What you need to know before starting a B2B podcast: An interview with Blick Rothenberg’s Dan Gray
The growth of podcasts in the UK is nothing short of colossal, growing from 13.3 million listeners in 2019 to 21.2 million in 2022. But how do you know that content’s latest girl next door is right for you? What are some of the markers of a ‘good’ podcast? Lucy Gillman sat down with Dan Gray to investigate.
Who, what and why: Blick Rothenberg’s BRave Business podcast
What better place to start than the beginning: Who is Blick Rothenberg? What’s the BRave Business podcast? And why the name?
Dan heads up content marketing for the accountancy practice that specialises in complex tax and audits. Blick Rothenberg’s clients span high net worth individuals, entrepreneurs, and international business.
Aimed at their entrepreneurial business audience, the BRave Business podcast was launched the morning after the Government’s Autumn Budget 2021. The name? “Blick Rothenberg is a great name, but it’s a mouthful,” Dan confesses. “We use BR as a brand motif in our logos and conversations.”
“The name also speaks to the clients we work with and want to work with. Whether they’re growing businesses, scale ups, or owner managed businesses they’re constantly having to make important decisions about their businesses. The themes and topics we address give them some of the tools that enable them to do that.”
“In my role I’m always looking for the best ways to reach our prospective audience which is quite broad (...). One of our key markets is America,” Dan continues. As he maintains, podcasts are considered a ‘more mature medium’ in the USA; according to eMarketer, the US is the clear global leader in podcasts, boasting 117.8 million monthly listeners (40% of all internet users).
“The US is considered to be ten years ahead of where we are in the UK. Podcasts are a great way for us to reach our American clients and prospects,” Dan adds.
Bring outside voices in
Host Declan Curry, former journalist, and BBC business correspondent, may not seem like the most obvious choice for a B2B podcast. But for Dan, bringing in external hosts adds “a lot of different extra facets.”
As a business and finance news veteran, Declan not only adds a layer of credibility to the content, but also attracts audiences; “even if they’re not familiar with us, audiences might be interested in Declan and what he’s got to say,” Dan continues.
Having both “journalistic integrity and an outside voice,” Declan is uniquely placed to frame the perspective of people outside of Blick Rothenberg: What would they want to know? What questions might they have? What answers need more digging so that lay people can understand?
“I would suggest for B2B podcasts, external hosts add quite a lot of different extra facets. It’s definitely worth the investment”
Guests are no exception to this rule, with the podcast welcoming a new external guest each episode alongside two speakers within Blick Rothenberg. “When it comes to external people, my first question is always: can we have a client on here? If we can't, is there another advisor or peer we can bring in?,” Dan states. “The idea is to always have that external voice so we’re not just ‘talking to ourselves’,” he continues.
From an in-house perspective, the rotating Blick Rothenberg speakers allows for a “better sense of personalities and the kind of people we have so that people outside of the organisation get a feel of who they’ll be working with.” Rather than simply ‘wheeling out polished speakers,’ the structure of the podcast allows a range of subject maters experts to speak on what they know whilst showcasing as many different faces, or rather voices, within Blick Rothenberg as possible.
Keep it light and brief
You’ve got your speakers, let’s move onto tone. For Dan, podcasts are characterised by intimacy, trust and truly being part of the conversation.
BRave Business takes a conversational approach. Guests know the questions in advance, but don’t bring in scripts (bar small notes with bullet points or key numbers).
“Our experience is that people will listen to a podcast if it’s conversational. This is why Declan is so powerful; he makes sure it’s engaging, it’s kept light and fast and people are drawing on anecdotes - all those things that spice it up and lift it from a corporate asset into something that feels more like a conversation.”
“It’s about treading a careful line between being an interesting conversation that people want to follow but also making sure that when our audience leave the podcast they’ve got some information and insights they can use”
Don’t forget to keep it short and sweet. “The people we’re targeting are time poor, so we tend to cut off around the 20-minute mark,” he states. For Dan, there’s ‘great value exchange,’ in a shorter episode jam-packed with actionable insight. Any longer and you risk lower listeners as your audience won’t have the time.
“You can go up to 40 minutes, but I wouldn’t suggest doing that for a B2B topic, otherwise you get into [podcasts] effectively becoming an audio webinar, something long and invariably technical”
For Dan, in-person is King when it comes to recording podcast episodes. As he puts it: “it adds to that authentic experience - people can read physical cues of their fellow participants, know where to speak and not talk over them. It makes it sound more polished and the sound quality is better.”
“I would recommend doing a podcast in a studio wherever you can. You just can’t replicate getting two or more people together and having a conversation in-person”
Not all that glitters is gold, however: “Beware of the logistics of the commitment,” Dan cautions. “The output is great, but it does require a lot of prep.” For a regular series he advises having the first six episodes properly planned out with a solid strategy, or risk scrabbling for guests, space and talent.
How to market your podcast
So, you’ve got your podcast. How do you get the word out? The BRave Business podcast is filmed, allowing for the use of clips and audiograms for promotion via social media. “Those perform a lot better and get a lot higher engagement than your standard social card with some text,” Dan states. “If there’s an audiogram of 15-30 seconds, engagement skyrockets. That’s another benefit for recording in the studio.”
As he puts it, take advantage of all mixed medium at your disposal, and remember, “it’s all about working your content harder.”
Don’t blindly jump on the podcast bandwagon
“Like everyone during lockdown, we went to webinars,” Dan states. “But over the last nine months we’ve seen webinar fatigue - they were losing their shine. We wanted to elevate things and take engagement with our target audiences to the next level. Podcasts were the clear solution.” But don’t jump in headfirst just yet.
Having previously ‘done’ podcasts at his previous employers, Dan ran a pilot at Blick Rothenberg the year prior to both test the concept and demonstrate value to the management team. “They were sceptical at first until they saw the results of the pilot. We had to win hearts and minds and take them on that journey,” he elaborates, “but I’m very grateful that they are so progressive and willing to let us experiment like this.”
But are podcasts right for you? “Obviously I don’t want the competition,” Dan quips. “But the honest answer is that if you have a clear need in your content stack, if you don’t believe that anything else in your arsenal is addressing that need, if you have the right people internally or your organisation is willing to open it up, then absolutely do it! (...) Ticking all those boxes ensures that here’s a reduced risk in trying to see if it works”.
Dan’s final piece of advice? Don’t expect results overnight. “In our experience it’s working. But it’s working slowly,” he adds. “It’s a marathon not a sprint. You have to build your audience up over time to earn an engaged subscriber base.”
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