Mailchimp: Creating Holistic Content

In this episode, we chat with Julie Douglas, Senior Manager of Mailchimp Studios, about their on-demand audio and video platform for entrepreneurs, Mailchimp Presents.


Episode Summary

In this episode, we chat with Julie Douglas, Senior Manager of Mailchimp Studios, about their on-demand audio and video platform for entrepreneurs, Mailchimp Presents.

You’ll learn how they got started and the philosophy and belief in brand that drove the creation of Mailchimp Presents, how they think about the success of their content, how they develop concepts for the platform, their podcasting goals, and so much more.


Name: Julie Douglas

What she does: Senior Manager of Mailchimp Studios

Connect with her: LinkedIn

Key Takeaways

Podcasts give you a way to bring people into your brand’s ecosystem without directly marketing to them.

Mailchimp creates content that truly addresses current and potential customers in a very holistic way. They think about all the different aspects of being an entrepreneur, from the emotional to the tactical journey, and create podcasts that speak to those experiences. This helps their listeners connect with the brand on a deeper level without feeling like they’re being sold to.

Research and speak to your customers to understand how to position your podcast in a way that brings value to them.

Run focus groups, get on the phone with customers, and collect survey responses. Do whatever you can to hear from your target market directly so you can understand them on an emotional level. By doing so, you’ll know exactly how to position your podcast in a way that inspires them and helps them through any challenges they face.

The purpose of a podcast isn’t to Trojan Horse your company out there.

The purpose is to create content that is meaningful and sincere. Your audience can see right through any marketing play you might throw at them by creating a branded podcast. In order to create a meaningful and emotional connection with the audience, think about how your content helps them. How does it inspire them? How does it make them feel?

Make sure your host is a stakeholder in the topic you want to cover.

Don’t just hire a host for the sake of hiring someone that is talented on the mic. They need to be a stakeholder, an expert, or a guide on the topic your podcast will cover. The show needs to reflect the host’s own world in order for it to feel authentic to the listeners. This also helps the host know how and when to dive deeper into certain topics. 

When creating a podcast, think about whether it can stand for the long haul.

Your podcast should be centered around a topic or concept you can execute for a long time. The reason being is it takes a while to build an audience. When you think about starting a podcast, think about what it looks like 10 years from now versus just 1 year from now. This will help you determine if you really have what it takes to grow it into a cornerstone piece of content.

If you’re considering running ads on your podcast, think about how it benefits your audience and customers.

Rather than running ads as an opportunity to open up a revenue stream, think about how the content in those ads is going to help the listeners and potential customers. Take a page from Mailchimp and be “customer-obsessed.” When you put your listeners first, you create the trust needed to build a loyal audience and customer base.

Mailchimp measures the success of the Mailchimp Presents platform by how it supports their spirit of generosity and support.

Yes, they measure the analytics behind the platform. How many people visit the site, how many people consume their content, and how many of them convert to customers. But they also look at it from a holistic perspective of how is this platform helping or supporting their audience and creators.

Approach podcasting from a sincere angle.

Try to get to the why of what you’re doing with your podcast and identity what can useful for the audience. At the end of the day, you want it to be a two-way conversation between you as a host (and brand) and the audience.



Julie Douglas: I was thinking about this too, right? Like what is the purpose of creating content of creating a podcast? And that's generally not just to Trojan Horse your company out there in the form of a podcast, right? Because people, I think see through that, you know, they don't want a marketing play at them.

What they want is something that's useful, that's meaningful and that's sincere. 

Jeremiah: Hey there, welcome to Brands that Podcast. Each week we talk with the people running podcast strategies at successful brands so you can learn how to grow your company through podcasting.

Today's guest is Julie Douglas, senior manager of MailChimp Studios. MailChimp is a company that really doesn't need an introduction. They sold for a reported $12 billion to Intuit. And they're known for clever advertising, including one of my favorite campaigns about outgrowing your name when they went from being an email provider only to a full marketing platform.

I knew I wanted to talk to them as soon as I saw MailChimp Presents, which is their version of sort of an on-demand library of audio and video content and original series. An article in Variety Magazine that I read says, "Can MailChimp, yes, the provider of email marketing and other services, produce a series as entertaining and engaging as anything on TV or Netflix? MailChimp this week is officially launching MailChimp Presents, which it describes as a business entertainment platform centered on themes of entrepreneurship and aimed at owners of small businesses. It's another case of marketing as entertainment, and it's going to have a lineup of series, films, and podcasts." 

