Chances are, your company has in-house experts around every corner. People who are super savvy in their own niches and have tons of knowledge buried inside. Experts who could enlighten audiences, build connection, and change lives (as well as impacting your brand’s bottom line). But are they being heard? Are you, as a marketer, harnessing the power of their expertise and humanity?
Oh, do I have some brand growth gems for you today!
Recently, I shared (and captured) a conversation with Jeanne Hopkins, Chief Revenue Officer at SquadLocker. Jeanne brings a goldmine of expertise around using podcasts to capture and amplify the voices of experts. As former host of the Table Fries podcast, past CMO at SmartBear Software and also Lola.com, as well as former VP of Marketing at HubSpot (just to name a few of her adventures!), Jeanne’s been in some awesome places with some awesome experts. And she excels at helping brands showcase their unique personalities and knowledge to hungry audiences through podcasts.
Keep reading for some of the key takeaways from my convo with Jeanne (and you can catch the full episode, too).
Got your moleskine ready? You’re going to need it.
Amplifying Expertise the Easy Way
Expertise doesn’t do anyone any good when it’s not being shared. And the more widely it can be shared, the better. Chances are, your company is just bursting with expertise. And eager audiences are just waiting to soak it up.
Podcasts give us all instant access to experts. Just like YouTube became a how-to go-to, podcasts are becoming the new place to learn, grow, and soak up expertise. And building a branded podcast that showcases your company’s wisdom and knowledge is an easy way to get in front of new audiences, build trust, and establish massive credibility.
My conversation with Jeanne shed light on several ways you can do just that. Here are a few key takeaways:
- Plan ahead (a little strategy goes a long way).
Time is always of the essence, and as marketers, we tend to have a healthy dose of shiny object syndrome, don’t we? This combo can lead us to jump headfirst into a new project or initiative without the necessary planning.
Creating a podcast isn’t all that complicated. In fact, it can be downright simple. But putting a little time and attention into strategy and planning will set you up for success (and an easier journey).
“Think about your content plan. What is the goal? What are you trying to do with this [podcast]...what is your theme?” asks Jeanne.
Going into podcast creation with a solid plan and even embedding podcasts directly into your content strategy makes all the difference. Don’t think of your podcast as an ancillary tool. Give it a seat at the strategy table and just watch the magic happen. There’s so much marketing goodness to be leveraged from even a single episode, let alone a series.
- Bring on great guests.
Expand your well of expertise beyond your doors and find the go-tos who will equip your audience with the wisdom nuggets they are craving. Often you see marketers bearing the brunt of the content delivery, but why not leverage the actual subject matter experts themselves?
“I’m a big believer that having guests gives you such better content,” Jeanne shares.
Choosing guests who can share firsthand wisdom, experience, and shortcuts just makes sense. It takes the load off of you, the marketer, to pull subject matter together, and it allows audiences direct access to the source. Plus, it’s a great way to build new relationships—whether that’s by inviting thought leaders, customers, or other new voices to your show.
- Telling can be as powerful as showing.
Podcasts are the perfect medium for sharing tips, tricks, and how-tos. Smart companies leverage podcasts for answering those questions the sales teams and customer service folks get asked over and over again.
Jeanne recommends taking your top 10 questions and building a podcast from there. Back in the day, she worked with an IT company, helping them leverage the power of podcasting to dish up much-needed answers. They took the most common customer questions and built a simple podcast giving direct, helpful answers.
“It’s all about sharing your expertise in sound bites. We were able to use [the IT podcast] as a launching ground, eventually bringing on some of the customers as guests. And they learned how simple it was, so it just kept going on and on,” Jeanne says.
- Listen, learn, and be willing to pivot.
The most successful podcasters are the ones who never stop learning, never stop listening to their audiences, and are consistently making tweaks. Don’t fall into the trap of putting a podcast into the world and then moving on. Be watchful, see what works, and be open to changing things up.
“It’s okay if you start on one end of the [content] spectrum and then it morphs, because it will morph,” says Jeanne.
- Train up great speakers.
You might think public speaking training is only for those who stand on stages. Not Jeanne. She knows the power of raising up great speakers to sit behind mics in podcast studios.
