Podcasts are becoming more popular each day. In fact, there are currently over 800,000 active podcasts out in the wild. Let’s be honest… a lot of them – if not most – aren’t that great. And to be fair, building an interesting concept and growing a passionate audience can seem challenging and almost impossible in this ever-growing world of audio content.
So how do you “find the magic?” as this week’s guest Jay Acunzo would put it. What goals and expectations should you create for your podcast? Things to ensure that your creation is great… not just good. Tune in to this episode as Jay discusses what podcasts can truly offer you and your brand when done correctly.
Digging into Key Takeaways
In each episode, we like to highlight the key takeaways from each show. Think of it as a podcast outline or live show notes. Here are some of the takeaways that really stood out to us in Jay’s episode.
The Only Way Around is Through 🛤
There are no shortcuts to success. The only way to create a great podcast is by releasing a ton of content. But don’t worry, creating a ton of content doesn’t mean you necessarily have to release them all as podcast episodes. Instead, create “episodes” where you try new things and ask for feedback from a friend. As they say… practice makes perfect, and with each episode you create, you will refine and improve your skills.
The Fundamental Shift ➡️
Previously, limited choices and information available meant that marketing was centered around grabbing attention. Now, marketing is more about holding that attention. It’s about things like subscribers rather than views and impressions. Creating relationships and engaged participators in your brand culture is more important than ever.
What is a Show Good For? 🤷
A podcast can be measured by a lot of things but, in essence, it’s the perfect mechanism to get your audience’s attention for extended periods of time…hours even (much longer than you would with the most well-written blog post). While they listen, you have the ability to develop stronger relationships with these listeners and turn them into life long fans.
The Golden Rule 🔑
The goal of each of your episodes, seasons, and podcasts should be to get your listener to the end. With this goal in mind, you will find that your shows are filled with more interesting, stong content rather than filler nonsense that just takes up time. It’s useful to always remember that at the end of the day you’re creating something that people have to want to listen to!
Interested in more from Jay Acunzo?
To hear more of Jay Acunzo’s genius advice on making fantastic podcasts tune in to his own show, Unthinkable with Jay Acunzo.
Interesting in skimming through the entire episode? Access the full transcript below.
So you think you need a podcast or maybe you already have one, but let’s get real about something. Not all shows are great shows. Some are just bad. You know I’m right. But what’s the difference between a bad show and one that draws you in, keeps you coming back, and even wanting more when you hit the end of the episode? And with all these shows popping up these days, if you’re going to add to that pool of hundreds of thousands of shows, what sort of expectations should you have? What should be your mindset? Because seriously, there will soon be a million podcasts. Get your head around that real quick, a million. More than a million shows for your audience to choose from. Why should they choose yours? In summary, what’s the making of a great show? Hello everyone. I’m Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, the B2B podcasting platform. And this is our podcast. I’m so excited about today’s guest. He is a great friend of mine and such a great partner to us here at Casted. He’s Jay Acunzo, author, podcast host, speaker, and founder of Marketing Showrunners. Jay has been podcasting since 2014 and since then has made several shows, including his current one, one of my faves, Unthinkable. He’s just such a great storyteller and does such a great job with the show. It’s fun to listen to, which is why I’m excited to introduce you all to Jay, although I’m pretty sure many of you know who he is already. He and I are so personally aligned on what podcasts should and should not be, why and why not to do one, and what your expectations should be if you do have one. So without further delay, here’s Jay.
JAY ACUNZO: Jay Acunzo. I’m the founder of Marketing Showrunners, which very meta to this show teaches marketers how to make better shows to build passionate audiences. And I also have hosted or am currently hosting upwards of a dozen documentary series, whether that’s in audio or video. So I’m a show nerd.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: From one show nerd to another. I love it. So tell me when your career in podcasting began? What did that look like? When was it? Why did it happen?
