For B2B SaaS Companies, Podcasts are a No-Brainer: Jeremy Shere

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Podcasts can be a valuable marketing tool for B2B SaaS companies because they provide opportunities to connect with customers, prospects, and influencers. 

Podcasts can also help generate a lot of content by extracting insight about multiple topics, which can be useful for content marketing efforts. 

However, it can be challenging for marketers to convince senior executives to invest in a podcast because it can be difficult to measure return on investment (ROI). 

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Connversa Podcasting CEO Jeremy Shere, talks to Mark Evans about:

- How companies should quantify ROI

- Why podcasts continue to be embrace amid tough economic conditions

- The biggest reasons why companies shy away from podcasts

- The reasons why companies jump on the podcast bandwagon; podcasts done by competitors being one of biggest factors.

- Why consistency is the key to podcast success

- The role of podcasts within the sales process

For many bTB SaaS companies, podcasts are a compelling proposition. The podcast creates opportunities to connect with customers, prospects and influencers, and as important, they can generate a lot of content by extracting insight about multiple topics. Yet it can be a challenge for marketers to sell a podcast to senior executives who can't see the r o I. On today's podcast, I'm talking with Jeremy Shear, founder and CEO of Conversa, which helps brands like HP and a m D create podcast to connect with prospects, generate content, and grow brand awareness. Welcome to marketing Spark, Jeremy, Well, thank you very much, glad to be here. As people operating in the eye of the podcast hurricane, we clearly see the benefits In my business, the value is clear and obvi us launching a podcast was probably one of the best professional decisions that I've made. So here's the question, why do you think many bTB companies struggle embraced podcasting? What stops them from jumping on the bandwagon? Well, I think you know you touched on it already in your intro. Mark that number one. They might just be a little wary of the r l I or knowing they're going to have to prove the r l I and not knowing how to do that. Um, I think it can seem like a very heavy lift, not so much necessarily to get a podcast started, although I think that's another reason a lot of B two B marketers just might not know exactly where to begin, but also the thought of starting something new, especially something like a podcast they haven't done before building an audience for it just might seem like a gargantuan task that they don't have time for or the energy for. And they're already nurturing all these other animals, you know, So at the end of the day, I think it's it. Podcasting seems to a lot of B two B marketers like a nice to have but not a need to have, And given that time is short and a lot of B two B marketers already have so much on their plate, it just seems like something like, yeah, that would be cool, but the time is not right. Timing is a very interesting idea because as the economy has softened, as demand for B two B products and services has sagged, a lot of marketers need to focus on what truly matters. Budgets have been reduced and whatever you do need to generate our y more specifically leads, because every CEO of these these days is demanding leads, leads, leads. So do you think that some of the enthusiasm for podcasting has dissipated because due to the current economic positions, it's just not seen as something that they want to embrace right now? I mean, that's not what I'm seeing actually, So I have a lot of discussions with B two B marketers, um, and recently I'm not hearing that, you know, because of the economy now, it's not a good time for podcasting. In fact, I'm hearing the opposite. I'm hearing like, yes, we, in fact we are very interested in podcasting fore um, but you know, we need to learn more about how it works and how to make a business case for it. There's kind of the inkling that like, yeah, actually this would be a good play. We can make a good business case for it. We're just not exactly sure how So, I mean, that's what I'm hearing. So conceptionally, marketers get the idea of a podcast. They understand that it's a great way to establish connections and generate lots of content. So theoretically it makes sense. But what you're suggesting is that the mechanics, the work involved, the resources that need to be allocated are probably the biggest blocks right now for many B two B company. I...

