What are the podcast metrics you have to consider when putting out your first episode? Marion Abrams joins us today to share her experience in boosting podcast shows. Marion is a podcasting producer, coach, and consultant with deep experience in podcasting and content creation. She built Spartan’s podcast from an audience of 0 to over 35 million views and downloads and has worked on a range of projects. Marion is currently the host of her own podcast show, Grounded Content, where she explores what works, what drives customer actions, and where the lines are between persuasion and manipulation. Listen in as Marion and Tracy Hazzard discuss how you can strategically analyze your podcast metrics so you can elevate your show.
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How To Strategically Analyze Your Podcast Metrics That Helps Elevate Your Show With Marion Abrams Of Grounded Content Podcast
I have a podcaster who has worked behind the scenes as a producer and has her show as well. I’ve got the host of the Grounded Content Podcast. She has been a behind-the-scenes producer of Spartan Up, which is a pretty big deal podcast. You might want to go check that one out too. Marion Abrams is my guest on this episode. She is a podcast producer, coach and consultant with deep experience in podcasting and content creation. She built Spartan Podcast from an audience of 0 to over 35 million views and downloads. She has worked on a range of projects from social media adviser on a gubernatorial campaign to create the documentary film Flood Bound to directing TV ads for Vermont Lottery.
On her podcast Grounded Content, she explores what works and what drives customer actions and where the lines are between persuasion and manipulation. Marion continues to work with Spartan, and as a podcasting coach and consultant, she’s helping thought leaders, business leaders and podcast hosts to design and elevate their podcast presence. I’m super excited to bring Marion on. We’re highlighting a bunch of new coaches and other things because at Podetize, which is the core company that runs The Binge Factor and this is where I am CEO, we are running and exploring a certified strategist program for coaches.
It’s not for everyone. Marion might not be one of them, but we are looking at how we can support the coaches, strategists, and all of those people out there with better data, better information and better background. I’ve been inviting them to come to my show to talk about their shows because almost all of them have shows just like Marion does. That’s why Marion is here. Marion Abrams, Grounded Content Podcast host.
Marion, thanks so much for joining me from Grounded Content. There’s nothing I love better than great content. I love someone who is pushing that as the primary reason why someone should be starting a podcast and listening to a podcast. You have a great background in all kinds of marketing, content and areas. What are you bringing to podcasting that comes from that corporate learning?
I love this because you think about podcasting. Before we even got on the air, you talked about some of those old-school things that maybe need to be updated. Podcasting didn’t exist when I went to school for film. Podcasting didn’t exist when I started working on documentaries and commercials. Facebook didn’t exist before I started working there.
When I think about helping people, what I bring is future-proofing. If you get in touch with the consistently true essentials of why you’re doing things, who you’re speaking to, what you’re telling them, what motivates them, how you want to change that behavior, and all those things. When you dig into that, then the rest is tools and tactics. That’s how you future-proof yourself. The unique perspective I bring is that broad perspective that goes a little deeper.
It’s universal. People don’t change their behavior just because technology is there. They adapt to the technology or the technology adapts to them. It’s not going to change the way we want to consume. That’s what I keep thinking. That’s why bingeing has always been a part of who we are. That’s why the show exists. It’s to point out that this is the pattern we’ve done forever. We just didn’t always have the ability to do it so easily.
You’re right, we adapt. Attention spans change and YouTube changes, and how we look at things versus television and broadcast TV. You look at the essentials like what you’re trying to gain, what your purpose is in having the podcast, who you’re speaking to, and then put everything against that. Ask why all the time and don’t take for granted any of the things you hear that they’re true. Look at your own case and resources, and ask why. Those essentials do not change.
What made you decide to start your own podcast? You’ve been helping others. Let’s talk about the Spartan Up Podcast in context with this because I want everybody to know about that. What made you decide to start your own in that process?
