In this episode of Founder Fridays, our CEO & founder Dave Rogenmoser is joined by yours truly, Ben Johnson, to discuss the launch strategy behind our growth marketing podcast, Scale or Die.
Launching the podcast was our first brand play and quite the risk for our business. We’d never attempted anything ‘purely brand’ and taking a financial risk on producing a show was something we didn’t know how to approach. After a few months, we are going to review why we decided to launch our podcast, what equipment we use, how we get our guests and the exact strategy we used to get on iTunes New and Noteworthy.
- Our main goals in launching the podcast
- The equipment you need for your podcast
- How to book guests for your podcast
- Behind the scenes: how we produce our podcast
- The strategy we used to get Scale or Die on iTunes New and Noteworthy
After a few months, we’ve accumulated more than 30,000 downloads, reached iTunes New & Noteworthy, and we’ve started to receive high-quality leads from this channel. Read or listen on to find out exactly how we did it!
DR: Today, I’ve got a very exciting show for you here today because I have the world famous, or soon-to-be world famous, BJ, who runs the content at Proof here. He’s been on the marketing team for almost a year now, and he’s been the one behind the launch of the podcast, Scale or Die, and Founder Friday.
So Ben, thanks for coming on and joining me.
BJ: Thanks for having me on the podcast today.
DR: So Ben came on to basically start running and helping us build a blog, but with that came the idea to launch a podcast.
I know a lot of other SaaS companies and startups like the idea or thinking about the idea. We actually did it, and I want to break down for you step by step how we launched it, what are the growth metrics, how much do we spend, how did we get guests, how do we publish it, how do we get traction, and all those different things so you can evaluate whether this makes sense for your business or not.
DR: You ready Ben?
BJ: I’m ready.
DR: All right, so the first thing we want to talk about is the concept.
How did we come up with the concept of Scale or Die? What was that like, and how did we launch into that?
BJ: Yeah, so I think it all started — and you might correct me if I’m wrong — but it was a Hackathon last July or so. We were kind of coming up with ideas on what could be a really cool growth experiment for the marketing team. We had the product team working on some cool features, but we were really trying to get excited about something. A lot of our ideas were around, do we host a Mastermind in the office? Do we host an event in Austin?
We were kind of spitballing through all these things. Nothing was getting us excited. Then kind of out of nowhere we were like, “What about a podcast?”
DR: We walked into that Hackathon that morning, planning on creating a Mastermind event. Basically, it was going to be a workshop that we hosted for B2B.
BJ: We’d prep the whole week before with that thought process.
DR: Yeah, and then we were like, “Screw it. Let’s do a podcast.”
BJ: And it was kind of just out of the blue. We had no idea what we were doing, and we just started Googling everything we could about producing a podcast.
We were reading articles from other B2B brands, we were reading about How I Built This and a bunch of different NPR podcasts, from how they record episodes in quiet hotel rooms to make sure that you don’t even hear a pen drop.
It’s really cool, just kind of exploring the mindset of it. We got to learn all this stuff about a new channel, but we didn’t know what was going to happen.
We spent like two whole days working really deep on it, trying to come up with a concept. After that, we looked at a market analysis of what existed out there, so we were looking at basically what our people in the marketing space are doing, are there any gaps, are there any audiences we could go after, how do we get ratings and reviews, how do we position this show, and how do we really get a useful audience so we would continue tapping into.
And we came up with the idea for Scale or Die.
We realized that there wasn’t a podcast that was solely focused on taking a company from early stages to full-fledged growth. A lot of shares were focused on the early days, kind of the origin story of the startup or the really successful company.
There was nobody that just kind of talk in the nitty-gritty of, “Here’s what we’re doing. Here are the Facebook ads we are running. Here’s the landing page that’s working.”
Our main goals in launching a podcast
DR: What was our goal that was kind of driving? What did we want to get out of it in your mind?
BJ: Kind of thinking through it, we were in a position where we were thinking through Experiences, which is our new product. It put our marketing team kind of in a position where we’re not solely focused on new trials for our Social Proof product anymore, we were trying to figure out, in a year from now how do we get customers for Experiences? We kind of identified our ideal persona, which was Dr. Growth, and we wanted to make sure that we could attract that type of person as a growth marketer at a B2B SaaS company.