JAY ACUNZO: Yeah, I think it began with… This is how a lot of my projects begin. It’s like finding the magic. It’s like someone else is doing something I’m like, ” Whoa, how did you do that?” And so for me, it was with Radiolab from WNYC and just the immersion I felt. Their sound design is unbelievable. Their storytelling is great, especially early Radiolab, where they would explore big concepts like color or memory and forgetting and how that works. Through analogy and story and sound design, they created the most delicious audio ever. And I was like, ” I want to do that. How do I… That’s amazing. I want to make others feel like I feel right now.” And I had this friend at a nonprofit in Boston and I was working for a VC firm at the time called Next View. And the nonprofit helped connect the tech industry to nonprofits that needed technical expertise and marketing help. And so that’s how I met them and got close to the director. And he’s like, ” Talk to me about content. I think we should be publishing more content.” And I was like, “Absolutely. And this is not a hidden agenda at all. You should make a podcast. And also this is not a hidden agenda either, I should host it.” And so he was like, “Yeah, sure.” And so I had to find a way to make three, four, or five episodes. I forget what it was. But I came up with this concept that because the organization, the nonprofit that I was working with, connected the tech industry to the nonprofit industry, I would take one important theme in the business world and I would interview two people, one from non profit, one from for- profit, and see how they came at it. And I called it Tech It Forward instead of pay it forward. And I made three episodes. It was a lot of fun. I think people liked it. I sound so bored as a host. The audio was all over the place. The edit isn’t tight. The volume levels are crazy different. And I didn’t have a clue how to use a microphone or my voice, most importantly. But I made three episodes and it showed me I could do this. So then I pitched my bosses at Next View once that little mini experiment went away, because my friend left the nonprofit. I was like, ” I want to make a show. By the way, here’s something that I did. You can hear what I’m getting at, if you want to listen to these episodes as a side project. But I want to make a show for you. I want it to be concept led. I want it to be highly produced. We’ll call it Traction because we’re seed stage investors and every VC and their mom is podcasting. They’re doing the B2B thing. They’re interviewing experts. It’s really boring. It’s really commodified. We’re going to make it entertaining and smart at the same time.” And so they were like, ” Yeah, go for it. So I made 52 episodes of Traction over the course of a year, year and a half. When I left, I started Unthinkable, which is still my show, Unthinkable. And then people heard the production value, thought I had a team, but it was just me tinkering on process and asked me to create shows for them. So that became a business which was making shows for other brands, and that dovetailed from services into education, which is what I do now with Marketing Showrunners.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: That was a very fast synopsis. That was a lot. So when was Traction, like what year- ish was that?
JAY ACUNZO: Traction was 2014 to 2016.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Okay. And you launched Unthinkable?
JAY ACUNZO: I think Unthinkable actually… It did overlap Traction a little bit, because it was a side project before it was a focal point of my business. And I remember I would… They still are and were highly scripted episodes. So I would march to a coffee shop two, three days a week at 6: 30 in the morning. I’d be the first one there. I’d write my show. I’d then go to work and then one day a week I’d steal a lunch break at work to record in the office. So I think that lasted about, I don’t know, say six to nine months. I was doing Traction and Unthinkable at the same time.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: That’s cool. So what were some of the challenges that you ran into? I mean, were you recording and editing and producing and, and, and, and all by yourself?
JAY ACUNZO: Oh yeah. I mean, initially I had no help on Traction at all. Actually, I never had help on Traction. With Unthinkable, it was intended to be a way to help with my speaking career because it is speaking. Number one, this is practice. Number two, it’s a way to log stories for speeches, which is my sneaky advantage. I spoke to an event last week with event marketers, very meta, an event for event marketers. And I had an event marketing story in the speech and they were like, ” How the hell did you customize your speech like that?” And it’s like, ” Well, I’ve been telling these kinds of stories for whatever five, six years now almost once a week, if not more because I have multiple shows. So I have this backlog that I can pull from.” So Unthinkable was always about helping my speaking business. So I did fund, sort of support a little bit more on that show. Right now I work with a producer named Talia Gabriel and she helps me do story research and she herself produces some stories and hops on the microphone and does some editing with me. I’ve worked before with some audio engineers. So, yeah. I think that one’s got a little more infrastructure, but it’s still very, very lean.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: So you are the definition of a lot of podcasters right now and you’re doing it so well. I mean, as someone who listens to your show, obviously, you can’t tell. I mean, it doesn’t sound like it’s all you. I mean, it sounds like you’ve got an entire team behind you. So how did you get there? How did you… Was it all just self taught? Do you have any background in that, like education? How’d you get there?
