connection with the host and the subject matter. And you can really build authority through the medium, by staying present in front of your audience. So to me, that’s, you know, one of the most important things is not only can you stay in front of your audience on a regular basis, you’re providing them notifications that you have new content on a regular basis, but you’re also able to share a lot of information in a format where people can digest it. I do think that, you know, you mentioned that podcasts are without borders and I agree in one sense that, you know, when I look at the Martech podcast, we’re somewhere between 55 to 65% of our downloads come from the United States where I’m based. The other countries are not just English speaking countries, which I think is really fascinating. China, India, Japan, all major tech centers and where, you know, a podcast focused on marketing and technology, but companies that have big economies and are a lot of resources dedicated to marketing or the biggest followers, but they’re not native English speaking countries. Now either there’s a big expat community or English is being taught in schools. But you know, is the idea that you can create a podcast in English and have worldwide distribution. Obviously, some people that don’t understand the language are not going to be able to consume the content, but there is an advantage there of, you know, there are lots of sort of English speakers all around the globe and they’re able to consume your content wherever they are.
[00:09:52] Nemanja: Yeah, totally. I mean, my personal feeling is that the English language has kind of become the global language because from my experience, basically everyone speaks it to an extent, or at least they are able to understand it on some basic level. And I think in the future, that’s just going to make the language even more known to people. And then we’ll have this global language that everybody speaks and everybody can communicate in. So that’s the future I’m looking forward to.
[00:10:20] Ben: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if English will ever be the universal language, but I do think that it’s the dominant language and it’s the one that you can communicate the most broadly with.
[00:10:28] Nemanja: Okay. I know you guys heavily rely on LinkedIn, but can you tell me how important social media presence is for the successful distribution of a podcast?
[00:10:37] Ben: Yeah. You know what, social media is important and it is one way to grow a following and an audience. I think that, you know, when you’re thinking about podcast growth, I think of it really in four different channels, organic, virality. paid and partnerships. And so organic, just being you’re producing content and that people in the app stores are interested in consuming. And, you know, people are searching podcast app stores constantly. They’re searching Google to find podcasts. And, you know, that’s one of the main ways just producing the content in itself can be a growth engine, but it takes a long time to develop a following that way.
Virality is having your guests or the people that are in your audience, share your content. And so to me, that’s where the social network comes in, where you’re able to share your content with people that are in your audience. And hopefully they help you distribute it as well. The third channel is paid and actually this is one of the secrets that we use to grow our podcast where most people think you can’t build an audience by paying for them. We did a lot of ads and paid a lot of money to start building our audiences because I just didn’t want to wait for the virality and the organic growth to kick in. I wanted to see what we were doing. And a lot of what I was doing was actually advertising on other podcasts instead of buying Facebook ads, where someone has to go from Facebook find my web page, then click to the app store, or maybe they’re just going from Facebook to the app store, but then they have to subscribe. You’re taking them out of the environment that they’re in. It’s easier to advertise to people when they are listening to podcasts to download another podcast. So, you know, that was kind of one of the secrets that we had when we started, you know, growing our podcasts initially, and then partnerships, you know, working with other people that have an audience that’s similar to yours was kind of like what you’re doing right now, being a guest on other podcasts, being active in the community, you know, working with other people that are media creators and have businesses that are relevant to help you promote your content. Those are really the four buckets of podcast content growth.
[00:12:44] Nemanja: Awesome. And speaking of paid promotions, how much do you think it’s needed to invest into paid promotion of a podcast before you actually get a beneficial return on investment?
[00:12:55] Ben: Depends on what your goal is. For me as a media business, being able to sell ads to companies, I felt that the delineation, the line where we said, okay, we’re ready to start selling ads was 10,000 downloads a month. Our model is not selling on a CPM basis. The average, the industry standard is 25 to $50 CPMs and at 10,000 downloads a month if you’re selling on a $25 CPM, you’re looking at $250 per month. That’s not enough money to produce a podcast. Right? I couldn’t pay for the editor. I can’t pay for the resources. So we sell our inventory in a different fashion. We’re doing advertorial content, post read advertising, but we’re also doing contents indication as well. So we’re selling instead of for $250 a month, you know, 10 to $25,000 a month. 10,000 downloads a month was the target that we set to start monetizing our podcast. But for brands that are interested in doing user acquisition, you might only need 10 listeners to find a customer, right? Every business is going to be slightly different. So, you know, I think it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. My first podcast was a show called a Long Road Home, and it was an art project. It was something that I did for fun. And it was successful when I had its first listener. You know, the Martech podcast, we were able to monetize it and make money when we had 10,000 downloads. It just depends what you’re trying to accomplish.
[00:14:21] Nemanja: Okay, so let’s step back from the tech talk a little bit. If I remember correctly, you mentioned you are a musician and you spend your spare time singing and playing the guitar? And if someone’s a singer, whether they’re doing it professionally or as a hobby, how much do you think that experience can benefit them as a show host?