We were like, how do we talk to these people? How do we learn from them? How do we create something that they find of value?
And we were decided this podcast could be a really great medium for it.
We were preparing to market a product that’s not currently in the market. That’s a difficult thing for a marketing team. You don’t have the traditional kind of blueprint of how to work. We thought a podcast could be a really, really interesting angle to go after.
DR: Yeah, and we realized we didn’t have any real top of funnel or real brand positioning out there yet to connect this gap.
We said, “Let’s start to experiment with getting our name out there in a hard-to-track way,” and for us, the thing that was a challenge for our marketing team is that everything’s been very data-driven, we know exactly where all the clicks come from.
As best as we can, we attribute everything. But the podcast felt like we’re not sure how to measure this. We’re not sure what the results are going to be. I think that freezes a lot of startups in their place.
I think we kind of had multiple goals of the show.
Goal #1: Meet cool guests
I can’t get ahold of most of the guests that we’ve had on Scale or Die for lunch, but they would probably hop on and do a podcast and I could ask the same questions I would at lunch, but just hit record and then publish that out there.
Goal #2: Create content
We wanted to create a great stream of content to generate top-of-funnel leads for Experiences, so we wanted to kind of move into this B2B SaaS space and learn a lot there, but then also be able to put this out and kind of attract the right people.
Goal #3: Build a brand
We needed to be a personal company and not just this cold SaaS company. So I was like, “Okay let’s get me on camera in people’s ears on the weekends, and just have people get to know me and then get to know us and our company.”
Goal #4: Learn, learn, learn
We thought, “Well let’s bring these people in,” and we watch all the shows as a team. Again, they’re kind of getting inside my head, but also getting inside the heads of all the experts that come onto the show here.
I think those are multiple goals of the show, and I think what spun out of that was this idea of Founder Friday. The whole reason for Founder Friday was just that we didn’t have enough content for Scale or Die, and we could only publish it every two weeks. We said, “We need to create more a rhythm.” So I was like, “Why don’t I just film or record something every Friday that’s just my thoughts on whatever I’m thinking about that week.”
BJ: And I was completely skeptical.
DR: And Ben thought—
BJ: This is not going to work.
DR: And still to this day Ben doesn’t think it’s going to work. But now that you’re on it, I guess you kind of have to be-
BJ: I mean, I’m all in on it now that I’m on it as a guest.
DR: Yeah, but what’s funny is that as you look at our stats, the Founder Fridays actually do as good or a little bit better than the Scale or Dies right now.
I think they serve different purposes, but all that being said, I think people really want to hear the behind the scenes and want to hear kind of the actual backstory on things. On Founder Friday, I can offer them a unique perspective and kind of that type of segment. I think what we really wanted to do was build a brand, build an audience, offer a lot of transparency into how we’re building a B2B SaaS company, and let people learn from that.
Any other goals that you think we had?
BJ: I mean I think just chiming in on that one about creating a great stream of content, I think the cool thing when you’re thinking about launching a podcast is it gives you so much to use over a year.
If we’re recording all these episodes, we’re talking to people, we’re getting a video show, we’re getting a podcast, and then we’re also able to turn these into blog posts and share them, repurpose those blog posts into kind of new pieces that we hadn’t thought of before. So we could take a question that we asked every guest and turn that into something. It just gives us so much stuff that’s constantly coming out. We’re talking about what’s on our mind, we’re sharing that.
I think you see brands that have done this really well, like Drift’s whole marketing flow is pretty much just raw content that they’re shooting every day. When you’re talking and making all that stuff public, I think it ends up having a really, really strong brand effect for your company and that’s what I’ve seen do really well from this show so far.
The equipment you need for a podcast
Let’s talk through what equipment did we buy, how did you kind of come up with these different pieces?
BJ: Yeah, as kind of just a note here, we do a video-first show, so we’re recording in a studio in our office. If a guest is in Austin, they come in, we have two cameras set up, one on each desk, and then a third camera that is shooting the whole room.