JAY ACUNZO: All self- taught. I do want to keep in mind who we’re speaking to with B2B marketers who sensibly are in house and listening to this because they’re thinking about it on their teams. I find it’s a fool’s errand. The working world bastardizes creativity in one very real way, many ways, but this one comes to mind now, which is when we pitch an idea like a podcast at a brand, we have to know this is going to work before we do it. But that’s not how creativity works. Creativity works by tweaking little things all the time. It’s like the project is a summary of lots of little wins and losses and moments of learning and emotion. You can’t just be like, ” We’re starting it from scratch. It’s the first episode. We’ve never done this before. And it’s a runaway hit.” You have to focus on tinkering and constant learning because that’s what this is. So for me with Unthinkable, it was a side project. It still ostensibly is. It’s not like I don’t make money directly on the show like advertising or anything. So I think it’s all self- taught, but it’s a focus on what could I do better next time? What excites me? What gives me energy? What removes energy that I have to outsource or stop doing? And that’s how I think most brands should focus. Now they should put more process to it. They should think about like, ” Okay, we’re going to create a pilot or two or a couple, or we’re going to do a pilot season. It’s going to be very small, only for our super fans who already trust us and give us the benefit of the doubt. When we’ve figured it out, then we’ll go broad with the marketing play.” But, but we kind of conflate the two. We were like, ” We’re going to start from scratch, create something awesome right away and go big right away.” And that’s ignoring how this stuff actually works.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Mm- hmm( affirmative). So did you know that going in or is that something that-
JAY ACUNZO: Oh, a million percent. I had launched dozens of side projects by then and had a career in content marketing. So I was like, ” I know this is going to be super painful and I’m going to have this vision for what it should be in my head.” Appropriately from Ira Glass, because we’re talking podcasting, but Ira Glass talks about the gap, which is when you get into creative work, you have this taste. You can appreciate creative work and aspire to it, but your skills and your ability to put out the work don’t match your taste. And so this gap exists and the only way to close the gap is you got to put out a lot of work. And so I knew that heading into this show, Unthinkable. I still listen to episodes and I’m like, ” What was I thinking? Why was I doing this? I got to improve that.” I’m always tinkering. It’s always tweaking and trying little wrinkles, I think, are how actual innovation happens. I don’t think it’s a big theoretical change or decision or idea that real innovation is like frontline changes, little tiny wrinkles all the time. So I had just been beaten up a lot by the creative process and like, knew about this gap. So I was like, ” Okay, I know this is going to suck early on. I aspire for it to be great, but I’m focused on everyday improvement.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I like that. And would that be your advice, is just go create and start?
JAY ACUNZO: Yeah. A good example is there was an entrepreneur in Boston who had found me through another client show that I did a while ago with a Boston tech company. And he tweeted me yesterday. He’s like, ” Hey, I found this show you did a couple of years ago. I appreciated how you described it and how you worked with that team. I like that team. It’s how I found you. I’m thinking of starting a show. I am starting a show for my agency. What do you recommend? What is one thing you wish you did differently early on? What is an article… Can you list an article or two from Marketing Showrunners that I should start with?” And I responded, and I was trying to be respectful, but it was really frustrating because he was trying to shortcut the only way to do this, which is, I told him, ” You need to just start putting out a lot of work, put out episodes before you think you’re ready. If you don’t want to market them, don’t market them. Give them to people that you trust or that already love you. Just the only way through is…” What was it? The only way around is through, right? That’s the phrase, I think the only way to get good at this is you just got to do it. If you want to write, you got to write. If you want to be a speaker, you got to speak. If you want to be a podcaster, you got a podcast. It’s this theory that actually derails good work, putting out bad work with the intent to be good is the only way to be good.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: B2B branded shows, branded podcasts. It feels like they’re everywhere and nowhere. It feels like there’s a lot happening, but there’s a lot left to come. Where do you feel like we are? Tell me the state of the industry, the state of the state, as it were.
