Sabrina Must is a writer, an author of multiple books and a copywriting consultant. We have a fascinating discussion about why the written word is still so important for marketing today. Sabrina reveals her secrets to writing killer copy. We talk about how writing is different from other forms of media, like: images, audio and video. And we talk about what life is like as an author: how to write a book; whether you should self-publish; what’s the story with bestseller lists; and is being an author all that glamorous?
Why writing and the written word are so important to Sabrina
Sabrina tells the heartbreaking story about how her sister’s sudden death inspired her to do what she loves
The personal nature with which Sabrina approaches writing
Why the written word is still so important for marketing today
The genesis of Sabrina’s business, Write Less Bad, and the origins of its catchy name.
Why the written word is still so important in storytelling, connecting with people and in communicating a company’s message.
Tips on writing killer copy for better marketing
The truth about bestseller lists
What’s the difference between having your book distributed by a publishing house, versus self-publishing and managing all the marketing yourself?
There’s no doubt that Paul Ramondo is the best digital marketer in all of Western Australia. He consistently delivers insane results for his clients (think 2,737.80% ROI campaigns!) by employing the latest strategies in digital and social media. Join Adam Jaffrey as he talks to Paul about what it’s really like starting a marketing business, why you should do things you’re willing to suffer through, the art of saying no to stay productive and the 101 on marketing funnels. Oh, and strap yourself in because Paul has got more energy than a single podcast can contain!!! His enthusiasm is infectious, and you’ll leave this discussion feeling pumped to achieve life’s big goals!
How Paul built his digital marketing agency, RamondoMedia.
It’s not just a cliché … the early bird really does get the worm!
Why you have to put the hard work into what you love in order to get results
1. Just get started; you’ll learn as you go. I spent years trying to muster the courage to make my podcast, and even after I decided to give it a crack I wasted over a year before launching it. But in the end, none of my elongated preparation (read: procrastination) mattered. No matter how much research I did … NOTHING could have prepared me for what I was about to encounter. You don’t know what you don’t know. So the best advice I can give is to just get started. You’ll figure it out along the way.
2. You’re going to suck. I knew this, but as a self-confessed perfectionist, I really wanted to make episode 1 as amazing as I could make it. And when I released it, I was so proud … I had never heard anything more beautiful. It’s funny, because now that I have a year of experience under my belt, I listen back and cringe. You’re going to suck, and you won’t even know it until later. Best to just get into it and learn to make it better over time.
3. Prepare for your shows before hitting record. In some of my earlier episodes, I completely winged the show. Listen back to episode 1, it’s pretty horrible to listen to. I didn’t do a good job of guiding the conversation. I asked the same question over and over, just in different ways. And I didn’t help my guest relax (sorry Jayden!). All in all, I was just inexperienced. Over time, I’ve learned to get better at preparing for my shows before the day of the interview. I write a rundown of topics we’re going to discuss which helps loosely guide the conversation, but it also gives the guest some peace-of-mind about what to prepare for. Whilst we’re on this topic …
4. Get your show format right. I’m still learning about this, and I got some feedback from a guest recently which helped me understand. The value of my show is it’s a fun, conversational interview with an interesting guest. In some of my episodes, I tried to be too serious and grilled some of my guests. I think this was a manifestation of me over-preparing for my shows and trying to stick too much to the run-sheet. Instead, I should have listened to what my audience was telling me. People were enjoying the conversational style interview better.
5. Conducting a good interview is hard work. One of my guests (ahem, Bob Knorpp) said that interview shows are the laziest type of podcasts, because it puts all of the pressure on the guest to provide the good content. That may be true if you’re shit at interviewing, but to get the most of your guest and help make them shine, you need to learn how to conduct a good interview. I’m still learning how to do this, but I’m much better today than I used to be. A good interview should sound less like a Q&A and more like a conversation. Plus, the interviewer should help the subject feel safe and comfortable so they can deliver their points confidently. Also, the interviewer should set the tone of the show. If you’re after comedy, set the scene early so the guest can play into that. If you’re after something serious, give the guest a framework for how the show will run. Finally, a good interviewer gives the guest ideas to bounce off. In fact, I try to offer a lot of my own opinions about the topics we speak about. Sometimes I even take a contrarian view just for the sake of making a fun debate which will be interesting to listen to.
6. Podcasting is a huge commitment. When you start a podcast, you’re committing to those listeners that you’ll continue to provide them with consistent, predicable content every week/fortnight/whatever-timeframe-you-chose. If you fail to meet that obligation, your listeners will become disenfranchised and may unsubscribe.