When we’re doing a remote interview, somebody will be on their screen and then we’re still shooting with a camera in our office. A thing that we did have to invest in was some nice video equipment. We bought two Canon C100s. Those cameras, with lenses, are $3,500.00 a piece, so that was the great majority of our budget. That was-
DR: And that was painful for me to buy. We had a good buddy, Eric Thayne, shout out Eric. He is a great videographer, and this guy does not play around. He wanted us to spend like $50,000 on all the equipment. Eventually, I talked him down to the Canon C100, which turned out to be a great cinematography camera that we use for it.
BJ: And we’ll be able to use it for other things we work on internally. Then the third camera, I had a Canon 6D sitting at home and it has a video feature so we use that for the third kind of overarching shot. That camera runs about $1,000.00, a little bit more with the lens.
DR: Okay, so we have the video equipment and then we had two headphones, which are just some Audio Technica headphones, $70.00 on Amazon, that the people who are filming kind of behind the scenes listening to it, they’ll be able to listen to the quality the whole time. We needed to add lighting, and so we bought these two … what do they call it, Aputure Light Storm?
BJ: Yeah, so they’re these basically studio-level lighting. You put them in a lightbox and then you can really fill a room.
Investing in lighting equipment, I would say is something if you’re doing a video for a show that’s extremely important. I think whenever you look at a difference between something that’s kind of amateur level and professional, the biggest difference you see is just really good lighting. That’s something if you’re going to shoot a show with video, to definitely invest in.
DR: So those are $550.00 each. Then we had microphones, and we ended up choosing these Lav mics, the Sennheiser EW112P.
BJ: It’s a great name for a product.
DR: That is a great name. That’s hard to communicate over a podcast, but these things are $550.00 a piece. They’re kind of just the industry standard. They’re the ones that you clip onto your shirt and you don’t have the mic in your face. Those have worked well.
We are for season three of Scale or Die probably going to move over to more of what we call “Joe Rogan style” where we’ve got the microphone right there. We think it’s going to be better audio quality and a little bit more of a cool, kind of behind the scenes look. But these mics have worked really well for us.
BJ: Then we’ve had to buy some tripods for our cameras. We bought Cayer BV30Ls. Those run $140.00 a piece, and we bought three of those.
DR: Just standard. Standard tripods on Amazon, something that’s good, but yeah it’s a tripod.
DR: Then we bought a minimalist set, so basically grabbed a couple of chairs off of Article.com. We’ve got a TV in the background on some of the episodes, I guess. I don’t know if we put that on there. I have a TV there, but really the set is not much. It’s just part of our office here.
We use Zoom for the recordings, $50.00 a month for Zoom. Zoom has worked well. The audio quality is not always as great for remote interviews. But the video has been good and worked well. Anything else that we’re missing?
BJ: I think that’s most of the items.
DR: That’s right, you got your SD cards. Get the biggest SD card you can.
BJ: You’ve got to have tape.
DR: They’re like $30.00. Yeah, I like to tape my microphone underneath my shirt. If I’m wearing a T-shirt we tape off the floor and everything. But that’s the big stuff that we’re paying for here. So what’s the total?
BJ: Grand total. Drum roll, please. $10,210.00.
DR: I don’t know if you guys think that’s a big number or a small number, but I think it’s kind of in the middle here. I think people spend a lot more on this kind of stuff, and plus we knew that we were going to use this lots of other places. So we’ll take the camera on team retreats, and to events and all sorts of other things.
BJ: So our all-in cost was under $11,000.00, which we think for building out a video and audio studio is reasonable. If you are looking to do this and just kind of be a podcast-only show, you could do this for a lot cheaper. I would say probably the $2,000.00-$3,000.00 range and really have great audio quality.
DR: Yeah, yeah I think even as we’ve looked at our stats, if we get about 2000 downloads for the podcast audio, we’ll get about 300 on video on YouTube, and we’ll talk about kind of where we upload our things.
But it seems like the 80/20 of this definitely is audio first. If you just want to save some money or come to go a little more lightweight, save some time on the setup, you could just do audio and I think that would be good.