I had this background in a lot of different areas in what we now would call content creation or content strategy. We didn’t call it content then. You call it film, photography or story. When 2014 came around, I was working with the Founder and CEO of the Spartan Race before Spartan Race was even a thing. One day, he was promoting his first book and I had been helping him with that. He said, “Let’s do a podcast.” That was as simple as that.
At the time, I didn’t even think that was anything different than doing a video series. I thought it was the same skillset that I had been using. I had done this great twenty weeks series of webisodes with this guy, Chris Davis. Joe De Sena, the Founder of Spartan, had invited Chris Davis to Vermont. The guy was 500 and something pounds. Joe brought him to the farm. Over twenty weeks, we tracked his progress with short videos week after week as he bumped up against Joe’s take on things.
By the time he left, he was doing a 16-mile Spartan Race in the mountains. He completed the thing. It was an unbelievable transformation. I thought, “How different would a podcast be than creating ongoing serial content in a video?” That’s what we started with Spartan Up. We’re 800 and something episodes in. We’ve got over 40 million views and downloads. I learned a lot in that process. To get to the question, why did I start my podcast? There was a bunch of reasons but one was, I went through this personal transformation when COVID came.
I thought about how we tell stories and how the ecosystem is changing. I realized so many people are out there telling their stories because all these tools are so much more accessible. Are they going to need me to help them tell the story because that was my business? Part of that was how do I adapt and become more of a coach and consultant? Also, it’s important for me. Maybe I need to be making my own content. This is a skillset that I have.
If you knew how to be a chef, everyone’s telling you, “You’re a chef. Make your content about cooking.” I thought, “This is what I do. I make content.” It was frightening for me to get out there, but I realized it was time to put myself out there and try my voice at this. It’s been a great experience for one million reasons, including that I can coach my clients better.
Isn’t it great that you’re learning things all along the way as you’re podcasting anyway? That’s my favorite part about podcasting. It’s why I was looking forward to interviewing you because I want to hear what other people are doing and what their backgrounds have brought to podcasting. You have such a unique background there. You call your podcast the Grounded Content and I love that idea. This is one of the hard things with most of my clients. I’m sure a lot of your clients have struggled with it, which is the name of their show. How did this one come to you?
I went through this process of thinking, and this is what I work with my clients on, “What is it that I bring to the table that other people don’t?” It’s easy for me to feel insecure or uncertain because I’m in the hills of Vermont. I’m in a small town. My perspective, in some ways, is an outsider’s perspective, even though I’ve worked with some big companies. I’m not in those companies. I’m outside of that. I have a little bit of a different perspective about my relationship with nature, my independence, and what the media is doing. Rather than feeling insecure about that, I said, “That’s what I bring to the table. How do I double down on what makes me different?”
I had to hear myself coaching my clients to convince myself to do this because otherwise, it’s like, “Who do you think you are? It’s so egotistical. What do you mean?” Because I had so many clients say that and I was used to convincing them, I turned that around to myself and said, “You can do this. Double down on you.” What are the throughlines? The through lines are content creation and helping people create content. Here’s the part that I felt was important, and it’s not being addressed, where’s the line between persuasion and manipulation? I don’t want to go on and on but I’d worked with clients who had found that line too late after they crossed it. I wanted to make that part of the conversation.
That’s important. Identifying that unique feature or that unique thing that you bring to it is so critically important. I call that The Binge Factor here. The reason is we want somebody to consume everything you have. That’s the binge part of that. Before I get into your binge factor, I’m sure you realized it on Spartan Up, but did you think people were going to binge on your show? Were you consciously building that in?
No. It’s funny because some of the things that I did well on my show came from my years of experience. It’s almost like the cobbler’s kids have no shoes or whatever that expression is. There are so many things that I didn’t do on my show that I knew I should. I made it that place for me where working with clients, I needed to be on. With my show, I made it a little more fun for myself. There were some things that I knew I wasn’t planning as thoroughly as I should or executing perfectly.