7. Creating great content is very time consuming. I tried to do the math recently, and I estimate that I spend 12 hours of work in the background creating 1 hour of listenable audio for my audience. Creating quality content is fucking hard work. Here’s a quick summary of the tasks involved:
General admin (booking guests)
Research (preparation for interviews)
Travel (to and from recordings)
Recording the actual interview (including set-up, recording and pack-up)
File management (saving, naming and storing recorded files)
Editing (editing coughs, pauses, “umm”s and other awkward parts)
Listening (listening back to the show to proof the edit and note down feedback)
Writing shownotes (writing the shownotes, creating social images, writing the blog post, etc.)
Uploading files (uploading the mp3 files to a media host)
Publishing (final proofs and hitting publish)
Amplification (notifying guests their episode is live, creating social images to share, writing social posts, etc.)
Promotion (attending events, speaking to people about your podcast, other general promotion)
8. Podcasting is a complicated hobby project. Podcasts have many moving parts. It’s not just about creating an amazing-sounding and quality content audio file. You have to learn about RSS feeds, media hosts, social media promotion, etc. It’s important to learn what these things are and how to use them effectively, as setting up your show improperly in the beginning will lead to a reel of problems later. Even as an indie, stick to well-known dedicated podcast hosts (reach out if you want a recommendation!) which have a reliable RSS feed.
9. Audio equipment is expensive. Whilst it’s not vital to invest in the best microphones and mixers, it does help you get the best quality sound. And quality audio equipment is bloody expensive. The more you invest, the better it will sound. BUT …
10. Learn to use your equipment. Buying the most expensive gear does not maketh the best podcast. Learn to use your equipment, because the features and functions of your mics/mixers/recorders can only produce good sound if you have the settings right. It’s better to invest in a more basic system you know how to operate than a state-of-the-art one which you’ll set up wrong. The former will get you better audio.
11. Always have a back-up recorder. There was one episode of my show where my good audio equipment failed to work. I tested it before starting and everything, but something went wrong and my file was all screwy. Luckily, I had been using my iPhone as a back-up recording device. Always have a back-up recorder. There’s no way to get back the magic of an amazing interview.
12. Choosing a location is just as important as expensive gear. I did a bunch of research on microphones before starting my show. But in the end, having the best gear still didn’t account for recording in the worst places. When recording audio, hard surfaces are your enemy. Steer clear of boardrooms with whiteboards, long tables and glass windows. Any flat surface will create echoes which degrade your audio quality. Listen to some of my early episodes (e.g. Athan Didaskalou or Saul Flores) and you’ll hear the room echo. Contrast this with my interview with Chris Rauschnot, which was done in a Vegas hotel room with carpet, curtains and soft couches. Much better for audio!
13. It takes time to build an audience. I remember when I was getting 20 downloads on an episode launch day and I thought that was amazing. Like, think of 20 people listening to your voice all at once. That would pack out a room. But I had my sights set on 1,000 downloads per episode. Thats when I would say, “I’ve made it”. A year on, I’m a lot closer to that goal, but it’s still a while off.
14. Consistency is key. The graph below shows my total downloads per day, over the last year. You can see upward trends when I have regular releases. The long, flat, periods where when I took a hiatus (see point 15, below). These periods are bad because you’re being inconsistent for your audience who you’ve essentially made a promise to, to deliver great, regular content. Having a podcast that hasn’t been updated in over a month is like one of those old blogs where the last post was 3 years ago. Existing subscribers are likely to leave, and you certainly won’t get any new listeners. Who is going to subscribe to something when it looks like it’s dead? It’s hard to grow a show when you don’t really have a show.
15. Get help with production. Initially I was the CEO of MATE; the Chief Everything Officer. But over time, I became lazy and stopped doing the tasks I hated. I didn’t enjoy editing, and as a result my show suffered a 3 month hiatus. In the end, I hired an editor (thanks Josh!) to edit my shows and help me stick to a release schedule. So my advice is, figure out what’s holding you back and outsource it.
16. Podcast statistics suck. I can’t tell you the number of times people have asked me, “How many subscribers does your podcast have?” Followed only by the second most common question, “Surely iTunes gives you those stats, right?” The answer is, “No, I can’t tell you how many subscribers and iTunes gives you zero stats!” The key number for podcasts is downloads. There are no subscriber stats. iTunes gives you nothing and you’re basically left on your own to interpret what is good/not.
17. Statistics are (kind-of) not worth focusing on, anyway. If all you’re doing is podcasting for stats, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Chances are, your podcast won’t be the next Serial or This American Life. If you’re lucky, you’ll crack 200 downloads per episode (the median podcast gets about 200 downloads per episode, according to Libsyn). So think about why you started podcasting and focus on achieving that. More on that below.