How to book guests for your podcast
DR: Okay, let’s talk about booking guests. This is something people always ask me, “How did you book guests?”
And I’ll kind of break down my strategy for doing it because we’ve had some amazing guests on here and it’s really, really worked well. I think the first thing you want to do is pick a niche, and then go get big fish in that niche and then you’ll get everybody else past that. This is really kind of our philosophy of how we run our business too, but you’ve got to make sure that you pick a niche where all your guests are going to know each other, or know at least who the other ones are and respect the other ones.
DR: For us, it was B2B SaaS, let’s go get everybody in B2B SaaS, and kind of work out from there. The big fish for me was getting David Cancel, CEO at Drift. I met him at a yacht party. I’m not actually that cool, but that makes me sound cool—
BJ: That’s pretty cool.
DR: I met him on a yacht party and we were chatting, so I kind of knew I had a little bit of a friendship with him, and I might be able to get him first. So I emailed him first and got him committed. Then I’ve just sent out these cold emails to everyone that was on our dream list. Here’s an email I’m going to read to you that was to Tyson Quick, CEO of Instapage. I’d never met Tyson before. He runs a company of 170+ plus people, so not an easy guy to get ahold of but here’s my email to him from scratch. This is before we had launched the show, by the way. This is just another concept.
DR: SUBJECT: Scale or Die SaaS interview
Hey Tyson, Dave here, CEO of Proof YCW18. It’s actually me, not automated. I just watched your video below and had to reach out. I freaking loved it, and we’ve been big fans of Instapage around the office and are happy customers.
And I shared the YouTube link for a video that I saw of him. It’s actually a video that I went and looked up.
We’re launching a new video podcast called Scale or Die featuring SaaS Founders and CMOs discussing growth strategies. Other companies will be featuring our Drift, Segment, etc.
Note, we actually hadn’t had any commitments from anybody when I said that. That was just my hopeful list. Other companies, we will be featuring-
BJ: You’re confident, man.
DR: I was confident. And it’s funny, we actually have had all of those on there. I had no credibility, but I said, “Here’s who we’re going to have.” And I still had to ask some of those people.
Then I added in bold:
“Would you be up to do a 25-minute interview with me in our film studio the next time you’re in Austin, Texas? We’ll promote the fire out of it and get you in front of a lot of high-level SaaS folks. I promise it’ll be awesome and worth your time. Dave, CEO of Proof.”
Tyson responded and said, “Hey, thanks. I don’t make it to Austin much, but thanks for thinking of me. I’d love to do it next time I come.” Then I responded, “Hey, would you be up to do a video podcast instead?” I think at that point he was already interested and we built a little bit of rapport over email. Yeah, he ended up joining on. That was my email to Tyson.
Again, I think it was personal. I had included a link of another video I’d watched from him, I added a lot of social proof of people we were going to be talking to, and it ended up working.
Fast forward a little bit to a recent guest. I got a bunch of people in B2B SaaS. This was Mathilde Collin, the CEO of Front, which is somebody I’ve really been wanting to talk to her-
BJ: Coming up on season two.
DR: Coming up on season two. Get excited. She’s awesome. Then I sent this one out to her after we’d already had the show launched and had a little bit more proof. So I said,
“Dave here from Proof YCW18. We’ve recently launched a YouTube and podcast show called Scale or Die, where I bring on CEOs and growth experts of fast-growing startups to talk about scaling up. I’ve had multiple people now tell me you should have Matilde on, and I wholeheartedly agree. Would you be up for doing an interview in the next few months? I’ll be sure to get you in front of a bunch of great companies. Here’s a link to the show and some previous guests: David Cancel of Drift, Wade Foster of Zapier, Tyson Quick of Instapage. Let me know if you’re up for it and I’ll send over a schedule and link.”
What I found is as I kind of keep going through this B2B SaaS niche, everyone knows everybody else in the show and so it seems like the show is blowing up. They say, “Everyone I’m talking to has been on the show, or has watched the show, or has heard of the show.”
