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Podcast Marketing for Agency Growth with Ben Shapiro (Part 2)

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How to use podcasting and use personal branding to build growth within your company.

Mentioned in this episode:

Strategy Call
Martech Podcast

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Podcast Marketing for Agency Growth with Ben Shapiro (Part 2):

Full Transcript

Liston Witherill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople looking to have more and better conversations with your perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics and sales studies to help you create win-win relationships. I’m your host, Liston Witherill, and I’m pleased to welcome you to Modern Sales.

Liston Witherill:
Today I’m going to bring you part two of my conversation with Ben Shapiro, where he will be talking about what he’s done to grow his podcast, what it’s actually taken him. Before we get into that though, I want to invite you into a conversation. If you are looking to build better sales systems for yourself, have a sales process, have technology that supports you in a scalable way, apply for a call with me. Just go to liston.io. That’s L-I-S-T-O-N.io/strategy for a free strategy session. You can apply for it. I’ve reserved some time over the next couple weeks to chat with you and people like you, so go ahead and fill that out if you’re interested. And now, Ben, are you ready to talk more about podcasting?

Ben Shapiro:
Liston, what’s up man? I’m excited to be here.

Liston Witherill:
I’m excited to have you. So you were one of my more astute guests because you teased the audience for us. I didn’t even have to do anything. You talked about how you would talk a little bit about what you’ve actually done to grow your podcast. So why don’t we pick it up there, what have you done to grow it and what sort of results have you seen?

Ben Shapiro:
So yesterday we talked a little bit about the foundational stuff of having a unique positioning of your podcast, having formats that are easily digestible, the right amount of content, publishing consistently and giving your audience a product that they expect and that they’re getting value out of. That’s all well and good, but people aren’t going to find the podcast if you just put it out there and leave it. So there’s a couple of promotional vehicles that I’ve found to be super useful. First off, not everybody has a ton of budget and I don’t have a ton of budget to spend on my podcast, but I invested in a couple of paid channels as tests because part of my background is marketing and you have to practice what you preach, so I wanted to understand how a couple of these channels work. I’ve tested three paid channels that I use to sort of seed my podcast growth with a couple of different podcasts and Facebook is one of them.

Ben Shapiro:
Google AdWords is one of them, and then I’ve actually done a fair amount of advertising on other podcasts through a service called Knit, which is K-N-I-T. What I found with putting in your hard earned dollars into podcast advertising is that really you have to meet your audience where they are. When you’re testing your paid channels trying to get someone from AdWords to a website or to the app store and then to download your podcast and listen to it, there’s multiple steps there. Same thing with Facebook. I basically had twice the return from podcast advertising as I did in the other paid channels. Facebook and Google AdWords. And my thought with that is that you have to meet people where they are. People are already listening to podcasts and so if you can engage them while they are in content consumption mode and you’re trying to promote the format of content that they’re already consuming, you got a better shot of getting them while they’re warm.

Ben Shapiro:
In the same way that if somebody is reading a blog and there’s a link to your blog, they’re more likely to just continue to consume content. That sort of streaming world, what Netflix has mastered in video, you get people listening to a piece of content, get them onto yours, and then they’ll continue to consume and that’s how you get try out. So moral of the story is the Knit platform was the primary driver of growth. I’ve spent $3,000 total in six months to drive my podcast and it’s been in 250 to $500 increments. I don’t think I’ve spent more than $500 at a clip, and I don’t think I’ve spent more than $1,000 in a month using that platform. And the beauty of Knit is it’s dynamic insertion. So you can record a single audio ad, right? Just get a microphone, plug it in, maybe you get an editor. That’s what I did.

Ben Shapiro:
Put some music behind it. Tell a little bit about what your podcast is. Give some samples of what people will hear. A couple different voices are always nice to hear. Keep your ad less than a minute and you can actually insert that ad at the end of podcasts. Now you can insert at the beginning. You can insert at the middle like pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll. Everything that I’ve done has been post-roll because I want to catch someone when they’re done listening to their podcast, one that they’re already a subscriber to, and then the message is generally, “Hey, are you ready to find your next great podcast? You should check out my show. Here’s a little sample of it. Here’s where you can go get it.” That’s the basic theme of the advertising. The Knit platform, you can get some of the post-roll spots for as little as a dollar.

Ben Shapiro:
It’s a marketplace so you have to bid for specific content. Not all content is created the same, but for a dollar you can get 1,000 downloads on the right show. And so if you’re investing $500, you’re looking at 500,000 downloads, which is probably, I don’t know, 100,000 people that are listening to your ad. It’s a meaningful amount of inventory and I’ve just found the conversion rates to get people to download my show and I also produce a couple shows for Searchmetrics who’s one of my clients and we’ve used the Knit advertising platform. It’s worked well for them. I’ve tested this on a couple different podcasts and Liston, I know that you’ve tested it as well and I’ve seen great growth. The only thing I would say that is a little caveat is sometimes it takes a little while for you to spend all of the inventory so if you’re going to do a $500 ad and you are going to do it over two months, you have to be patient and wait until the budget is actually spent before you can actually realize whether it worked or not.

