Episode 51

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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.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why podcasting is so relevant today
  • 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

 

The Golden Nugget:

“Anybody that tells you that doing a podcast is easy has never done it.” – @TMSchwab Share on X

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the 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, invest in employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

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 guests, how to actually leverage that podcast for business, and so today’s guest is going to talk to us all about that. So, 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 podcasts that their prospects are already listening to. This provides traffic that has been shown to convert 25 times better than blogs, so we’re going to dig into that right in now. Tom, welcome to the podcast.

Tom Schwab:

Drew, I am thrilled to be here and they say 20% of the US population listens to podcasts, but a hundred percent of your audience listens to podcasts, so it should be very applicable to them what we’re talking about today.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely, and I think podcasts are one of those things that podcasts for those of you who have not been following the podcast history, podcast 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 now all of a sudden in the last few years, the resurgence has been amazing. Hasn’t it?

Tom Schwab:

It has, and really it’s not right to call it a podcast anymore. There are people listening to podcast 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 don’t even need a smartphone. You can download it straight to the dashboard. I think when we see that coming out here, it’s really going to be on demand radio that people can choose what they listen to.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, that’s a 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 Schwab:

I think if we pulled it out of our drawers someplace, most of the younger people would look as how do you make a phone call on this, but it’s just stuck with it. And some people are calling their shows podcasts, other ones are calling shows on demand radio. Really, it’s just the next generation of people listening to the content that they want.

Drew McLellan:

Your business is an interesting model, and we’ll dig into that in 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 twofold because I think there’s benefit in the agency owners, or leaders who are listening, thinking out 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 talking in two layers here, but let’s talk about the benefit and value of that.

Tom Schwab:

Sure. And I guess first, people will say podcasting and their first inclination is I need to start a podcast. And anybody that tells you that’s 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 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 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. We thought that same way could it be done through podcast interviews?

And what we found is that that same principles apply. And 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 our agency was built on inbound marketing, and no content being the fuel that drove our online businesses. But with time, we saw that 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 McLellan:

They always think they want to.

Tom Schwab:

Oh, I mean…

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah.

Tom Schwab:

And 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. And a blog is a homework assignment to them, getting to tell their story is an opportunity. We had a couple 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 evergreeness of it, that there was a very long tail to it. I mean we’ve got some clients now that have been using this strategy over two years, and they still get traffic from podcasts that were out there two years ago.

So, it’s all the same principles that we’ve all learned about marketing and generating traffic. It’s just really applying it to a different medium.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I know that a lot of the guests that I’ve had on this podcast have gotten clients in business off of the podcast. You’re absolutely right, I’m seeing it unfold just through my little podcast here. I think you’re right, I think the opportunities are huge. And to the point that you made of even two or three years later that the tale is super long on podcast, because people are always discovering new podcasts. They’re going back to the beginning and listening. There’s something about the episodic nature and the every episode is a complete thought. So, people can go back in time and it’s not like it’s old news. You’re right, it’s the length of the opportunity is endless.

Tom Schwab:

Very much. Drew, I almost feel guilty using this example or sharing it, but there’s a podcaster that’s 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 he says, “You know, as I think about it, the number clients I’ve gotten from my own podcast, I could count on one hand.” And he says, “Where I do get clients is going on other people’s podcasts.” We talked about that. The analogy that he 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. And it’s really not a zero sum game. The newest study said that 20% of the US population listen to podcasts, but on average, they listen to eight hours of podcasts a week.

Drew McLellan:

Wow.

Tom Schwab:

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 eight hours.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Tom Schwab:

Really, it’s not if you go on somebody else’s podcast, it’s not that you’re going there to steal their audience away. No, it’s probably helping them out, helping their audience out. And that’s most people that you talk to find podcasts not from going to Google, not searching iTunes, but hearing them on other people’s podcasts.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I know you work with a lot of agencies and help them place their clients on podcasts. How are 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 podcast to market?

Tom Schwab:

It’s interesting because we have this question from people and they say, “Well, is Interview Valet a marketing agency?” And it’s like, “Well, yes it is.” “Is it a PR agency?” “Hmm, yes it is.” “Is it a speaker’s bureau?” “Yeah, the same way there,” but what we’re doing is we just focus on that tap 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 that, the heavy lifting that last mile of putting the together their campaigns, putting together their nurturing. So, it really were works out well because most agencies have that down so well, they’ve got clients that need that and have that there, but they’re looking for new ways in order to get traffic there.

And there’s two ways you can get traffic. You can either earn it, or you can buy it. And 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 clients and ask them, “Would you change your plans this afternoon to go talk to a hundred ideal clients?” And they’re like, “Sure.” I’m like, “Would you get on a plane to talk to a thousand?” They’re like, “Sure.” And I’m like, “Well, would you go across country to talk to 10,000?” And most of them are like, “No way would I ever talk to that many.”

And especially if they’re introverted, they’re like they get intimidated by that. But 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 McLellan:

Sure, everyone wants to be thought of as an expert, right?

Tom Schwab:

Right, right and they’re passionate about it. They know that part of their business. They love speaking on that. So, giving to 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 goldmine because most people will speak at about 150 words a minute. You figure if you transcribe the interviews, it’s just a goldmine. 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 McLellan:

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 going to write blog posts. We’re going to get you on podcast. We’re going to do X, Y, Z,” or is it part of a PR play? How are packaging what you do for them to sell to their clients?