I made it more of like an experimentation playground for myself and a place that would be creatively satisfying and satisfy my curiosity rather than a place where I always had to follow best practices. I should have thought about bingeing. I love your title because Grounded Content is like who I am but nobody’s going to search for Grounded Content. Once they find me, they’re going to know who I am, but I would search for Binge Factor like, “What is that Binge Factor?” That’s what people want to know when they’re launching a podcast. It’s a smart name.
This is my view on it. I like to have a name that is aspirational to what you want out of it so you’d like to have that binge factor as much as I’m featuring people who have it. It’s also an ego play to the people who are guesting on my show. They want to be associated with The Binge Factor. It makes it easier to get guests, at the end of the day.Nobody's going to listen to you if you're doing things the same as everyone else. Click To Tweet
Why I chose that name is because it has that dual side to it. As you pointed out in some of your episodes, not all of the reasons we do things is to get the millions of downloads like Spartan Up can get. Not everybody can do that. Our strategies might be simply about our guest outreach. For me, that’s a critical part of proving that to my clients and to the people who are listening to my show that this can be a strategy for you. Let’s talk about your binge factor. What is interesting about the Grounded Content Podcast is the perspective that you’re bringing to that and the way that you ask questions come from a different place.
Normally, there are these typical questions that you would get and you’re like, “How to start a podcast? Let’s talk about equipment.” Especially somebody who has a background in creative, I would have expected that you were focusing so much on the creative process and the equipment that it was. That’s not the case at all. It’s very in your head. It’s thinking through these things, being purposeful and intentional about them. That’s your binge factor. It’s the edge that you’re bringing to your own show and your client’s show.
I love those words, purposeful and intentional. That is so much of it. It’s something I try to explain to my clients. They think either I should ask the questions that I’m supposed to ask because everyone asks them and then I say, “No, nobody’s going to listen to you if you’re doing it the same as everyone else.” They say, “I should do it because it’s different.” No, you don’t do it because it’s different. That’s still about them. It’s about what is your essential you that makes you, and that unique perspective that you bring, and how are you intentional about that, especially if you have a business goal.
You guys are very smart. You’re using this as a proof case and also using it to build your business. There are so many ways to get value out of a podcast, but if you don’t pick one and work on it for a while, it’s such a frustrating process because you can’t see your progress. You can’t decide what works and what doesn’t.
That’s where grounded has so many meanings. You put that in. You want it grounded in your business and to create a great foundation for things. It has those multiple meanings, which is great for you and that’s why it’s working. I love the title. A lot of times, I’m like, “That’s a great name,” but I don’t mean it. This time I mean it. It’s a great name. It’s working and it’s true. Usually, I don’t say anything if I don’t like it because I’m not good at hiding that I don’t like it.
To your point, what is the value of your podcast? What does it do for your business and listeners? Calling out a bad name doesn’t relate to that, whereas on my show, it might. I might have to say, “Why would you use that name? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
You were talking before about webisodes, short videos, video series and things like that. Podcasting is so much more long-tail content. How do you address that difference? Is there a different creative process? Is there a different thing you think about when you’re creating more long-form content?
This is the stuff I love to think about. A podcast is long-form content but it’s also more self-contained, usually. There are things like serial but for most of the podcasts that we’re doing, people could listen to the episodes in any order. They could listen to 1 or 10, to the Binge Factor idea. Whereas, the webisode is serialized content. This is where it’s the grounded thing. There are no hard and fast rules. What’s the value of your show to the audience?
Value doesn’t just mean facts. Value could be I’m lonely and I feel like I had a friend when I listened to the show or I need a laugh or I want to learn about something. What are the behind-the-scenes of how something works? I need this information for my business to perform better. For a podcast, the number one thing is what’s the value for the listener and how do you provide that? I like to look at the data to decide how to execute that.
What data do you look at? I consider listens to be vanity metrics. I’ve said that again and again. It’s like getting on the scale every day and you go, “I moved an ounce.” You’re focused on something that’s not as useful. What metrics do you think are useful?
