Podcasting has been around for a while but it is really becoming very mainstream. It’s a wonderfully effective way to connect with your audience on a personal level in a format that has gotten very easy to access and consume. There’s nothing wrong with blogging or creating video content but podcasts are so easy – people can learn from them while they commute to work, walk on a treadmill or listen while they multitask at home.
If you aren’t ready to start your own podcast, the next best thing is learning how to be a great podcast guest on someone else’s show.
My guest, Tom Schwab helps business leaders, authors and other professionals get invited to appear on podcasts that align with their business goals. Tom believes that every business leader can be coached so they’re a rock star guest. As he says, “what’s ordinary to you is amazing to others.”
Tom and I dig into the nuts and bolts of podcasting with:
- Why podcasting is so relevant today
- How to be a great podcast guest on someone else’s show
- The benefit of being a podcast guest
- How Tom’s clients are able to sell being on podcasts to their own clients
- Benefits of podcasting over other forms of content
- Why podcast traffic converts higher than blogs
- Message, market, and machine: what you need to have a successful podcast interview
- What you (or your clients) need to be a great podcast guest
- Why you need to bring a giveaway when you are a guest on a podcast
- What not to do when you are a guest on a podcast
- Is it appropriate to suggest questions to your podcast host?
- How Tom helps agencies look good
- The podcasting niches that Tom focuses on
- Things you can do right now to put these ideas in place
Tom Schwab knows how to grow a business online using content as fuel. Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be an ideal customer. Tom’s company, Interview Valet, partners with agencies to get their clients featured on leading podcasts their prospects are already listening to. This provides traffic that has been shown to convert 25 times better than blogs.
To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://www.agencymanagementinstitute.com/tom-schwab/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.
If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below:
Table of Contents (Jump Straight to It!)
- The Value of Being a Podcast Guest
- Preparing Your Clients to Be Better Podcast Guests
- Tom’s Advice on How to Be a Great Podcast Guest
If you are going to take risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both as an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.
Drew: Hey, everybody, Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency, thanks for joining us again. Today’s topic is a hot one right now. Everybody seems to be talking about or listening to or starting podcasts, and there’s lots of different thoughts about how to do that, how to attract the right guest, how to actually leverage that podcast for business. And so today’s guest is gonna talk to us all about that. Let me tell you a little bit about him. Tom Schwab knows how to grow a business online using content as fuel. Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be the ideal customer. Tom’s company, Interview Valet, partners with agencies to get their clients featured on leading podcast that their prospects are already listening to. This provides traffic that has been shown to convert 25 times better than blog, so we’re gonna dig into that right now. Tom, welcome to the podcast.
Tom: Drew, I am thrilled to be here and you know, they say 20% of the U.S. population listens to podcasts, but 100% of your audience listens to podcasts, so it should be very applicable to them what we’re talking about today.
Drew: Absolutely. And you know I think podcasts are one of those things that, you know, podcasts for those of you who have not been following sort of the podcast history, podcasts sort of bubbled up on the surface quite a few years ago and the technology, and I think the interest just wasn’t quite there yet. But all of a sudden in the last few years, the resurgence has been sort of amazing hasn’t it?
Tom: It has and really, it’s not right to call it a podcast anymore. There are people listening to podcasts that have never seen an iPod or never used them. Really, it’s getting to be more on Demand Radio, and I think what’s really spurring it is the idea that you can download it on so many devices now. New cars are coming out where you do not even need a smart phone. You can download it straight to the dashboard. So I think when we see that coming out here, it’s really gonna be on Demand Radio that people can choose what they listen to.
Drew: Yeah, that’s good point. It never even occurred to me to think that iPod was the origination word for podcast. But you’re right, I think it’s hard to even find an iPod anymore isn’t it?
Tom: I think if we pulled that out of our drawer some place…
Tom: Mostly younger people would look at it, “How do you make a phone call on this?”
Tom: But it’s just sort of stuck with it, and some people are calling their shows podcast, other ones are calling shows on Demand Radio. Really, it’s just the next generation of people listening to the content that they want.
The Value of Being a Podcast Guest
Drew: Your business is an interesting model, and we’ll dig into that a little bit. But tell folks a little bit about the value of being a podcast guest. And in my mind, this conversation for us is two-fold because I think there is benefit in the agency owners or leaders who are listening, thinking about for their own agency getting themselves featured on podcasts. But also, it’s a great revenue stream for them to say to their clients, “Look, we can get you booked on podcasts as well.” We’re sort of talking in two layers here but let’s talk about the benefit and value of that.
