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If they can find it with Google or AI, why do they need you? How to make your podcast stand out

by | Dec 7, 2023

The days of sharing what you think are over. 

You heard me. If you want your audience to stick around, they need more than your best practice. They keep coming back and stay longer when they find ways to connect with you and understand where you are coming from. 

At least that’s what Erin Braford thinks. 

Erin is a friend and colleague of mind and this topic came up on a recent call we had. Erin argued that “how” you think and “why” you think that way is important. At the time of our argument, I wasn’t sold. 

Why the heck would anyone care how I think? They just want to know if the information is accurate or not. 

However, as our debate continued, it became clear that Erin was right and my doubt stemmed from unaddressed childhood wounds or something. 😅

If you want your content to thrive, you need to make it personal. You need to show people how  you approach problems differently and why you think the way you do.

This is the third article in our co-author series where I co-write with other super-smart marketing pros. You can read my collab with Brooke Sellas on parasocial relationships here or my article with Lauren Dennis on audio and copywriting here

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How to compete with a sea of experts.

Remember when you were a kid and asked your parents to do something that felt reasonable to you, but they gave you a “No, because I said so”? How did that make you feel?

As a teen, I (Erin) was pretty angsty. I was pretty sure I knew how to run my own life. This was never a welcome answer.

What I wanted to know was WHY they made the decision. HOW did they come to their conclusion.

It wasn’t just about clapping back with an argument. 

It’s that I wanted to feel understood. Afterall, if their decision was based on the wrong premise, I had to live with it, right? I needed to make sure we were on the same page so I could trust their recommendations.

Flash forward to being an adult, running a business, and vetting service partners to help me meet my goals. 

If someone is going to prescribe a solution for my business, I need to believe they understand where I’m coming from and have the same—or better—information.

Let’s say I’m starting a podcast. If I only had one podcast producer to choose from, sharing WHAT they know might be enough. But the market is noisy. Swing some wired headphones and I’ll hit a “production company.”

Being technically proficient at [fill in your expertise here] is table stakes. 

I need reasons to believe that the partner I choose will be able to deliver what I want, in a way that I’m excited about. 

So how do you do it?

Desk

Transactional vs Transformational content.

I got this concept I from Jay Acunzo’s work

There is two kinds of content: 

  1. Information you can find in a Google Search 
  2. Information you can’t find anywhere besides the source

Let me explain. 

Transactional or commodity content.

I (Jeff) used to run the newsletter/website EquipmentforPodcasting.com (now it just redirects to my blog post about equipment). It was an overview about what podcast equipment you should buy. I was early to the equipment game so the site did pretty well. 

But as time went on, new equipment continued to be released, more people started talking about it, and the overall space grew. 

The site’s popularity declined because it was primarily a list of equipment that wasn’t very different from any of the other resources for podcast equipment. It was completely Google-able information that could be found anywhere. 

And here’s the thing, it’s going to get worse. 

With the help of AI tools, lazy marketers can make boring transactional “what” content faster than ever. 

“ChatGPT, Please list 20 amazing podcast facts.”

“Okay. Now turn that list into social media posts.”

Hurray! I have posts for the next month!

Transformational content.

Transformational content is the opposite. It can’t be found anywhere. It’s unique and personal. The kind of information you get from following someone’s personal journey or the vibe of a well-curated community. 

Transformational cut goes beyond the “what” and digs into the “why” and the “how.”

Here is an example from mine and Erin’s conversation: 

The name of my company is Come Alive Creative. That’s “what” content and I could stop there. 

According to Erin, people care why I named the company that and how I came to that decision. 

It’s a Howard Thurman quote I originally read in the book Wild at Heart years ago. 

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

― Howard Thurman, The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time

It’s easy to follow the money or even pursue your passions as an entrepreneur. To me, those things are both short-lived. However, if I can figure out what makes me truly come alive (and help others do the same), that’s something that can drive me for a lifetime. 

I want to work with leaders who share the same values.

That’s a small glimpse into my “why” and “how.” You can only get it from me. If it speaks to you, you might care about other things I have to say. 

Wild at Heart

Why the “how” of your podcast matters. 

Your podcast is an opportunity to push beyond the transactional parts of your ideas. In fact, it’s the perfect place to transform your listeners by giving them something personal. 

Most of the podcasts my team produces are 30 minutes long or more. The listeners per episode range from hundreds to tens of thousands. Episode completion rates range from 75% to 95%. 

What if you were able to do a public speaking gig once a week or once every two weeks and at least hundreds of people came to watch you every time?! 

In a world of TikToks and YouTube Shorts, podcasting is a place where longform content still works.

People show up, put you straight into their ears, and listen. Tell them something they can’t get anywhere else. Don’t miss your opportunity to reward them with content that is worth their while.  

Here is another way to think about it:

On average, podcast listeners will rotate between six to eight podcasts a week. What are the chances of your podcast being in their six to eight favorite shows if you aren’t giving anything transformational?

Or another one: 

Think of your favorite movie. Would you enjoy watching it if it was at 2x speed? I wouldn’t. 

So then why are so many people listening to podcasts at faster speed? It’s because the podcast is transactional and we’re trying to get whatever information out of it as quickly as possible. It sounds like the podcast would be better off as a social post, article, or book. 

Show us what you’re working with.

As long as humans are buying from humans, brands and businesses who will win are those that figure out how to forge meaningful relationships with their audiences. 

Podcasts have enormous opportunities to showcase experiences, doubts, quirks, and emotions. The occasional snort is endearing! You can be knowledgeable AND human. Huzzah! 

Relatability is a marketing superpower.

Wrapping up.

Erin:

Every potential purchase presents a risk for your prospect—especially if you’re selling high-ticket services.

By the time they get to the sales call, they’ve done a lot of research. They have a hunch you can do the thing, they’re trying to decide if they should let you. Content that builds trust moves beyond “because I said so” to “here’s my perspective, how I got here, and why I think it matters.” 

Jeff:

Huge thanks to Erin for debating and challenging me on this one.

You were right. I was wrong. Please forgive me. 😉

If you are looking for help with your messaging, you can learn more about Erin over on her personal site. And if you’re interested in how to make your podcast more transformational, let’s talk! You can learn more about what my team does on the service page or reach out to me directly via our contact form.