Many people think that they should look at their data like, “Did I win or didn’t I win?” They’re like, “How many downloads did I have? Is that good enough or not good enough?” That’s all they’re looking at. What I like to do is look at a couple of things. I like to look for patterns. There are a bunch of ways to look for patterns. One of the biggest things that I like to remind people, because your listeners are mostly podcasters, is podcasting has a long tail as you pointed out.
If you look at all your total downloads, the earlier you published it, the more downloads it’s going to have because it’s got that long tail. It’s continuing to accumulate downloads over time. If you want to compare and look for patterns, you want to pick a consistent time period. For example, how many downloads does every episode have in 7 days or 30 days? First of all, make sure you’re looking at a consistent measure. Am I getting too in the weeds?
Not at all. The audience is going, “I get it.” You can search and look at it that way.
You can then compare episode against episode. The simplest rule of thumb I like to tell people is if you’re looking at seven days, that’s going to tell you what titles and topics your audience responded to. If you’re looking at 30 days, it’s more of a metric of overall success. You do have to pay attention to whether your guests promoted or you send an email or something else could alter those results, but generally speaking, those are seven-day download numbers if you see obvious patterns.
I’ll give you an example. With Spartan Up, when I work with them, they have multiple hosts and different hosts on different days. I can see patterns like, “These hosts are getting more downloads than these hosts. Nutrition is getting more downloads than mindset.” I’m looking for patterns. I’m not looking to say like, “Did this episode do well?” I’m saying, “What is our audience telling us?”
A lot of people look at it like averages. What you’re talking about is looking at it as means. We throw out the top and the bottom, and we look at the middle pieces and say, “What are the patterns happening within here?” There’s always going to be that one anomaly of an amazing guest who had a huge social audience and it went viral. You don’t know what’s going to go on there. The one that, for whatever reason, didn’t resonate. If you throw it in, you can’t tell how your numbers are doing. That’s so smart that you’re looking at it that way. You’re looking at the patterns of the words and the content of what it’s about too. You want to double down and do more of those if that’s what your audience is looking for.
We put all our shows on YouTube. There’s a whole bunch of data there, but it’s also looking at listeners’ percentages. Those two pieces give you a good sense. It’s like audience research. Those two pieces give you a good sense of what are the topics and titles that they respond to. Secondly, how are you structuring that conversation to keep them interested? I like to tell people, “You put a promise out there to get people to come in. They’re going to listen and see if you keep that promise, and then they’re going to decide to stay.” You could go out there and advertise like crazy but if you don’t keep the promise, you’re throwing your money away.
That’s the part I love about podcasting the most. With videos, they don’t give you so much grace. The statistics from YouTube is something like you lose 70% of the audience every minute. No matter what, it’s how it goes. With podcasting, at least, if you’ve earned it from a few episodes, that idea of “I’m going to stick with your show,” they already have the promise built-in. The listen-through rate is high, typically. Most of my clients’ shows are 70% to 80% listen-through rates on average.If things aren't constantly shifting, there won't be exciting new things to learn. Click To Tweet
Most of the shows have a good listen rate. If you look at that, there’s the chart that you can see in the backend. You can see on Apple or YouTube what that listen-through experience was on average. On YouTube, no matter how good the video is, there’s that dip right away where people get there and say, “This is not for me.” That has to do too with the way YouTube works and the algorithm. We’re lucky in podcasting. That’s one of the few places that are not yet algorithm-driven. If people are there for you, they get your stuff all the time.
It’s because they haven’t figured out how to algorithm voice yet without transcribing it.
Unfortunately, they will.
I hear Google is working on that. It’s coming but so far, they haven’t figured it out yet. We’re all safe in our RSS feeds. Thank goodness. Some of the things you talk about are create-fade, which we use podfade here in the podcasting industry. I love that you talked about it as create-fade too because that’s more on the content creation side of it. It’s where you lose that ability to sit down and record. There are three types of podfaders to me. One is when you get overwhelmed with the production side of things because they’re trying to do it themselves or they run out of money and can’t use their team. Those things happen. That’s an understandable fade.
