Exploring Marketing Channels: Podcasts

How (and why) to set-up a podcast for your B2B Software company.

Greg, Alex and I recently launched Polychrome Capital. We are a small team that not only invests into B2B software businesses, but also act as operators to drive growth within them. 

A few months back, we invested into a Feature Flagging company called www.Flagsmith.com. As we’ve dug into the day-to-day, we have been doing tons of hands-on work to drive growth and awareness to the business. So far, we’ve been able to double revenue within 3 months and are starting to get consistent gains on leads/sign-ups. 

It’s been fun to get into execution roles again, but it’s also a reminder of how much I appreciate the talents of the people I’ve worked with in my career to date. As we start to encounter new challenges, our goal is to share different tactics that we are working on to drive growth to the company. In this article, I’ll be covering the topic of launching a podcast. 

Why launch a podcast if you have a B2B SaaS company?

Ok - I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Not another podcast?!”. We originally thought the exact same thing, but after we started to think about it more and more, it started to make sense as long as we had something interesting to talk about. 

As a small software company, we need to make the most out of every hour and dollar we invest into the company. One of the biggest ROIs we’ve seen at companies in the past has been content. If done right, content becomes an extension of your product (education) and brand (quality association) that can have an amazing compounding impact over time. That rate of compounding impact increases and decreases with quality. As you think deeper about content, you realize pretty quickly that it comes in different forms, is shared through different channels, and serves very different goals. 

To drive this point home, we quickly “scored” different content types on a few dimensions to help us prioritize future content investments (TOFU = Top of Funnel):

After thinking through the different channels and benefits, here is what we loved about podcasts:

As a relatively new product/company in the market, we are trying to drive awareness and sign-ups. For us, Top of the Funnel (TOFU), was a clear priority. The other important benefit to the podcast was the cost of incremental episodes. Once the infrastructure was built out, we could then make it easy for each additional episode. All we need to do is find interesting guests and invite them to the show, record the interview, promote and repeat. And last, perhaps the most important scoring criteria that wasn’t added onto this matrix is what I’ll call the “X-Factor”. As a small company, it is hard to get great links for SEO and to have access to other company’s mailing lists for awareness. Because we chose a topic (Open Source software) that has a great grassroots community and speaks to the people we want to work with; we are able to have relatively large projects and companies share the podcast with their audiences. 

What are we going to talk about?!

Ok, so now we had the content medium that we wanted to go after in Podcasts...but the questions remained; how does a B2B software company choose topics that are actually interesting and serve the needs of the business at the same time? 

I think this is key and where lots of startups/companies get stuck and create the dreaded “keyword” content. This is usually just a series of blog posts that people believe is on-point, but really isn’t. In short, our point of view is that people typically get too focused on converting direct channels vs educating their audience and establishing authority. Investing is too broad of content is a really hard thing to justify as a startup, so I’ll do the 10,000 ft example of our framework and how we came to the topic/justification for the investment: 

  • Target Audience/Target Customer: Software Engineers (we are actually more targeted in who we want to work with, but we will keep it simple for now) 

  • Our Mission: Empower software engineering teams to ship faster and continuously improve their products.

  • Our Product: Our product is a feature flagging and experimentation platform available as open source (which means that people can use it for free), On-Prem (which means that people can license our product and deploy it on their infrastructure), and as SaaS. We support a ton of languages/technologies, so just about any team can adopt us. 

  • Our Goal for the podcast: Drive broad awareness for our company and open source project! 

All companies in software are leveraging some sort of open source software and the people that care about it...are engineers. Those engineers tend to be passionate about specific technologies and are eager to share their stories and knowledge with the community.

Put all these inputs in a blender (or brainstorm), shake well...and out comes “The Craft of Open Source”: a bi-weekly podcast where our CEO, Ben Rometsch interviews the best minds in the Open Source community. Also - huge shout-out to Ben on being willing to be the host of the Podcast. He hasn’t done this before, but has very quickly gotten into the groove and does an amazing job with the guests. 

How you can arrive at these inputs merits a longer discussion, which we will write about in the future…or feel free to drop us a note. 

The Work

Now that we had the target audience, goals, and content medium picked out, it was time to figure out how to do this. 

After looking around online, we were able to find a company that guides you through the podcast process and all of the necessary materials to get it up and running. If you haven’t done this before, having a team that has done it is valuable. We found the company we used to be “ok”. The biggest benefits they brought were: providing syndication to all of the major platforms, transcribing/editing episodes, creating intro/outro music & voiceover, and project managing/coordinating. 

To provide you with a list of what you need so you can do it on your own, here are the assets we created:

  1. Podcast Art (amazing design by my talented wife, Sabine Althauser)

  2. Show Description (look, we’re live on Apple Podcasts!)

  1. Hosting/Syndication Platform - There are a ton out there. This software does two main things:

    • Gives you a player that you can embed in different places as well as analytics for your listens/downloads.

    • Adds and updates your episodes on the different platforms like Spotify, Apple, etc.

  2. Podcast Homepage (optional, but valuable for sharing):

  3. Podcast Episode Template (which we host on our blog CMS):

  4. Intro & Outro music w/ voice over:

    • Getting a voice recording of this with music added is critical. It’s amazing how much that up-levels the recording. 

  5. Recording Software & Hardware:

    • Zoom

    • Nice Microphone

  6. Editing:

    • There are a ton of providers out there that can help you with editing your show. Some do just audio, some will provide a transcript and others will take your production to a whole new level. The key here in our opinion is getting written, video and audio content which gives you many more distribution options. We ended up paying ~$179/episode which includes video, transcript and links from the episode.

  7. Guests:

    • I know this seems obvious, but really think about choosing a topic where this will be easy for you over time. As the saying goes in journalism: “Spend one hour on the article and two hours on the headlines”. The guest that you choose as a bootstrapped startup will dictate your headline, reach and engagement. 

Depending on your current team, existing infrastructure and talents, you can probably get this off the ground on the low end for $2,500-$5,000. Trust me, you can spend way more than we did, but remember, we are still exploring the channel. We launched the effort with 3 episodes, just pushed another live and have ~15 recorded beyond that. If we stay at a bi-weekly cadence, we have content almost through Q2 2021.

Pro-Tip: Having this backlog of pre-recorded shows makes it way less stressful to find quality guests. 

The nice thing about this infrastructure for us is that each additional episode can be produced for less and less over time as we amortize the infrastructure costs. We can also create supporting content/articles out of the topics over time. If you compare that with written articles and remember...the better the guests, the higher the impact...this seems like a good bet on paper. We’ll see how it plays out.

We just launched the podcast last month. If you haven’t checked it out, feel free to listen to it wherever you get your podcasts, or visit www.flagsmith.com/podcast...and please, provide feedback so we can make it better. 

So now I’m guessing you are all rushing out to create a podcast of your own. If you are and you haven’t done the work to evaluate the other channels and whether it makes sense for your business; slow down and do that work. What we do for our companies won’t make sense for yours. The goal of this article is to help you think about your business more effectively. 

If you have questions or would like to provide feedback on how we can do a better job with our efforts, have something you’d like to share or just want to connect...drop us a note! 

Thanks,

Matt Althauser

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About Polychrome:
Polychrome is a new type of investment firm. We help our portfolio companies unlock the next level of growth through our GTM expertise. Check us out at polychromecapital.com

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