That’s not really true. We get about 2000 downloads an episode, which is not massive number of downloads, but the 2000 downloads are all in the same niche and so it seems like it. We really try to be clear about who we’re going after, and we want companies that are all going to be kind of in that same space and know each other. So now it’s really easy to get anybody on the show as long as they’re in that space.
That would be my tip to you, is get the one person at the top, get the biggest name you can even if you’ve got to pay them or whatever, and then just use that social proof to get two, three, four and so on.
Now, they just kind of come to me, honestly. I get emails of people saying, “Hey, I’ve got this person who wants to be on the show,” or this speaker, guest, whatever. Then I just reach out and schedule them. We really have no problems scheduling. We’ve got too many people that want to do it, and we’re still small potatoes. That works really, really well. Anything to add to that?
BJ: I’d just say it’s an easier sell like you’re saying, as soon as you’ve got a good stream of content you can start sending people, “Here’s a sample of an episode we did.” They see that it’s well-produced and then they’ll share that with their team and they’ll be like, “This is great. We should be on that.” So definitely the network effect builds over time.
DR: Absolutely. Okay, number five, production. Let’s talk about … you’re kind of the guy who runs all of the production-
BJ: The producer.
DR: I basically just show up. Yeah, I guess that would be called the producer. The production-y guy. I just kind of show up and they start recording when I get there, and I kind of have all the show notes and everything typed out beforehand, but I don’t do anything of the production.
Behind the scenes: producing the show
So talk about what have you learned on that, what’s that been like, how do we produce it?
BJ: Yeah, so to kind of start off, we’re a video-first production as I mentioned earlier. We’re creating content for multiple channels, and we have a YouTube account, we do the podcast on iTunes and a bunch of other streams. When we’re recording, it’s getting Dave in the studio, getting the guests in the studio and trying to make them feel welcome from the beginning. So we kind of establish with the guests that’s coming in, “Here’s what to expect while you’re on the show.” We’ll walk them through kind of how we’re going to film.
Generally, we tell them, “Kind of just do it raw. We’re going to go all the way through and not cut at all, and then at the end, we’ll re-film if we need to.” So if there’s a question that they might have a little bit of a long answer on, or if something wasn’t completely clear, the mic went out, we’ll film that all at the end of the show because we want to just get as much content as possible while they’re in the studio. We’re really kind of focusing our priority on audio, so we’re making sure that everything is well-tuned, and that people can have clear answers that somebody listening can understand.
So if we show anything, make sure the guest talks about what they’re seeing on the screen because you don’t want it to be just pleasant for YouTube, you want it to be great for podcasts as well. When we’re doing a studio interview, we’re using those three cameras. We’re shooting across, the guests are sitting next to each other having a conversation in real life. When it’s a remote interview, it’s a little bit more complicated.
We have a giant TV screen that we put in front of Dave. On the TV is the call that we’re having via Zoom, and he’s having the conversation with the guest but there’s a camera filming him in front.
We are letting the camera roll. We are monitoring audio the whole time, making sure that his mic is at the right level, making sure that there’s nothing in the shot that is super distracting-
DR: And make sure if you do remote, if you’re doing an interview, have both people wear headphones. For the first season I wasn’t wearing any headphones because we were like, “Well, I don’t want that in the shot. We’re trying to have this cool looking set,” but ended up getting a lot of reverberation and echo, and it ended up being really hard to kind of splice the audio when we would interrupt each other. I think we kind of come to the point where we’re like, you know what, audio quality is paramount here.
Anything that makes the audio quality better is worth doing, even if it makes the perceived video a little bit worse. But honestly, nobody cares what I’m wearing on my head.
BJ: Yeah, I mean you can wear headphones and still look normal. It’s become a thing that you can do a podcast first and then shoot a video of it. You’re not trying to impress anybody.
DR: Totally. I’m a CEO in a tech startup office. Who am I trying to act like?
So yeah, I think we’ve realized some of those different types of things. People don’t care about some of those things. They really care about the content, they care a lot about the audio quality. Some of the remote interviews we had at the beginning, the audio quality wasn’t that good, as you guys know as listeners. We’ve really tried to figure out how to make that better. The other thing I would say is as an interviewer, I’m really just trying to have a conversation that really interests me.