JAY ACUNZO: To talk about shows, we have to put aside shows for a moment. And I think it’s more important that we understand what’s happening with people in anything we do in marketing. And we can then build up from those first principles a lot better. Like we can build up better original thinking. We can build up more strategic thinking for executives. Everything gets better if you just understand the world first and then you have to come into that world. There is some kind of preconceived or preexisting notions into which you’re introducing an innovation. You have to understand those terms first. So we’re living through this fundamental shift in marketing, which is a phrase a lot of people have said on a lot of marketing podcasts. But when we then talk about the shift, we talk about the wrong things. We talk about our industry’s reaction to what we assume is the shift. We talk about content marketing, influencer marketing, ABM. We talk about making shows. We start at the actions we’re taking, not at the fundamental shift. The fundamental shift is that marketing used to be all about grabbing attention. You just needed a few seconds here and there on a few different messages because there was limited choice. It was very easy to navigate the media landscape. It wasn’t that difficult to get in front of people. The hard part was maybe the right message or the frequency and mapping that to the purchase. But the job was to grab attention. That is no longer the case. It’s so profoundly not the case that it’s laughable to me how many hucksters and marketing earn a living by promising you can grab attention, grab followers, whatever. The job is not to grab attention. The job is to hold it. And so now marketers are thinking about subscribers, not clicks and views. They’re thinking about total time spent, not impressions. They’re thinking about how do you move somebody from aware of the brand to focus more on brand affinity, thinking about the velocity down the funnel, instead of how big can we make the top of our funnel or how much can we bludgeon the people who arrive? And so I decided about three or four months ago from when we’re speaking now, it’s late summer 2019 now, but early in the spring, I decided to launch Marketingshowrunners. com to coalesce this community of marketers who are operating under one core belief, which is that marketing is not about who arrives, it’s about who stays. And it just so happens that one really powerful way to encourage more people to stay, to engender trust, to hasten their velocity down the funnel and spur word of mouth. One great way to execute on that belief system is to make a show. So if you first get the shift then embrace the belief of all marketing becomes given that shift, now we can talk about shows.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Absolutely. And I feel like there is this big movement. Obviously, you and I are both here and rallying this movement with this conversation around what should shows be and what should they not be and what should you expect and what should you not expect. And before I jump on my own soapbox, I want to hear yours. So where should your head be before you even jump into this?
JAY ACUNZO: With Marketing Showrunners we speak to a very specific person in marketing. I mentioned the belief system, but we speak to someone who’s making strategic decisions. So what we’re not going to do is publish 101 level what microphone should I buy kind of content because that’s commodified. It’s also not overly useful for marketers. There’s a lot of knowledge out there for hobbyists, which you can tap into to figure out your microphone set up. There’s a lot of knowledge out there for traditional media, public radio, for example, in the podcast world. There’s almost nothing collected and coalesced for strategic marketing decision making when it comes to making shows and we got to start there. And so the things I would wrap your mind around if you’re listening and you’re part of a team or leading a team is what is a show good for? And there’s a couple of flavors of answers. So one is you can answer it by what are we measuring, right? Because show me how someone is measured, I’ll show you how they behave. And the other is what is the audience going through? And obviously I think the most important thing to start with is what the audience is going through. But it’s a much shorter answer to think about what you’re measuring. So let me just start there. So what you want to look at is two distinct benefits to the company. Number one is you want to increase or you will increase if you have a good show, you increase the lifetime value to your brand of everybody you reach. People spend more time with you. I mean, think about how crazy this is to our marketing ancestors, if you will. It’s like, ” Okay. Oh, you’re concerned with a 30 second TV spot or a 15 second pre- roll ad? Interesting.” Every single week thousands and thousands of people that we’re trying to reach or who are already purchased our product and are becoming super fans now, thousands of people spend 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, an hour and a half with us every week. That’s insanity. That seems beyond reach until you make a show. And so the first thing you do is you increase the lifetime value of those you reach right now. They spend time with you. They trust you. They take more action on your behalf. Ask anybody who hosts a podcast about the visceral response. If they have a good show, the visceral response that they get when they meet somebody who listens offline, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. As a speaker. For example, I’m on the road a lot and I speak a lot and I’ll talk to people right after the speech. And one of my favorite interactions started out as something really horrifying, which is people talking to me like an old friend. And in my head, I’m like, ” Oh no, Oh no. I’m that moron who doesn’t remember who this person is. They’re speaking to me like I met them six, seven different times.” It turns out it was more like 30 different times for an hour each time because they listened to my show.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Right.
