From advertisements to branded shows, the world is starting to recognize that podcasting is an industry to pay attention to if you’re looking to build a business and grow brand awareness. Of course, by “starting to recognize” I very much mean we are at the early stages of this movement toward podcasting as a viable and profitable tool, but that movement is happening and more and more agencies are stepping in to help facilitate companies and individuals leveraging podcasting to its fullest marketing potential. Interview Valet is working to do exactly that as they work to connect clients with podcasts and I got to talk to Tom Schwab, the company’s Founder and CEO, all about it. Tom’s work with Interview Valet and his years in the podcast industry offer a unique insight into how to make guest appearances profitable, enjoyable, and more accessible than ever in a way that benefits the entire podcasting industry, but let’s start at the beginning.
Occasionally there are moments in an interview that really surprise me purely because I never would have seen them coming. When I asked Tom to explain his background and what led him to the podcasting arena and he responded with “My background really comes from engineering and inbound marketing,” I thought it was an interesting combination and nothing more. When he followed that statement with “my first job out of college was running a nuclear power plant,” I experienced one of those rare moments of complete surprise. I had to recover quickly though, because Tom’s point was that his work in engineering taught him that “everything can be systematized, it can be refined, it can be taught.”
Tom carried that lesson with him into his work in marketing, doing his best to find a system that reduced wasteful spending and maximized returns. “I was a big believer in inbound marketing,” Tom explained. “It’s how I built my first company from a regional player to a national leader.” If you’re wondering, inbound marketing is marketing that uses content to attract potential clients and build profitable relationships. When Tom first started working with inbound marketing, the main tool was blogs, but not just company blogs: “One of the things that we always used was guests blogs. So getting on somebody else’s platform, tapping into their audience and getting them to know, like, and trust you.”
It was 2014 when Tom first started to think that inbound marketing on podcasts may work very similarly to the blog model. The idea was the same: tapping into an existing audience in your field, building a relationship and rapport, and then directing listeners back to your own website, only this time through interviews on podcasts. “I was amazed when we started to do it,” Tom told me. “We were seeing conversion rates – visitor to lead – of twenty-five times better than a blog.” Compared to the usual 1-2% conversion rate of blogs, podcast interviews were seeing anywhere from 25%-75% conversion rates. Of course, such a drastic jump calls for caution and Tom was certainly skeptical at first, pointing to the “personality” or the “niche” of the show or the guest.
So Tom and his team “kept testing it and refining it and found that it really was a system.” Now called Podcast Interview Marketing, the system that was built and developed over several years of research and testing is now Interview Valet, “a done-for-you podcast interview marketing service” that revolves around Tom’s definition of marketing: “starting a conversation with someone that could be an ideal customer.” So how do you know if podcasting is the place to start that conversation?
When new clients come to Interview Valet they are taken through an assessment to see if podcast interview marketing is going to be a good fit for them. There are three things Interview Valet decided were the difference between good results and great results after they reviewed their first hundred clients’ success rates and now those are the three things they examine before taking on a new client.
If you immediately recognize one of these markers as a weak point in you business, don’t worry, they are all fixable. It may take time, but this assessment is meant not only to show if you’re ready for podcast interview marketing, but also what you can work on to become ready. Once you feel confident about you message, market, and machine, there are a few more things to consider. Podcast interview marketing may be right for you, but it may be difficult to pull off on your own.
Interview Valet has not only worked to validate the legitimacy of podcast interview marketing but also to help their clients enter the podcasting space as easily as possible. They do this first by focusing on three genres (mainly business, but also health, nutrition and wellness, and faith and spirituality) in which they have formed strong relationships with top podcasters. “You can only have expertise in a main vertical,” Tom explained. “With 600,000 podcasts out there the idea that you’re going to have relationships with the top podcasters in every one of the different genres is pretty much laughable.” So, if you’re looking to reach an audience outside of those verticals, Tom said that Interview Valet may not be the best agency for you but finding an agency that does have existing relationships with the podcasts you’re interested in working with is probably a really good idea.
Another reason these booking agencies are really helpful if you’re considering podcast interview marketing is their experience preparing people for the interview itself. Interview Valet specifically provides their clients with professional equipment, website links to special offers for listeners, and makes sure they promote the episode and show they’ll be appearing on. Further, Tom told me that Interview Valet often does mock interviews with clients so that they have a little experience using their equipment and the interview platform. If you’re entering the podcast space without any experience, an agency can help ensure you have what you need and go into your interview fully confident.
Just to be clear, this isn’t just an advertisement for Interview Valet or for Tom Schwab. When it comes right down to it, podcasters and businesses alike should be paying attention to podcast interview marketing because it’s both powerful and profitable for everyone involved. Creators gain valuable relationships and become known as thought-leaders in their field by interviewing innovators and informing their listeners about industry developments through interviews. Businesses or individuals gain name recognition, connections with clients, and impactful evergreen content that continues to bring listeners to them long after the initial release of the episode.
Tom explained these ROIs by first making it clear that “podcast interview marketing is an investment, not a spend. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Tom drew the comparison of paying for Facebook ads and knowing the next day exactly how well that performed, but also knowing that the ad would never reach any further than that. Podcast interview marketing differs substantially in that “it’s evergreen content, it builds upon itself. It’s an investment that continues to drive traffic, to drive leads, to drive customers.” Interview Valet clients have reported still gaining leads three or fours years after an interview has been posted, proving the benefit of this kind of long-term investment. Promotion and repurposing of interview content is also an easy way to multiply returns on the podcast investment that has proven beneficial for clients.
Overall, the qualitative feedback Tom has received from clients shows that businesses are seeing more leads generated and deals closing much faster due to podcast interview marketing, but he also pointed to one client in particular who provided some quantitative feedback as well. “In 2018, [he] reported that he had a 600% return at twelve months and a 1200% return at twenty-four months,” Tom told me. He also mentioned that the clients who are most aware of what a lead costs them consistently report that podcast interview marketing is “the best, most economical lead source that they have.”
First, if you’re anywhere in the podcasting industry, take note that more and more people are discovering the potential profitability of podcasting and actualizing it. This means more people looking to support podcast, be featured on shows, and engaging with content as listeners. But it also means that podcast creators are going to gain more and more recognition as thought leaders because they will be choosing which products and companies are being promoted to their listeners. In other words, there will be more power in creator’s hands and that is pretty exciting.
Second, if you have a show it may be a good time to consider interviewing folks. Helping people network and market their services and products allows you to build relationships with people in your industry and build your own brand as one that promotes quality businesses to listeners. The shift doesn’t need to happen all at once, but if you think that interviews would be beneficial to your audience and your show consider trying one or two and observing feedback before adding more or eliminating them altogether.
Third, if you run a business, have a book, provide a service, or run a podcast, consider podcast interview marketing as a way to grow your business, produce cost-effective leads, and gain valuable connections in your field. Podcasting is consistently hailed as one of the most intimate and genuine forms of media because it quickly and easily builds connections and trust with listeners which is a perfect starting point for a potential client.
So get out there and tell your story, because your next big client is one episode away.