On this episode of THRIVE—sponsored by Workamajig—Kelly is joined by Matt Johnson, host of the YouX Podcast and CEO of Pursuing Results, a podcast production agency. Matt and Kelly discuss the power of pods for thought leadership, business development and more for creative agencies.
EP 39: Podcasting is the New Networking, with Matt Johnson
Kelly: So if you're wondering what's next for your agency's thought, leadership, and business development, my guest today, Matt Johnson says that podcasting is the new networking. And Matt is founder of Pursuing Results, which is actually a really interesting niche. It’s a podcast production agency and he works mostly with coaches, consultants and creative agency owners. His own show which I was actually a guest on that not that long ago is called the YouX Podcast and I had such a great time talking with Matt about that. So welcome my friend. I'm so happy to have you on my show.
Matt: Thanks Kelly. I'm super pumped to be here.
Kelly: So let's kind of start talking about how you got your start in podcasting and how that led you to actually creating this really, really well positioned podcast production company Pursuing Results?
Matt: So well, and thank you by the way because I'd love the how we're positioned, and it's something that didn't come easy. It was a couple of years in the making and took a lot of throwing mud against the wall to see what stuck; unfortunately, something stuck that was profitable. And so the basically the quick story is I was working for another agency, I watch them scale up from a little over a hundred clients to now they're over five hundred and the founder is now a client of mine and still one of my best friends.
So I watched that whole scaling process. They were extremely well positioned and essentially built the category king in their niche and so I was doing business development for them and started up doing live webinars on YouTube back when Google Hangouts was a thing, and so we started doing some of those with industry influencers in developing this kind of relationship based partner program to grow that agency.
So about a couple of months into it, I was doing- one of their partners essentially pitched me on the idea of starting a podcast, and I'd been thinking about it already, because I was a fan, and that we're already doing all these webinars and things like that, so we jumped in. I had no idea what we're doing. All we knew is that he was a coach. And we thought well we can probably coach some people together, we'll figure out how to monetize this later, which is we'll put that on the back burner we’ll figure that out.
Kelly: Like all good businesses are bridges.
Matt: We’ll start doing it now. We'll figure out how to make money later. So that's exactly what we did. We committed the cardinal sin. But actually all good things that have happened in my life over the last four years have been a direct result of that one podcast, which I still run that end up being named one of the top five podcasts in our space and still very successful to this day. We publish about three days a week a new episode. But what ended up happening at least from the agency owner perspective, because I didn't really set out to be an agency owner. I was a marketing consultant and yeah I was going to get into like coaching and business consulting and stuff like that.
And what happened was the people that I was doing webinars with and bringing onto my show started going, “Hey, how in the world are you producing so much content?” And so, I told them a little bit about the team that I built behind me to do the backend work and essentially I built it in such a way that I just showed up into the podcast like the fun part and then my team like did the rest behind me, did all the backend work of editing and writing the show notes and stuff like that. So these people went wow that sounds amazing like how do I do that. So I told them how I did it. And they said well that sounds exhausting like can we just pay you to do it.
So essentially, I started like just letting them rent my team so that the people that were working for me part time I just essentially let them work with other people then I started kind of managing everything. And then of course, eventually turn into an agency, turn into a real business. And then you start coming up against all the fun challenges, okay now what's our real niche? Like if I'm gonna turn this into a real business, how do we do that and so that started the whole process of going down the road of positioning, specializing, and packaging.
Kelly: Yeah, music to my ears, my friend. So what is it really about a podcast that works so well for agencies in particular?
Matt: Well because I think for most agencies, even if we want a lot of clients, there's always a core set of really deep relationships that we want to be the center of our agency. I know I do. Even as I scale up and even as I watched my old agency scale up, the real foundation, the thing that stood the test of time was the core group of relationships with the top people in the industry that no matter what happened, they were going to last and no matter what market ships came, they were the ones that figured it out. They'd been in the business for ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years.
And so, what's interesting right now is what's going on is podcasting is kind of the new way that people are building those relationships. So it used to be, for example the guy I used to work for the only way he built his agency is he literally got in on a plane flew all over God's creation, went to Vegas, bought bottle service for all his potential clients. Basically in a race to try to figure out okay how do I take enough in initial client fees to cover the costs that I literally already put on my credit card to get them signed up as a client. Well, I didn't have to do any of that. So the only events I've really ever been to for the most part ones I got invited to speak at, and I got invited to speak because I was a podcast host but I met all those hosts and I met all the people that were going to the event before I even showed up at the event.
