When planning and creating thought leadership for your brand, where does that responsibility usually fall in your business? Is it with the marketing team? More specifically are you asking your content marketer to create it?
For many businesses, thought leadership originates there. But the reality is that these brilliant marketers, while experts in marketing your business, are likely not also the experts in the products and services your company sells.
So why are we putting the pressure and expectation on them to create thought leadership for your brand? What if, instead, they could harness your brand’s expert voices to create true thought leadership, unique to your brand?
This week’s guest, Jeanne Hopkins, has been empowering her teams to do just that for years. As a former marketing leader at companies like Hubspot and Lola.com, and the current CRO at SquadLocker, Jeanne has spent a lot of time helping her teams harness the power of expert voices through podcasting.
In this episode, Jeanne talks with us about her views on using podcasts as a way to unlock your brand’s expertise and the expertise and talent of your team in the process.
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 just a few of the takeaways that really stood out to us in Jeanne’s episode.
Using a podcast to share your expertise with your customers 🗣
Podcasting enables brands to talk directly to their audience. Literally speak to them. But when you have that type of exposure to your customers, what’s the right thing to say? In Jeanne’s experience, the best thing for brands to showcase to their customers on a podcast is their own expertise. Every brand has experts that have knowledge about how to make their customers’ lives easier or even more simply – they know the answers to the questions customers are asking. Use your podcast as a way to share that expertise to build trust and familiarity with your customers.
Getting over that hurdle and starting your podcast 🚧
Podcasts can be a foundational and amazing part of a content strategy. In fact, they can DRIVE it. But too often, we get stuck in our own way, afraid that it will be too self-promotional. But from Jeanne’s perspective, there’s an easy way to overcome that. Make a plan. If you make a clear plan behind why you’re doing something, who it’s for, what it will do, you’ll be able to book guests that are interesting to your customers and deliver real value. (Check out Dave Gerhardt’s episode to learn more about diving headfirst into podcasting).
Why consistency is important in both marketing and podcasting 🧑💻
Too often in life, we think of the word consistency to mean boring. But in marketing, consistency is key to setting the stage for your brand. You don’t want to be one thing here and another thing there. Consistency is key for communicating your value and informing your customers. Take the time to be consistent across all of your marketing strategies, including your podcast.
Interested in more from Jeanne Hopkins?
Check out the Jeanne on Table Fries here.
Interested in skimming through the entire episode? Access the full transcript below.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Say you’re a marketing leader and you’ve got a great team executing a great marketing strategy. Chances are that strategy relies pretty heavily on content. And that content aims to harness the expertise of thought leaders in your company and your industry, one way or another. So the problem is, that person or people on your team that are responsible for producing that content are probably not those experts. They may very well be brilliant experts in content marketing, but they’re not likely to also be experts in the products and services your company sells. So why oh why, are they so often responsible for crafting the thought leadership as if they are those experts? What if instead, they could harness the voices of those actual experts and then use their marketing expertise to wring it out. I’m Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co founder of Casted. The first and only marketing platform built around brand podcasts. And this is our podcast. Jeanne Hopkins and I agree on a lot of things it seems. But the thing that got me most excited in this conversation with her is that we both have been loving and living the idea of empowering our marketing teams to capture the voices of experts so they can do with them what they do best, amplify those voices in myriad ways. Hear how Jeanne has been doing this since her days at HubSpot, on through to several other companies, including lola. com. And now as the CRO of SquadLocker, let’s just say, she’s got an expert perspective you’ll want to wring out.
JEANNE HOPKINS: Hi there. My name is Jeanne Hopkins. I’m the Chief Revenue Officer at SquadLocker.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Thank you so much for being here. I am so glad that you are on podcasts, talking about podcasts. Doesn’t get much more meta than that. And I know you are not new to podcasts. You’ve been involved in them at different companies all along the way. So, go back if you will, to the first show that you were involved in. Whether it’s podcast or show.