18. Podcasting isn’t going to make you rich. The reason I say they’re “kind-of” not worth focusing on, is because they also “kind-of” are, too. When it comes to monetisation, stats matter. Most advertisers are looking for a minimum of 5,000 downloads per episode before investing in a podcaster, simply because it’s not worth their time or money to invest and reach such a small target cohort. And when you get to that threshold, you’re likely to be paid on a CPM model, which means you get paid approximately $10–25 per 1,000 downloads of your show. So doing the math, if you’re getting 5k downloads at $25 CPM, you’re making $125 per episode. It’s nice, but it’s not going to make you a millionaire. The exception to this is if you’re hyper-targeted (for example, a brain surgeon podcast).
19. The podcasting communities online are SUPER helpful! Join an online podcast community. There’s heaps on Facebook. They’ve really helped. Ask questions, share what you’ve learned, get involved. It’s great.
20. Have fun with it. You need to be enjoying the podcast if it’s to succeed. Otherwise you won’t continue to meet your release deadlines and you’ll despise working on it. Have a think about your ‘Why’. Why are you making the podcast? For me, it’s to enable me to have interesting conversations with fascinating people. I’ve been able to interview and befriend some of my idols through making the podcast. Once you’re doing you, the rest doesn’t matter.
Thanks for reading. What have you learned along your podcasting journey? Share your experience in the comments below!
If you liked this, you should check out MATE podcast. It’s a show about Marketing, Advertising, Technology and Entrepreneurship. Subscribe on iTunes.
Minter Dial is a controversial marketing consultant with unique perspectives on digital transformation, as well as building brands through employees. Listen in to hear his argument as to why your employees are more important than your customers, and how to succeed in this new age of heightened customer expectations. Minter also tells us about a school teacher who made a prosthetic limb for a student using LEGO, and what we can learn about organisational culture and branding from that.
The importance of employees being ambassadors of your brand, and how to operationalise that through the organisation.
How to make your employees your number #1 fan
“Your customers’ are just someone else’s customers who occasionally buy you” (from The conquest of indifference by Martin Weigel [SlideShare]):
Transparency in branding
To build a strong brand, it’s more important to focus on employees than on customers.
Rory Aronson revolutionised agriculture when he created the coolest invention ever—FarmBot—an AI robot which farms your veggie patch. Seriously, this autonomous robot plants seeds, waters the garden, checks the soil nutrients and kills the weeds. In this episode of MATE, Rory explains how he built this precision agriculture machine and why it’s going to transform the agriculture industry. We also discuss how he hacked the product launch video to go viral and smash the goal on their crowdfunding campaign.
What is CNC farming and what are the benefits?
How FarmBot works and how to build one
Who FarmBot is created for
Why Rory decided to make FarmBot open-source
How FarmBot compares to traditional methods of agriculture
Plans to make FarmBot available for under $1,000
Kickstarter’s impact on launching the project
How to make a your product launch video campaign go viral on social media
How Rory has dealt with the sudden media attention of becoming an instant celebrity
Bill Friedman has spent his entire adult life working in and around the Las Vegas casino business, alongside the gangsters who built the Las Vegas Strip. He has spent countless hours interviewing members of The Mafia, researching their histories and building a picture of the gambling industry in America. In this fascinating conversation, Bill shares the stories and lessons learned from the gangsters of Las Vegas.
Part 1: Bill Friedman’s background and the gangster history of Las Vegas
Part 2: Casino management and how casinos are designed to keep players focused on gambling
Part 3: The marketing and business lessons learned from how gangsters operated their Las Vegas casinos
Bill Friedman explains how he got involved in the casino business
The legalisation of gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bill’s fascination with gangsters, their business ethics and how he socialised with them.
Objecting to his drafting in the Vietnam War and being questioned by the FBI
Hollywood’s misrepresentation of The Mob
Bill’s research with the School of Criminology at the University of California, Berkeley.
What is Casino Management?
The unique ways casinos are designed and how they are conducive to enticing gamblers to play
Personalised service, giving customers what they want and the many ways casinos reward high-rollers.
The real reason casino chips are used at the tables instead of cash
How Frank Woolworth pioneered retail merchandising
Chris Rauschnot is a digital influencer, content producer and marketing consultant from Las Vegas, Nevada. I interviewed Chris at the Bellagio Hotel on The Strip, where he revealed the marketing secrets big brands can learn from Las Vegas. We also talked about influencer marketing, social media marketing, Pokémon GO, and why Chris decided to base his business in Sin City.
Topics and links:
Christopher Rauschnot describes himself as a digital influencer, brand advocate, writer, blogger and traveller. He works as a digital consultant in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chris’s writing includes: blogging; reviewing products, services and travel experiences; covering celebrity appearances; and has recently been writing copy for products being launched on crowdfunding sites.