JAY ACUNZO: Show me another type of content that does that. So the first thing as a marketing leader, and I define that in your title or in your behavior, a leader, the lifetime value to your company of everybody you reach goes up. The second thing is that the cost of acquisition of new customers goes down because what happens when people adore your show? I mean, how do we all interact with our friends when it comes to any kind of show in any industry? It’s word of mouth. And so the people who you reach are more valuable to you and the people that they can then reach help basically market you to others for free. So LTV goes up, CAC, cost of customer acquisition goes down. And the sound that you’re hearing right now is every CMO drooling.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s one of the things that we’re actively solving for and pointing to and trying to make simpler. But how are you seeing those conversations come to play? Because my past life, there were lots of conversations about, ” Okay, why are we doing this? What’s the ROI? What’s the value? We’re investing all this time and money into this show. I see how much time your team is investing in the show. What are we getting out of it?” And it’s a lot harder for most marketers to point to that real, tangible value and to that LTV and reduced CAC and lifetime long- term marathon type improvements when a lot of the people that marketers are surrounded by want to see the sprints and the spikes and the hockey sticks. Right?
JAY ACUNZO: Yeah. Those are bad marketers. If all you’re focused on is the near term spike in the numbers, you’re not doing anything sustainable. Marketing today is about finding sustainable processes, teams that grow together and learn together and they build brand affinity out in the marketplace. Marketing is sustainable. Marketing is a marathon. For the teams that are focused on sprints, and I don’t mean that in the lean startup way, I mean that in stand ups now. I mean, all you care about is like hitting the numbers this month-
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Sugar hits.
JAY ACUNZO: You don’t have a system. Yeah. You don’t have a system in place to make sure that next month benefits from this month, right? You hit reset and you start at zero every month. A show is not a good approach. I run a company where I’m trying to grow the size of the pie, more marketers making more and better shows. That’s the goal, grow the pie. And even still, I’m willing to look a marketer in the face and be like, ” This is not a good approach for you because you have to get on board with some philosophical things first, before you do the tactical stuff.” And I think that’s the missing piece. And we saw it with blogging. We saw it with video. We’re seeing it with audio. Every new thing that comes up, there’s those that are there to ride the wave, and as soon as the wave crashes, they go back out to sea. Then there’s those that are digging into the fundamentals underneath that water and it doesn’t matter what waves come and go, they stay. They stick and stay. And so that’s who I want to speak to. That’s who I want to find more of and encourage more people to be. And it does have to do with that second thing I mentioned, which is like, ” What is the audience going through?” The audience is looking for something that they can genuinely invest their time in. You can’t game that system. There’s not a trick or a technique or just follow this one simple rule and everything will be hunky dory. It’s really strategic. And there’s lots of moving pieces. So it is a brand exercise. And I don’t mean that in branding. I mean that in team- wide. You can’t make a show as a side project and hope it succeeds. You can test your way there, but if it’s a side carriage to what your main marketing is at all times, it’ll never actually be successful. So it’s about the philosophical agreement on your team of what is marketing for today? Yes, we agree. It’s about holding attention. It’s about audience. It’s not about awareness and total numbers. It’s about affinity and long lasting connection with our audience. It’s not about transacting them in the near term. If you agree on all that stuff, now we can talk about shows, which, to me, is the good news if you act right now. Because not everybody out there has gotten on board with that. So if you do it right, the backdrop is a lot of people doing it wrong, which I get mad at. But you, if you’re in house at a brand, should be super excited about because you’re like, ” Thank you everybody for butchering this technique or this tactic, this approach. I’m going to do it well and instantly I’m going to stand way out just by having competency.” That goes away once everybody has competency and now you focus elsewhere. But anyways, soapbox. You asked for it, you got it.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I like it. I like it. And it is interesting. I mean, you and I are both in the world of podcasting, both as podcasters and leading companies that have a lot to do with podcasting. And it’s interesting because depending on who you talk to, there’s either the eye roll, like, ” Oh my gosh, everyone has a podcast now.” Or it’s, ” Really? Really” Is B2B going to get into podcasting?” And everything in between. And I think the vast majority of people are super excited and get it, that it’s a way to literally and figuratively speak to your audience like we are right now, and to resonate with individuals and to create a new and different kind of engagement and an interaction, a human to human interaction between a brand and a consumer or brand and audience member. And so to our audience who either is probably listening and has their own podcast and is wondering, ” How do I do this thing? How do I do it better? How do I get more out of it?” Or someone who has yet to get into it from a brand perspective, where should their head be? What should they be thinking as they think about their own branded B2B podcast?