JEANNE HOPKINS: Yeah, well, obviously it’s HubSpot TV. And I can’t claim any credit for that because it was rocking along Mike Volpe and Karen Rubin, two of the smartest human beings on the planet earth, put together this very funny show that they would do weekly. What we got out of it was a level of excitement, a level of excitement not only for the audience, because what we were teaching and talking about. I mean, marketing is a discipline, but it’s also an art. And looking for those stories. And Karen would call together the different topics that were happening in the industry. I remember when the iPad was launched by Apple and Karen had so many things to say about iPad. Like how do they come up with that name? And Mike just turned bright red, kind of talking about it. But there was such good mojo between the two of them, that it was an excellent choice of casting, excellent choice of guests and they made it… It had a personality and it helped to define what HubSpot was. And when you think of HubSpot, you usually smile because the whole aspect of it implies joy. And that’s what marketers are looking for. We’re looking for personality, we’re looking for joy in our lives.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Yes. And so you started to touch on something that I think is super important, and yes we’re here talking about tactical things like a show and podcasting. But the why behind it is, what I’m hearing and what I’ve experienced first hand is, it’s humanizing. It’s humanizing tech, it’s humanizing a brand. It’s putting literally voices and stories and humans at the forefront and in the ears of an audience. And so, tell me more about that and how that has been a part of your role ever since.
JEANNE HOPKINS: When I went from HubSpot to SmartBear, which is a dev ops company, it was a little hard to kind of… It was an amalgamation of five different businesses with five different sales forces. But I knew that we needed to have a blog. I knew that we needed to have content. It was difficult to wrap a personality around it. The name SmartBear evokes… Something, you think of something and it’s smart. And from a dev ops environment, it’s something that IT people can relate to. But I wasn’t able to really juice that up internally. It was only when I went to Continuum and continuing managed services and we were going to do our first big user conference. And I felt that I wanted, I had a young guy, Nathan. Nathan was just great, Teplow. He’s really awesome. And I said,” I want you to start doing a podcast. And we’re going to advertise for this event navigate on this.” And this was with the sales lead management association, Jim Obermeyer and Susan Finch. So I bought six months of the show and Nate was like,” I don’t know what to do.” And I’m like,” Well, listen to some podcasts and they’re going to produce it. They’re going to give us this. And then we’re going to be able to expand the blog. So we’ll be able to put the audio in there. We’ll be able to put the transcript in there. We’ll be able to use this content tactical stuff.” I mean, that’s the tactical component. But I said,” This gives us a way to be able to talk about it.” And one of the things that I wanted to do at Navigate, is because all of our customers were really IT professionals, not sales and marketing people. So if you needed a new server or if you needed a new hard drive, they know how to get it. But we needed to teach them how to market and sell. So I wanted them to say, my whole idea is that when we did our first Navigate conference, I had a Genius bar set up with our marketing team to look at their social media presence, to look at their blogs, to look at their email, look at their website, look at… To be able to help them become better marketers. So this concept of Navigate, then it got Nate into this mindset and it also opened up doors for him. Because he was a young guy, he was in his mid twenties. And he ended up being part of a bunch of different IT associations. Because they were always looking for young guys. And what he started doing was showing people, particularly his IT guys, you have a problem with windows 10? Let me tell you how to make it operate. You could do a podcast, post it to your website. You get the top 10 questions that are asked every single day. What do I do when this breaks? Or what do I do? It’s all in your head, but why don’t you record it and transcribe it and put it on your blog or put it on your website. So if a customer asks, you can just tell them, you could send them that information. And I mean, it’s kind of easy now, when you have a question on how to do something, you go to YouTube? Yeah, you go to YouTube, right? And it’s like,” How do I install a filter in my LG refrigerator” or something like that? And you find somebody that’s an expert. And it’s all about sharing your expertise in sound bites. And we were able to use it as a launching ground, to bring some of the customers on as guests. And then they learned how simple it was. So it kept… Lather, rinse, repeat, just kept going on and on. So it was a very good use of that.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I love that. And I want to shout this from the mountain tops because this is what… We’ve been doing the same thing and trying to help people understand how valuable that is. Which is, if you have a marketer, a content marketer, and they are tasked with spreading the word and sharing insights and expertise that they don’t innately have. Because they’re a marketer, they’re a writer, they’re a… Fill in the blanket, this role of marketing. And then you have these other experts over here that have that expertise, whatever it is. IT in this instance. Why try to force the marketer to be the expert instead of just leveraging the experts, right?
