Doing Dumb Stuff

Some days it is like the heavens open up and deliver me a bounty of topics to write about and today was one of those days.  In fact, one particular thing I saw was so strange that it probably give me a couple days worth of topics to go over – it was like cracking an egg into a frypan and getting a double yolk.

I feel like bacon now for some reason… It’s 9:30pm, it’s probably too late for bacon… Is it ever really too late for bacon?

Ok, focus…

Podcasting is a great medium to help you grow your business.  You can put yourself directly into the ears of your intended audience while entertaining and educating them at the same time when you do it correctly.

But there’s one particular format of podcast that can really undermine your own business aspirations… When you bring on guests, interview them and present them as the expert, it is very hard to position your own expertise.

Let me get it right out of the way – in the entrepreneurial space that I know a lot of readers of these posts follow, you’ll be familiar with people like John Lee Dumas and Pat Flynn.  These guys have made solid careers and built exceptional businesses on having people on their shows every week and positioning that person to their audience as the expert.

They are the exceptions, rather than the rule and there even idiosyncracies about their success that you need to remember.

John Lee Dumas had his initial success with advertising on his show, he did a great job of building traffic and turning up every day to the do work to create a huge audience.  He then parlayed that into success with information products around building a successful podcast – which he was qualified to speak about.

Pat Flynn built his business for the first several years as an affiliate marketer recommending products on his show.  He has a personality that some people find engaging and he’s folksy which many people like.  Again, he turned up every week, did the work and built himself a big audience that trusted him and if he said, “Bluehost is great” they believed him (it’s not a great webhost, but that’s another story).  He’s not moved into info products and has built credibility to make that work.

Most people who use this format aren’t positioning themselves correctly and so they simply don’t build enough of an audience to get any real traction.  People might download and listen to a show if they are interested in the guest, but much of the time, the actual host and owner of the show is an afterthought.

Being an afterthought in your customer’s mind in your own business is not ideal.

Interestingly, I heard today about someone who has decided to charge guests to be on his podcast.  He routinely gets contacted by PR companies asking if their clients can be on his show, so now he’s going to say, “Sure, but it will cost you between $300 – $3000 depending on the level of promotion you want me to do for it.”

When I read this, I sat there blinking for a second.

I didn’t know what to think.

My initial impression was, “That’s interesting”, but eventually that gave way to, “Huh?”

As I kept reading the person in question explained that he’d built a “successful” podcast for other people but not so valuable for himself.  He was 300 episodes in and nobody was taking him up on his consulting services and other offers that he was making, so in response to that, he was going to request an appearance fee from his guests.

Having read the whole thing, I thought… Epic fail.

The reality is, people aren’t going to pay to appear on his show, they’re going to want to see his download numbers and demographics details to work out what their potential exposure will be and then they’ll want hard calls to action which he won’t do.

The whole thing will be a waste of time were I to make an educated guess.

Why do I think that?

Well, podcast advertising isn’t a terrible income stream if you have an audience and a few people suggested he go down that road.  He replied that he had considered it but advertisers were paying like $20 CPM (cost per 1000 downloads) and he didn’t think he’d make enough money to make it worth his time.

The truth is, you probably need about 5000 downloads per episode over a 30 day period to be interesting to an advertiser.  When you reverse engineer the numbers on his podcast that he made available, he’s getting less than 500.

Nobody is going to pay $0.60/download to just appear on your podcast for such a small listener base.

I’m not throwing shade on this person, he’s trying something different so good on him.

The problem is, it’s not well thought out.

A very well known and respected guy in the Social Media Industry chimed in and pointed out that he would need to have a strong disclaimer before every single show to let listeners know that this was a paid interview to be compliant with FTC Regulations.  I posted something very similar about him needing to understand “payola” rules.

The truth was, he said he hadn’t thought about having to have a disclaimer.

That’s just amateur and probably explains a lot.  If you have any experience at all in producing native content ads or, let’s be candid, switched your brain on, you’d know that if someone paid you to appear on your podcast, you’d probably have to share that fact with your audience.

He didn’t think it would be an issue, but would do it and felt his audience would probably be ok with him effectively turning his show into an advertorial.

That kind of confirms his audience isn’t really “his” audience, they’re there for the guests.

Here’s the big takeaway though…

Your podcast is YOUR advertising platform for your business.  You should be using it to showcase the special things you do!

Building your entire podcast around how awesome other people are is crazy, you’re just the hired help in that situation.  You’re like the weather person on the local Cincinnati NBS affiliate – just read the prompter and try not to fall down while on camera.

I’m not saying you should turn your podcast into a pitchfest, but you should TOTALLY be using it to build your affinity with your audience and establish your own expertise.  If you interview someone else on your show, you should position what they’re presenting as complementary to the vast array of goodness you already offer your audience – it’s supportive information rather than transformative.

You and your guest make each other look smarter – that’s the goal.

Same thing with advertising… Why take a $20 CPM for a 30-second spot on your show that solely has the purpose of driving people away from you to somewhere else?

Why not use your advertising spots to promote your own products?

Think about it.  To be of interest you need to be getting 5000 downloads per episode, so a  $20 CPM would net you $100 for a 30-second ad.

Are you telling me that you couldn’t run a 30-second ad in the middle of your show to your audience for one of your own products and not make $100?

Let’s say you sell a simple $20 info product – on 5000 listeners to make $100 you would need to have a conversion rate of just 0.1%!

Nevermind selling anything, why not offer a lead magnet and try to convert the listeners into email subscribers.  Then have a sequence in your email marketing platform that sells them products.

You would have to be doing a really poor job of conversion not to get $100 from that.

If you’re going to put the effort into a podcast, you need to make sure that you’re building your own business as your primary goal.  You should be driving people to your website, your email list, your products and your services.  You want to use the natural, sticky gravity of the podcast to pull people tightly into your orbit, not deflect them off your atmosphere into deep space.

Don’t do dumb stuff like put in copious amounts of effort into building a podcast that’s sole purpose is to grow someone else’s business.

Focus on your goals and your requirements.

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