JAY ACUNZO: I think a show can either represent the entirety of your brand, not brand message, that’s the wrong word, but what the brand stands for. It could be the entirety of that or it can be one of the supporting themes that you’re trying to own. I’ll give you an example. I am working with an organization called Podia and Podia offers tools for online creators and experts to monetize their passion. So you can sell courses about accounting, if you’re an influential accountant or a lawyer, or whatever it is. Or if it’s something that feels a little bit more like traditionally creative, in air quotes, you could sell membership to access your video content, your podcast, your blog, your newsletter, that kind of stuff. So Podio wants you to make money off of your passion. It tends to skew towards creators, but it could also be any kind of expert in a craft. Okay. That’s what they do. So we started talking about making a podcast together. There were two choices. Do we want to own this idea that’s very broad about the creator economy and creator businesses, and we’ll do some kind of show that summarizes that in the name of the show and the theme of the show a little more succinctly than that idea, but that’s the shorthand. Is the show all about what the company’s all about or is there one specific theme that we know if we own it outright in the marketplace, A, competitors who copy it can basically be called out, right? Because everybody can copy the blog posts and the tips and tricks and no one bats an eye. But if you copy someone’s show, it’s IP. That IP is bigger than one piece of content. It sits across many pieces, those episodes, and it can be plucked out and applied to an annual event or a newsletter, et cetera. So the question was, are we making a show that is basically Podia as a show, without talking about us, talking about the themes that Podia cares about or is there one theme in particular that if we owned it, it would be a competitive advantage, it would grow the market, it would attract the right people in that market to Podia? That was the first choice that we made. I think it’s the first choice a lot of people should make. And we chose the latter just to close the loop on this story. We chose to own a theme, which is making creativity and creative as a career path, more palatable, more… Not more exciting. More accessible. That’s the word. We want to encourage more people to create content, and monetizable content at that, around their passion area. And to do that, we have to lower the fear of entry. We have to deconstruct. So what we’re doing is we’re deconstructing world- class creators, one favorite project of theirs. Instead of talking about the career, we’re taking one project. Like the most pinned woman on Pinterest, Joy Cho. She and I deconstructed her newest course and about all the minutia and the emotion and the decision making that is hidden and behind the scenes to create a great course. All right, why are we doing that? Again, go back out to the brand level, remove yourself from the show. If Podia can inspire more people to start creating courses, eBooks, podcasts, et cetera, and they are the brand responsible, A, they own this idea that creativity should be accessible to all and, B, that points everybody who believes in that and it gets inspired by that and listens to that show to Podia’s products. So that’s the first thing I tell everyone to do, focus on is this the brand’s larger theme manifest as a show, or is this one specific theme concept bent or conceit that if we own it, it’s beneficial to the audience and to us? There’s only three parts to a show by the way, a concept that sits across the whole show. So talking topics with experts, not a concept. Maybe at one point it was, but today that’s been profoundly commodified in every niche. So being the first show about X, that goes away as soon as there’s a second show. Not a concept. So a concept is something like Science Versus. It’s my favorite show level concept. It’s from Gimlet Media. They are a traditional publisher, but we’re trying to act like them. Science Versus is a science show. And that’s one of the most crowded categories in all of podcasting is science. But you know when they talk about organic foods compared to everybody else, it’s the science versus the perception, the pop culture understanding, the myths, right? I get it now Science Versus. Their name reveals the concept, which is brilliant and ideal. So you need a hook. You need a conceit or angle. You have the concept that sits across the whole show. The second thing you need is an episode level structure or a format. That could be hidden from view. The listener has no idea that you have a structure. It could be overt. Sports center on ESPN was famous for at one point publishing its rundown visible on the screen. You knew every section, what they call blocks in TV. You might sometimes hear hosts say A block, B block, C block. But you need a plan. And that could also mean even if you don’t produce it, per se, like have a post production process in editing, you have a plan for the interview