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: And so you’re saying something that’s not new, just record it. Record it and share it and use it and capture that recording as the center of your content and then equip that marketer to churn out more and more and more-
JEANNE HOPKINS: Totally.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Do what you’re equipped to do, which is disseminate it and package it up in a way that’s valuable.
JEANNE HOPKINS: Productize it.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Exactly. And it’s funny, to your point, I think you mentioned it’s a lot easier now. Now we can actually, not only record those conversations, but make them into a podcast. And then productize it.
JEANNE HOPKINS: It comes content. And it’s a great way to share your personality of who you are. And it’s a great way to be able to show your expertise. So then when I ended up going to Lola and we were going to do this agile operations batch of Mike Volpe’s podcasts into one agile ops. And then we’d do a drop, like a Netflix drop of six of them. So he had interviews, he interviewed Tim Ruben, he interviewed Jessica Myer, he interviewed a bunch of people. And then I bought road warrior radio, domain. com for Ryan Ball. And he knows a bazillion people. And so he was recording every other week. He was doing that recording, talking to all these other people. And so we were on with the sales organization and we were on with that one every Thursday, every other week. And then I was doing another one called Table Fries because I like to share. And it usually involves food service on some capacity, most always, or least favorite-
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Like if needs to be a life requirement.
JEANNE HOPKINS: Yeah. What was the last book you read? What would you recommend? Different things. And people, once they realized it was, totally freaked out every single…” I’m so nervous.” But it’d be like,” Oh, that didn’t hurt. There was no blood involved.” It was like,”See, it was just a conversation.” We’d record it, I’d be across from them and they would love that. And it became a personality thing for us at Lola. And so between the road warrior, the table fries, and then Mike Volpe’s drops of agile ops. We also did another one called Simple Numbers and Mike Volpe and Rebecca Morrison, our CFO at Lola, two wicked smart people. And they would look at something that was happening in the financial markets like, let’s look at WeWork as an example. What happens when you look at the financials and what happens, oh beautiful numbers, I’m sorry. It was called beautiful numbers. So we did a bunch of drops on that. It was just fun. So at Lola, we built a studio again, we built a studio. We struggled with the initial sound because we were in the bottom floor of the building and it was a little echoy and a little harsh. But then when we moved to the new building, our founder, Paul English, we had a beautiful studio and it was soundproofed and-
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: It is beautiful.
JEANNE HOPKINS: It is. Yeah. It’s cool. Wes worked for me in marketing there, he was responsible for a lot of the production. But one of the things that we did is we had, last summer, we had 10 interns. And so one of my guys, a very funny guy. Actually all those interns were a riot, but one of them took hold and they each did a podcast. So it was internal of InternAll affairs.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Nice.
JEANNE HOPKINS: Yeah. Very nice. And so that gave us a chance to be able to put it on our intern page, be able to do some promotions. So it became a way of life for us at Lola, because it was really important. And I don’t know, I just… I really like it. And then coming to SquadLocker, he wants to do, what is it he loves? There’s something on NPR that he really loves, that he wanted to do something. He wanted to do it on resilience and he knows half the universe himself and having guests. And I’m a big believer that having guests gives you such better content.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: It does.
JEANNE HOPKINS: And such better questions. So that’s kind of where we are right now. I want to pick up Table Fries again and be able to do that. Yeah.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I love it. And I love this thread of again, going back to the beginning of our conversation about humanizing. Humanizing and tapping into expertise. That’s what I keep hearing over and over and over, in every company that you’ve been at, every team that you’ve been a part of. Whatever the budget, whatever the team size, whatever the stage of the company, it’s like,” Look, how can we capture expertise? How can we be more human?” What would you share about how? How do you… That sounds very interesting, but I’m sure it sounds very overwhelming for a lot of people listening. Where do you start? How do you get started? How do you begin?