So yeah, who wouldn't want to be interested in how they built something as amazing as that. In this episode, you'll hear how they got started and the philosophy and belief in brand that drove creating MailChimp Presents, how they think of the success of their content and measure that, how they develop a concept and what kind of concepts make it to MailChimp Presents with their podcasting, their goals with their podcasts, and a ton more.

Okay, Julie, thank you so much for joining us on Brands that Podcast. Like I said off mic, I'm incredibly excited for this interview. Thank you so much for giving us your time 

Julie Douglas: today. Oh my gosh. Thank you for having me. As I said, I love to talk shop about this and this is the perfect place to do it. The perfect audience.

So thank you for that. 

Jeremiah: Yeah, of course honored to have you, I think a good way to get started would be, I would love to, if you can give like a brief overview of what your role is and kind of the things that you're responsible for at MailChimp Presents. 

Julie Douglas: Yeah, sure. So I'm, I'm the senior manager of MailChimp Studios on the podcast arm.

So really, what I do is, um, kind of work from soup to nuts on everything. So that could be, you know, looking at new partners to work with and developing new concepts with them. That's also taking pitches, that's working with production teams to develop the concept, to go into production and kind of, depending on the podcast, I'll be touching the content at various points.

So at some point, I'm in the scripts with the other producers helping to develop. Other points, I'm a little bit more hands-off, you know, just working with the creators for the overall scope of something. And then of course, working with our marketing team and working cross-functionally across MailChimp to look at the various threads of commonality in what we're producing and, uh, what MailChimp is doing across the brand as well.

Jeremiah: Will you lead the efforts on like, whenever there's a new podcast developed, are you sort of like, can, can those ideas or concepts be coming from different places, but they sort of all have to pass through you or like you make sure they all kind of like reach the goals or have a common end point or are you originating all those things?

Like, how does that. 

Julie Douglas: A little of both. Sometimes I'll say, Hey, what, what about, what about working around this concept and developing this concept out. Um, and other times we're working as a group really hard on like, what's, you know, what's important to us. What do we think our audience wants to hear? And then developing from that point of view?

And then of course, like I said, sometimes we get pitches in that we're like, oh, this is perfect. This is exactly what we're looking for. When we're talking about building out this ecosystem and creating a platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs to really engage in different types of content.

Jeremiah: Awesome. Okay. So before diving in specifically, I've got a lot of questions obviously about the podcast, but the philosophy is something I feel that MailChimp has always had really clever marketing and doing some of the research for this. I was. Find like the old link to your ad on Serial. Like I could, I listened through to that.

I'd love that on Serial. That was super cool. You should Google that. If you're listening to this podcast, go Google, like MailChimp's add on Serial. That's super clever. And the campaign that MailChimp brand, when you know about outgrowing your name, you know, as, as the platform expanded, you also have a strong belief in building brand.

I read an article in Variety about this project, where Mark, the head of brand said, "We see this content being a great vehicle for attracting people to MailChimp who have never heard of us, and maybe don't need us yet." So for people who are not current customers, it's like attracting them to the MailChimp brand, even if there's no need sort of building that relationship and awareness and then an affinity and that for current customers, that the goal is to get more connected to MailChimp than they previously were. Ideally inspiring them to launch more email campaigns. What would you articulate is like the driving belief or goal behind such a massive investment in audio in achieving that? Like how do you see that inter-playing there? 

Julie Douglas: It is a way to bring people into our ecosystem without directly marketing to them.

Right. So there's that. So when you go to MailChimp Presents and you see podcasts and videos and films that are all geared toward the journey of our customers are small business owners or entrepreneurs. And you see that all of these pieces of content are talking to the whole person. Then I think you begin to understand that what we're trying to do is to make something that really addresses our customers or potential customers in a very holistic way.

So we're, while we do have, you know, a lot of content that speaks to like what it is like to stand up a business and to continue with your business. We also have content that really is outside of that, that talks about. Sort of like the, more of the emotional part of being a small business owner. So that's where you might see something like The Jump, which is hosted by Shirley Manson, um, who is the front woman, uh, for Garbage and just a brilliant interviewer.

