podcast growth strategy

Not All Growth Strategies Are For All Podcasts

Welcome to episode 499 of Uncommonly More with me, Stacey Harris. I am super, duper, duper excited for next week’s episode, episode 500. It’s going to be a good one. We’re going to talk about some lessons learned. We’re going to highlight some reviews. I’m really excited about that, but first I want to talk through today’s episode about podcast growth strategy. And before we jump into today’s episode, I want to talk about what we’re talking about today, because this comes up so, so frequently in our podcast strategy hours.

Oftentimes, I’m having the same conversation over and over about introducing nuance to the conversation when we start to get advice around podcasting, when we come at somebody with, “What should I be doing?”

I just want to build little filters in your brain for that.

And so that’s what we’re going to do today. If you would like to sit down with me and get specific about what we’re talking about today or something else, maybe build out your content calendar for Q4 if you’ve not yet done that, whatever the case may be, I want you to head over to uncommonlymore.com/services and check out the podcast strategy hour. The podcast strategy hour is an in-and-out way to get support you need right now, even if you’re still completely DIY-ing your show. It can be a really great option to start thinking about your show a little more strategically. So head over there, check that out, book yours now. I think October is just about filled up and then I take December off, so if you want to do this this year, there’s going to be a limited number of spots to get in on.

Let’s dig in. What do you say? I want to talk today about the filters you need to be looking at when you consume content about podcasting. When you’re listening to this show and I’m talking about a growth strategy, I want you to run it through the filter of our conversation today because all too often, I am seeing people who have done 15 episodes of a podcast launch a course teaching you how to grow your show too, when quite frankly, they do not have enough time on task to understand the journey that is podcasting long-term, but also they’re leaving out a really, really, really important nuance. And that’s that you might not have a show like theirs, their goals might be very, very different from yours.

So I want to talk today about the three categories that I put podcasts in.

And I’ll be honest, we only work with one of these three categories and so that’s going to be really important for you to hear.

The first category, hobbyists.

I actually love podcasters who do this as a hobby. I think it’s a really cool thing. There’s something they’re passionate about. This is a medium they’re passionate about, and they’re sharing it with us. And that’s super cool. These kinds of shows are generally really specific, really niche shows because they’re mostly for the person hosting it, if I’m honest, and that’s okay. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Again, I think these are super cool.

We joke a lot on this show about, if I had a podcast that fell in this category, it would be a week by week rewatch and deconstruction, or really just love fest of Schitt’s Creek because I would have no interest in finding sponsors. I would have no interest in managing that and ads and no, no. I just like the show and I want to talk about it. And so that would put me in the hobby category.

What would change that is if I was doing the same show, but I wanted to sell sponsored slots.

I wanted to sell sponsored content, ad breaks. Maybe I want to feature guests, but I want to charge them to appear on the show. Or maybe I’m using this to sell premium content, meaning merch or exclusive interviews to Patreon members, those kinds of things. That’s where we’re looking at our podcast being its own revenue, not just stream, but its own entity. It is all in all its own thing, it is funding itself, generating revenue for itself. The strategy is not selling something else.

The third kind of podcast, the third category of podcasts, is this show.

This show is built to generate revenue as well, but not from third party sponsors. It is built to nurture and care for leads, current customers, referral sources, and really establish our agency as the experts, so that when you’re looking for a podcast production team, when you’re looking for somebody to get growth strategy from, when you’re looking for podcast strategy as a whole, or to launch a show, etcetera, or you hear somebody is, you go, “I know exactly who you need to talk to. You need to talk to Uncommonly More.” Or you say, “I know exactly who I want to buy from. I want to buy from Uncommonly More.”

This show is essentially sponsored by Uncommonly More.

There will never be, and I don’t say ‘never’ lightly, but there will never be on this show ads from a third-party company. There’s never going to be an ad break where you hear me stop in and be like, “Just one second guys. I really love the new Quip toothbrush,” which by the way I do, it’s great, but they’re not sponsoring me. In fact, I own a Quip toothbrush because they do sponsor other podcasts and you hear something enough times. I shouldn’t say that because it just encourages this kind of ad repetition. Anyways, I do love it though. It is a great toothbrush.