JEANNE HOPKINS: So I’m sure every person that is listening today has at some point in their career been responsible for the company newsletter. And I use this example of, everybody’s starts the… Let’s do a monthly customer newsletter. Could be customer, could be employee. And let’s just go employee for now. Because I think that employees need to know things. They need to be centralized on things. So they start with it. They have… We’re going to do this. We’re going to have a team. So everybody gets together. You have 37 points of view. You have 108 different ideas for issue one. Which you’re saying to yourself, all we’re trying to do is a front and back PDF to be able to send to our 300 employees. Okay. So we’ve got all these ideas. But what ends up happening is, the marketer is not in the position to be able to be like a managing editor, to be able to say, I’m a big believer [ inaudible 00:14:18]. A product story, a customer story, and a promotion. You’ve got a campaign and that’s it. And then maybe a couple of big wins. That’s good enough just to be able to communicate effectively. You can’t do anything with 108 stories. So the next one, people feel like,” Well, my story number 93 was not included. So I’m not going to the next meeting.” So the next meeting you get 17 people at that meeting and they come up with 56 ideas. And again, you’ve got enough room for three or four. So then on the third meeting, there’s three of you. The person from HR, you the marketing person and maybe somebody else in the meeting. And they’re like,” Well, what do we talk about?” And there’s never a fourth issue. So my point being is, think about the content plan. What is the goal? What are you trying to do with this? Now for me, in many cases, what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to overcome people’s internal resistance. Talking in what is perceived to be a public setting. I think, you hear that speaking in front of a group, people would prefer dying versus that. Speaking in front of a group. And I’m the very first… inaudible I don’t eat before I speak, it’s just something… It’s-
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: It’s nerve wracking, yeah.
JEANNE HOPKINS: It is, it’s nerve wracking. And you make mistakes and you need water… The whole nine yards. But if you can start to learn how to speak appropriately, and this is where I’m a huge believer in ToastMasters. So I started ToastMaster at HubSpot, I brought it to SmartBear. I brought it to Continuum. I brought it to Ipswich and now I’m at SquadLocker. And I feel that… And Lola I was doing it at Lola and involving the team from Crayon as well. Because getting people to stand up in front of a room with very short prompts and trying to get them to speak for 30 seconds or 60 seconds is wonderful practice. As well as trying to get away from the ahs and the ums that are so distracting. It’s more a matter of that, because that takes away from the validity of what you’re saying. And the vast majority of the people that were coming to the ToastMaster groups were engineers, which I found fascinating. And we would just go through this. And it was once every two weeks, we would have these meetings. However, my goal is to get people comfortable. And I believe that podcasts could do that quite easily. And everybody has something very interesting to say
.LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Very true. It’s very true. And I love how you’ve talked about different shows for different audiences and different…
JEANNE HOPKINS: Hosts.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Different hosts, yes. It’s not always the most obvious person. It’s the person who is best suited for that show and that audience. Absolutely.
JEANNE HOPKINS: Oh, I have to say that at Lola, we won another one of the Sharkies from B2B Demand Gen just this year, in 2020. It was the last event that I attended. It was in Scottsdale towards the end of February. And we won, we actually started a whole podcast category. And so we won, we tied with another one and we won it for the [ inaudible 00:17:39].
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Congratulations.
JEANNE HOPKINS: It’s cool. Isn’t it? It was a lot of fun.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: It is very cool. So obviously there’s a common thread here, as far as yes, podcasting, but even bigger than that, it’s the why behind the podcasting. Again it’s that humanizing, it’s the stories, it’s really getting into your audience in a different way. It’s tapping into expertise. So tell me, where you think podcasting should sit in a brand today, in a brand strategy? Where should it be among everything else that marketing leaders are tasked with and thinking about all the time?
JEANNE HOPKINS: Well, as we know, content is super important. And this is content. It’s easier than writing a fairly lengthy article, I believe. Getting your thought process, it’s a lot easier for people to listen or watch some video or listen to a recording. It should be part of the content process. Yet again, it’s a hurdle that people haven’t quite figured out how to overcome, how to do. What is the next first step. And so I guess getting back to my newsletter story, sorry about this. You need to figure out what your body of content is going to be. What is your theme? And it’s okay if you start on one end of the spectrum and then it morphs, because it will morph. You’re going to start saying, this is my hypothesis. This is where I’m going to go with this. And then thematically as you have guests, whether they’re internal, external, whatever kind of guests, you’re going to be moving or something else saying, you know what, this is really resonating with our audience. Or this is really resonating with our employees, or our customers, or somebody. And I believe that you have the opportunity very easily… The customer success team at Lola reported to me and Mike Crawford, amazing leader, he would do regular videos about, this is how you do this. This is how you do that. And it is a form of a podcast. It’s a teaching tool. And if we look at podcasting as a teaching tool, it’s not a matter of…I think we have to get out of that mindset that we’re only promoting ourselves.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Oh, for sure.