Um, talking to other musicians about this sort of inflection point as artists. And that leaping off point. And while you might not directly think like, oh, this has something to do with small business or entrepreneurs. The fact is, is that a lot of those examples, really pers personified, these sort of journeys and the challenges and the ups and downs, and the day to day realities of trying to build something.

You see that in a lot of these stories that are told. And by the way too, um, I've heard this from a lot of people who have businesses and happened to be musicians, Paul Jarvis, who is a host and creator of Call Paul, one of our podcasts, which is our small business podcast has said that everything he ever learned from marketing was through being a musician and being in a band and getting his music out there.

So, yeah. So, um, I think that this is something that I bring up just because you know, there are different paths to sort of getting into the entrepreneurship or becoming a small business owner. And a lot of our customers are not going through the front door. And so we're trying to show people different ways of being successful or addressing these moments that are really challenging and learning through story.

And so when I back up and I look at MailChimp Presents and I look at all the amazing content on there, I tend to think about like, wow, this is, this really is a storytelling platform. And it perfectly aligns with MailChimp and its brand and what we're trying to teach our customers in a way about telling their own stories.

So you'll, you'll hear me get in the weeds about this because one of the things that MailChimp really emphasizes is compassion and, and being sort of customer obsessed. Sounds a little stalkery, but, um, you know, really thinking about our customers at a very granular level and the sorts of things that they might want.

And need for themselves. And I just want to mention this because this is not a MailChimp Presents thing per se, but Michael Mitchell, who is our senior director of brand experience, he recently launched something called Bloom Season, which is this really comprehensive guide to small business ownership and entrepreneurship for people of color.

And it is exhaustive and it is everything you could ever really think about when. I think about like, what does it take to stand up a business, both from just like a nuts and bolts, but also like, uh, an emotional part of that. And like making sure that people have all the tools that they need. 

Jeremiah: I'm going to side rail, my original question cause this is fascinating to me. Like this is something I think you're right. Like stands out to me is that a lot of brands I've talked to, they sort of have their target audience or their target ICP and they we are speaking to their needs in their role, which, you know, makes sense to me, like from a B2B perspective, it's like, okay, you're a demand gen marketers.

So we're gonna like help you, you know, thrive in your role. Yours is like incredibly holistic. Like it's very, um, it touches, like you say, like on the. There's like emotional encouragement and support and inspiration as much as there is like practical tactics for like growing a business. And this is something that is pretty unique to MailChimp. 

To create this holistic content what did you as a brand do or, or like, what did the team members do to understand the audience that well? Like how do you know, sort of it gets one thing, I guess what I'm trying to say is like, it's one thing for a company to say, okay, we're talking to PR folks while we know what they do in their role.

So let's just help them grow, you know, in, in their PR careers and talk about PR, but you're taking on this liking, you know, end to end journey from like idea and inception to like completion and things like that. And, and, and everything in between. Is this, like, are you getting on the phone with them? Are you serving them?

Like, how are you able to know the audience? So well, when do you define like, okay, we need, we haven't done an adequate cover, uh, job of covering this aspect of their timeline. Let's break out a new show for that. 

Julie Douglas: Well, I can say for something like Bloom Season, which I can only speak to more elliptically. I know there's a ton of research on that project and they talked to a lot of people and they had some amazing reporters and videographers really create that content.

For MailChimp Presents, I think that we've been able to really lean on a lot of the research that we have done internally with our groups or their departments cross-functionally. So I think a lot about Dan courteous, who's a co-founder of MailChimp and him talking about a lot of the customer visits that they do and that they weren't just talking to the customer about the product and how they used it and observing them using it.

They're also really looking at the body language. And what they weren't saying, what they really wanted to say. And so I bring that up because again, that's sort of like, um, a point of customer obsession, where I think that he realized very early on that there is an emotional component to it. And while there is the UX of it, We want to also keep our eye on how our customers are feeling.

Because when you look at small business owners and entrepreneurs, what they're trying to do is really, really hard and there's a lot riding on it. So our relationship with them should reflect some aspect of that that says, like, we see you and we acknowledge that. And I think that we have always positioned ourselves.