There’s the fade of someone who’s done 600, 800 episodes. They’re a little burned out on their topic. It happens. Usually, those people start up a new show though. That’s what I find. There are the podfaders who run out of ideas and guests. They lose momentum there somehow and get behind. They don’t keep recording and it’s such a shame. What tips do you have for create-faders?
The first thing I want to say is a lot of people start a podcast without thinking about why they’re doing it. If you start a podcast because you’re like, “Everyone told me I should start a podcast,” and then you get nine episodes in, it’s okay to say, “This isn’t for me.” A lot of us try new things and we say, “This isn’t for me.” That is fine but there are a bunch of things that you can do to re-spark.
Some of them are surprising. One of them is sometimes you got to double down. Everyone says, “If you need to fade, you must be burned out.” It might be that you need to double down and go in 100%. If you’re doing 1 episode a week, go to 3 episodes a week. If you’re doing a 10-minute show, do a 30-minute show. Sometimes, you just need to get re-energized.
By diving in, it’s doing it for you. You find that pace. That’s why I hate when I hear that people quit before 25 episodes because your pace or stride starts happening at 25 episodes. That’s when you start to see where do you fit in and settle into that place, where you’re comfortable with the media type.
Even as someone who has coached and worked in this space for many years for my show, I’m going through a new transition where I am becoming a little more flexible, comfortable and giving myself a little more grace. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I asked a few podcasters when I gave a course that had more than 100 episodes. I said, “What changed for you from the beginning until now?” A lot of it was about giving themselves grace and realizing that the audience was there for them. They could do shorter or longer. They could do guests, no guests. They could bring their voice into the conversation much more than they had been. That was valuable. You talked to so many podcasters. What do you see?
I still think it’s the case. That’s why my number is at 25 episodes because it’s a pace of doing it. If you’re doing one in a week, that’s going to get you about six months in. It’s enough time span for you to get comfortable with it. When I had started back in 2014 when we started our first podcast and started airing it in 2015, we did it five days a week. We crashed coursed ourselves into it. A month was twenty episodes. There you go. We were in it all the way at that point.
There’s feedback earning that happens at 25 episodes. That feedback happens when someone says to you on Twitter, Facebook or wherever they reach out to you, “I listened to this episode and I loved it. I’m curious if you address this or talk about this next.” When they’re asking you for something, you’re like, “I’m showing up for someone.” For us, the next month of episodes at that time was we had this person in mind. We could hear her voice. We could see what she was looking for and we were podcasting for her.
It helps so much to have somebody in your mind that you’re talking to.
That gave the audience the face and then more faces joined that. It had built momentum. At 100, you do need to pivot. It’s something that you have to consider and sit back. At 100 is when I usually advise my clients and also look at every one of my shows. For me, that’s usually a year. We usually do at least two episodes a week for most things or do a short and a long. We’re getting at that stage.
I take a look at it at the end of every year. I take a look at the idea of what’s working, what’s not working, how’s it feeling for me, and how can I keep making sure that I have the energy to continue on it, or is this time to be done with it? Sometimes it is time to be done with it. It’s not working for your business. Your business has shifted, and shifting the show isn’t going to make it any better. That’s usually when I start a new one. That’s why I have eight personal shows. I’m starting my eighth. I am recording it.
I don’t record all of them anymore. I can’t. You have to get to that place, but that’s such a great viewpoint. It’s looking at when these pivot points happen or these times when you need some advice. That’s where you bring some great value. When thinking about audience and content-first coaching, there aren’t many people who focus just on that piece. Many people can help you produce your show, edit your show and get it started.
I met a ton of them and they make a lot of mistakes because they started one show and then said, “I’m going to do this for other people.” It doesn’t work quite the same way for other people, but when you’re focusing on audience and content and being intimately in there with your business, that’s why you have such a greater chance for success for your clients.
Everybody brings something different to the table. I don’t want to be too judgmental but there is a part of me that screams out when I hear somebody say, “I worked in such and such business and transformed to this new business. I started a podcast. I loved it so much and now I’m a coach.” “When did you start that?” “Six months ago.” I do see that there’s value in being ahead of someone in their journey, but I have to believe that many years in this broad spectrum of different kinds of content creation and contexts give me the depth to help my clients differently.