JEANNE HOPKINS: And I think that’s a hurdle that most people struggle with. They can’t quite seem to overcome that. Where they think that I’m only going to be talking to myself, or nobody’s going to listen to me. Okay, that’s not accurate, but it’s an easy out for you if that’s how you feel about it. They’re going to be interested in your guests. They’re going to be interested in what you have to offer. If you don’t start, then you don’t know what’s going to resonate with that audience.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: What advice would you give for starting? What’s the one takeaway for listeners for how to get started?
JEANNE HOPKINS: Use your laptop, or use your phone, record something that you find interesting, edit it and post it. And you can post it to any of your social channels. You can post it anywhere. It can be a minute. It can be two minutes, whatever, try it. You’re not going to die. And the worst thing that’s going to happen is you might want to delete it. You could even say, this is a test. I’m trying this out. I’m trying to see how this works. So within your network, you’ll be surprised to find many people that are like,” You know, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. You’re very brave for trying to do it.” It’s not a matter of bravery. It’s a matter of… It’s interesting, I read a very interesting article this morning about a short, boring word that we all need in our lives right now in this state of uncertainty that we’re revolving around, consistency. And what is consistency? Us as individuals, how we respond to people, how we deal with people, how we deal with our customers, how we deal with our employees. Consistency is a very boring word because nobody’s like,” I don’t care about consistency.” Well, you kind of should. It’s sort of, when you’re teaching your children, it’s time for them to go to bed, it’s bedtime, right? And then you want them, the consistent… My husband and I were talking about how, when they started going to preschool, I used to get yelled at all the time by the preschool teacher, because I let my kids sleep as long as they possibly could in the morning. I didn’t care, because if they got there at 9: 30, I know that they slept until 8: 30. I fed them, dressed them, got them to the school. And I’m sorry, but you’re not doing anything profound at nine o’clock in the morning.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: At pre school.J
EANNE HOPKINS: Yeah. Right. It was more important for them to get good sleep. And their whole lives, they’ve gotten really good sleep and trying to get that, that to me is the consistency. What are you providing in terms of consistency? Are you going to bed on time? Are you having regular meals? Or are we all mowing down on the potato chips? Because that’s our…. You know the drill. It’s how are we being consistent? So marketing can be boring, because ultimately, what are we trying to do? It’s consistency of messaging. It’s consistency in the cadence that we’re communicating. It really is consistency. Our brand needs to be consistent. You can’t be one thing here, and another thing here, and another thing here, if it adds and it augments to what you’re trying to achieve personality wise, and without thinking about the ROI and the net results, I generated seven customers from this. But if you’re looking at it, I want to inform my customers. And I’m going to use this tool, which is podcasting, to inform our customers about the product notes, product release notes, the product launches, price increases. This is how I’m going to do it. That is a very good place to start. Communicating with your customers.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: And keep it there. Don’t start doing that and then,” Oh, and we’re also going to talk about our culture too.” Be very clear about who it’s for, be very clear about the purpose. Be very clear about where it is and be consistent. I think that there’s a lot that goes wrong because people get bored with consistency. That’s our show, thanks for listening. For more from today’s guest, visit casted. us to subscribe and to receive our show as it’s published, along with other exclusive content each and every week.
About Season 4 of The Casted Podcast
We’re back with Season 4 of The Casted Podcast! This season, we’re talking to marketing leaders linked to the brand podcasts you love to understand the role those shows play in the brand’s overall marketing strategy. You’re getting a behind-the-mic look at why these brands are investing in podcasting, why these leaders support them, and how they are driving strategies forward.