[00:14:40] Ben: Yeah. I don’t know if I would say that I’m really a musician and I’m an amateur guitar player. And I ran a website teaching people how to play guitar because I wasn’t good enough to be a professional myself. I think that anything that you could do where you’re talking in public or performing and getting comfortable with being in front of people and articulating a message, whether it’s in spoken format or music or singing. You know, anything where you could put yourself out there and just feel comfortable, sort of creating your message and your art provides value just by building your confidence and knowing that not every time you go out on stage or in front of a podcast, are you going to be perfect, but you sort of lose that focus on perfection and just try to be better than you were and be more comfortable. And when you’re more comfortable, the content you’re producing generally ends up being better. Obviously you want to be prepared. And, you know, having some experience and being on stage or being a musician helps, you know, make you feel more comfortable in front of people.
[00:15:42] Nemanja: Yeah, totally. With you being a marketing strategy consultant, what are some key things you would tell someone to keep an eye on when branding a podcast?
[00:15:51] Ben: Yeah, for me, the focus, when you’re thinking about branding is titling your pocket cast and your content for what people are looking for. If I am creating a podcast about marketing and technology, I’m going to try to get the words, marketing and technology in the title. The title for the Martech podcast is actually MarTech – marketing plus technology equals business growth because I wanted all of those keywords in the title because people might be looking for marketing. They might be looking for technology. They might be looking for MarTech, marketing, business, marketing growth, right. All combinations of those words.
So, you know, I could have called it the Benjamin Shapiro’s sings and dances, the marketing podcasts song. And you know, it would have been a fine title I could have called it Riviera podcast, something that nobody is looking for when they’re thinking about marketing, I just call it what it is, is always how I think about it. And that goes in with your titles, which is probably more important. You know, people are going to be searching for subjects as much as they’re searching for podcast shows. So I try to be on the nose with calling it what it is as opposed to getting cute.
[00:17:01] Nemanja: That makes sense. Okay. Can you give me the three piece of advice you would give to someone who’s looking to take up podcasting?
[00:17:08] Ben: Three pieces of advice for somebody that’s taking on podcasting first, understand who your audience is and what you’re trying to accomplish with creating your content asset. If you know that you’re looking to market to marketers, make sure that you’re building content around what their needs are. Second title your show in a way that it is searchable and discoverable. So, you know, call it what it is. I know that I’ve mentioned a couple of these bullets already, but think about who your audience is, write your topic and titles based on what they’re looking for. And then the last thing I’d say is be consistent. The same thing with when you’re writing a blog. Or creating a video series. Your first blog post is not going to be viewed by a million people. Your first video is not going to be viewed by a million people. Well, or it’s rare. Your first podcast is not going to be listened to by a million people, but if you continually publish on a regular basis and you’re producing high quality content and you’re serving an audience, eventually it just sort of works out. We’re a couple hundred thousand downloads away from a million downloads, which I think we have another two months till we hit a million downloads, which sounds like a crazy number to me.
[00:18:22] Nemanja: That’s crazy, yeah.
[00:18:23] Ben: And I was thinking back to when we started and like our first episode got, you know, 10 downloads on our first day and I just felt so excited that 10 people were listening to the show and it turns out it was probably like three people. But now that we’re getting close to the million download mark. You know, I think that that’s only possible because we’ve published content on a daily basis for multiple years. And so the more that you stay consistent and also allow yourself the time to let your podcast mature. It’s not something that grows overnight. It’s something that grows over years. That’s really the secret. Just keep doing it
[00:18:56] Nemanja: Okay, well, first I’ve got to say congratulations on hitting the big milestone. That’s amazing.
[00:19:02] Ben: Well, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there
[00:19:04] Nemanja: Yeah. Okay. Do you have any last words you’d like to share with us?
[00:19:09] Ben: Yeah, Nemanja, we’ve worked together a little. You’ve you’ve done some editing for a couple of our shows. We did the Finding a Job Podcast together for a little while. And you know, one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about building a podcast and the network that we’ve built is the ability to connect with smart, talented people around the world. So, you know, I just want to say thank you for some of the work that you’ve done with us. Congratulations on launching your podcast. And, you know, I wish you nothing but success with your business. And that’s the beauty of digital and online businesses. You can connect with people around the world that you never would have met. So I’m excited for you. And thanks for being part of our team.
[00:19:09] Nemanja: Yeah, thank you so much. That really means a lot. It’s really cool, when people who care about the same thing, get together regardless of their locations. So yeah,
[00:19:59] Ben: We share one world.
[00:20:01] Nemanja: Yeah. One last thing. Where can our listeners reach you and check out your show?
[00:20:06] Ben: I guess there’s a couple different resources. I’d point you to, if you’re interested in learning about marketing and technology, look up the Martech podcast, you could just search MarTech in the app store. We should be the first listing there, go to MarTech pod.com. I also do a SEO and content marketing podcast called the Voices of Search, which is voices of search.com. And my consulting and my personal website is benjshap.com, B E N J S H A P.com.
[00:20:31] Nemanja: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
[00:20:36] Ben: It’s been wonderful to reconnect and looking forward to working together again sometime soon.
[00:20:40] Nemanja: That’s it!
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