You’ve been doing that all along. That coaching part isn’t different. As a consultant, it’s a little different because you have to provide that to them. It’s part of the contract. I went kicking and screaming into the idea that I was a podcast coach. I hated the idea of being a coach of anything. I didn’t want it. It didn’t fit me. It wasn’t until a few years ago that my team kept saying, “You have to start calling the call that you have every week, a coaching call, because people understand that.” I was like, “I’m not coaching.”There is no data for innovation. Go with your gut, try some new stuff, and see what works. Click To Tweet
They were like, “Let’s see, Tracy. You’ve launched 1,000 shows and you’re doing this. You’re providing advice and answering questions. You’re coaching.” I’m like, “I am coaching.” It was that aspect of not wanting to be someone who started it six months ago. I started it years ago but still, I didn’t want to be in that place. I get that but it is so true. When you bring that deep experience through and you’re continuing to stay at the core coaching on that, what tactics do you use? What media type do you use? It needs to change because if you’re not changing, you’re not future-proofing, as you pointed out before.
That’s the fun of it. That’s what keeps it exciting. You think you burn out after 100 episodes. Imagine if the platforms weren’t constantly shifting and there weren’t exciting new things to learn.
Let’s talk a little about promoting before we go into our little section of the three questions. Promoting sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. Do you take a look at that with your clients? How do you evaluate the promotion side of podcasting?
Super quick, I have what I call the five Ps. The first one is Purpose. That’s what we talked about. Why are you podcasting? What’s your business call? The second one, I call POV. What’s your voice? What’s your positioning? Who are you? The third one is Process. That one we didn’t talk about because it’s not as fun but it’s super important. I weld that down to balancing. How do you look at your resources and goals? How do you make every decision? What’s the advantage that’s going to bring you? What’s the cost in terms of resources, whether that’s financial, your time or your team? The next P is Practice. I know you’ll like that because you get better at this with practice. A lot of people don’t realize that.
The fifth P is Promote because podcasts in 2022 are different than in 2014. It’s a very crowded space. If you write a blog article, it could be the best article in the world but nobody’s going to find it unless you put it out there and tell people about it. A podcast is like that now. You can have a wonderful podcast but if people don’t know about it, they’re not going to find it. I think of promotion as three pieces in terms of growing your podcast.
The first piece is almost like customer acquisition. It’s the promise you put out there. How do you put it out in the world and invite people to come to your show? How do you go to where your listeners are and bring them in? The second piece is customer service. You made this promise and brought people there. How do you serve them when they get there? How do you make sure they feel like they got what they were expecting and what they came for, and they stay? The third piece is retention. Once they get there, how do you get them to come back for the next episode? Most people who talk about podcast growth talk about the first piece but they don’t talk about the second few pieces. I like to think about that part of it.
It’s okay if you’re shifting over time like you’re getting your show started, and leaving piece one for a while. That’s okay, then tack on two and then tack on three. You can build on that. It doesn’t have to happen all at one time. I love that segmentation of that. That’s wonderful. Let’s talk about our three things. You have some great guests on your show with different viewpoints that you don’t hear on everybody else’s show. I love that about you. How do you find these guests? How do you vet them? What do you do to get great guests on your show?
This is such a tricky question because what I do for my show is different from what I do for Spartan Up, which is much more client-oriented. What I do for my show is much more personal. It has a lot to do with I am super curious about how do we drive customer behaviors and do it ethically. Most of the people that talk about this have their thing, but nobody’s challenging them and asking them real-life questions. It’s not because I’m contrarian or anything. It’s because I want a real answer. I’m tired of the BS. I’m very fortunate that I’ve crossed paths with a lot of people in my many years in this content space.
A lot of the guests are people that I’ve touched in one way or another. I always thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to ask them these questions?” There are those people. That’s a big part of it. That’s something that happens too. You get 25 episodes in. You use up your pool and start to look on the horizon. You get a sense of that filter. You have a filter for your guests. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s a good guest?