Tom: Sure. And I guess first people will say podcasting and their first inclination is “I need to start a podcast.” Anybody that tells you that doing a podcast is easy has either never done it or never done it well. Drew, my hats off to you and I know there’s a lot of work that goes into this. And sort of that Tim Ferris 4-hour work week, we started looking at it with our clients and said “Is there an easier way to do it?” And we went back to sort of the analogy of guest blogging. Building up your own blog takes time. There has to hit that critical mass. And so a lot of people will guest blog to get in front of their ideal audience. And so we thought that same way, could it be done through podcast interviews. And what we found is that same principles apply. You tap into an existing audience, you’re featured as the expert, you get that credibility that goes along from the host, and it just is a great way to do that.
I’d have to say that we stumbled unto this because we had built…our agency was built on inbound marketing and new content being the fuel that drove our online businesses. But with time we saw that the blogs were working less and less, they were harder and harder to do, it was saturated and most of the time, the content trying to get the client to do it, they didn’t want to write a blog.
Drew: They always think they want to.
Tom: The owner of a company. I mean it’s like pulling teeth to get them, a lot of times, to write a blog. But what we found is that they love to tell their story. A blog is a homework assignment to them, getting to tell their story is an opportunity. We had a couple of clients that just had great stories to tell and we thought, “Well, could we get them on as guests.” And we were amazed by the traffic that came back, the quality of the traffic and then the evergreen-ness of it, that there was a very long tail to it. We got some clients now that have been using the strategy over two years and they still get traffic from podcast throughout their two years ago. It’s all the same principles that we’ve all learned about bulk marketing and generating traffic, it’s just really applying it to a different medium.
Drew: Well, I know that that a lot of the guests that I’ve had on this podcast have gotten clients in business off of the podcast, so you’re absolutely right, I’m seeing it unfold just through my little podcast here. I think you’re right, I the opportunities are huge and to the point that you made of even two or three years later that the tail is super long on podcasts, because people are always discovering new podcasts and so they’re going back to the beginning and listening, so there is something about sort of the episodic nature and every episode is sort of a complete thought, so people can go back in time and it’s not like “It’s old news”. And so you’re right that it’s the length of the opportunity is sort of endless.
Tom: Very much. Drew, I almost felt guilty using this example or sharing it but there is a podcaster that has been around for years, and Alex Harris runs a podcast called “Marketing Optimization” and I was on his show and he paused in the middle of it and says “You know, as I think about it, the number of clients I’ve gotten from my own podcast, you know, I could count on one hand”. Then he says, “Where I do get clients is going on other people’s podcasts.” And so we talked about that, the analogy that he sort of used was, you don’t get any converts in your own church. Everybody that’s there has already heard you. If they’ve listened to three months of your podcast and haven’t been a client yet, chances are, they may never be a client. But going out to tap into somebody else’s network and being a guest expert on their podcast, boy, now you’re into a fresh market there. It’s really not a zero sum game. The newest study said that 20% of the U.S. population listens to podcasts but on average, they listen to eight hours of podcasts a week.
Tom: I’m not sure if they’re like me, if they listen to everything at 1.5. That means it’s 12 hours of content, we just get it done in 8 hours.
Drew: Right, right.
Tom: It’s not if you’re go on somebody else’s podcast, it’s not that you go in there to steal their audience away. No, it’s probably helping them out, helping their audience out and most people that you talk to find podcasts, not from going to going to Google and not searching iTunes but hearing them on other people’s podcast.
Drew: Yeah. I know you work with live agencies and help them place their clients on podcasts, how were the agencies packaging that? Are they packaging it up as a part of a bigger content strategy? Are they offering that as part of a PR play? How are you seeing agencies sell or take this idea of getting clients on podcasts to market?
Tom: It’s interesting because we have this question from people and they’ll say, “Well, you know, is Interview Valet a marketing agency?” And it’s like, well, yes it is, “is it a PR agency?” Yes, it is, “Is it a speaker’s bureau?” Yes, sort of the same way there. But what we’re doing is we just focus on that traffic generation. How to get them from being a listener to a visitor and then converting on the page there. We’re really not doing the heavy lifting, that last mile of putting together their campaigns, putting together their nurturing. It really works out well because most agencies have that down so well, they got clients that need that and have that there, but they’re looking for new ways in order to get traffic there. There’re two ways you can get traffic, you can either earn it or you can buy it.
