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How does Podcast PR Compare to Other Forms of Marketing?

There is no shortage of choice when it comes to the ways you can reach new audiences.

Social media, blogging, Facebook advertising, webinar lead gen, speaking, podcast outreach…these are just the tip of the iceberg.

As if the choice of how to spend your time weren’t difficult enough, any of these marketing channels could work for you — as long as you do them consistently.

There is no one right answer, or secret to marketing your work, that once you learn it will change everything for your business.

How do you decide what to spend your time and energy on?

I recently spoke at a conference, where I met Lauren Hom. Lauren is an artist, who makes a living licensing her lettering, teaching online courses, and collaborating with major brands like Starbucks, Google and TIME Magazine.

Lauren has a real passion for launching creative projects, and as an artist, it’s only natural that her work found its natural home on a visual channel like Instagram, where she’s amassed 152,000 followers on her primary account.

Instagram is the ideal place for Lauren to showcase her work and personality. As someone working with brands, it’s important for her to be a social media influencers in her own right.

Hearing this story, you might be tempted to think, “Maybe I need to spend more time on Instagram,” or “It must be nice to have 150K followers! Of course she’s successful!”

But Lauren’s runaway success on Instagram doesn’t really tell you anything about Instagram itself.

The magic was in how Lauren found the right venue for her particular personality and skill set.

If she wasn’t an artist able to create her own images, if she didn’t have an irreverent personality that adds a dash of the unexpected to her medium, and if she weren’t comfortable putting her ideas out there, and sharing what’s going on behind the pretty pictures…

Instagram would not have been the right marketing channel.

Which marketing channels play to your strengths as a CEO and as a company?

This has all come up for me, because I’ve been forced to re-evaluate what I think about podcasts.

When I first started booking clients podcast interviews two years ago, I was seeing huge traffic bumps from each interview. I was pitching podcasts based on the strength of this traffic — clients were getting 10x the traffic and leads from podcasts than they were getting from guest blog posts and traditional media coverage.

Podcasts still outperform these traditional media channels, but the traffic bump has dropped quite a bit.

So I had to take a hard reckoning.

Could I still in good faith recommend podcast interviews to clients?

This line of inquiry prompted me to review what my clients have told me about the value of their own podcast interviews.

In paying close attention to their feedback, I’ve come to see is that podcasts, like Instagram, are a very specific kind of marketing channel with a very specific set of strengths.

They are amazing for companies in some conditions, but may be a less important channel if none of these apply to you.

What kind of business owner gets the best results with podcasts?

1. When you talk about your business 1-to-1, you have a high close rate.

At the most basic level, what you’re doing on a podcast interview creates a similar set of conditions to 1-to-1 sales. You get an hour to talk to another expert about your work, company structure, and expertise.

If people are routinely sold on your work when you talk about it, podcasts give you the opportunity to have those conversations at scale. You’re still talking 1-to-1 (it’s just you and the host, or in some instances, co-hosts talking), and that conversation is being distributed to thousands of people who are incredibly receptive to hearing what you have to say.

2. You love to have deep, meaningful conversations about your work.

One thing I hear over-and-over again from my PR clients is, “I don’t want to water down my message for the media.”

The challenge with traditional media is that you get, at most, 5-7 minutes in a live interview, or maybe 800 words in a guest post or contribution to a site like Entrepreneur or Fast Company.

There just isn’t space to get into a meaningful discussion about your work.

Even on your blog, where you can write about your topic in depth, only 20 percent of people will read to the end — and these stats are for people who already follow your work.

Compare this to podcast engagement rates, where 35 percent of people who start a podcast interview listen to the entire episode, and 80 percent tune in to most of the episode.

These listeners are typically new to your work, which makes these numbers even more powerful for your company.

Podcasts are the ideal marketing channel, for any CEO who loves to have deep conversations about your work.

3. You want to network with other influencers in your field.

One of the first things you learn running your own business is just how crucial it is to build a strong network.

Other business owners and thought leaders in your industry are an important source of referrals and other partnership opportunities. I’ve had colleagues recommend me for paid speaking gigs, lucrative client projects and even my teaching on CreativeLive!

I cannot overstate this: There is no way I’d have the company I have today without these relationships.

When you go on a podcast as a guest, ultimately what you’re doing is having an hour-long conversation about the work that lights you up to another expert or influencer. It gives you an unparalleled opportunity to cut out months of networking in forming a relationship.

No worrying if they’ll have time to talk with you at a conference, or buttering them up on social media.

You just get to show up and meet them as equals.

4. Referrals are a big revenue source for your company.

The #1 question I get from people who are already lining up interviews for themselves is, “How do I leverage my interviews once they air?”

I know that most people are looking for an answer that helps them use their coverage to draw in and attract more people, so my answer often surprises them.

When you get media coverage of any kind, it’s an opportunity to check in with any open leads.