Ben Shapiro:
So I’ve tried to make sure that when I do a buy, I am capping it in terms of time and on the Knit platform, they’re very good about telling you whether you will spend your budget in a given period of time. Spend $250 in a week, see if it works, see if you’re getting downloads. One of the things that Knit is also a sponsor of my podcast and so I’m happy to do this for Liston, anybody that’s listening to your show, but I offer a 30 minute consultation for anybody who is trying to get set up with the Knit platform. You can go to benjshap.com/knit and I’ll walk you through how the platform works and help you set up your ads and everything if anybody wants help with that. But yeah, Knit’s been the primary driver of my growth. Before I go on, I’m just going to stop and I don’t want to have this be too long of a monologue. Ask me a question here and I’ll go on and talk about organic stuff.

Liston Witherill:
No, you’re good. I did want to bring this up though because this was one of my points of frustration. So did you say you spent $3,000 total since you started the podcast?

Ben Shapiro:
3,000 on Knit over seven months.

Liston Witherill:
On Knit, not including your other advertising channels?

Ben Shapiro:
No, I lost two grand to AdWords. That was a huge mistake.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. Here’s what I’ve done. I’ve spent I think around $2,500 on Overcast ads. So Overcast is an iOS app and it is a podcatcher and it has native banners within the app and people can, while they’re listening to another show, they’ll see my face because it’s on the cover of my podcast art and two sentences. They can touch it and then they can one click subscribe from there. I’ve driven a lot of subscribers from there. The thing I like about Overcast is you talked about meeting people where they are. I find that it’s there’s way less friction in getting someone to actually listen to the podcast. My frustration with ad Knit was there’s no way to know how many results I’m getting from it. I’m going to have some amount of growth from organic, from my email list, from social media marketing, all the other things I’m doing and maybe this is just a frustration with podcasts generally. It’s really not possible to say if I spent $500 and got 500,000 impressions on ad Knit, how many people actually subscribed? How do you think about attribution with ad Knit?

Ben Shapiro:
Yeah, it actually goes back to my first podcast, the A Long Road Home series that I mentioned in yesterday’s episode. The first time I tested ad Knit, I had never done any paid advertising and I was talking to one of the sales rep at Midroll and they just didn’t have any inventory that was cheap enough because I only had $500 or $300 or whatever I was going to spend on marketing. And I was like I want to buy a podcast advertising. They didn’t have anything that was cheap enough. So they pointed me towards Knit and I dropped my whole marketing budget into it. And a day later, all of a sudden I saw this huge spike in downloads. So I had early success with the Knit platform knowing that I wasn’t doing any other marketing and I had a channel that was… And I had a product that had no credibility, no brand awareness.

Ben Shapiro:
And so I was able to attribute 100% of the net new downloads to this channel because I was working on something that was new, unproven, unrecognized when I was advertising on Anderson Cooper that people should come listen to my podcast about a guy escaping from North Korea. And the next thing you know, I had 1,000 people listening to the show. So that’s the reason why I believe that the attribution, while not, it’s not a one to one, like every time you put a dollar in, you get X number of listens. It’s really hard to figure that out because podcast advertising or podcast downloads are just a black box. It’s all owned in the Apple iTunes store. Nobody tells you what drove what download. But I’ve done enough tests to where I just know that when I put budget into Knit, I see a return and when I’ve put budget into the other paid channels specifically, like don’t advertise on Facebook and don’t advertise on AdWords, at least from my experience. The CPAs for a download are what I estimated between five and $15.

Liston Witherill:
CPA by the way, being cost per acquisition.

Ben Shapiro:
Yeah. How much does it cost you to get a download? And it was costing me like $5 a download. So if you’re trying to get to 10,000 downloads in a month, that’s $50,000. I’m not spending $50,000 to build a podcast. With Knit, I think it’s closer to 50 cents a download. Maybe it’s even up to a dollar depending on your show. Even if it’s $3, it was still just way cheaper than the other platforms, so I turn it off. I have a bad week, I turn it on. I have a great week. People stick around. So whenever I need to throttle growth, I’m putting budget there first. There are organic ways to grow your podcast and there’s definitely other metrics, but if you’re trying to cut the line and you have dollars to spend and you’re doing this as an agency or for a client, that’s my first go-to.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. In one of the episodes I recorded last week of this show, I talked about how for me spending ads early on was important because I thought it would help me start the flywheel and start to get people listening and maybe catalyze some word of mouth just because you can’t have any word of mouth or very little word of mouth if you only have 10 or 20 listeners. I saw that as a major challenge. I have been spending a ton of time looking into organic ways of growing the podcast. So I want you to talk about that. And forgive me if I’m taking notes over here.