...think that's a big part of it um And I think some marketers definitely see the value of using podcasting is a way to connect with people with prospects and generate content. But just as many don't necessarily see that, I think they see podcasting in the more traditional way of the brand awareness play. We'll start this thing, we'll build up an audience. So some don't really see past that either, like I said before, and that's kind of a reason why maybe they're not ready to get into it. But you know, but you make a good point in that there there definitely are other ways to look at the value of podcasting alongside building up an audience. Well, that's the obvious or next question here is how do companies measure the success in our o I of a podcast in the world dominated by data? You know, what are the traditional metrics to use and as importantly, what are ways to measure our y from a qualitative perspective? You know, in a sense a podcast our oy is a combination of art and science. Some metrics, downloads, number of stream subscribers are going to be front and center, and you can look at a KPI dashboard and say to your CEO, look, the numbers are going up. But in other respects, a lot of the r o I of a podcast is hidden. It's behind the scenes. It's conversations that are happening, and you know, marketers like Chris Walker to talk about dark web and dark social, all those interactions, all those recommendations and brand awareness that's happening without brands even being aware of it. And that's one of the challenges of a podcast is that there are some obviously high level metrics, but lots of different ways that a success of a podcast can be measured. The most traditional way is to look at your podcast dashboard and see how many listeners are we getting. You know, how many unique listeners are checking us out and per episode over the lifetime of the podcast, over the last month, what are the numbers look like, how many downloads are we getting. That's the traditional way, and it's a perfectly good way in its own limited way. I mean, it does give you a sense of are you gaining traction or has it plateaued or are you losing listeners? Right, So, definitely one way to look at it. But a few caveats. Number one, it does take time to build up an audience for a podcast, just like for any channel, and so it depends when you're looking at the dashboard. You've launched your podcast and you have five episodes out there, and you've been publishing for five weeks in a row, and you look at the dashboard and the numbers aren't where you want them to be. That's too soon to conclude that it's not working. It just takes a while for a podcast to catch on. And it also depends how well you're promoting it. And in the bigger picture, that's just one way of measuring the value of a podcast, and you've you already began to touch on some of the others as you mentioned I think a few minutes ago. Another way to mention to look at the value of a podcast is how are we using the podcast to generate content? So ideally you can if you're doing it the right way, you're using a podcast as at the very center of your content generation machine. Because you're starting with discussions, just like we're doing now. The most natural thing in the world will probably end up recording here for probably at least twenty minutes, you know, twenty five minutes something like that. You can easily turn our discussion here into many different kinds of content were recording video can produce the video version, produce video clips to promote in social media. You can transcribe our discussion turned it into written content. And I think there there are and I think that's valuable in two specific ways. One the the the efficiency of it. It's a lot easier to go from a spoken conversation that you've transcribed, that's been recorded, and then turned that into written contexts you already starting with the content...

...there, as opposed to starting from scrap. And also I think just the quality of the content, that there's something about a conversation, especially between two people who don't already know each other well. We're exchanging ideas and kind of sparking off each other, and it can lead to insights or ways of looking at things that are fresher and newer than you might get when you're just cranking out yet another blog post from you know, your internal subject matter experts you've already gone too many times, it can start to sound a little bit the same. So I think that the uh, the quality of the content again, if you're doing it the right way, can be higher. So there's that content generation piece of it. And then also there's who you're talking to on the podcast. You know. I think a lot of people that I talked to in the very early exploring stages they kind of assume, like, well, we'll be talking to, you know, the people at our company, our subject matter experts. I say, Okay, yes, you definitely should, especially in the early phase of the podcast when you're just getting going to establish it. But then as soon as you can, you need to start reaching out to people outside your company, outside subject matter experts, and especially folks who, if you're working closely with sales, are also your prospects. And this just makes sense, right. I mean, with all your marketing, you're aiming it at your audience, which is composed of your prospects. Same thing with a podcast. The difference is that you can invite people onto your podcast you want to get to know and talk to, and I think that is a major part of the value you're having in depth discussions. Both in prep calls before and then during the podcast with the very people you need to get to know in order to grow your business, and a podcast is a way to do that. That's not a sales conversation. You're not trying to sell anything. You know, it's low pressure. It really is just shining the spotlight on your guests and getting to know them in a way that can really help build the kinds of relationships that you need in order to advance people, to get people into your pipeline and then advance them down your pipeline. So I think that's where a lot of the value lies when you combine that with the audience that you can also grow from a brand awareness standpoint. If you package that together with the continent that you're generating for your other channels, look at it more holistically like that, and I think you can begin to see the value coming into shape that's more robust and well beyond just the raw numbers you get on a dashboard. There's a lot to unpack there. One thing I will say when it comes to inviting customers, prospects, influencers is that I look at a podcast as digital catnip. It is very hard for someone to resist a podcast invitation, even if it's coming cold. So in my experience on my path my podcast over the last two years, I've had a small all handful of people turn me down, and I have reached out to very high profile marketers people like Chris Walker and Ran Fishkin and people say yes. And at the conversely, I've had very large B two B sas companies clear Fit type Form approach me to appear on my little podcast. So there's something compelling about appearing on a podcast that people find hard to turn down. So if you're a brand and you're looking at your potential guest universe, it's amazing how many people will say yes is simply if you ask them. I also want to touch upon content. I was reading a LinkedIn post this morning about six trends for B two B marketing trends for three and number one was doubling down on content. The idea that if you create insightful, prescriptive, thought leadership content that meets the needs and interests of your target audiences, that will be a great way to break through. And it's not...