So I had meetings lined up at these events because I'd already met them, and the interesting thing about it now having gone to both events and on podcasting is, and I'm sure you know this is true, of a five minute conversation you have on the hallway outside and in between a conference session is nothing compared to what we're doing right here, like a half hour conversation face to face even though it's on video and even though your two thousand miles away. The connection is even deeper than if we met in person but only got a chance to talk in between a session at a conference.
Kelly: Right. Absolutely. And I've had the exact same experience. One of the things that came out of this and it's sort of an answer to this question just from my perspective. One of the things that I had never thought about what a podcast could do for me in terms of business development and just building those relationships was once I started working with an agency, the agency owner would actually just distribute the podcast or a link to the show to their leadership team.
So when I walked in to start doing agency growth consulting, the whole team was like hugs instead of handshakes and it was like hey we feel like we know you already because we've watched seven of your episodes, and so I'd never thought about that, how that podcast could actually benefit in that way and I think that could also be just another extension. I feel like there's a lot of legs to this question.
Matt: There really is. Yeah because you've got the people that you build the relationships one on one and then yeah you've got those scalable relationships where you might not even know they exist but they feel like they have a relationship with you, especially I saw this a lot with me and my co-host on my main show when we will go to an event, we’d have people come up afterwards and go, hey like I've been listening to you for a year, I’ve been listening to you for two, like how's your kids, how's the course. I have no kids.
We’re talking about the imaginary fake kids, my co-host made up for me and makes fun of me for. And so like they’ll ask me about like my fake wife and kids that we joke around like they're asking about inside jokes that we tell on the show that the only way to even know those is to listen for a long period of time. And so, yeah those are always really fun because you don't realize who you're impacting until you kind of meet them or they reach out on social media.
Kelly: Right, right. So as you're developing these podcasts and producing these podcasts for agencies in particular, what are some of the challenges that the agencies come to you with that you're helping them to solve through the podcast?
Matt: Well, so the most difficult job that I have when I'm launching a new podcast is if I'm working with an agency or a coach or consultant who themselves are unclear about their positioning. If they're very clear, the podcast actually flows very easily, and it's actually it's very easy position in the marketplace. The only question is who are your early adopters that you're going after, who are the people that you think are going to be wildly enthusiastic about the show right off the bat.
And so the people that I have the easiest time helping are the people that come with really great intellectual property and they're not super well known in their niche, but they have the potential to be right. So as soon as people find out about the content, they’re blown away. So the mission or the goal is just to get their content out there, get them and their personalities out there and bring other influencers, other thought leaders into contact with them on their podcast, and then those other thought leaders can't shut up about them because their content is that good. And so that's really the sweet spot.
If you don't have those elements of really of good positioning or you come and you just don't really have your own opinions, you don't have your own point of view about anything, or you don’t have a point of view that's different in the marketplace, that's when my job becomes exponentially difficult. So the for the most part I don't work with agencies and coaches like that coz the podcast won't be as effective for them and so the things that you teach in terms of positioning the agency is the same types of conversations that I would have to have if I didn't already have people coming to me that were well positioned.
Kelly: Right. And so for those agencies that are well positioned that you do take on as clients, what do you coach them through in terms of the content, the format of the show? Is there sort of like an equation, or is it really specific to the ethos of that agency or what they're trying to do?
Matt: Well that's the interesting thing. So it could be really, really custom on one off. Obviously that doesn't work for a package service agency that I offer. So I do have a formula. I do have an equation. That equation is to run predominately like a conversation or a dialogue podcast where two episodes a month are with thought leaders and influencers, one episode a month is somebody internal or a successful client. And then one episode is just a solo of you speaking directly to your ideal client and just delivering the message, whatever that is.
And what I like to see from clients, and I've really been hitting this hard over the last few months of new clients have signed up is to not just convey your point of view and not just talk about the things that you do well and just give opinions and things like that but to get a lot more targeted. And what I mean by that is going after especially in your solo episodes where you're speaking directly in the audience, going after the very specific things that you want people to believe before they show up on your doorstep and want to hire you.
So you take your ideal client and you walk it back from okay, so they're in my industry, they’re my space and that's fine. But what do they believe? Okay well they believe that a podcast is the new networking, they believe that it's going to be effective. They also believe it's a long term strategy. So those are some of the things that I look at when somebody shows up on my doorstep. I wanna know what their beliefs are so what do I do? I talk about those things on my podcast.
So if you listen to my podcast you already get my point of view and if you don't agree with it, you're probably not even showing up and booking a call with me. So if you're booking a call and you've been listening to my show, I already know and I can get a sense within the first couple minutes of talking to somebody. Do they believe the things that I want them to believe that I know will make them ideal clients? So that's what I really encourage people to hit. To me, that's the formula.
