Increasing Content Originality in B2B with Marc Thomas
“How I Built This” and “This American Life” are incredibly popular examples of audio storytelling and both shows have an amazing way of condensing interviews into engaging narratives.
In this episode Marc Thomas walked me through his process for adapting this approach to a B2B podcast and his high output marketing framework for growth without burnout.
Meet The Guest
A short summary of the most actionable takeaways and best advice of the episode.
2:30 – Building a brand around originality and high quality authoritative content
Before he joined as Head of Growth Powered by Search had created in Marc's words "the best SaaS blog on the internet".
What he wanted to do next was to pull out the stories that showed the impact marketing can have in an organization, but also the impact that people can have in that organization when they align their interests to the businesses.
Podcasting is a unique way to do that for the kinds of people who Powered By Search serves, who are the sort of people who might be listening to This American Life or How I Built This, that kind of stuff rather than your typical SaaS podcast.
Marc wanted to create a show that fit with those existing listening habits.
06:54 – Identify relatable themes to drive the storyline
Before you even start the interview, have a broad topic in mind to help anchor the story.
For the first episode of Marc’s show, Inflection Point, it was “goal-setting.” From that theme, Marc was able to put out a call for guests with stories related to that topic.
The theme gives you a clear sense of what might resonate emotionally with your audience from the moment you hit record. It tells you (and them) why all of the other smaller pieces matter.
09:38 – Production alternatives to a "standard" interview podcast
Even with a focus on narrative storytelling and an interview focused on unpacking a single theme Marc knows that people have relatively short attention spans.
Marc has a nifty trick for keeping his episodes focused and turn a 60 minute transcript into a tight 30 minute podcast episode:
- Run through through the transcript to see where the guest is telling a story with emotional resonance, and where they’re just summarizing information.
- Record quick bits of monologue to replace rambling dialogue, cover the nuts and bolts and keep the focus on the story.
10:52 – Spent time perfecting your "hook" to open the show
Starting with a quick pre-recorded voiceover introducing the guest or starting with an important clip from the episode is a common way to kick off a podcast episode.
Tons of podcasts take these approaches, but Marc is a master of a lesser-known technique: the delayed drop. That’s an introduction that doesn’t initially seem to connect to the overall topic. It’s a non-sequitur that keeps your audience on their toes. You could:
- Cut in on a quote or clip from another piece of media.
- Open with a story that appears unrelated to the rest of the show.
- Rattle off some facts or statistics that don’t immediately “connect.”
Done wrong, a delayed drop can be a huge turnoff. When you get it right, though, it makes the listener lean in & start asking questions. From there, the rest of the episode can start connecting the pieces for them.
12:41 – Experimentation and iteration is key to producing great content
Creating content that resonates doesn't just "happen" for the first episode of Inflection Point, Marc actually produced 3 introductions so he could see how they sounded side by side.
Here's his alternative process to recording and hitting publish:
- Record short differentiated cuts
- Send snippets to friends (focus group)
- Iterate based on feedback and publish the result
15:42 – Telling a story that connects with the listener
Marc doesn't sit and wait for divine inspiration to create his stories, he allows ideas to ruminate and build by looking for connections between the theme or topic he wants to discuss and other areas of interest or anecdotes from this life.
Often this means experimenting with different angles in front of the bathroom mirror and treating each episode as an MVP with features to be added and subtracted before launch.
20:42 – How to go beyond creation and drive business results
For many content marketers once they press publish on a new post that's the end of the cycle and it's on to the next one on their content calendar.
Marc, however says that the thing that differentiates people who get burnt out from content with those who don't is purely just how much they think about distribution and re-purposing content that already exists. He's created a system with 30 different distribution task to ensure every piece of content drives results over time.
It's about widening the reach over time...You have to make sort of deposits in the bank of recognition before you can make a massive withdrawal at some point in the future