If you’re segmenting and looking at your stats that way, then you’re also making some judgment calls.
Once you have that guest, you’re designing your questions. Do you care? Does your guest care? Does your audience care? Ask yourself those three questions. That’s the key filter.
I was thinking that it ties to your original like you’re using that segment one of promotion. That’s maybe your guest strategy right there. “I need more guests that have the audience that I want to reach. That’s the guests I need to invite on for a period of time.” You might be using it as part of your promotion strategy as well.
This is one of those things that I’m interested to hear. You told me at the beginning that you were going to give me some tips about things I could improve, which I’m excited about. One of the things I hear a lot of people saying is, “You got to have big-name guests on your show and that’s how you’re going to grow your audience.” It doesn’t usually work that way. A big-name guest is valuable because you can get other big-name guests. It gives you that authority and credibility but generally speaking, if Tracy Hazzard has Gary Vaynerchuk on this show, that’s super cool. You’ll probably have a great conversation.
He’s a podcaster so I would love to listen to it. His audience, if they want to know what he thinks, there are 1,000 places they’re already looking. They’re probably not going to come here. Your audience is going to love it. Maybe you’ll get a couple of new people and maybe some of them will hang around. Also if you get a big name like Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s not going to promote your episode.
The bigger name, the worst they are at it.
I feel like they’re doing me a favor by coming on my show. I don’t expect any more from them. The tiny guest will be super enthusiastic. They’ll promote the heck out of it, but they don’t have an audience. It’s that mid-tier guest that’s specifically a good fit for your show. The other thing that happens is let’s say you have a podcast about a specific subject. You invite maybe a pro wrestler on your show. You’re going to talk to them about what they like to read. It’s about what famous people read.
You ask them these questions but you don’t know anything about their career as a pro wrestler. A lot of people make a mistake and say, “I’m going to have this pro wrestler on my podcast and I’m going to promote it to their audience. They’re all going to come, love my show and stay.” Do you know what’s going to happen? They’re going to come to your show and say, “You ask the dumbest questions. You don’t know anything about wrestling because you’re asking about reading. This is a stupid podcast. I’m leaving.”
If you could get Reese Witherspoon on your podcasts, her book list and book community would all be a right fit. You talked a lot about listener focus and understanding who these listeners are. Let’s talk about listener growth and engagement. Going where they are, you mentioned that before as part of the promotion strategy. Identifying your audience seems to be some of the most important things but not everybody knows their listeners when they start. How do you help them through that? How do I get more listeners and get them to engage?There are things that will work, but what works will change. Click To Tweet
If you’re listening, not watching, your hands were on one side for one of those and one on the other side. I feel like all these things are cyclical. You have to do a little bit of one and back to the other. If you have no audience, you may want to run an ad or send a blanket email. You need to feed somebody into the system to start to get data. You need to publish enough episodes to see how people respond. Even people who are saying, “This is not for me,” you may not have that data to look at. You can go with your gut. That’s helpful especially if you already have a community.
I think of all the data as audience research. Every episode you publish is audience research. Go with your gut, try some new stuff, and see what works. The other thing that’s so important about data that can stifle creativity is always remember, there is no data for innovation. There’s no data for something that has never been done.
Don’t get too hung up. Look at data but don’t say, “The data doesn’t show that that’s successful. I’m not going to try it.” You haven’t tried it yet. You have no data. Don’t get all hung up and not try new things, whether you’re talking about promotion or your content. In this case, we’re talking about promotion. Try things. Some things will work. As you pointed out, what works will change.
Monetization, do you have clients who come to you and are asking about monetization and monetization strategies? Let’s talk about it as a general topic rather than say how you are monetizing your show because that doesn’t matter in this particular case. You’re educating a potential client base. That’s your monetization model here. What do you think about monetization in the podcasting market?