In that place and have just been able MailChimp Presents has been able to grow from that knowing and these customer panels and having access to some of that information and what our customers are willing to talk to us about internally. So that has been an amazing resource from our research department as well.

So I think that it kind of has, has a position does really well for actually trying to meet this moment where, uh, I think universally, everyone is feeling a bit burnout, right? Like we know what hustle culture is, and we know the reasons why we call it hustle. Right. Because people are working sometimes two and three jobs and trying to start this other thing on the side.

And our co-founders certainly know that pretty intimately and brand MailChimp like that as their side business for years and years and years. Um, so for us to sort of be at this moment where we know there's a lot of burnout and we know that people need something beyond the nuts and bolts, which we provide them.

But also the sort of like, Hey, here are points of inspiration. Here are other examples where people are struggling and they have their own journey. And by the way, like the world is crazy. Like, let's just acknowledge that, like there's, you know, uh, whatever normal is. Isn't isn't, I don't know what that is anymore. I don't think anybody does. So however we can talk to each other. Honestly, and sincerely, and be able to kind of give each other, some sort of energy that, that feels like it's beneficial for all of us then. Great. Yeah. I 

Jeremiah: think it's connecting. That's a, it's a great insight that I hope any like B2B listeners, especially like, as they're starting up their shows that they would be mindful. Like, I think it's a great takeaway for them to be mindful, to include more of those holistic, like views of of their target audience, even if it is limited to like a role and it's a little bit more narrow, like you're probably talking to a wider audience than, than, than like a B2B SaaS company or something.

But, but I do think it's like, everyone still feels those consistent pains in their job. And there's like emotional baggage where there, and there's all kinds of like, people are still people holistically. So I think it's that. I remember I was listening to an interview. I think Gary V did it with like, uh, the woman who runs content at, at Amazon, like original content at Amazon.

And she was saying, I think she, if I'm remembering correctly, I think she articulated, like, they kind of always have a goal of like, They always ask the question of their content. What is this going to make people feel? Because it's not just about using data to know like what they're interested in or what they want, but it's also like, okay, but intuitively like what are we trying to sort of like, make them feel from this?

Or how do we want to connect with them on an emotional level? So that's something I think a lot of companies that are spinning out, podcasts are missing. Like there, they're very good at what you call, like the nuts and bolts, but they're not so good at that other part. 

Julie Douglas: I was thinking about this too, right?

Like what is the purpose of creating content of creating a podcast? And that's generally not just to Trojan horse. Your company out there in the form of a podcast, right? Because people, I think see through that, you know, they don't want to marketing, play at them. What they want is something that's useful, that's meaningful and that sincere.

And so I do think when companies are thinking about why. Create this podcast, they need to kind of tie it back to like, what is, what's the human part of this? And I think that's something that MailChimp does really well. So when I think about MailChimp Presents, I think about Lain Shakespeare, who, um, is, you know, heads up our corporate citizenship in who we work with.

And if you originally got into the podcast, pasty was sponsoring along with mark and, and I think about Serita Alami and they're all coming from this from my very human perspective. So I hope that when people do hear the content that they make, that they realize that this is, these are people having conversations about what it is to be compassionate towards someone's journey in life.

And how can we meet them there? 

Jeremiah: I love that. So moving to your podcasts, you've got 6 that I counted in addition to the video content. I'm curious from like a high level, can you talk a little bit about how you develop a specific concept? Like we talked about this, like it could come from different angles, but how does the concept come together and how do you, how do you refine it or craft it in a way that you kind of have a more sure bet that your audience is going to love it?

Like, this is something we've tried to talk to companies with and. It feels challenging. I think for a lot of companies that are like, well, the only option, the one you see played a lot is like the insert, my target audience here podcast. And that it's just this very like generic open-ended yours take yours utilize like specific hooks or specific concepts, or like, we're going to do this topic, but like, look at it from this angle.

How does something like that come together and how much data is going into that? How much research is going into that? Like how does the concept come about at mealtime? 

Julie Douglas: Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I think that when you talk about coming at a different angle, it is reflecting back what a lot of customers were hearing from there.

