Know who you are for and why they are there.
Honestly, I think about that all the time. And it's really helped me better refine what content I produce for you on this podcast. That in turn, I hope, is providing you more value from my episodes.
It’s with that concept in mind that I want to broach another concept; one of content creation. Lots of podcasters struggle with content creation, especially as deadlines approach. When an episode has to get published, less-than-strategic approaches show themselves in an interview that feels forced or an angle on a topic that seems out of place and quite different in a not-good way to the audience.
At the root of these problems of bad fit lies the same problem: the podcaster allowed the subject of the episode to dictate the narrative of the episode.
But you can do a better job than that. The secret is evident in that eye-opening statement at the top of this article. Another way to say it is this: know—deeply—who your audience is and what they expect.
You Dictate The Narrative, Not Your Guest
A podcaster’s superpower over other media formats is this: Once you know—deeply—what your audience wants, you can shape almost any subject into a narrative that your audience wants to hear.
You probably get crappy, unresearched guest pitches all the time. Some of those guests might have a very large social following. A following they promise to bring to bear to help promote your episode to their audience. That’s attractive to many podcasters. And, candidly, is a big reason so many podcasters interview guests. It’s a solid growth technique, so go ahead and book the interview! But you have to control the narrative.
Here's an actual but slightly anonymized pitch that I received not long ago.
Before Matt went to his current company, he spent 29 years as CEO of a former company. During that time, he took them from $1 million annual recurring revenue to over 100 million. He's also the author of a book, a number one bestseller in the self-help category. The book tells the story of how suddenly becoming a single father of five children made Matt a better person, leader, entrepreneur. And as you would hope.
Your first reaction, quite naturally, is to determine if Matt is a good fit for your show or not. But I think there’s a better angle to take. An angle by asking yourself a question: Can you pull stories out of Matt that your audience wants to hear?
The whole reason Matt is trying to get on your (and frankly any) podcast is so that he can pitch his book to your audience. If you let him, that’s what he’ll do. It’s likely all he will do.
But you, the podcaster, have ultimate control over the narrative. You know what your audience expects, so it’s up to you to find a way to make Matt’s story (and pitch) resonate with your audience.
There's a lot of things to work with just in that pitch, and any of them might lead to stories your audience wants to hear. Perhaps his business experience from startup to mid-size. The process of publishing a book and how that’s different from business life. Fatherhood. Being a single parent raising five kids. Leadership.
Are any of those concepts of interest to your audience? If so, talk to Matt and see what stories you can pull out. You’re in control of the narrative of the episode. It’s your job to get what your audience wants. Don’t just turn the mic over to your guest and let them run the show. That’s your job!
You Dictate The Narrative, Not Your Topic
This same approach goes well beyond sorting through unsolicited guest pitches. Because you know your audience and are in charge of the narrative of your episodes, you can build an episode out of almost every trending topic. Content ideas galore!
Here’s a fast example. Halloween is around the corner, and I think just about any show can work up an episode for Halloween that isn’t necessarily about Halloween.
Perhaps you host a healthcare and patient advocacy podcast, like Danny's podcast, Health Hats. You might craft the narrative of an episode around the health benefits of doing silly things that make even adults happy, like dressing up for Halloween.
Maybe you host a real estate podcast, like Bill’s show, The Real Estate Sessions. You could feature a conversation with one of those realtors who puts those “haunted” signs on their listings. Or perhaps an agent that specializes in really bizarre, almost horror-like houses.
Or if you host a hyper-local show like Keith does with his show, All Ways West Seattle. You’d have lots of options on crafting an episode on the best places in town to trick or treat, the biggest haunted attractions, or just spotlighting a business owner known for going all-in on the holiday.
Each one of them covers the same topic: Halloween. But each narrative would be vastly different because what the audiences want from each is vastly different.
You're the podcaster. You’re in control of the narrative. You’re in control of your listeners’ experiences. Never forget that.
Evo’s Long Winter’s Nap Looms
Looking at the calendar, it seems that my winter break is just around the corner. But perhaps not as quick as you imagine. I took a week off at the start of this month (Belize was nice!), so I’m tacking on an extra week of episodes as to not short-change you, the listener. Or my sponsor this month! (Hi, Gumball.fm!)
There are still 8 episodes coming. My break won’t start until the 2nd week of November, so you can start emotionally preparing yourself now for my absence.
That also means I only have 8 weeks to convince you to visit PodcastPontifications.com/value-4-value and give your support to me for making the show. Pretty please, with sugar on it.
Casey Broda reviewed an episode of the show and left me a lovely message via Podchaser. The episode was entitled Authentic Podcasting Is The Best Self-care, and here’s what she had to say:
Just in case the people in the back didn't hear, if you aren't your authentic self in a podcast, then it may end up hurting you in the audience department. This was a great reminder for people podcasting for all the wrong reasons, because your podcast isn't going to go anywhere meaningful unless you put meaning into your podcast.
Very nice, Casey. Thank you so much for the kind words and for leaving the review on Podchaser.
No episodes from me on Friday because I don't do episodes on Friday. So with that, I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.