Michael Norris of the ‘Youtalk Marketing Podcast’: Bring Business and Entertainment Together to Create a Bingeable Podcast
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a bingeable podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer of Youtech & Associates.
Growing up, Michael’s dinnertime conversations always centered around marketing. His parents owned a marketing agency, which (as you might imagine) didn’t make for the most interesting of topics for a 10-year-old.
As he grew into his professional career, Michael began to use the accumulated knowledge to study the intricacies of the art. As Chief Marketing Officer he leads the marketing team at Youtech, where he establishes overall strategies and goals for brands in a variety of industries — taking diligent notes on the similarities and differences of each. Per his latest venture, Michael is the host of the company’s podcast Youtalk, an online show geared toward establishing relationships, offering advice, sharing stories, and getting the word out about original research.
Outside of work, Michael has published a book on Type 1 Diabetes for charity, played more Mario Kart than anyone else on the planet, studied Philosophy in great depth, attempted to stick to a workout regimen, and strangely, sat on Bill Clinton’s toilet once. If you ask him about it, he’ll laugh.
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Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
I never thought I would end up in the marketing field, honestly. It was the last thing on my mind. My mom and my stepdad owned a marketing agency while I was growing up, and being the rebellious teenager that I was, I can’t even count the number of times I told them I would never end up working jobs like them. Funny how that worked out…
I wanted to be a teacher, then I became an English major (with no particular career path, I just excelled at English courses and writing), then an attorney, then…well, I had no idea.
I majored in Philosophy because I loved it, and it taught me how to think about things and logically form viewpoints. I got a job at my parents’ marketing agency out of school for a year (Thanks, Mom!) and they took me under their wing. They gave me a huge crash course on everything during that time.
I received a direct message one day from an old college friend, who’s currently the COO at Youtech, where I now work. She asked me to come in for a Project Manager interview. I loved the fit, came in, and got to work. I had a large client and managed all aspects of the account, so I got a taste of a variety of different things, further melding my skillset. I used these skills to continue working up the chain to my current position, CMO.
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
Ultimately, I think it’s the people I’ve met and the unusually strong connections I’ve developed by interviewing (or being interviewed by) them. It’s strange but talking to a complete stranger for 45 minutes creates a connection you wouldn’t get from small talk. You learn more about them and what motivates them. You bond over things you both appreciate. I have great relationships with past guests, many of whom I’ve never met face to face.
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
I sat down and filmed an entire episode with my Creative Director. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I remember sitting down to check out the recording and realizing there was no sound whatsoever in the recording. It’s funny now, but he still gives me some playful jabs for being an idiot every now and then.
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
I originally started by filming over video, and the actual podcast came later. That said, it’s been the same interview format for about a year and a half now. I’ve interviewed some people who have been in the podcast game a lot longer than me and learned a lot of their tricks too!
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
I want them to find value — whether it be through education or entertainment. A lot of podcasts in the business world are educational but very few actually provide entertainment. We’re all humans at the end of the day, and humans like entertainment. It keeps us coming back. You can do both if you focus on it.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
There are a few things that set us apart, but most prevalently, we’re not dialed into one very specific market sector talking about the same types of things every episode. We spice it up a bit. I know there are people out there who will say to niche down, and I do see value in that. Every niche podcast I know has become repetitive for me. I have a hard time listening to even some of my favorites very consistently. On the other hand, the more generalized podcasts, like the Joe Rogan Experience, always have something new and unique. This is what we aim for as well.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
Have set days to execute specific tasks related to recording, editing, and marketing your podcast. Don’t allow yourself to fall behind and don’t work at a pace that stretches you too thin. If you get behind, you’ll be looking at a mounting pile of work to get going again. You don’t want that to happen. Stick to it and be consistent. Realize that your audience expects consistency and deliver on it.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
All over the place. For subject matter, I have pretty tailored LinkedIn and Twitter feeds that I check in on daily. Reddit is a great place to find specific communities as well. I’m also a part of some Facebook Groups that really get good discussions going occasionally.
For interview style, I tend to pick things up from other podcasts I listen to. I’ll be listening and think to myself “Oh, I like that question,” or “That’s a great way to get this back on track.” I keep notes on things I like the most.
Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
Joe Rogan, hands down. He’s kind of the model for many of us out there. He started a show and now 1,000+ episodes in, he interviews some of the biggest celebrities and experts in any given field. He’s honed his skills over time and takes what he’s learned from previous conversations and applies them to his new ones. I also like that it’s raw and unedited. It’s real.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
Consistency, content, and promotion.
You HAVE to be consistent if you want to grow your podcast. It’s a must. Of course, the content needs to be there as well. You can’t be dry and boring.
Lastly, if you build it, they will not come. You need to get the word out. Promote your podcast through channels your audience dedicates their time to.
Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?
1. Have a plan. What are you going to do with your podcast? Are you going to be doing an interview style? Storytelling? Quick tidbits?
How often are you going to post? Is that too much? Will you be able to consistently book guests or find new material at that rate? Where will you find your guests or material?
These are all questions you should at least have partial answers to before getting started.
2. Know what you’re up against. What other podcasts are in your niche? Check them out. Maybe you can learn what you like and what you don’t like about them. Read their reviews. What do listeners get out of them? Do you want to compete on those same factors, or do you want to set yourself apart by doing something slightly different?
3. Know your audience. This is probably the most important part. If you aren’t appealing to your audience, who are you appealing to? Most likely no one.
Find out what content resonates with them. Interact with them in groups. Ask them questions. Look at what content does best in those groups.
Then, (and this is hard) deliver to them something unique. You can’t just regurgitate subject matter they’ve already seen/heard. For example, you wouldn’t want to keep reading this article if my first tip was to motivate yourself or buy a laptop. These are basic. You wouldn’t tell a marathon runner they should train leading up to the race. They know that. They might need to know HOW to train though. That’s where you can help them.
Assume they’re already past the very basics or you’re going to bore them to death.
4. Promotion is key. As I said above, you can’t just upload your recordings and walk away. You’ll get plays that way, sure, but you’re going to have a hard time growing if people don’t know you exist.
A great way to promote yourself is to provide snippets of valuable content from the podcast itself as a teaser, then show people where to go to listen to the full episode. I use video clips since I also film mine over video, but even just profound snippets of text or quotes from your guests can work.
5. Level up. You’ll want to constantly be looking at how you can improve over time. One of the best ways to do this is to level up your guests. Use their audiences to your advantage, and parlay your biggest guest into a bigger one, then an even bigger one than that. Just keep going with it.
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Michael Norris!
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1) Book Great Guests. Get an introduction from someone you know. This paves the way for an easy set up. You can leverage past guests and explore their networks. Outside of that, just email them. You’d be surprised.
2) Increase Listeners. Make it easy for your guests to share their episodes. Hit them with all of the links and some interesting tidbits that make it easy for them to share. I know a guy who draws a picture of every guest he has on and shares with his guests as well. They share these on social media for him and they get pretty good engagement.
3) Produce Like A Pro. Invest in a microphone and eliminate background noise. You can find a lot of good microphones on Amazon. Try to upload WMA files over MP3 if you can. They’re higher quality.
4) Encourage Engagement. I see some podcasters encourage engagement by doing AMAs with their guests in Facebook Groups. They then take the questions and use them in the podcast episode. This is the best way to encourage engagement from my point of view. Go directly to the source and give them what they want.
5) Monetize Your Show. If you’re big enough, negotiating on-air sponsorships will give you a lot more income, but you’ll also need to work to set these up. I would only go after sponsorships once you’ve hit at least 1,000 downloads per episode.
What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself?
Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Michael Norris!