Your interviews also give your fans and clients an opportunity to share your work with their network. We often forget just how much people want to support our work when they value it. Your interviews give them an opportunity to email a colleague or two, inviting them to get to know you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully you can see how you can start linking your PR efforts with your sales efforts a little more effectively.

Now, let me reiterate that I’m not saying podcasts are a magic bullet for your business.

There are lots of other marketing channels out there, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Speaking can be amazing if you love being on stage, and want to get paid to generate leads. I’m lukewarm about speaking (although I LOVE panels and workshops), because it is just so much work, but I know many who love it.

Facebook ads are great for people who want to create a consistent formula for churning out leads. But you’re also at the whim of the algorhythm, and with costs rising, I know a lot of people looking to diversify.

The point is that no one channel is perfect — the trick is figuring out which one works with your strengths.

Now that you know a little more about the kinds of companies podcasts work best for, is podcast outreach a good strategy for your company?

Why I’ve Changed My Stance on Social

Do you ever feel a crazy amount of resistance to something everyone says you should be doing to market your business — but you just can’t bring yourself to get on board?

For me, that point of resistance has long been around social media.

Ever since Twitter started its decline (gosh, 5 years ago now?), I’ve been incredibly resistant to marketing my work on social media.

Give me an opening, and I can give you ALL the reasons why I don’t use social media to market my business.

Just for starters…

  • I HATE it when people message me on Facebook instead of emailing me. If you want to reach me, just reply to one of these emails!
  • I also find it weird when someone I don’t know sends me a friend request. Why is that a thing?
  • Back in the day, I was a low-key lifestyle blogger, who regularly wrote about personal development. Now, the idea of turning my every move into a business metaphor gives me hives.
  • My work isn’t consumer focused, so it doesn’t lend itself easily to places like Pinterest or Instagram. I don’t think photos of my cats are going to sell you PR or marketing advice. Actually, on second thought…it probably would!
  • The last thing I want to do is share the same-old inspirational quotes you see everywhere. I’m not against those quotes, but I’m not setting out to be a guru or life coach.

When I sit and really look at this list with an open heart and mind, what it tells me is that the typical formula for social media marketing feels like the absolute least authentic way for me to communicate.

As a writer, I already have a tendency to narrate my life as I’m living it. I don’t care to feed that tendency by taking the things I do for myself — things like hiking or political canvassing — and turning them into marketing lessons.

For the longest time, I couldn’t think of another way to engage, especially in a space like Instagram.

I’m much more comfortable sitting down and writing an email, because I feel like I can be fully myself and not adopt a persona for likes.

I will probably always feel that email is where I show up best, and yet, I’ve also had a breakthrough that has completely transformed how I think and feel about social.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been thinking about social all wrong…

For most people, social media is a discovery tool. It’s a way to spread your content and your work to more people.

But I’ve come to realize that the way I use social media is to deepen relationships.

There are two recent events that flipped this switch for me.

First up was my realization that I’m constantly advising my clients to share their PR wins, not to reach more people, but to energize the tribe they’ve already gathered.

After YEARS of giving this advice, it finally dawned on me.

I was not practicing what I preached…

That’s when I decided to start sharing more of my client’s press coverage, on the blog, in email but also on Instagram.

Suddenly, I had an authentic, real reason to share content on Insta…to shower LOVE on my clients and the media (mostly podcasters) we work with.

The second event was starting to tune into Instagram stories more, and messaging with friends and clients.

There is one client in particular, where a lot of our communication is through Instagram!

Here I am (in the middle) being silly with a client in stories. 😊Experiencing the way Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon use Instagram has been a total game-changer for me.

In my own company, I talk about how our remote team needs to work extra hard to create “watercooler moments” — spontaneous gathering points like you’d typically see play out in an office. For the past month, I’ve realized that Instagram messages & stories are playing this spontaneous, light-hearted role for my clients and me.

It’s deepening our relationship, now that not every conversation is specifically about the work or a deliverable.

I’m still pretty sporadic on Instagram, but if you’d like to connect over there with me, I’m @brigittelyons.

I won’t even complain if you show up in my messages. 😉

I’ve been doing some deep thinking about how social media might become more integrated into the marketing strategy we do for our clients, but in the meantime, I invite you to reflect on the role social media plays in your business.

How do you feel about social media? Do you use it for your business at all? Is your focus on discovery or depth — or both?

5 signs your business isn’t ready to scale . . . yet!

Ready to scale?

Chances are that if you run a business, you very much want the answer to this question to be a resounding yes.

Anyone who’s watched an episode of Shark Tank or picked up a business book in the past 10 years has been inundated with the idea that scaling up is the top priority of any successful business.

What they often fail to mention is that scaling too early can have devastating effects for your business.

How bad can it get?

Lost customers, a decimated brand reputation, and a shuttered business.

While a PR pro can help you work through a public crisis and help you build up a reputation, it’s better to avoid these pitfalls in the first place.