Tom: Buying it gets more and more expensive. Blogs are getting harder and harder and less and less effective, and it’s a fun way to offer that to a client that, “Hey, we could get you on podcasts.” And I’m always amazed as I talk to client and ask them, “Would you change your plans this afternoon to go talk to a 100 ideal clients? And they’re like “Sure.” Would you get on a plane to talk to a 1,000? They’re like, “Sure.” And I’m like, “Would you go across country to talk to 10,000?” And most of them were like, “No, way would I ever talk to that many.” Especially if they’re introverted, they get intimidated by that.
Tom: If you can talk on the phone to somebody, you could be a podcast guest and it’s so scalable for them too. It’s almost a compliment to them or…
Drew: Sure, everyone wants to be thought of as an expert right?
Tom: Right. and they’re passionate about it. They know that part of their business. They love speaking on that, so giving them the opportunity to do it works out so easy and it makes it easy for them too. That they can do the interview from home, from work, even on vacation. And it’s such a gold mine because most people will speak at about 150 words a minute. So you figure if you transcribe the interviews, it’s just a gold mine.
Tom: You can get blog contents out of it. You can get tweets out of it. You can do so many things with it and it’s so easy to do.
Drew: So where I was headed though was, how are your clients, the agencies, packaging the idea of podcast guesting as a revenue stream to their clients. Are they saying to their clients, “Look, we’ve got a content strategy and we’re gonna write blog posts, we’re gonna get you on podcasts, we’re gonna for XYZ of, or is it part of a PR play?” How are they packaging what you do for them to sell to their clients?
Tom: Ultimately, it’s more of marketing as opposed to just a PR. If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.
Drew: Sure, right.
Tom: They’re packaging that as just another form of content. Content is the fuel that drives our engines. Now, there are different ways of making content, you know, videos, blogs, e-books. They’re just packaging this as “Hey, here is another way to get content” And really it makes a whole lot of sense. For those clients that already listened to podcasts…
Drew: They get right away I bet, yeah.
Tom: It’s super, super easy. If they’re not familiar with what a podcast is, it takes a little bit of education on that standpoint. But I think once they see the potential of being able to speak directly to their ideal customers, the light goes off. I went out to Social Media Marketing World a couple of months ago in California, and everybody is talking about, “How do you break through the noise?” And as I looked around, there is no more noise anymore. In the plane, the gentleman sitting next to me had his earbuds in. He could be an ideal customer for me but there is no way that I can break through that noise, because he has cut out all the noise. So really the question is how can you get in their ears so they’ll listen to you and pay attention. And I think podcasts are so interesting because it’s the only medium that we can do without our eyes and without our hands. I do not have the time to watch eight hours of video a week, but I can listen to podcasts when I’m in the shower, when I’m running, when I’m mowing the lawn. It’s such an interesting medium there that people can consume.
Drew: Yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons actually why podcasts have gotten to such a huge start and I really just think that we’re at the tip of the iceberg of podcasts. But I think you’re right, I think because it is a consumable media that allows us to do other things, whether it’s treadmill run, drive, mow the loan, shower, although that’s a long shower, but you’re right. It’s something you can consume while you’re doing something else or while you’re heading someplace else or you’re on the subway or wherever it may be, which does make it unique.
Tom: The other thing is I think it’s intimate from the standpoint, it’s like people are listening in to our conversation right now and they’ll say, “Well, video is more intimate because you can see it.” Well, we all have our video face on the teleprompter. You do not know if you’re listening to the first take or the fifth take on.
Tom: It’s a little bit polished from that standpoint and podcasts for by and large, it’s raw. It’s people just coming off with the ideas and you hear the uhms and ahs and all the rest of that and from that standpoint I think it’s very intimate and believable from that standpoint.
Drew: Well, what I love about it from a client’s perspective when I put on my agency owner hat, what I love about it is to your point, it’s not really intimidating for a client. They’re comfortable just having a conversation and that the added benefit of that is they come off so authentic and real, and I get a true sense as a listener of what they’re like and how they talk and what they believe in, so that I can decide “Am I a good fit for them or not?” And all of that just happens naturally as opposed to we all have tried to put clients in front of cameras before. and there are some clients who are just naturally gifted at being in front of a camera, but in most cases, that’s a sharp stick in the eye.
Tom: And I think that’s really the reason why you see the conversion rates so much higher than blogs. It’s that when somebody listens to you for 15 minutes, a half hour, 45 minutes, whatever the interview is, they get to know, like and trust you.
Tom: They either resonate with that and come ready to engage or they don’t.