They have a lot of work arounds. So we're thinking about that as like, how do you approach a topic in a novel way that kind of addresses like the spirit of what it is to be an entrepreneur or just take a big leap. And so we, we kind of have that front and center when we're thinking about content, but some of it too is.

It's just like, it comes a lot from like researching what's out there. What we've heard customers say is interesting to them. And I'm thinking about Hands on a Hardbody, which is a documentary, um, that Quentin Tarantino actually like called out as like one of his favorite documentaries and which you can find a MailChimp Presents.

And my colleague, uh, Christina Humphrey, who was just like, adamant about like, we've got to have this documentary because it is essentially is it's a film about a marketing ploy. You know, the customers keeping their hands on the, on the car and a competition for the car. Fascinating. And it's like, just another view into, I guess you would say the psychology of marketing that maybe someone wouldn't necessarily think of.

Like, oh, when I think about the psychology of marketing, I'm thinking about need and, uh, you know, creating desire and so on and so forth. But here is another example of how it gets played out in a story. So that's sort of like one example, um, Another example I'm thinking about is on a day's work, uh, which is created by it's nice that directed by Siki song and it's animated and it's fast.

It's great. It is so funny. And it's like these reflections of what it is to be a small business owner and it is nonverbal. Right? You see the characters just playing out their typical day, but it says more than you could ever say with words about what that experience is. And then when you have something come to you in the form of partners, which is our podcast made by rich cashier way, who's also the creator of song Exploder, who, who he comes to you and says, like, I have this idea where two people, partners like this is it's all about like their story of how they made something together or how they came together. And it makes for really fascinating content because you know, some of this is the way that Rishi approaches. Audio, which is like very kind of film from a film perspective. I know this sounds weird because this is a different medium, but it's the way that he tells the stories and edits them so that you have these moments between two people talking like pretty vulnerably about their relationships.

And I'm thinking about the co-founders of Instagram, um, Mike Kreiger and Kevin. And, you know, you wouldn't, I don't think in any other place, would you hear them talking about how, when they sold Instagram, they were, they were unsure about the relationship anymore as partners and friends, because they didn't have this thing jelling them together.

So again, I think it's insights that in various different forms, that makes sense for that medium, that can give you sort of. Uh, sideways slant into the topic, as opposed to like a talk between two co-founders, you know? 

Jeremiah: Right. So there's, so it's always like, it's never sort of, no, one's floating sort of this, like just generic, like let's have a co-founder podcast or let's have a, whatever.

It's always like this. Like let's take that and then look at it from a different way. Let's like spin it on its head. And then like, you'll like, You've got to find it approach from a different angle in your, you, it sounds like you have like a goal to do something unique with it. Like you're not just going to do an interview with two co-founders, like you're going to try and like approach questions a certain way, or like the formatting in a certain 


Julie Douglas: Exactly. And we want to find the right partners to do that with so Rishi. Um, just, I think a master in this medium and has such a specific point of view when he's world-building that he is getting to, like, I think the most sincere as parts of conversations that happen between two people. And so, again, starting out at the, at the beginning, no matter what project it is with the aim of sincerity, I think really helps.

You know, guides us to like, who is the right partner to do this with, you know, what's the right approach. 

Jeremiah: So on that note, is there any tips you would give to listeners who are their company wants to get into audio? How you you've have like multiple hosts now, what makes a good host? What makes for a compelling connection, like host a concept and what should they be looking for?

Julie Douglas: Well, I think that one of the things we we really think about is like, they're them as a stakeholder. So they're not just a hired host, right? Like this. The podcast really has to reflect their own world building. And so Going Through It as a really good example. This season, which is now out is hosted by Jenny yang and she's a comedian and, and she is also, you know, a huge advocate.

And so what we wanted to do is say like, w we want the framework of going through it, these moments where guests have to kind of stop and say like, do I go forward? Do I stop what I'm doing? Like, what am I doing here? Right. Some of the thorniest hardest moments that we have as humans, we still want that framework.

But how does it matter to Jenny most. And so she brought a bunch of concepts to us and we said, you know, what are you most excited about? And she said, I really love doing this season through the lens of elders. People have, who have been there through those going through at moment. So it could be someone who is a friend who's older or, uh, parents, or, you know, someone in someone's life where they made the difference just at the right moment. And it was amazing. We were like, yeah, this is great. And so you have Margaret Cho talking about, um, Joan Rivers as her elder or someone who like helped her have a very specific time in her life.