Here are 6 signs you’re not yet ready to scale, and some ideas on how to work through them.

1. You haven’t made a sale yet.

I work with a lot of digital business owners who are transitioning their business models. In other words, a lot of my clients are in the very early stages of their businesses, and they’re starting up with PR at the same time they’re refining their business model.

That’s okay — most businesses wait too long to start doing PR.

But it’s a big problem when you’re trying to scale up and you haven’t even made a sale yet.

Product bugs are inevitable. Online programs with have glitches. You’ll wish you’d added in (or cut!) some content and you’ll have improvements for the second round.

Physical products may have defects. Or maybe your shipping provided isn’t as cheap or reliable as you expected.

Consultants and service providers will refine their processes as they go.

This is all completely normal.

Being able to learn as you go is a key entrepreneurial skill.

What’s not normal or expected is to work these bugs out in real-time with thousands of users, customers or clients.

You should not attempt to scale a business model that hasn’t been tested with a core, dedicated set of users.

The risks are too great.

2. You don’t have any raving fans yet.

What do you need for those first product tests?

True fans. Also known as your tribe. Brand evangelists. Early adopters.

Whatever you call them, you know who they are when you have them

These are the customers that are the first to click “add to cart” — and to actually follow through.

They email you to check in.

They retweet or like all your social media content.

If you can’t name one, or two, or 10 true fans, you’re not ready to scale yet.

In the beginning, you should be nurturing your true fans. Giving them as much love and attention as you can stand — and then some more. Giving them reasons to rave about your business. Giving them opportunities to buy from you and engage with you.

This kind of love can’t be scaled, unfortunately.

And for a business whose long-term success relies on receiving real feedback from people who love your product, it can’t be skipped either.

3. You’re afraid to sell.

When I talk to small business owners about why they want to scale so soon, often I find out that they’re afraid to sell their products or services directly to customers.

They don’t want to go through the discomfort of having to talk up their offers face-to-face with another person, one who will maybe reject you or will make weird faces for unrelated reasons.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but selling doesn’t get any easier when you’re doing it at a scale of 1 to 100, or 1 to 1,000 or 1 to 10,000.

The challenges just get bigger.

That’s because the key ingredient of sales is
.
.
.

Empathy.

Successful selling requires that you know your customers inside-and-out. You know what they want, and what they say they want. You know what keeps them up at night.

You understand exactly where your solution fits into this ecosystem.

And, most importantly, you know how to help them see the possibilities that you’re envisioning for them.

By the way, this applies just as much if you’re selling a dress as if you’re a business consultant or professional speaker.

There is a shop in my town that only sells high-end denim. The owner knows her product inside-and-out, but more importantly, she understands why I would rather go to her store than try to buy a discount brand at an outlet.

4. You don’t know your customers inside-and-out.

Speaking of which, do you know why your customers buy from you and not someone else?

If you can’t answer this question, you are going to waste so much money as you scale.

Mass market is expensive.

Unless your brand name starts with a C- and ends in -oke, you cannot afford it.

Which means that you have no choice but to identify exactly who you’re marketing to, and what it is about your brand that makes them want to buy from you and not some other business.

Scaling before you answer these questions is the online marketing equivalent of flushing your money down the toilet.

5. You don’t have a plan to build and protect your reputation.

As a PR pro, my first obligation to my clients is to build and protect their reputation.

Often when clients want to scale too fast, they’re still working out what they want their reputation to be.

Often I’m the first person to have even asked the question, “What do you want to be known for?”

But when you scale, not only do you need to have a plan to grow your reputation, but you also need to be prepared with a plan to respond when things go awry.

We already talked about the inevitable launch hiccups you’ll have when you first scale.

But what about negative customer reviews or blog posts written by an unsatisfied customer?

What about the true fan that has started to feel neglected and starts to warn people away from your business?

Or the fan that starts feeling a little too involved in your business for comfort.

I don’t mean to scare you away from scaling your business, but to share some of the challenges that can come up when you have a bigger platform.

Not all attention is positive attention.

There are ways to deal with mistakes (hint: the words “sincere” and “apology” have a role…).

There are ways to make your true fans feel cared for, even when you don’t have as much time to personally stay involved with them.

There are ways to create frameworks around how you engage with people that feel real and engaged without crossing boundaries.

Your reputation management plan will depend on the kind of reputation you’re hoping to nurture.

Just make sure you have one when you start to scale.

Is your business ready to scale?

Once you’ve tested your offers…

Identified the first of your 1,000 true fans…

Started feeling comfortable talking up your business…

Know your customers inside-and-out…

And have a plan to build and protect your reputation…

Now you’re ready to take on the challenge of scaling your business.

Ps…Having trouble identifying what customers love about your brand or business, and how you can intentionally build your reputation without the “ick” factor? It’s our specialty! Get in touch at brigittelyons.com/contact.

  

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