Tom: And if they don’t, that’s fine.
Tom: The way I look at it is “I don’t want more leads. I want more customers.” We’re not just trying to play a numbers game. We’re trying to really use this podcast interviews to filter it so that they can see what we’re about, they can resonate with it and I think that’s the reason that the traffic converts higher from podcast interviews that it says just from a cold blog.
Drew: Yeah. I know a lot of times you work with agencies to help them place their clients on podcasts. You also worked directly with agencies and agency owners to place them on podcasts or is that a harder fit?
Tom: No, we have done both and the same principles apply for it. And everything that we do when we teach, I’m very open about it. But most agencies just realize that if we’ve got the relationships already and the expertise that it makes sense, just as a synergy there.
Tom: I would just say that as we look at what makes this strategy work, there is really three parts to it and they all multiply with each other. It’s the message, the market and the machine. The message is you’ve got to have something to say, something to tell, not just sell. With the market, you’ve got to have very defined ideal buyer persona. This business is about really focusing down and using a rifle more than a shotgun. And then the market too is that you’ve got to have something that can serve the people. You’ve got to have something for them to say “Yes, that would help me, I wanna buy that, I wanna work with you on that.”
Tom: Then the final part is the machine, you’ve got to have your online machine that builds the trust. For any agency, this is sort of a given. They’ve already got this. They’ve got the website that builds trust. They’ve got a social media presence that builds trust. They’ve got a system to take people from being visitors to leads in nurturing them. So I would say from an agency standpoint, if they figured out what niche, what market they can really serve, that’s a great way to go after this and especially if they’re more digital, where they can get customers any place and not just focusing in their local market.
Drew: Well, or that they serve a niche right there, an AG agency or an automotive agency where, again, geography is a non-issue.
Preparing Your Clients to Be Better Podcast Guests
Drew: Yeah, yeah. I suspect that some people are better podcast guests than others. How can our agency listeners prepare their clients to be better guests?
Tom: Well, I always say that you can either learn from your own mistakes or learn from somebody else’s mistakes, and it’s a whole lot easier to learn from somebody else’s mistakes.
Drew: A little less painful that’s for sure.
Tom: It’s less painful and they say checklists are written in blood.
Tom: We’ve got a checklist and I’ll share it with everybody here, we’ll put a page together with everything we’re talking about here. But we’ve got a checklist that you can go through and I think giving people the confidence in front of the podcast really helps them. So showing them how to do a quick sound check on their microphone so they know they sound good. Little things like turning off the dropbox download, the automatic syncing.
Tom: Trust me. I was on a podcast one time and somebody on my team sent me a video that I’d been waiting for and all of a sudden the connection went really bad as all the bandwidth went to the video.
Drew: Oh, yeah.
Tom: Just going through there, preparing them with that. And I think the other thing is making sure they know what audience they’re talking to. Content is a wonderful thing but if you don’t have the context of who you’re talking to, it can be completely wasted. I think preparing them with that, of giving them a checklist of here’s what you can do beforehand to get ready, telling them, here’s who you’re talking to, here’s what the podcast is about, here are the questions that they typically would ask you. Because if you don’t do that, you’re almost asking the client to listen to two or the three podcast beforehand. There’s nothing that ruins credibility more than getting on the podcast and they ask the guest the same question that every guest gets asked and they pause and they’re like “Huh, I’ve never thought of that before.”
Tom: All they’re saying is “I’ve never listened to this podcast before.” So, I think that preparation. In the Navy we used to say, “Only kids and clowns like to be surprised, which one did I look like?”
Drew: Right, right.
Tom: I think it’s the same way with our clients. Prepare them so that they go into it confident.
Drew: And do you recommend doing some sort of dry runs or some rehearsals with clients, to get them comfortable with trying to deliver sound bites and all that sort of thing?
Tom: We do and sometimes we’ll even do practice interviews with our clients, a couple of those so they can get comfortable with it. And also, if they have never been on a podcast, you can use those practice podcast interviews to help pitch the guest to potential host. Because, you know Drew, your biggest fear as a host is bringing on somebody that is an awful guest.
Drew: Oh, yeah.
Tom: Their sound doesn’t sound good because like how do you…
Drew: Or all they do is sell.
Tom: Exactly. How do you politely tell them that? And what happens a lot of times is if you’re a bad guest, “Oh, sorry that recording got lost and it never sees air.” So with that, coaching them through that and most people are very coachable about that, if they understand what they are trying to do. Your goal on being on the podcast is not to sell anything.