...necessarily a volume game. It's about quality. And I want to pick up on your earlier comment that podcasts are amazingly fertile material for great content. You get insight from the horse's mouth literally speaking or proverbial speaking that you won't get from simply doing some research and writing an SEO optimized podcast. And I think that's something that a lot of brands need to appreciate as they try to leverage content to break out and break through. I agree. I mean to go back to your first comment about the podcast, Cantinet, that is totally true. I get emails all the time people wanting to come onto my podcast, just like you do. And I think it's just basic human nature. You know, people like to be featured. They like it's flattering to have someone reach out to you and say, hey, I would you like to be featured on my podcast? And as long as it's basically a good fit and it makes sense, yeah, I've had the same experience. Most people I invite say yes because what do you stand to lose? I mean, you you get something from it. It's a much easier yes than a cold email saying hey, can I have fifteen minutes of your time to demo my software? Right? Or two? Can I have fifteen minutes of your time? So you can tell me all about your pain points and then I can market to you or sell to you. That's a good You're gonna get a lot of nose because what's in it for me? You know? But hey, do you want to be featured on my podcast All about You? You're going to get content out of this that you can share and promote your own personal brand. Why not? That's an easy yes. And I think the other thing too to remember is that you really don't have to do a lot of preparation for a podcast. You can certainly provide the guest with a number of questions just to frame the conversation. But a lot of people love to talk. It's easier for them to talk about the subjects that they know a lot about. And the other thing is that many podcasts are simply audio or many guests don't look at a podcast as a video conversation. They look at it as an audio conversation or comfortable. They're more relaxed, they don't have to prepare as much. So that's something to consider when you're looking to get people on your podcast. For sure, right you you give them options. Um, I mean I found that most people seem to be pretty comfortable with video as well, and that's maybe that's because of COVID when we all spent pretty much all day every day on zoom on. You know, whether it was recorded or not. You didn't even know most of the time. But it's just we've grow uncomfortable with this, you know, sort of seeing ourselves in these little boxes on the screen. And that's valuable too. I think a lot of people are like, Oh, you're gonna record video, so I'll get some video content of myself too. Cool, let's do it. You know, it's just a very attractive proposition. Like you said, one thing I did want to ask you about going back to KPI s like download, subscribe, there's number of streams. When you work with clients like HP and other big brands, what advice do you give them or what helped you give them to promote their podcast. It's one thing to produce a podcast, get the video clips already and the audio clips. It's another thing to make sure that you distribute it in the right places to the right people. How should a brand approach distribution to make sure that all the hard work that you're putting into a podcast generates brand awareness listeners and r y. Well, there's quite a bit that goes into it. Um. I mean, in some ways, promoting a podcast is no different than promoting any channel that you have. So you're gonna do all the basic things. You're gonna use your existing channels. You're going to focus on the ones where the audience you're hoping to reach with the podcast, focus on the channels that are most likely to reach them. I mean, I think some things that are maybe a little more peculiar to podcasting to one degree or another. I mean, the key to succeed...