DR: Know as you listen to those, that those are not me performing. I’m not trying to create great stuff for you guys, per se.
I’m really trying to just ask the questions that are on my mind that will help me. I think that creates a much better conversation. I think the guests feel more relaxed at that, and I think it’s going to create better content. You don’t gotta perform on a podcast.
Really, you can just be authentic and be transparent, and be you, and people really like that. I think it makes a better interview.
BJ: It comes across way, way more genuine too.
BJ: Because it is.
DR: Yeah, exactly. Okay, editing. So we’ve got a podcast filmed. We’ve got the recording done. We’ve got the audio. What happens after that? We always call this “Post”, that’s what they call it in the news.
BJ: It’s kind of the mysteries part of the podcast.
DR: What happens in post, because that’s the last time I see it.
BJ: Basically what we’ll do is we film the show. We take our SD cards, go upload them onto our computer really quickly to make sure that we don’t lose any of the content that we just filmed. Then, we have a backup hard drive we put everything on, and what we’ve really done here is we wanted to create a process that made this super easy to accomplish. We utilize an external editor, and his name Jonah Blaine. After finishing our shots, we send him the raw footage, and he does a really good job of chopping them into finished episodes.
So he’ll kind of go through, he’ll cut everything together. We have multiple cameras coming in so he has to sync it all up, make sure the audio’s all synced. Does it so that when one guest is talking, they’re on camera, and when the other guest is talking, they’re on camera, and then occasionally we’ll have that third camera jump in there. He does a really good job of doing that, putting all these little frames around the video.
Then he’ll send us the clips back via Frame.io, which is a software that lets you review video production. We’ll go through, Austin and I, and we’ll go add comments on sections where he might have put something in a way that we don’t really like the way that it’s coming across, or there might be kind of an audio glitch that we caught.
We all review that as a team, and then we get those edits back to him, and then he gets us the final episode. Once we get the final episode, that’s when we kind of have to turn it into a podcast. I’m not going to get too into the weeds here, but we basically make it a .WAV file which then we can upload to our RSS feeder for podcasts-
DR: I always called WAV.
BJ: It might be .WAV.
DR: No, I don’t think WAV is right. It’s got to be Wave.
BJ: I feel like it could be Wave. I went in that 100% confident, but I might have been saying it wrong my whole life.
DR: Everybody listening has a split on that as well.
BJ: Yeah, Tweet at us if you know the actual answer. We’re curious about that.
BJ: But we put it on an RSS feeder, shoot it off everywhere. You can get your podcast on really any medium, and once you set up the RSS feed to link to everywhere that you get podcasts, super easy to distribute.
DR: Then Founder Fridays are a lot rawer, I would say, which again is a really interesting insight that they take way less time to produce and do just as well and a little bit better. I usually just film on Thursday or Friday morning, or sometimes Friday afternoon, sometimes Friday night. But I’m getting better at that. Sometimes I film them at night in my son’s playroom, and I put the microphone on his little ice cream cone set and it works. So these are a lot rawer. It’s just me filming on my computer with QuickTime. That’s what we’re filming on right now. Super raw, but it works.
BJ: Yeah, and something else that kind of gives into all this that I forgot to mention is once you get the podcast done you have to think of a headline for the episode, write some show notes behind it, and really get all of the additional stuff that seems like it just happens into place. It probably takes 30 minutes per episode to get all that created.
How we got our podcast on iTunes New & Noteworthy
DR: Cool, let’s talk about how we launched the podcast and then where we are growing it, and kind of what channels are we seeing the most traction, maybe what’s some of our stats, et cetera. So, launching.
BJ: The launch strategy was really one big goal. We wanted to get on New & Noteworthy list on the iTunes store. We figured that was the one thing that we had one shot at. With YouTube or just any other distribution method, we could kind of grow over time.
But iTunes really seems to be focused on if you can get on New & Noteworthy, you can get a lot of subscribers very quickly and that kind of create a longterm success for your show. So we were like, “We’re going to figure out how to do this.”