and you move succinctly through the interview. It’s not an open- ended generic interview. Hope this goes well, fingers crossed. So you need an episode level format and structure. And that helps you innovate with purpose because you don’t have to overhaul the whole show or proceed on gut feel. It helps you scale because you can tell people this is the format, and it helps you stay consistent too, because every episode feels like it’s your own proprietary type of episode. A great example of that is Hot Ones, which is a YouTube series, actually, not a podcast, but eat spicier and spicier wings as an interview progresses with a celebrity. So it’s like one question- ish per wing, keeps getting spicier. And then halfway through, they have a little segment called Explain That Gram where it’s about explaining some kind of hidden picture deep in the Instagram archives of the celebrity. And at the very end, they have a concluding segment called The Last Dab, which is kind of a, will they won’t they add a last dab of extra hot sauce as they’re dying to the last wing. But they have this segmented approach. It’s visible to the viewer. It’s on the table as the wings, right? Same idea. Think like Hot Ones. What is the format of your episode, whether or not it’s highly edited? Show level concept, episode format, talent. Talent is the most under utilized thing. If your host is beloved by those audience members, put them on stage. Put her into your agenda for your own conference. Create a video series around her or him. Have a plan for if something’s going well. People build relationships, not with a celebrity that carries your brand banner, but with you, your company. I prefer always that it’s an employee hosting. Show level concept, episode level structure, talent. If you focus discreetly on those three things, you will create a far better show having a plan for those than any competitor who’s putting a microphone in front of two smart people and assuming it’s going to work, and it never does.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I don’t know what you’re talking about. It always works. It works every time.
JAY ACUNZO: Here’s the thing that frustrates me, though, Lindsay. Everybody knows this is a three out of 10 when we do it this way, everybody. Right? And people aren’t changing their behavior. And I don’t think it’s because we don’t want to change our behavior. I think it’s because this is such a new muscle for so many people. And we do have a million things going on. I predict that Marketing Showrunner, like a showrunner, will be a title people will have in marketing at some point. But until we get there where it’s their full time job, everybody’s sort of bringing other skills over to shows or taking a percent of their time and they’re distracted by other things. And that’s why they chase the next thing instead of reusing the episode. It’s a new muscle. It’s an important one, but it is something that’s new. And so my goal with Marketing Showrunners is let’s break this stuff apart. Not only sharing with each other, but also pulling from outside the echo chamber and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Keep in mind one golden rule. It’s not a savior. It’s not a panacea here, but it’s very helpful as a heuristic. The goal of a show, of an episode, of a series, of a network of shows, there’s only one. It’s the golden rule, get them to the end. If you make all your decisions with that idea in mind, you will create a show people love. Because if you’re thinking about getting them to the end, what do you do? Well, you don’t stuff the intro full of stock music and announcer voice, and then switch to like tinny audio and a bored sounding host. You start strong. You do a cold open instead of a meandering bio from somebody. If the goal is to get them to the end of the series, you don’t end the episode by dropping them off a cliff. You give them something worth thinking about, something so delicious that they can’t wait to get more of it or an actual prompt. One, one call to action. Not a dozen, not rate, review, subscribe, buy, invite me to your sister’s birthday party. No. One call to action or one moment that gets them to go to the next episode. Why? Because it’s about getting them to the end.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: That’s it for the show. Thanks to our guest, my friend Jay Acunzo. To learn more about Jay and Marketing Showrunners and to see Casted in action with clips from this episode and related content, visit Casted. us. Thanks for listening.
About Season 1 of The Casted Podcast
Welcome to our first season of The Casted Podcast! This podcast is a podcast about podcasts. How meta, right? Each season we will focus on how podcasts can better your business, the place of podcasts in your marketing strategy, and advice from podcasters and marketers who are finding success with their own brand podcasts. In season one, we’re talking with your favorite podcast hosts to get their perspective on why podcasting is such a crucial part of their own strategies.
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