Chris is the CEO of the marketing agency Refine Labs. He’s invested a lot into content, and believes most companies should be doing the same.
In a relatively short period of time, he’s grown his podcast, State of Demand Gen, to between 500 and 1,000 subscribers. Between the podcast and a weekly live Zoom chat series, the recordings are repurposed and dripped out on LinkedIn over time. “We do no outbound sales,” Chris says in this episode of Brands That Podcast.
Most companies aren’t taking this approach, but even the ones that do — they’re not putting in the resources and commitment to make this strategy work. “It's very hard to make a LinkedIn organic channel work well when you spend 1% of your time on it,” Chris explains. “I am consistently confused as to why companies do not have their top three subject matter experts, creating content for LinkedIn every day,” he says, adding that it should be at least one person’s full-time job.
He acknowledges that it can be challenging to get hard data to measure conversions from podcasting, but businesses should look beyond that. “Companies and executives refuse to understand how to measure this in the right way, which then prevents them from thinking that it's working.”
While there is anecdotal evidence — like a demo request from the website mentioning the podcast — Chris knows there is value in providing content for his subscribers and connecting with podcast guests. “I interview people who are SVPs of growth at certain companies, and then the person who works underneath them comes inbound to me six months later,” he says.
“Those are some of the things that happen when you're not looking for them.”
💡 Name: Chris Walker
🔗 Chris on the web: LinkedIn
🧠 Get smart: “[T]he goal was not to have a million people listening to the podcast. It's to have a thousand of the right people because if one thousand of the right people do it — and even 1% or 2% become customers — that's millions of dollars in revenue.”
Use your pillar content for business development 👉 There are lots of opportunities to create top-level pillar content — being a guest on other podcasts, creating your own podcast episodes or Zoom chats. For example, Chris co-hosts Demand Gen Live every week with Gaetano DiNardi of Nextiva. “Those files will get ripped,” Chris explains. By the next morning, the video will be on YouTube. The following day, it will be released as a podcast, and two days after the recording, there will be 5 to 7 pieces of micro clips from each guest that can be used on LinkedIn.
For Refine Labs, this process is the core of their business development strategy. “We spend no money on ads. We do no outbound sales. We do no outbound emailing,” Chris says. Instead, Chris sees the internal process they’ve set up to get this valuable content out in front of subscribers and potential new customers as “the business development department.”
Reverse engineer your buying habits for better demand generation 👉 “Think about the last five things that you bought and then reverse engineer how you bought them and then compare that to what you're doing in marketing and sales,” advises Chris.
During a virtual event with his community, he asked whether people made a purchase after downloading an ebook. No one raised their hand. “I think really thinking deeply about that question would tell you the way to go,” says Chris. But he also acknowledges that devoting the necessary resources to innovative approaches can be a tough sell in some companies.
Don’t be afraid to share a variety of content formats in your podcast feed 👉 Chris’ podcast is “mashed with a variety of different content types,” including some of his appearances on other podcasts, recordings of Zoom live chats as well as live events (recorded pre-COVID-19). Chris recommends monitoring metrics to know what is working, but also cautions that you have to take the metrics with a grain of salt because several factors can influence consumption, including length of episode etc. “Metrics only matter with the correct analysis underneath it,” says Chris. “We need to have empathy and common sense — put on top of our analysis of metrics — to understand what it's like as a buyer or somebody consuming the information.”
Transcript excerpts from the conversation
“The value of the podcast has very little to do with the podcast that's on Spotify or Apple. There are so many other nuances to the reasons why I do a podcast other than that. The idea that I can network with 20 people — so I'm doing a thing with Gaetano DiNardi [Director of Growth Marketing at Nextiva] ... maybe in three years from now, he either passes me a client … That's called karma and doing the right thing. I interview people who are SVPs of growth at certain companies, and then the person who works underneath them comes inbound to me six months later. Those are some of the things that happen when you're not looking for them.”
“I'm never measuring the podcast and the amount of revenue that it generates. That's not how to measure it. I can have anecdotal feedback of a message that says your podcast is great. I can have a sales conversation that starts with — I was listening to your podcast … I can have all those things, which are qualitative. But regardless of that, I'm doing [the podcast] anyway because I know I have 500 people listening to it and I know that it fuels everything underneath it, which is even more valuable.”
“You should not be recording a podcast if your website sucks. You should not be recording a podcast if you can't hand off a lead to your sales rep and close them. You should not be recording a podcast if you do not have your non-branded AdWords terms completely locked in and generating positive ROI. You should not be recording a podcast if you cannot create pictures and videos and blog for Facebook — paid, delivered, targeted to your buyers that drive awareness of the problems that you solve, the differentiation of your product, the features of your product, the value and opportunity that it provides to people. And once you have all of those things figured out, now's the time to focus on the podcast.”
“People think that the numbers matter. They don't. Like they matter to a point, but the goal of the podcast is not for me to have... I mean, it would be wonderful if this happened, but the goal was not to have a million people listening to the podcast. It's to have a thousand of the right people because if one thousand of the right people do it — and even 1% or 2% become customers — that's millions of dollars in revenue.”
I mean if you're a media publisher maybe quality matters a little bit more. If you're a very large brand, I know your CEO is going to be upset if there's a little bit of a glitch in the audio, which I just think is dumb. … Perfection or subjective views of quality get in the way of people actually doing things, especially as companies get larger. And so the idea that we're not going to publish something because I slipped up in one little area ... speed is more important to me, and just understanding that most people don't notice the glitch in the podcast anyway.”
[14:33] “If you're not getting the results, then it's you — not the channel, the channel works.”
[21:23] “The metrics only matter with the correct analysis underneath it. We need to have empathy and common sense put on top of our analysis of metrics to understand what it's like as a buyer or somebody consuming the information.”
[33:36] “I think a smart way for companies to get started with this — especially if you're in the $50 million plus range — is create a marketing innovation department that is free from all the bullshit metrics that are currently scored in marketing. Where they have freedom to focus on buyers. … You need to put the right people on that project in order for it to be successful.”