Kelly: Sounds like you're a big guy, Simon Sinek fan.
Matt: Not necessarily.
Kelly: No? Oh.
Matt: No. I know. I'm not a huge, I've actually never read the book, Start with Why, which is it makes me terrible.
Kelly: No, it doesn't make you terrible. It just makes it really interesting because a lot of what you're talking about is very aligned with attracting clients that believe what you believe. That's why people buy from brands or buy from agencies or work with them.
Kelly: Yeah interesting, okay.
Matt: Yeah, ain’t that funny?
Kelly: So what would you say are the most important things when it comes to distributing the podcast? So let's say you have an agency leader, they say okay we want to bring you in Matt, we want you to produce this podcast for us, help us kind of walk through the entire thing. Now you have the first two, three, four episodes kind of cued up, how do you coach them in terms of the ideal distribution? Is that also formulaic or is that different?
Matt: Yes, so for formulaic because obviously everything that we do is very systematized and packaged and just based on the best practices of what I've done in my own show and what I've noticed that work for clients over the years. So what the interesting thing is that my agency is completely done for you. So for the most part I work with the clients initially on the branding and things like that, and then my staff gets involved and we just do as much as we can for the clients. There’s a lot less about coaching.
But I will directly answer the question like this. So we do all the distribution but you basically want to hit them air, land and sea. So if I wanna see emails going out to their list, I wanna see a social media blitz, ideally we want to put them on other podcasts that release or at least record around the same time as their podcast hits because being a guest on other podcasts is what I found to be the most effective marketing method for somebody starting a new show because you're hitting an audience of people that already listen to podcasts. That's half the battle. It is just appealing to people that already know how to get a podcast on their phone.
So to me, that's what I want to see. I want to see that blitz, and then there's certain clients I’ll work with if they've got like a live event coming up and they have the ability to stand up on stage and say, hey we're launching our podcast, put it, get out your phone right now and go to Apple podcast and download and subscribe to the show. They’ll instantly get two hundred new subscribers, like that can literally put you at the top of your category in iTunes, just like that, just from this. So if you can coordinate with like a live event or some other type of kind of lightning strike public relations strategy even better.
Kelly: Awesome. So as we're starting to wrap up here, what would you say are your top two or three best pieces of advice for an agency leader that's been thinking about doing a podcast maybe it's on the road map for 2019 or they want to put that strategy together this year and then launching in 2020, what would be some of the foundational pieces of advice that you would give them?
Matt: Well so if they work with an agency like mine, we would take care of all the backend work and so the one thing I would say is that people have a hard time doing two things. So what I found- and I have to wall things off even within my own agency. So the person that handles some of my own podcast isn't the same person that does all of our clients stuff because it's hard for our staff and team members to be working and have two different competing priorities. And so, like I've run into agency owners including the agency I used to work for who I assume I've got the staff, we've got overflow labor though just in their spare time they'll do our marketing; sadly it almost never works.
And so, whether you wall it off internally or you hire it out, like when you do something radically different from what you do on a daily basis, it's almost impossible to get your staff to do it consistently at a high level. So at the very least, if you don't hire it out at least wall it off.
Second thing is to make the actual podcast conversations as effective as possible. There's one key thing that I picked up a couple years ago that's made a huge difference, which is this. Anytime I end the conversation whether I'm the host of the interview whatever, I always ask one key question after we've stopped recording, which is like hey I had an awesome time, this is a great conversation like how can I help you, like who can I introduce you to, who can I keep an eye off for, who's that one type of person that if I connected you, would make a huge difference in your business. And not everybody has an answer but the reaction that I get is most of the time people are absolutely floored.
Kelly: Because nobody does that.
Matt: No. It's sad but it's true.
Kelly: Yeah but I completely agree. I think that's amazing and it's all about giving and supporting and how can I help you. I think just maybe it's like a little karmic or whatever you want to call it but it definitely works. I think those are really two incredible pieces of advice especially starting with the first portion of what you said, making your own agency a client. We've seen that in previous episodes with whether you’re launching or overhauling your website for your agency, whatever you're doing for your agency, making yourself a client, whether you do that internally as you said or you outsource it. You have to do that. You have to really make that commitment so I think that's an incredible a piece of advice.
Matt: Yeah. Thank you.
Kelly: Well, Matt thank you so much for coming on the show today. I really, really appreciate it, and we'll chat soon.
Matt: Thanks Kelly.