“You hear that people would rather die than speak in front of a group. It is, it’s nerve-wracking. But this is where I’m a huge believer in Toastmasters,” Jeanne shares.
Even if standing on a stage isn’t in the cards, investing in communications and public speaking training can go a long way in prepping a podcast host or even guests. Jeanne brought Toastmasters speaking training to many companies and saw results every single time.
Sure, sharing expertise is magic for your brand. But even experts need to come across as real, authentic humans.
Humans Want to Do Business with Humans
Just like people, the best brands have real personalities that shine through. Unique characteristics, traits, and styles that make one brand stand apart from another—and even more importantly, bring humanity to the brand.
As a marketer, you’ve probably been in on the hard work of defining a brand personality. But for some companies, that’s as far as they go. Brand personalities don’t do anyone any good sitting in a Google Doc or shelved in a binder somewhere. They need brought to life through anything and everything a company does.
And there’s no better way to breathe life into a brand than a podcast.
Simply the nature of being in someone’s earbud exudes trust and intimacy. And when you combine that with the power of conversation and great storytelling...boom! You have the potential to humanize a brand and build lifelong relationships with your audiences.
“[Podcasting is] a great way to share your personality...share who you are,” Jeanne says.
HubSpot TV was the first show Jeanne was involved with (not a bad place to start, eh?). This smash live marketing show was hosted by Mike Volpe (former Casted guest!) and Karen Rubin. Viewers gobbled up trends and tips related to internet marketing and enjoyed a serious dose of fun, HubSpot personality. (I mean, c’mon, with episodes titled things like “Are There Zombies in Your Office?” and surprise guests like MC Hammer, what’s not to love?!).
“HubSpot TV had a personality, and it helped us define what HubSpot was. 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,” says Jeanne.
When it comes to showcasing brand personality, there’s a secret weapon that few talk about. It’s not sexy, but it’s powerful.
“[Consistency is] a short, boring word that we all need in our lives right now, in this state of uncertainty we’re revolving around,” Jeanne attests.
Boring, maybe. But consistency is the key to humanizing your brand and building connection. Think about it for a moment. What are all strong relationships built on? Trust. And what breeds trust? Consistency.
Showing up again and again in a consistent manner means being a good human (or brand in this case) who can be counted on. And it means painting a vivid, ongoing picture of who you are at the core as you show up again and again telling a consistent story about your brand.
Jeanne confessed that she used to get yelled at by her kids’ preschool teacher for being consistently late. Why? She cared more about them getting consistent, good sleep than being early for preschool. And guess what? Her kids are rockstar sleepers now who value the power of getting a good nights’ sleep. That’s the power of consistency. You can build great habits, which define who you become. And the same holds true for brands.
“Ultimately, what are we trying to do [as marketers]? It’s consistency of messaging. Consistency in the cadence that we’re communicating. Our brand needs to be consistent. You can’t be one thing here, and another thing here,” says Jeanne.
And while consistency is truly a secret weapon for building personality and sharing brand expertise through podcasting, Jeanne says there is one other non-negotiable: just start.
Don’t listen to the voices in your head; don’t second guess every single thing. Just create some audio for your audience.
“Use your laptop, or use your phone. Record something that you find interesting. Edit it and post it. It can be a minute. Or two minutes. Whatever. Just try it,” urges Jeanne.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? You might want to delete it. Or you hear nothing but crickets. But starting is half the battle. Even more maybe. And putting something out there is the only way you’ll know what’s going to resonate with your audience. Luckily podcasting is a flexible medium, too. It’s a great place for testing the waters and making tweaks until your podcast is working for you (not the other way around).
Ready to courageously put your company’s voice out there? As the first and only marketing platform built around brand podcasts, we here at Casted love and live the idea of empowering marketing teams to capture expert voices and amplify them. And we have the tools, expertise, and support you need to create a branded podcast audiences will love. Our all-in-one platform is easy to use and helps you plan, schedule, transcribe, wring out additional content deliverables, and measure ROI through deep analytics. Want to know more? Let’s get chatty!