And again, I feel like you're getting insights there. Are in a very novel way. And you're also getting them through the lens of Jenny and, and we want her to be just as invested in this as, as we are. So some of that is just also, you know, backing off and letting the creators create in the way that they want to.

Um, and of course, Pineapple Street media is amazing, uh, partners for us as well. They make, uh, going through it with us. Yeah, 

Jeremiah: they've done. Um, I checked them out. They've done a lot of like, really incredible shows that it's are they the only partner you're work with or like, do you kind of like find an agency depending on like the concept you want to execute?

Julie Douglas: Yeah, it kind of depends. Um, we do go, uh, we do the jump, which really Manson with little everywhere and they're amazing too. They're out of LA and then we have done some limited run series as well, uh, with various partners. Um, but, uh, you know, we're, I think three seasons in with going through it three seasons in with the jump.

Okay. Um, and you know, those are a couple of podcasts that we have that are sort of like our, uh, you know, Those those properties that are staying in there for the long haul, because I guess one of the things, and I don't want to get us off topic here, but one of the things that I think people should probably think about in this space is really being in it for the long haul and having a podcast that can kind of stand in there for a while and gain listeners.

And I say that just because I feel like sometimes people still have the idea of, like, I just started the podcast. And then I get a bunch of listeners and they don't realize that like, it takes a long time to build an audience. And when you think about starting a podcast, think about what that looks like 10 years from now, which I don't think anybody wants to.

I think that wouldn't think, well, what about a year from now? Yeah. 

Jeremiah: I'm really glad you said that because it's something I've heard a number of guests say, it's something we try and encourage people with. And, but I like that you said 10 years even, and not one year. Cause even like some beer, like yeah, give it like, make sure you're committed for a year.

And you're like, Nope, like 10 years. And I think it's important for listeners like you hearing. MailChimp like the MailChimp say like it's hard to gain listeners, so it's like, there's no shortcut to this. And I think that's what people, I think, especially when you have a medium, like podcasting where, I mean, from, just from like the looks of LinkedIn, like 20, 22 is going to be a big year for a lot of companies starting it.

But I think the concern is a lot of them are just sort of jumping on the bandwagon and like, they're hoping to sort of spin one out really quickly without being invested in saying like in five years, where do we want to be with this show? That's a completely different mindset. 

Julie Douglas: Right, what do you want to build? How do you want to use it? Um, you know, we currently don't run ads, but we see this as an opportunity for us to experiment a little bit. And we just started doing that with a podcast called Call Paul that we, uh, create. There's more of an in-house podcasts that we create with Paul Jarvis and a producer, Ruth Eddy, and in Sasha Brown as well who's on our team. 

And when I say experimenting, what I mean is that we have this great small business, entrepreneurial podcast focus here, and we wanted to, we don't have ads, but we said like, how do we support our customers, like, is there a way to, in the ad space to do this? And so what we landed on is that we would start creating small business spotlights.

And these are, yeah, they're like 10 minute pieces a day in the life of a small business owner, entrepreneur, and we run, run them alongside the Call Paul episodes. So they live in the RSS feed, but alongside those episodes. And, uh, so, you know, you have the founder of Baron Fig who is playing the trumpet.

I believe, you know, working out, working out of, I think his in-law's house at the time. And you just have these like very specific moments, uh, of what it is to be that small business owner. And there is a way for us to. Get their story across, uh, and create that, I guess you would call it an ad for them, although it really isn't an ad per se.

It really is a day in the life. And it gives us a chance to kind of say like, how can we use this space to benefit our customers? And to again, call back to this more like customer obsessed initiative that we have. I 

Jeremiah: love this idea so much. That's such a fun concept and I'd be excited to see like, Like how it plays.

Like, we're just what the benefit is for them. And like what you see from it moving forward. 

Julie Douglas: It's a really fun thing for them to, we send them a zoom recorder and they just kind of spend a couple of days recording themselves, uh, and then send it back in and we edit it. Do you give him 

Jeremiah: like, instruct, like, like film yourself doing this kind of thing or this kind of thing?

