Last year, 164 million Americans tuned into at least one of 850,000 podcasts that now exist. We don't have data on how many of those are B2B-specific, but given that an estimated one quarter of businesses sell to other businesses, it’s fair to say it’s in the tens of thousands.
And aside from the names and logos, nearly all are identical. Tell me I’m wrong: open any B2B podcast and I’ll bet it’s about interviews with “experts.”
So the question to you is, how do you stand out? How can you launch, instead of another podcast “pigeon,” a glorious flamingo that gets noticed and shared?
For that, I turned to Jay Acunzo, author, B2B Showrunner, and Host of Unthinkable. He’s created shows for brands like GoDaddy, Wistia, and NextView, and has very specific ideas about how you can make yours the clear winner in your space.
The following interview has been lightly edited for concision, but only just barely—this is Jay in his own words.
Jay Acunzo: Everything flows from the premise. The premise provides motivation to subscribe. We often talk about wanting our shows to grow, but people rarely spend enough time developing their ideas in such a way that the subsequent show is actually growable.
A good premise combines two things: the topics you cover (the what) and your hook (the how). This gives the audience a reason WHY they care. So, a discussion about sales excellence with a series of sales leaders, influencers, and practitioners is the “what” of a show. But a podcast that claims they’re going on a journey to understand whether “sales” itself is a gift, a script, or a practice? THAT is a hook (the journey), and it can inform not only the audience’s decisions to subscribe and share, but also how the team creating the show formats the episodes (they’ll probably need to bring up all three of those ideas in each episode) and related content around the show, i.e. the marketing.
In short, you need to develop actual intellectual property first. It needs a well-developed premise.
They lack a premise. Almost as a rule, each B2B podcast seems to just be the same show, if you really boil it down: “Talking Topics with Experts.” They are mundane, commodified, forgettable experiences which don’t say anything meaningful about the brand, the team’s point of view, the audience’s problems or desires, or the entertainment value of the show.
We simply don’t need another show describing itself as a series of raw and unfiltered interviews with the industry’s best and brightest executives, influencers, and practitioners. (“Raw and unfiltered” is marketer speak for “lazy and unplanned.”)
Who cares! We’ve barely mastered the here and now. Worry about that. Especially if you’re in B2B. But where I hope it’s headed is to a much more thoughtful place, with serious idea development to differentiate shows and make them worthwhile for brands and listeners alike. If you’re reading this, though, take the mental calories you would have invested worrying about the future and create something BETTER in the present.
We’re obsessed with awareness, but that’s a proxy for what we really want and need to see any results or spark change in a community. What we really want and need is affinity, not awareness. “If only more people were AWARE of our crappy show, they’d love us.” Dangerous assumption!
Getting in front of more people is not actually the job of marketing. Ensuring others care? That’s the job.
Reach is how many people see the snow. Resonance is how much they care. Focus on resonance first, foremost, and always. The rest gets far easier, and even takes care of itself. And if you’re wondering how to measure it, start with things that can’t be purchased and must be earned.
You can buy downloads. You can’t buy episode completions.
You can buy emails. (You shouldn’t! But you could.) You can’t buy replies to your newsletter.
You can buy traffic. You can’t buy repeat visitors.
You can’t buy resonance. You have to deliver actual value by aligning deeply with how others think or feel in such a way they feel amplified. That creates the sudden urge to act. And we all require action as marketers to see any kind of results. We’re all in the business of sparking action, which is why we’re in the business of resonance.