Ben Shapiro:
All good. You’re recording this. You can just come back and listen later. That’s the beauty of podcast. The first thing with organic growth is if you’re doing an interview format, asking your guest… First off, building an asset that your guests can share. So I guess maybe where I should start is turning your audio content into something that’s written, a webpage that gets somebody to your site so you can pixel them, so you can ask them for an email. So what I’ve done is I hired an Upworker for, I don’t know, it’s five bucks an hour to go listen to my podcast, get it transcribed using a service called Temi, T-E-M-I, which is 10 cents a minute for transcriptions. They’re not good transcript, they’re okay transcriptions, but it’s really just about putting a bunch of words on the page that are relevant. I don’t think very many people read the transcriptions, but they’re great for SEO.

Ben Shapiro:
But if you’re listening to the content and reading along to the transcript, it makes it a lot easier to create a short summary of each post. So really what I think people actually read is the summary notes of the podcast. So Liston, if you’re going to publish this and you’re going to write a summary of this podcast, people are going to go and say, “What was the name of that tool?” You need to give them a place to go and reference what you’re talking about. So you’re getting SEO value out of it because you’re transcribing things. If it’s a 30 minute interview and you’re using Temi, you’re talking about putting three bucks into it. If you want a really top-notch transcription, use rev.com. It’s actually the same company, but that’s a real person that’s transcribing it.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. A dollar a minute.

Ben Shapiro:
Yeah, a dollar a minute. So somewhere between three and $30 for half an hour to create content. Get somebody for $15 to summarize your content, put it on your webpage so you don’t have to write the articles because what’s important for you is to produce a lot of content on a regular basis. So you build an asset that has SEO value, a landing page, the person’s pictures, links to all the things that you want to promote, the person’s bio, your bio, and now you have a page that you can then share with your guest and say, “Hey, I’ve created this piece of content for you. You sound great. My editor has cleaned us up. We don’t sound half as dumb as we are and here’s this beautiful webpage. I’d love for you to share it on LinkedIn.”

Liston Witherill:
Right.

Ben Shapiro:
LinkedIn is the one, if it’s a professional podcast, that people actually look, consume content. I’ve shared some stuff on Facebook. That’s number two. Twitter, I don’t get a ton of value out of personally. I’ve just never seen anybody take my Twitter content and all of a sudden drive growth. So LinkedIn is the first place I’m asking my guests to share it. You want them to share it on their blogs so they can link back to your page, get more SEO value, start to get that organic wheel growing. So that’s kind of the first mechanism of build a content asset and then share it with your guests. Just in general, whenever you are marketing something, and I mentioned this before with the podcast advertising, you want to go where your audience is.

Ben Shapiro:
And so there are groups and forums and Quora and whatever other place that your target market is aggregating. Take your content and find a way to appropriately share it. You don’t want to be the person who goes into a forum and just link dumps. Nobody likes that guy. Be engaged or again, have somebody who is less expensive that is going and being your community manager and engaging in all of these different communities and taking your content and appropriately seeding it and so you start to get a little bit more awareness by going into other communities, forums, things like that. That’s also a good organic driver.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah, that’s one thing that I’ve done a really crappy job of is promoting.

Ben Shapiro:
Me too.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. We could both be honest about it. Promoting to groups where I know the content would be relevant, but one of my challenge has been honestly is I really don’t like spending a ton of time in online groups and playing the game of engaging constantly so I have the privilege of dropping a link in there once a week or so even though I know the content would be helpful. I’m not incredibly interested in that.

Ben Shapiro:
It’s time consuming and the process that I follow with everything like this and the way to be able to create a ton of content, I mean I create on average four episodes a week for the MarTech podcast. I have two other shows that are for my client Searchmetrics and then I have two other personal shows and I’m starting to expand to those. It’s a lot of content to produce. I can’t be the one to publish at all. I have to have somebody else that’s helping me actually take the files, edit them. Somebody else is publishing them. These are all people that I’m finding on Upwork and I understand the process. I document it and then I can hand it off.

Ben Shapiro:
And so being able to delegate the micro-tasks to outsource labor that’s not very expensive relatively speaking if you’re here in the US and there’s tons of people that are perfectly capable of writing content for you and publishing your content and acting on your behalf. You just have to train and monitor them and build that time to making sure that they understand what their role is. That’s a key to sort of getting the content distribution engine going is not trying to do it all yourself because it’s just a grind and it’s time consuming and it’s a struggle to comb through forums and read links. And I spend enough time looking at my screen already.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. So I agree with that and I have several people who work with me on the podcast. So we talked about organic growth a little bit. I’m wondering, your podcast is called the MarTech podcast. Mine is targeted at agencies, professional service business owners, business developers who sell services. Do you think there’s such thing as a podcast that’s too niche? Would you recommend people go a little bit more general or a little more niche?