Or like, do you give them like pointers or is it just like, just record a day in your life kind of thing? 

Julie Douglas: Uh, Ruth Eddie, who is the producer on that actually has created the most adorable, like little booklet that tells them how to like, uh, do their zoom recorder, but also gives them some prompts about what to think about or to respond to.


Jeremiah: Awesome. Is there anything else before we leave this topic, is there anything else that you could speak to as like when a concept is sort of floated out. For a podcast. What requirement's does it, I mean, it sounds like you covered it. Is there any other requirements besides like, it speaks to an aspect of the holistic journey?

Our audience goes through our customers go through. Is there any other thing, like, it sounds like it's got to come from a unique angle and it has to speak to some emotional aspect of them seeing them holistically. And it has to take a part of that journey and explore it from a different angle. Is there anything else that kind of has to meet on like a more practical side?

Sure. Are there a bunch of like concepts that you're sitting on for the future? Because like, how do you, how do you think about like the filter for what passes? 

Julie Douglas: Yeah, I mean, part of that is to think about our partnership as well. Um, and distribution channels and, um, you know, leveraging those. So if you're thinking of that, partners, the podcasts then that, and our partnership with Radiotopia, which then.

Uh, partners through PRX. We want to make sure that there are enough tentacles out there for this to go out, you know, you know, and what that promotion is going to look like and how our partnerships are going to approach it and kind of get it out into the world. So that's a real practical aspect that we're thinking about.

And then, you know, we started also doing a little bit of research with focus groups. Uh, to say it, like, what, what do they want to hear? Uh, audiences want to hear more of, less of, so there's an aspect to that as 

Jeremiah: well. Do the focus groups, like you just sort of asked. Just like what business they're in, what they're currently struggling with, what, uh, education needs they have that would help them grow.

Is that like sort of those kinds of 

Julie Douglas: questions? Exactly. What are their needs, both practically and emotionally. And, um, and then we also will, uh, do some focus groups with some of the audio as well, so that they are interacting with the podcast. 

Jeremiah: I love it. Who knew that talking to your audience and asking what they want to hear would be a main driver of successful content.

Julie Douglas: Listen, I think that it's, it's huge. And I think about minutiae somewhere, ADI, uh, who is the host of, to talk, gonna mess us up Ted radio hour. She has a podcast called zigzag project. I've seen people do this, but I really love the way she does this as a host, the way that she interacts with her audience.

And it's taking them through like the sort of wayfinding journey on six ag project and helping them, instructing them and serving them and giving them prompts. I really love that kind of interaction. And I think that she's onto something there when it comes to the ways that we can have more of a conversation.

Jeremiah: Yeah. My last question on this topic is how do you know when a concept on this whole idea of concepts? How do you know when one should be video or one should be audio? Do they start as a specific, like, do you know from the beginning, this is a video concept or is it like, here's an idea. Like we did the research.

This is a specific need customers. Have we want to solve this for them or provide content? Then you sort of decide whether it's best served video or audio. Yeah. 

Julie Douglas: I mean, again, it kinda depends on like, if, if this is a concept that we're developing in-house, then we are thinking about some of the possible creators that we could partner with and how they might tell the story.

And so in that way, if you're thinking about like all in a day's work, which is animated and talks about small business owners, And working with Siki song, then that that's kind of a no brainer. It's like, ah, okay, we could do this concept of, um, what the day-to-day realities are like in a comedic way in this animated way that that's gonna, that's going to land better as a video series, right?

As opposed to a podcast in something like partners, where Rishi is talking to people about, you know, the dynamics of two people, making something together. That's going to land more squarely in the podcast realm, because I feel like those conversations are really, that kind of vulnerability is going to be picked up by microphone.

Jeremiah: Right. Right. So you'll kind of like, feel it out, like, depending on the concept, you'll like explore it a little bit, but it sort of manifests itself pretty evidently it sounds like. Yeah. How has . MailChimp thinking about success or like ROI of the podcast? Obviously, like I mentioned, like you have a heavy belief in brand.

Are there any things that you're sort of held to as far as like metrics or like, how do you think of a show? How do you define a show success? How do you think about ROI of like MailChimp studios as a whole. Yeah. 