Tom: It’s an awful medium to do that. It’s almost an affront to that. I would say to our clients, “Your goal on being on the podcast is to make the host look like a genius for having you on there, that you’re sharing so much value.” Because when that happens, now the host’s just gonna help promote you. He or she is gonna help you look like the expert and it just helps everybody with that. So I think most people if they understand what they are trying to do, they can perform that very well.
Drew: Yeah, I agree. Do you also have suggestions? For example, do you suggest that the podcast guest that you booked, that they have some sort of a give or an offer like an e-book or a checklist or something like, that drives the listener to that podcast back to their website or is that too blatant?
Tom: Hopefully, I’m not too blatant on this one but that’s basically what I just was doing there, saying that we’ve got a checklist there. You’ve got to give people a reason.
Drew: You’re so sneaky the way you did that ,Tom.
Tom: It’s behind the curtain right?
Drew: Right, that’s right.
Tom: What you do and what you hearing here, is giving people a reason to go from being a listener, to a visitor, to a lead. Like I talked about that checklist. I’m not going to list all the things on the checklist here, you’d never remember it, so I say, “Just go back to the website, we put a special page together. It’s interviewvalet.com, just interviewvalet.com/betteragency and everything Drew and I talked about will be there.” What we’re doing is trying to move people there and there are so many things that you can do with that. You can do checklist. You can do personal assessment. You can do online trainings. There is another one I’ll put there, there is a 30-minute webinar. It’s an online training that talks about how to use this strategy to build you business as a podcast guest. That will be on there too. And it’s interesting because some of our best clients have been ones that have things that are uniquely visual. We worked with one client and she made these quilts that you cut up different things and make quilts out of it.
If she was on a sport show, especially if it was one with guys, she would talk about, “Yeah, we made a quilt for Wayne Gretzky and cut up his old jerseys” And “Oh, if you wanna see it, just come back to the website”. And she’d give this address. What red-blooded American man or Canadian doesn’t wanna see Wayne Gretzky’s quilt? But then, on the flip side, if she is on like a mommy podcast, she would say “We just made this wonderful quilt and this mother had sent this box of her child’s clothes, and we cut them up and made them into quilt. And she’s gonna give it to her daughter when she is expecting her first child. Now, if you wanna see it, oh, just come back to the website.” Well, every woman’s going “I wanna see that.”
Drew: Right, Right.
Tom: And it’s not like you’re holding things back. It’s not like a bait- and-switch. It’s really there’re certain things that can’t be shown on a podcast. If it’s a video clip, if it’s a picture that goes along with the story, you can give them reasons and a lot of times we think of, we talked about lead bait. On podcasts, we have to think about visitor bait also. What reasons are you giving them to go back there? If it’s just signing up for newsletter, they’re not gonna do it.
Drew: Right, right.
Tom: If it’s a checklist, a personal assessment, a training, a picture, something that adds to the story, that’s the natural way to move them.
Drew: Well, I think your point is it’s not bait when it’s value. It’s really about “Look, I’m gonna give you everything I’ve got in this interview but I have some stuff that is even bigger or broader than that, that I’m also gonna give you.” It’s a fair value trade basically.
Tom: Very much so, and it’s really giving even more than you can on audio. So you’re serving more.
Drew: Tom, I’m sure you have seen to your point, you learn from mistakes either yours or somebody else’s, I’m sure you have seen some horror story podcast guest mistakes that our listeners could avoid, perhaps if you tell us a story or two.
Tom: I’ll start with my stories. I said checklists are written in blood and some of that blood is my type. Little things that getting prepared for an interview and all of a sudden forgetting the host name or the podcast name. You’ve got a different screen open, somebody walks by the door and that’s one of the things we always tell people, just make sure that that person’s LinkedIn profile is up on your monitor so that it’s almost like talking to a person. The other thing is that we always tell them to turn off all the notifications. Everybody knows that but there is always those notifications that you forgot about, the dropbox folder. Doing a microphone check, the number one thing you’re judged by is your audio quality. And I would ask people, “Would you go for a video shoot in your bathrobe?” And they’re like, “No, I wouldn’t wanna be seen that way, I wouldn’t want that to be the first impression.” Well, don’t go on a podcast interview with your little microphone that’s built into your laptop.
Tom: It sounds like you’re calling in from a bathroom stall.
Drew: Or don’t be in a Starbucks. Or don’t be some place that’s noisy like an office.
Tom: Yeah. And it’s disrespectful to the host, it’s also disrespectful to the guest