If you could give one piece of digital marketing advice to any brand, what would it be? Engage with your current audience.
FordPass is Ford’s foray into mobile, with a comprehensive digital concierge service predicted to trounce GM’s OnStar. The app’s FordGuides will answer travel questions regardless of whether you own a Ford vehicle. This is part of Ford’s mobility strategy of, ‘How do we get people from point A to point B with our brand involved?’
Maneesh Sethi is a serial entrepreneur and a serial troublemaker. He’s the founder of Pavlok, a habit-changing wearable wristband which gives you electric shocks. His career is pervaded with shocking (no pun intended!) stories … like the time he bought his own private island; the story of how he wrote a best-selling book at 14 years-old; or when he had a heated argument with billionaire Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. Maneesh has spent time working with some of the all-time best business thinkers, and in this episode of MATE he shares the business advice he personally received from the likes of Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and Richard Branson.
Topics and links:
Maneesh Sethi is the founder of Pavlok, a behaviour company which helps people change their habits. They released the Pavlok wearable device, which helps people form good habits and break bad habits using operant and classical conditioning.
At 14 years-old, Maneesh wrote a best-selling book called Game Programming for Teens. The book took-off and became one of the top computer books in America and featured on the Amazon best-seller list. It even became a textbook in Poland (and was translated into 4 languages)!
“Everyone thinks that I’m trying to build [Pavlok] a product that really helps people. [They think], “I like that you’re testing it with other people and with yourself to see if you can help others.” And I’m like, “No, no, no … you don’t understand. I’m trying to build a product to get me to fucking get my shit done, so I’m testing it on all of you so that I know the perfect solution to solve it for me!”” ~ Maneesh Sethi
“Behaviour is really just a manifestation of all of our decisions. So the way you act is based on what’s going on in your head.” ~ Adam Jaffrey
Bob Knorpp is a consultant and a podcaster. He works with businesses to help them understand their brands and solve their big marketing problems. I met Bob on the sunny rooftop of his building in midtown Manhattan, where we discussed: what is a brand, how do you build a successful brand, how to develop effective content marketing and what happens if brands stop advertising? Bob is a self-taught marketing professional who also teaches a Master’s Degree at NYU.
Topics and links:
How to demonstrate your value using an effective elevator pitch
The start-up world gets too bogged-down with what their product does (i.e. the functional benefit) rather than understanding who their customer is and what your brand means to them (i.e. the intangible benefits). Think like the customer: “What’s in it for me?”
“A brand is not what you say to people in your marketing communications, a brand is how you do business, a brand is your identity …” ~ Bob Knorpp
“Your brand is not your logo; your brand is the experience of the consumer with your product or with your service. Your brand is built up through experience, after experience, after experience. And ultimately the logo is just a reminder of an experience that you had.” ~ Bob Knorpp
What happens if brands stop advertising?
Who’s doing brand advertising well? Apple, Zappos and Amazon.
Why you need brand advocates and how to generate them
“A great idea for an ad does not bring people to your product. What it does is it might incite a little bit of trial, and if they’re not having an amazing experience with the product they’re never going to come back.” ~ Bob Knorpp
“No matter how many different medias come into play, we do three things in marketing. We either brand, we do direct response or we do public relations … So, we have three initiatives. Every other thing that we do in marketing is a media choice. So, there is no such thing as digital marketing or social media marketing … These are just media choices that we can execute any of the three core initiatives of marketing across.” ~ Bob Knorpp
Why does McDonald’s need to maintain brand awareness through advertising when they are one of the most recognisable brands in the world?
What’s pissing you off right now? The evangelists for specific marketing techniques: single-channel experts (e.g. social media experts, word of mouth experts). These approaches are plain ignorant and don’t consider the need to achieve overarching marketing objectives, regardless of the channel used.
Who should I interview next? Mitch Joel. “He will not only be your toughest interview subject, but he will put you on the spot, because he is one of the smartest people I know.” ~ Bob Knorpp
Joel and Maria House are a Brisbane couple who are travelling the world with their SEO business. I asked them: what is SEO, why is it important and how do you master it? Joel and Maria share the key tips on how to structure your business to enable you to travel the world. And … we get really deep and meaningful to discuss life purpose, knowing your “Why”, and how to build a happy and fulfilling life. I met these fellow Aussies and recorded the first international edition of MATE at the WeWork coworking space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Topics and links:
Organic Google traffic provides the best business leads
Why Maria and Joel work as a small company rather than a big corporation
Everything in New York City is on such a grand scale
Marketing in New York City is much more aggressive, direct and competitive than in Australia.
The economics of running a business in the USA vs Australia. A business needs only to be mildly successful in the USA to make radically more money than in Australia, due to the sheer difference in population!