Anyways, those are the three categories we see.

However, when we see course content, free content, social media posts, whatever it is talking about or teaching or encouraging others to podcast too, they’re not giving you this nuance. In fact, oftentimes we’re being sold podcast growth strategies that apply more to those first two categories, and really primarily the second category versus the third. I do not see a lot of content for that third group, for shows like this one. And maybe a show like yours or a show like you’re thinking about.

The way we look at growth has to be different. And this is why Uncommonly More works exclusively with podcasts that fall into this third category.

We work exclusively with podcasts who are sponsored by the business they are promoting.

We work with clients who, the host, the content creator, whatever, is inside a business creating content to nurture leads for that business. Now I’ll be honest, the host doesn’t have to be the CEO of the company. It can absolutely be somebody who maybe is in marketing or maybe is doing the day-to-day work inside that agency. It could be somebody inside the team, but the entirety of the goal of the show is to generate leads for that business, to generate referrals for that business, to generate that know, like, trust factor with that business. And the growth strategies here aren’t night and day different, but the nuance of what your goals are will impact how you implement some of those growth strategies in your podcast.

Last month, we talked about three reasons your show isn’t growing. And those apply most to this third category because, again, this third category is a little more unique than anyone wants to acknowledge.

I highly recommend, if you sit in this third category and you’re sitting there as a business owner, as a content creator, as the marketing person inside a team and going, “Yes, we need to grow our show. We need to hit the same numbers as a second group,” I call them a consumer show, where we’re looking for ad revenue and things like that, then you’re going to dilute the quality of your audience. Because when we’re looking at the category where I’m looking to put ads and sponsored spots inside my show selling third-party things, driving traffic to other people, away from my content, when that’s what we’re doing, we need quantity. We’re looking to get big audiences fast.

Now, the show quality still has to be great. This is not about just like, “I can put out whatever I want as long as I get as many people to listen as possible.” That’s not what this is about at all. But the audience quality doesn’t need to be the same as somebody who is providing a done-for-you service and sharing their expertise via the show so that you know that they are the go-to person for that done for you service. It doesn’t need to be the quality of somebody who is looking to, maybe a business coach who’s looking to fill a mastermind with, let’s say 20 people. That’s a pretty big mastermind. Anyways, whatever, you’re not looking for the same scale audience size.

Your priority has to be the quality of the audience, because your show does you no good if you’ve got a million people listening and none of them care about what you’re doing.

None of them care about your topic. None of them care about your services.

Now arguably, they shouldn’t be listening, but maybe they just really like the tone of your voice. That’s a thing. It is an actual thing. But what I want you to be looking at always is, how can I apply this advice? How can I apply this growth strategy while maintaining or improving the quality of my existing audience for my podcast? Because, if you’re looking to put five, 10, 15, 20 people into a program, you’re not looking to get 100 leads on the phone, you’re not looking to get 1000 leads on the phone.

I want you to be looking at, what is the quality of my audience? Am I getting feedback, reviews? Am I getting DMs or emails? Most importantly, am I maintaining a listenership?

Because here’s the other side of that, a quality audience will keep listening. And so your show should maintain a general neighborhood number. Ideally that number grows at a semi-steady pace because growth is still a good thing, more leads in the bank is definitely good news. But if your show is not staying consistent, people are not listening week after week. So the audience you’re currently attracting isn’t staying. That tells us there’s an audience quality issue. It might also tell us there’s a show quality issue. Again, these are the kind of things we can talk about one-on-one. Check out the strategy call. But I want you to be looking at really, really consistently the quality of your audience.

Are they doing what you ask them to do, like going to your resource page, inquiring about your services, giving feedback? Are they responding? Again, one of the things we talk about with this show so often is how this is just the start of our conversation. This is just my turn to talk. When the show ends, it’s your turn. You can email, you can DM, you can comment on social, whatever the case may be, you can come hang out in the LinkedIn group for podcasters. Whatever the case may be, it’s your turn. That’s because that’s how I maintain the quality of this audience. That’s how I maintain this being something that is actually building a relationship, and not me just Peanuts teachering at you. Wanh Wanh Wahn Wanh. Was a really bad Peanuts’ teacher voice, but you knew what I was saying. Right?