...success with podcasting by far number one is being consistent. So publishing episodes on a regular cadence, whatever, that cadence is weekly, twice a month, whatever, steaking to the schedule. So that's number one. Even if you're promoting it well, but you don't stick to the schedule, it's not gonna work. But assuming that you are being consistent, then also being consistent with your promotions, and that's no different than promoting. That's really I think where video can really come in handy that even if you're not necessarily into producing a full length video version of the episode, because I think data have shown that on average, people more people listen to podcasts then watch them. Although YouTube is such a powerful search engine, I do think it's a good idea to to produce some sort of full length version of your episode, just because of the power of YouTube. But anyway, and if you don't, recording video promos and publishing those promos on social media as a way to promote the episode I think is very powerful just given all the data around how well video does in social media. A really good way to promote podcast tried in true way, is to get on other podcasts, to find podcasts that have audiences that are similar to the one that that that you're trying to reach. And that works well because then you're getting yourself in front of the very audience that you want to connect with. Their podcast listeners they subscribe to at least one other podcast about the topic that you want to talk about. When you go on another show. The idea is not just to blab and blab and and promote your own show. You know it's not and it's not a commercial, but you know, kind of like what I'm doing just now right, you know, I I'm your audience is hearing from me, and you mentioned up top that I you know, have a podcast production company, and I have my own podcast to call the B two B Content Show. You're going to be a guest on that show. It's it's just an opportunity to let folks know that it exists and for them to get in this instance, for them to get to know me a little bit on your show. You know what I'm all about, what I sound like, and the kind of things I like to talk about. They're much more likely than to check out my podcast now than they would be if I wasn't a guest in your show and they never heard of me, you know, And I think that just works generally. So if you're trying to promote promote a podcast, get yourself booked on as many other podcasts as you can. That's a really good way to do it. I'm not sure about the tools that you use for podcast promotion, but I will tell people and recommend highly that if you are looking to promote your podcast, create videos audio clips. One of the most friendly tools is to script. It's a platform that allows you to edit using words. So you can edit a video by simply editing the transcript, and then you can export that to YouTube or raw video or audio clips. It's a lot of work putting the podcast together. It's a lot of work to produce a podcast and distribute it. But there are lots of tools out there that will make your life a lot easier. The other question that I want to ask you is that there's a big focus on marketers capitalizing on the power of podcasts. Maybe dive into a little bit into the role in place of podcasts within the sales landscape. How can sales leverage podcast to nurture and win deals and what are some of the ways that you see in companies drive sales with podcasts. I think there are a couple of ways. One is and and actually this is how I got into podcasting in the first place, sort of gave me the whole idea for podcasting is like a business communication tool. For one, If you're a larger organization, like for an enterprise organization, and you have a big sales team. Are many different sales teams all that all over the world,...