I am not an expert in this area and that isn’t because it’s not important. It’s very important. That’s that first P in the five Ps, which is Purpose. For me, that’s your tactical and practical purpose. I don’t always think about it as monetization but I think about it as purpose. Maybe you’re trying to sell your book, sell your coaching program or grow your email list. Maybe you’re working on customer retention or brand depth or brand lift. Maybe it’s about building your authority. Maybe it’s about networking and meeting the guests who are coming to your show. I think about it as a tactical purpose rather than monetization.
It’s looking at the bigger picture and maybe that’s because a lot of my clients are podcasts for a larger business. You think about Spartan Up, for example. We’re not worried about day-to-day, how many sponsors we have, and what’s our CPM. We’re worried about how does this show benefits the larger brand? It’s important and in a way, you could consider it monetization.
We booked a title sponsor for the show. Not only are we in a place where that show is profitable and beneficial for the brand, but thinking about it in terms of purpose rather than strictly monetization is helpful. I don’t think it’s an either/or that people poo the idea of monetization. I think it is important. There are a lot of things other than sponsorship, especially selling your products that can be valuable. Focusing on business purposes rather than monetization is how I work with my clients.
That’s such a great perspective on it. I’m shocked that Spartan Up took their first title sponsor. With the number of listens, I can’t believe people were banging down the door.
We’ve had lots of sponsors weekly but for the first few years, if you think about it, it’s like branded content. Spartan is the sponsor of the show.
You’ve been podcasting and supporting podcasters for a while. What’s the one thing you think you probably repeat the most to everyone and the best piece of advice you could give?
It’s not about the freaking microphone. It matters. You want to sound okay but it’s about what you say. If you think about it, why do you like a book? It’s not because the print is nice. It’s because of what the story is and what the book is about. It’s not about the microphone. Don’t get hung up on the microphone. It’s about what you say.
I love that this also comes from a woman who has a background in film. Cameras and equipment have probably been a big part of your life. Those are the thing that you’re saying is not the focus of it. It’s the tools that make it happen later but that’s not the focus. Such great advice, Marion.
It’s not about the paintbrush or the pencil. You get the idea.
Marion, thank you so much for coming to this show and sharing your wisdom with everyone. Grounded Content Podcast is for podcasters everywhere. All of you should be going to subscribe and listen to it. Check out her back episodes because don’t forget, we learn a lot from the beginning as much as we do from the releasing ones.
Thank you so much, Tracy. I want to ask you a ton of questions but I’ll hold my tongue. I’ll let us close.
Maybe I’ll have to come to your show. We’ll have to do a swap because that’s valuable to everyone.
That’s what I love so much about doing this show. I can get into how other people are doing things and what they’re getting at. I loved Marion’s discussion of stats and that synergy that we see on vanity metrics going across the industry here. I love when I see that because it helps to reinforce what we’re doing, how I’m coaching people, and how we’re developing our business structures. It helps tie into all of that, but then you get new perspectives on things like how she looks and analyzes the stats. When they’re looking at that from a big podcast standpoint like the Spartan Up show that she is working on, then you have a sense of that’s what matters at that level.
It doesn’t matter to you starting out. It’s not a bad way to look at it. It’s a good way to analyze what’s happening in this so I’m not reacting to my stats so quickly. All of those different things, I love that I get to do the show. I get to explore people’s brains, their podcasts, and find out more about them. I’m so grateful Marion Abrams came on to talk with us about the Grounded Content Podcast. Such a great perspective from someone who’s such a seasoned podcaster and so experienced in the production side of everything.
Anyone out there who knows someone, maybe someone you’ve been working with as a coach or has a great podcast that you can’t stop listening to, I’m looking for that binge factor everywhere I go. Make sure that you come and find me at TheBingeFactor.com. Check out the episode and blog posts for each of the episodes that we’ve got going on so you can see some best practices there. You can also explore how to get in touch with great guests like Marion Abrams. Everyone, I’ll be back next time with another great podcaster.
- Grounded Content Podcast
- Spartan Up – Spotify
- Marion Abrams
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