I encourage you to sit down and be really honest with yourself about the tactics and “strategy” you are using right now help the growth of your podcast.

Are they serving to increase the quality or the quantity of your audience? If the answer isn’t quality or both, you’ve got the wrong answer and it’s time to refine those tactics, those strategies so that you’re focused on quality and quantity and even better, just quality. Because when you focus on quality, quantity will grow as well. When you focus on quantity, quality will not necessarily grow as well. That’s an important thing for you to remember.

As we wrap up this episode, I want to encourage you. This is the beginning of a new quarter.

As you sit down and you look at your plan, when you sit down and you look at your content that you have mapped out for Q4, I want you to make sure you’re really clear on what your goals are for those episodes.

And not just your goals for your business, “I’m going to put out this episode and I hope they book X, Y, Z. I’m going to put out this episode and I hope they get on the list. I’m going to put out this episode and I hope they book sales calls.” Not just that goal, but what is the goal for your listener?

When I was outlining this episode, I don’t script because I can’t. I can, I’m physically able to, but I get really boring, which is saying something. Anyways, when I outlined this episode, my primary thought is, what is the thing that you will take away and do? What is the action? What is my goal for what you learn, are inspired to do, whatever? And then I line up my call to action, as far as what would serve me as a business owner to help you do that better?

That’s why today’s episode, we’re talking about podcast strategy hours. It’s a fantastic way to extend the conversation we’re having here. If you listen to this episode and you got to a point where you were like, “Ooh, I do need to look at that. I do need to refine my growth strategy for my podcast. I do need to get clear on what my podcast model is.” Great. Let’s use that.

When you’re clear on your goals for your listeners and you line those up with your goals for your business, A, you’ll see results, but B, you will see growth. You will see consistent growth because you’re serving your people, even when you’re promoting a next step for them.

We’ve talked about this a ton on this podcast. We’ve talked about this a ton in social. We have talked about this in live workshops. We’ve talked about this in courses. We’ve talked about this with maybe every client I’ve ever had. Our whole job is to take someone listening to this show from problem to solution. That solution will never entirely live in this show, because you and your show are unique.

Getting some support that allows you to get really into things, be that in a course, be that in a consulting call, be that in done for you services, there’s going to have to be a time, a tension, and yes, a financial investment to get you all the way there. But this show is built to at least get you down the right road. But I can’t get you all the way there and you can’t get your audience all the way there if you don’t also make them the offer.

That is the biggest distinction between the business model this show sits in and a podcast that is looking to sell ad space. If you’re looking to sell ad space and that is the business model that your show is, the podcast business model, then you do need to take them all the way from problem to solution inside your show, because the show is the entirety of the experience. And that’s cool, that’s great, there is nothing wrong. One is not better than the other. But it is a different process, a different system, a different lens than if we are moving you towards a solution, which we need you to invest in.

And again, investment does not just mean financial. It’s time, it’s energy, it’s commitment.

And that just is quite often paired with a financial investment, if I’m honest. All right? All right. This one was also a little soapboxy, but I think it was still good. Also, it made me really want to start that Schitt’s Creek podcast. I really need to find that. Anyway, that’s our show. You and I are done for the day. Next week, we’re going to celebrate episode 500, it’s going to be a good one. It’s going to be a big party, I’m very excited.

Between now and then, I want to recommend you come over to the LinkedIn group, and we talk about goals. We talk about what model your show is. It’s a completely free group. You can head over to uncommonlymore.com/group to join. I will see you in there because again, we need this nuance. All right?

Of course, if you are ready, interested, and excited, head over to uncommonlymore.com/services to book your one-hour strategy call with me. We can meet this year. Yay. Can you believe it’s Q4? This year is equal parts moving very slowly and I’m blinking and I’m like, “What is time? How is it October? Is it not still the middle of March?” Because I’m going to be honest, my sense of time stopped right then. Okay. I don’t think I’m alone in that one. I will see you next week. More importantly, I will see you in the LinkedIn group. Even more importantly, I will see you on my one-on-one calendar soon. Have a good week.

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