Ben Shapiro:
I’m not going to answer that because there is no right answer. It really depends on what your business model is. For you, focusing more niche, but having a meaningful cost per conversion, if you make per client but let’s say you make $10,000 lifetime value for the client and your audience instead of being 10 million people is a million, fine. You’re still able to hit your lead generation conversion and eventually revenue goals. If you’re trying to sell a $3 Facebook promotion plastic bracelet and you have a niche audience of 100,000 people, you’re not going to make much and you’re going to struggle with audience growth. So I think that there’s a balance to being as niche as you can while balancing it against what your business goals are. There’s also no reason why you can’t create multiple podcasts. And there’s the notion, this is kind of what’s going through my head these days, is hey, the MarTech podcast is hitting an inflection point and is in the five figure a month download range.

Ben Shapiro:
And my hope is it gets to the six figures within the next six months and that’s well and good, but now I know how to grow a podcast. I know how to make one. Should I be finding other people to create content with me and build out a network or should I be branching off and creating multiple different shows? There’s nothing to say that you can’t produce multiple shows at the same time. You have the liston.io show. You could also have the sales hacker show. And maybe there’s a different format. Maybe it’s content. You could even be republishing the same content. It’s a land grab right now in podcast-ville and there’s going to be, I think there’s like 250 podcasts or something like that in the app store now and I think there’s going to be a million before the end of the year.

Ben Shapiro:
People are just dumping as much content as they can into the medium because there’s lots of ears to fill so you can republish, you can repurpose, you can rebrand your podcast. There’s nothing to say that you have to have one show, one format, one style, one time, one date. Get creative, figure out what works for you.

Liston Witherill:
Cool. So when are you releasing your second and third podcast? Is my next question.

Ben Shapiro:
They’re out and the problem is I released them and then I realized that the MarTech podcast was taking so much time, so I sort of let them… Here’s a great term. I let them pod fade, which is, there’s a podcast that’s out there. There’s content, it’s still live. I just have not released new content. The A Long Road Home podcast I mentioned is one of them. The other one I have is a sports podcast called For the Fans By the Fans. So if you want to hear me swear, you can head over to that show because my teams have not been very good this year. So there’s been a few F-bombs flying around.

Liston Witherill:
Oh no. Who are your teams?

Ben Shapiro:
I’m a Cal Bear fan and growing up rooting for the Golden Bears is a lesson in humility, specifically the last few years. And then the Giants, the San Francisco Giants weren’t good. Basically all the bay area teams have kind of stunk except for the Warriors. So I try to have as many Cleveland Cavaliers fans on as I can to just revel in the joy.

Liston Witherill:
Just to rub it in.

Ben Shapiro:
Yeah. I’m a notorious LA Dodger troll too. So for all of my friends who are Dodger fans, they’re like you’re such a jerk this time of year. Mostly when the Dodgers are good.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah.

Ben Shapiro:
That’s neither here nor there. And I do two different podcasts for Searchmetrics, a SEO podcast called Voices of Search and TrendSpotting, which is for marketing executives talking about what trends they need to see to help understand where to allocate their marketing budget.

Liston Witherill:
Well, just so you know, I am a Dodgers fan, so I probably won’t be listening to your podcast.

Ben Shapiro:
Oh, well let’s just keep this professional. All I’m going to say is it’s been 30 years since the Dodgers have won a world series.

Liston Witherill:
Well. Yeah, but Kirk Gibson with his walk off home run, that was pretty spectacular. So Ben, I don’t want to bring up any bad memories for you. You’ve been extremely, extremely open and I know you’ve given a lot of things for people to think about in terms of growing their own media channel, especially podcasting. If someone wanted to learn more about you, follow up with you directly, how would they do that?

Ben Shapiro:
There’s a couple different ways. I’m going to give you the way not to do it. Don’t Google Ben Shapiro. He is a political commentator. That’s a different guy. If you’re looking to find me, everything that you’re looking for is under the moniker Ben J Shap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. So you can go to benjshap.com which is sort of the home for all of the professional work that I do. You can find the podcasts there. I actually just launched a page called benjshap.com/questions. If you have marketing questions, you can ask them and I will answer them on the MarTech podcast. What else can I tell you? Yeah, I think that’s probably the best way to get in touch, benjshap.com. And if you’re interested in learning more specifically about podcast advertising, you can book 30 minutes with me by going to benjshap.com/knit. K-N-I-T.

Liston Witherill:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here, Ben.

Ben Shapiro:
Great to be on the show, Liston. I love what you’re doing.

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