Tom Schwab:

Ultimately, it’s more of a marketing, as opposed to just a PR where if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.

Drew McLellan:

Sure, right.

Tom Schwab:

They’re packaging that is at just another form of content, right? Content is the fuel that drives our engines. Now, there’s different ways of can content; videos, blogs, eBooks. They’re just packaging this as, “Hey, here is another way to get content.” And really, it makes a whole lot of sense. And for those clients that already listen to podcasts-

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, they get it right away, I bet. Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

… it it’s Super, super easy. If they’re not familiar 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. And I went out to social media marketing world a couple months ago in California, and everybody’s talking about, “Well, 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’s no way that I can break through that noise, because he’s cut out all the noise.

So, really the question is how can you get in their ears, so they 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 don’t have the time to watch eight hours of video a day or a week, but I can listen to podcasts when I’m in the shower, when I’m running, when I’m mowing the lawn. So, it’s such a interesting medium there that people can consume.

Drew McLellan:

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 what we’re at the tip of the iceberg of podcast, 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 lawn, 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 whatever it may be, which does make it unique.

Tom Schwab:

The other thing is I think it’s intimate from the standpoint. It’s like people are listening into 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 don’t know if you’re listening to the first take, or the fifth take on it. So, it’s a little bit polished from that standpoint and podcast for by and larger raw. It’s people just coming off with the ideas and you hear the ums and the uhs, and all the rest of that. And from that standpoint, I think it’s very intimate and believable from that standpoint.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and 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 Schwab:

And I think that’s really the reason why you see the conversion rates so much higher than blogs, is 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.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

They either resonate with that and come ready to engage, or they don’t.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

And if they don’t, that’s fine. 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 these 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 traffic converts higher from podcasts interviews than it says just from a cold blog.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Now I know a lot of times, you work with agencies to help them place their clients on podcasts. Do you also work directly with agencies and agency owners to place them on podcasts, or is that a harder fit?

Tom Schwab:

Now, we’ve 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.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

I would just say that as we look at what makes this strategy work, there’s really three parts to it. And they all multiply again, or 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 to have a 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 want to buy that. I want to work with you on that.” And then the final part is the machine.

You’ve got to have your online machine that builds the trust. And for any agency, this is a given, they’ve already got this. They’ve got the website that builds trust. They’ve got a social media peasants that builds trust. They’ve got a system to take people from being visitors to leads and nurturing them. 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 a digital where they can get customers any place and not just focusing in their local market.

Drew McLellan:

Well, or that they serve a niche, right? They’re an ag agency or a automotive agency, where again geography is a non-issue.

Tom Schwab:

Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

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 Schwab:

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 and…

Drew McLellan:

And a little less painful, that’s for sure. Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

It’s less painful, and they say checklists are written in blood.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Tom Schwab:

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, 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 McLellan:

Oh, yeah.

Tom Schwab:

So, just going through there, so 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.”

Drew McLellan:

Right, ouch, right, right. Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

Yeah. All they’re saying is I’ve never listened to this podcast before, so I think that preparation those. In the Navy, we used to say only kids and clowns like to be surprised, which one did I look like?

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Tom Schwab:

I think it’s the same way with our clients. Prepare them, so that they go into it confident.

Drew McLellan:

Do you recommend doing some dry runs, or some rehearsals with clients to get them comfortable with trying to deliver sound bites and all that sort of thing?

Tom Schwab:

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’ve never been on a podcast, you can use those practice podcast interviews to help pitch the guests to potential hosts because Drew, your biggest fear as a host is bringing on somebody that is an awful guest.

Drew McLellan:

Oh, their sound, right.

Tom Schwab:

Their doesn’t sound good because like how do you…

Drew McLellan:

Or all they do is sell.

Tom Schwab:

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.” With that, coaching them through that and most people are very coachable about that if they understand what they’re trying to do, that your goal on being on a podcast is not to sell anything.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Tom Schwab:

It’s an awful medium to do that. It’s almost an affront to that. I always 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 what that happens is now the host is going to help promote you. He or she’s going to help you look like at the expert, and it just helps everybody with that. I think most people if they understand what they’re trying to do, they can perform that very well.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, I agree. For example, do you suggest that you’re the podcast guest that you book, that they have some sort of a give or an offer like an eBook or a checklist or something like that drives the listener to that podcast back to their website, or is that too blatant?

Tom Schwab:

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 McLellan:

You’re so sneaky the way you did that, Tom. Yeah.

Tom Schwab:

It’s behind the curtain, right?

Drew McLellan:

Right, that’s right.

Tom Schwab:

What you do and what you’re 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. So, what we’re doing is trying to move people there and there’s so many things that you can do with that. You can do checklists, you can do personal assessments, you can do online trainees. There’s another one I’ll put there, there’s a 30-minute webinar.

It’s an online training that talks about how to use this strategy to build your business as a podcast guest, that’ll 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 make quilts out of it. Well, if she was on a sports 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 want to see it, just come back to the website.” And she’d give this address. Well, what red-blooded American man or can or Cana