Julie Douglas: I mean, we definitely look at how many people came through organic search and they landed on the MailChimp Presents page and how they spent their time on the site overall.

And indeed we do see a strong relationship between their consumption of MailChimp Presents, content and visitation of other pages on the site and conversion into custom. Um, but we also have a MailChimp Presents newsletter of almost 2 million subscribers that we used to talk about. MailChimp Presents along with promoting video and film and podcasts lunches.

So our ideas of success are really being able to speak to. Our customers in a very specific way to talk about these launches and engage them on that level, but also to see, you know, what their behavior is when they come in on our site. And this one, and maybe this is probably more unique to MailChimp Presents, but.

Way that we gauge ROI is how well we can use the platform in a spirit of what I would say is like generosity and support. So I'm thinking about when south by Southwest was canceled at the outside of, or the outset of COVID. And we saw this opportunity to build on MailChimp's commitment to supporting emerging voices and launched the initiative to pay.

All of the south by Southwest shorts, filmmakers, and then to premiere their work, um, online on our platform. So trying to be able to, yeah, to, to show up when we're needed is part of w one of our measures of success. 

Jeremiah: So it's like just having the platform, which allows you to do those sorts of, um, generosity.

Like those generous acts like that alone is like something, I mean, it sounds like your MailChimp, you know, just. Rare in the sense of like, just a belief in like basic human values of like, like the ROI is like being able to be generous, being able to bring value to people and not sort of like, I'm sure you're measuring, like making sure listeners are enjoying it and things like that, but, but on the whole.

It's more human than, than it is tactical. Yeah, I 

Julie Douglas: would say so. And, you know, metrics are really important to us, but this idea of creating something for people to enjoy is just as equally important and, and trying to fill a need. And so, you know, when I, I think that south by Southwest came about because, uh, Serita had a really alarming.

Who is our programming director saw a tweet where it was like, oh, south by Southwest might be canceled. And she was like, wait, hold on. Can, what can we do here? And, and Martin, D C D Christina was like, yeah, of course. Like we, we should, uh, try to help out south by Southwest as best we can and try to make sure that.

Voices are being heard and that, you know, there's all these creators are able to really show their work. 

Jeremiah: Yeah. It's such an incredible idea. All right. I have two more questions. I want to be mindful of your time. So as we wrap up here, um, How are you thinking about integration with other departments or repurposing the content at all?

So is there ever a time when the podcasts, like any of the content from the podcast will become an article or you'll summarize it via a newsletter or shared on social or something like that, or even like, You know, the, the PR wing or like communications wing, like wants to get a message out. Will they ever like work with MailChimp Presents in that way to sort of do like something combined there?

Julie Douglas: Yeah, sure. Our comms and PR we work really closely with. And so, um, as our projects get a little bit more toward, um, completion and we start thinking about launch dates, then everybody starts working on that in. Finding points of intersection. So there may be some other projects that are happening across the brand that speak to, you know, what's being launched on MailChimp Presents.

And so, uh, we started having those two things point to each other, and then of course, um, comms and PR. Taking those stories out into the world and talking about what we're doing, which is amazing. And we're also doing that with our partners too, and sinking up with them so that when we do launch, we're making sure that there is many tentacles out there as possible letting people know about it.

Jeremiah: Awesome. All right. Last question. I asked this to everyone, so I'm just curious to hear your answer. What advice if a brand is thinking about starting podcasting, say this year, what points of advice would you have for them as they get start? Oh, gosh. 

Julie Douglas: Um, I don't know. Let me think about this. I mean, I re I mean, I hate to keep leaning into the sincerity angle, but I really do think like trying to get to the why of what you're doing.

And trying to identify what can be useful for the audience is really important because at the end of the day, it may not feel like it initially, but it is a two way conversation. 

That's awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you so much for your time. It's been awesome talking to you and, uh, I just really.

Uh, you been so generous with advice and insights from all that you're doing. 

Thank you. Have a great one.

Jeremiah: Thanks so much for checking out this episode. If there's a company you'd like us to interview or a question you want us to answer on the show, just let us know. You can ask us at brandsthatpodcast.com or DM or tag Lemonpie on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. And if you want to reach your audience on podcasts, that they're already listening to be sure to check out lemonpie.fm.

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