We read a lot of article about how other brands had done it in the past, and everybody seemed to kind of have this feeling that it’s somewhat based on reviews, but we’re not really sure. So we were like, “Okay,” well our thesis is that if we get a lot of reviews really quickly, that could potentially help us. If not, somebody that comes across our podcast and sees that it has a lot of reviews is more likely to download the show.
DR: There was this day, at our daily huddle as a team, when the marketing team, Ben and Austin, said, “Hey, we want to get 50 reviews in the first two weeks.” I think it was Chris who said, “I can do 100 in one day.”
BJ: And we said, “Deal. Shake my hand.”
DR: He goes and shook everyone in the company’s hands. What did he bet, $10.00 a piece almost?
BJ: I think he promised everybody lunch or something.
DR: I think it was $20.00.
DR: It seems like a lot of money. He’s got like $300.00. All of a sudden he had to figure out how to go get a ton of podcast reviews on the very first day.
BJ: And you look at Chris that whole week, and he’s just on Facebook, he’s messaging friends from high school that he hasn’t talked to in years.
DR: We got about 220 reviews day one, wasn’t that right?
DR: People were asking, “How’d you do that?” Because other podcasts that have been around the way longer have way more. Literally, we just messaged everyone that we knew, and said, “Hey, would you mind leaving a review here.” That was it.
BJ: It’s not sexy-
Scale or Die on New & Noteworthy for the business section
DR: It is super unscalable but it works, and it got us a ton of reviews, helped us get traction on the New & Noteworthy section. It’s just the hard work of grinding it out. Yeah, we know how to do Facebook ads, we know how to build funnels and that stuff, but it’s like, you know what, we’re going to go practice hand to hand combat and go get these people ourselves. I think that was a big push for us.
BJ: Yeah, we even had a launch contest going on. It didn’t work nearly as well as just direct outreach to people.
BJ: I think people were really … Again, another thing, when you’re genuine, people notice. You ask your friends to help you out, they’re going to help you out on something like this.
BJ: So tap into your network. Really, really just go after getting reviews in the early days.
DR: I think I shared this stuff on another Founder Friday, but the medium podcast episode is downloaded 128 first times in its first month. We knew we’re not medium, we’re not average here, we wanted to blow it up. The top 10% of podcasts are downloaded at 3300 times in the first month. The top 1% are download at 34,000 times, and how many did we have in the first month? About 20,000-ish?
BJ: About 20,000, 24,000.
DR: About 20,000, which was pretty good. Probably top 5% or so, which we feel great about. Okay cool, so now let’s talk about scaling it, how have we grown it, how have we launched it, and what tools we’re using for that.
BJ: Yeah, so showing up on New & Noteworthy really helped. Whenever you go to the business section or the technology section, Scale or Die will pop up on that front page quite frequently, and we’ve seen that as a great way to get new subscribers on the show. It also landed us on the top list many times. I’m not sure where we’re at currently, but it’s been in the top 100 for both business and technology, which has been really cool. We’ve been thinking that’s not going to work forever. We need to figure out other ways to grow this show.
BJ: A few different things we’ve done, any time we can, we try to get reviews. A great little story here, we had an event in our office during South by Southwest, so we had free Lonestar, which is a cheap Texas beer, but we also had nicer beer. So we were like, “Huh, we could figure out a way to get some reviews out of this.” So if somebody wanted the nicer beer we were like, “Hey, we’ll give you a nicer beer, but just as a thank you will leave a review of our podcast or give it a listen?”
DR: Was it a thank you or a bribe?
BJ: I don’t know. If iTunes is listening, it wasn’t a bribe.
DR: It was thank you.
BJ: It was a thank you.
DR: Yeah, it was a thank you.
BJ: So people actually were like, “That’s a great idea. Love the marketing hustle here.” We got a ton of reviews from it, a lot of new listeners from that. I would say another really important thing with scaling your show is having multiple touchpoints is really, really, important, putting them on YouTube, writing blog posts, repurposing the content in many ways because what you can do is as it starts to have success on one channel, you’re getting success on other channels. If somebody comes to our show on YouTube, they see that it’s a podcast, they’ll go subscribe on the podcast. Or if they come across it on iTunes and then they find out that we have a YouTube show, they might go check out the YouTube.