...podcasting could be a really great way for salespeople to learn from each other. So if you create a podcast as an internal communication tool and it features top sales people talking about how they win, how they close deals, you know all that stuff. I think that can be a really great way for salespeople to learn from each other and get better at what they do. And another play is using podcasting as a way from marketing and sales to work together to target leads that are in the pipeline but stuck somewhere in the middle. I think every every sales team deals with us it. I think it works simply by having this tool, having the podcast where marketing can go to sales and say, look, we we're looking for guests. Who do you have in the pipeline that would be a good guest in this podcast. Where are they in the pipeline? What have you already talked about with them? What do you know about them? What would it help you to to learn more about in order to move this prospect further down to pipeline. Again, it's you bring uh invite that invite that prospect onto the podcast and have a discussion with them about whatever is most appropriate. Whatever. We'll enable you to learn more about them and deepen that relationship. It's of course, not a guarantee, it's not a silver bullet that they'll come out the other side of that experience and say, wow, I'm ready to buy now to send me a contract, but they'll know you better than they did before. They'll be a little bit further down that pipeline. It's another touch with that prospect. And again you're offering a lot of value. It's not just hey, can I bother you again to talk to you one more time about our offering? No, no, thank you. We we we already know we need to know to know. Hey, would you like to be featured on our podcast? We're going to create some content with you and audio and video. Okay, sure that sounds good. It's the same kind of says, the same play that we described before. Just if you can use it to target prospects that are stuck somewhere in the pipeline. And you know, I think it's just sales one oh one. Right. The more touches you have with the prospect and the more value you can offer without asking for stuff in return, the better it's going to go overall. And I think a podcast just lends itself to that really well. One of the things about the marketing and sales process that I find interesting is triggers. At some point in time, a customer will wake up and decide that they need a specific product or service. It may be something that's built up over time, or it may be something that the straw that broke the camel's back in your business. When you start with BDB clients, what's triggered the decision to get into podcasts? And I suspect that it's marketers leading the charge. How have they been able to convince their bosses that a podcast makes sense? Like, what is it that finally gets senior management to say, okay, I'll let you do a podcast. Yeah, that's a question. Well, first of all, I think it makes a big difference to really have a champion at the company, and that might mean, you know, the VP of marketing, which is that's that's who I'm usually talking to, and they might have done a podcast their previous company, or they're just a big fan of podcasting and are really behind it. It also helps if their boss or the CEO also is into podcasting and it's just a little easier to convince them to to uh take the leap and give it a shot. I think you the timing has to be right. Almost always with new clients that podcasting has been something they've been thinking about for quite a while. Often maybe they've tried it before without much success, or they just don't know where to get started. But they're you know, they have budget, and they're looking to to diversify their channels, and they probably have some competitors in their space that have a podcast, so they look and say,...

...oh, there, you know, and and they listen to their podcast, and I think that's that's often one of the big triggers where there's already a couple of podcasts in their space, so there's an example of what it could do and what it could look like, and they check it out and they're like, Wow, they're having some really cool conversations on their show. The content they're creating is really different. It's it's free flowing, it's more spontaneous, it's real people just kind of chopping it up. That's you know. I think if you ask any B two B marketer like what are you looking for in good content, They're going to say, well, it needs to be authentic, you know, it needs to stand out. It needs to be different than what's already out there. It needs to have some expertise, you know, whether that's data baked in or subject matter experts. And I mean, I think podcasting really checks off all those boxes if you're doing it in the right way. It's again, like I said this before, but that's what I like about it. Like the conversation we're having right now wasn't it's not scripted, it wasn't really planned out. I mean, we met before to talk basically about what we're going to talk about, but we're kind of just riffing right now, and it's hard to capture that in like written content when you're writing a blog post or even in a webinar. I think it's a little different. It's a little more planned out. It's a little more like I'm gonna lecture you and teach you this whole thing that I've prepared for the last month. It's just a kind of spontaneity to it that is sort of undeniable, and so I think it's really attractive content when you see it or hear it and you're like, yeah, we could, we should be doing that. You know, we want that high level content too, So I think that's one of the triggers. I have to agree that one of the things are one of the many things I like about podcast is the creativity, the spontaneity, the idea that a conversation can go madly off in any direction, and that it's not necessarily structured. It's not well defined. I mean, so much marketing is planned out and mapped out and framed out that it becomes very stiff and formal, particularly when you were talking about B two B and B two B sas marketing. One final question, how do people learn more about you and conversa? Please go to our website. That's conversive dot com. It's conversive with two ends CEO double N versa. I really probably should have just made it one end, but you know there was that one was already taken, So it's conversive with two ends. I'm very active on LinkedIn. You can find me. They're happy to connect with anybody. My email is Jeremy at conversive dot com. Happy to chat with anybody any time about just about about anything. Really, if you want to chat, especially about podcasting. That's a very general invitation. I'm sure people should take you up on it. Thanks Jeremy for the great insight about podcasting, which you and I are true believers. And thanks to everyone for listening to another episode of Marketing Spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, shouldn't leave a review, Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or your favorite podcast app, and of course share by social media. To learn more about how I work with BBB SAS companies as a fractional CMO strategic advisor and on positioning and messaging development, email Mark at Mark Evans dot c A or connect with me on LinkedIn. I'll talk to you soon.

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