EntreLeadership: Growing a Top Show

The EntreLeadership podcast has 200,000 listeners and is on track to reach 10 million downloads. Learn how their team grew the show, learns what content to create, and more.


Episode Summary

Daniel works as EntreLeadership's Executive Vice President and hosts the company's podcast. What really sets a podcast apart — in addition to good content — is adding value through a sense of community, he says. For EntreLeadership, a podcast devoted to helping small business owners succeed, that approach seems to have worked. After a decade, the podcast has 200,000 listeners who tune in weekly and will be downloaded 10 million times this year.

Building trust is also essential, and that means offering plenty of content without immediately making an ask. Investing time and employee resources into a podcast without an easily measurable return-on-investment can feel counterintuitive to many marketing professionals. But Daniel says it works. In fact, about 70% of EntreLeadership's event attendees say they learned about the company through the podcast.

So how has EntreLeadership built such a massive and engaged audience? Consistency is a huge part of it — EntreLeadership has never skipped publishing on a Monday. The podcast also invests in high-quality production value and follows a consistent format every week. When listeners like what they hear, they'll share it. "We've just always depended on word of mouth," Daniel says.

Patience and showing up pay off. "It's so much a story of the tortoise versus the hare. It's just every week, consistently building trust, consistently having a conversation that adds value," Daniel says.

In this episode, Daniel discusses how EntreLeadership delegates tasks like marketing and content writing, the trial and error of finding your niche as a new podcast, creative ways to measure the ROI of your podcast, and different approaches for adding value to listeners' lives (which will set your podcast apart).


💡 Name: Daniel Tardy

💥 What he does: Executive Vice President of the business leadership education organization EntreLeadership and host of the EntreLeadership podcast.

💻 EntreLeadership on the web: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

🔗 Daniel on the web: Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

🧠 Get smart: "The best thing we've done with podcasts is creating free resources that people can opt into to get more information that's going to help them apply what they just heard about on the podcast."

Top Tips From This Episode

Take advantage of your "sawdust" and turn it into more content 👉 Instead of dumping sawdust that settles onto the floor, carpenters can actually fashion that sawdust into an entirely new board.

Daniel says you can do the same thing with podcasts, repurposing that sawdust "into content that feeds other social channels, even if you don't have the dedicated resources to sit down and write drafts from scratch."

Offering free (non-podcast) resources can help you make sales and track conversions 👉 If you want to sell a $1,000-per-month coaching session after one podcast episode, your conversion rates probably won't be great. A free resource — such as a PDF with 10 tips on hiring star employees — is a better next step for listeners. Offering a free resource to listeners on a topic related to your podcast episode, will help them see the added value that your company can provide.  

Plus, these free resources can help you keep track of your listener conversions. "We can track [that] through a typical funnel: number of episodes. Then, of that, what percentage downloaded the free resource. And then, of that, what percent … turned into a sale," Daniel says.

Use the ‘jab, jab, jab, right hook’ approach for selling to listeners 👉 Daniel cites a favorite metaphor from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. "One of the strategies in boxing is not to just come out guns ablazing, and try to have every punch land directly on your opponent's face for the knockout," Daniel  explains. Instead, you jab your opponent a few times to wear them down and distract them, finally going in for the right hook.

The same is true for marketing, Daniel says. That means regularly giving listeners content so they trust your value as a company. Only after that trust is established — which could be anywhere from four months to four years — Daniel says, should you go in for the sale.

Episode Highlights

Transcript excerpts from the conversation

It's okay to become more selective with guests over time.  

"In 2011, we just knew, hey, there's this thing called 'podcast.' If we could get some listeners, maybe this will help with our marketing for the book. We weren't quite that intentional about it … I think early on, you've got to be a little bit more open to that while you're building your tribe and your listenership. Your standards should continue to increase … [as you learn] what you're really about … And you're not in that position of being desperate after you've kind of built up the tribe and the audience."

Building community is just as valuable as offering good content.

"We believe [to help] business owners win ... just giving them content isn't going to change their life. We believe that it's that plus them engaging in a community, not being isolated, having interactions with the coaching team and being held accountable to the things that they want to do. That's really how transformation takes place for the market that we choose to serve."

Conversions aren't the be-all, end-all of podcasts.

"Every week we can put out content and share it with people and add value to their lives. And if they never became a customer that was paying money, at least we helped them out … Our goal is not: 'how do we use the podcast to convert people?' While that happens, and it's a part of our strategy, our primary goal is how do we use our podcast to add hope and drive value and impact the lives of small businesses."

Reconsider your return-on-investment paradigm.

"There is a time when you need to be thinking about at some point, how are we going to make sure that the cost is justified and we're tracking ROI. But if that's your paradigm to start this thing and decide if you should do it or not, I'm going to say there's probably other things you should be doing in marketing that are not podcasts. Because podcasts really [are] about building a relationship for the long haul."

Don't do it all yourself; hire people to focus on the things you can't get to.

"We do email, social SEO, paid ads, it all kind of works together. I think the thing that I figured out as kind of the founder of this area is early on, I tried to do all those things at once and it ended up being average or even not as good as average on most of them. And so we're doing all that stuff today with the idea that we also have a dedicated person on our marketing team who runs that channel and it is the champion of that thing."

Be smart about sharing podcast episodes on social media platforms.

"People are on Instagram cause they want to be on Instagram. Not because they want to leave and go listen to a podcast right then. But … you can give three minutes of: This is some of the big takeaways from this conversation I had with this guy, Eric, it was awesome. By the way, if you want to check it out, go check it out. So they got a little nugget of value out of that ... But if you just use it to promote, Hey, we need you to go over here to another channel, people are going  to be like, but that's not why I'm here right now."

Don't compare yourself to well-established podcasts.

"If your paradigm is — how do we get to the top? — you're going to start trying to emulate everything that these top podcasts are doing. And it's going to come off as fake or forced or copycat … But what you can do is you can get that 100 people to really, really enjoy and get value out of the conversation start to finish all the way through an episode, and then you get that first little spin on the flywheel, and then you spin it again and spin it again. And every week it builds and builds and builds."

Talk to future customers, on podcasts they love.