DR: I like how we’re telling them this. They are the audience. You guys should be telling us what should we do. But, yeah that’s what we’re assuming, it’s going to be a lot of cross-pollination on the different channels. Even if something we’re going to be re-purposing these episodes into a really nice book that we’re actually going to print off. That’s some other way we’re going to re-purpose this and make something really nice that can actually sit on someone’s desk about that. So look for that in the next couple of months as well.
BJ: Also, Austin re-did our podcast landing page quite recently.
DR: Yeah, check this thing out. This thing looks like freaking Netflix.
BJ: It’s incredible.
DR: UseProof.com/ScaleorDie, and it is baller. You’re just going to have to go look at it because it is amazing. He worked on that really hard.
BJ: I had somebody reach out in an email the other day and they just wrote a PS at the end of it, and they’re like, “The podcast landing page you have is incredible. How’d you do that? I want to share that with my clients.”
DR: That’s awesome. Cool, yeah we use ManyChat to build the email list and email out every time we release a new episode. Anything else? Did you talk about Simplecast?
BJ: Yeah, Simplecast is our RSS and feed distribution software, I guess. We upload all of our episodes into that and then that sends it everywhere — to all the podcast directories. It also gives us really great analytics that we can look at and see how each episode is doing independently. We can see it’s been five days since the release of this episode and we have X amount of downloads. It’s a good way to see also where people are listening. We are seeing right now that 91% of our audience is on Apple Podcasts, followed by Overcast, Castbox, Stitcher, Breaker, Pocket Casts. People are listening on a lot of different podcast apps, but we see the most value in Apple Podcasts, and I think a lot of that is from that New & Noteworthy launch.
DR: Yeah, our biggest time of day, our most popular day, is Sundays. The most popular time of day is 2:00-3:00 p.m., which I thought was interesting. A lot of our listener base is in the US, which makes sense. Would you do it again? How do you feel about the podcast? People ask, “Is it worth it? How are you feeling about it?” We’re how many months in? Maybe six months from concept, but several months live.
BJ: Yeah, I would say 100%. I think it probably depends on the resources you have available. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy thing for any company to launch. If you really want to commit to it, you have to be focused on putting something out every week. I think that’s the biggest thing to get over, just knowing that you have to-
DR: It’s hard. It’s really hard. I get to Founder Fridays, and it’s like sometimes you’ve got to stop and actually put it all together.
BJ: And I feel like I’m bugging you half the week-
DR: You’re bugging me.
BJ: I’m like, “Hey Dave, can you get me that episode?”
DR: Which is good, but it’s really nice. It helps me crystallize my thoughts. It helps just have regular cadence myself of pushing stuff out. A lot of our team listens to them as well, and it helps them crystallize thoughts for the team and kind of share the vision of where we’re headed and what I’m thinking. It does take a lot of discipline, and I’d say there are many days that I don’t really want to do the interview, just because it just takes a long time. But the best things in life and the best things in business are hard to do and do take discipline to execute on.
DR: But I agree, I really like that we’re doing it. I would totally do it again. I would recommend if you’re B2B startup, really if you’re any company, this is probably a pretty good lightweight, an easy channel that you could start doing and make a great show out of it. So, we’re definitely excited about it. Time will tell. We’re kind of committed.
We say, “Hey, we’re going to do this for a least a year and then kind of look back at the stats and see how many trials are we getting out of this, how much traffic are we getting out of this, how much SEO juice are we getting out of this,” and all of that. It’s kind of hard to actually quantify right now, but overall, we feel really good about it and we’re glad that we’re doing it, and we’re going to keep doing it for hopefully a long, long time.
DR: Anything else that you want to add, man? You broke it all down for us.
BJ: I think so-
DR: This is like a Masterclass in starting a podcast.
BJ: It’s the Mastermind days, right? Maybe it turned into a Mastermind after all.
DR: This is the Mastermind.
BJ: That wasn’t our original intent, but yeah. Yeah, if you have any questions about launching your own show, reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This interview has been edited and condensed.