You’d be forgiven for groaning heartily at the mention of the word podcast. When they first hit the scene a whole heap of people started them, a few managed to flourish and most ended up in the scrap heap, alongside the graveyard of blogs and long forgotten websites.
But podcasting is hitting its stride and done well (and that doesn’t necessarily mean highly polished) it is a highly influential way to engage with potential and existing clients, especially for B2B businesses.
One Brisbane business that dominates with its podcast is Stepps – a digital marketing company that focuses on advanced real estate websites. Its chief executive, Josh Cobb, realised early that the medium was the perfect way to reach his audience with the kind of authority required to change perceptions in one of the least trustworthy industries there is. Here’s how he did it.
Podcast – a perfect channel for B2B
Cobb says that for Stepps it was essential to become part of his audience’s routine, not disrupt it. It’s a simple first step but also a crucial one – be where your customers are, yes, but also do it in a way that’s natural for them. In a way, Cobb’s podcast – Real Estate Pros – is now the business coaching cassette tape from the ’80s made new (without the ponytail and shoulder pads) for the smarter smartphone generation.
“There’s something special that happens when you have someone listening to the sound of your voice in their eardrums for 40 minutes each week. You get something from a podcast listener that you don’t always get from a YouTube video or a blog post – their attention,” Cobb says.
“Having worked in the real estate industry most of my life, I know how much time the typical real estate agent spends in their car, so it made plain old sense to produce content that a) would engage our audience on a platform on which none of my competitors had a presence, and b) our audience could consume it in a way that fit in with their daily routine instead of interrupting it.”
Getting (and keeping) subscribers
There’s an exceedingly clever bloke from the US named Andy Crestodina, and he sums it up like this: “An ally in creation is an ally in promotion.” In other words: make clever friends, listen to their knowledge, share that knowledge in your content and thank them for it. Repeat.
“An ally in creation is an ally in promotion.” Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
Cobb has mastered this with the Real Estate Pros podcast, which helps real estate agents understand how to bring their businesses into the digital realm.
“In the early days, I would seek out people of influence in our industry, people I admire both personally and professionally, and ask them if I could interview them about their journey. Luckily, they all said yes,” Cobb says.
“I kindly ask each guest to share their interview with their audience, which has certainly helped drive direct traffic. We also use a mixture of paid and organic social media, Slideshare roundups and our own industry research to drive traffic to our website. We use a range of SumoMe tools on our website to help us convert any traffic we get into email subscribers.
“Today, we have 42,039 email subscribers, real estate agents from around the world, who receive our podcast every Sunday morning.
Subscribers, not selling
Cobb says the next step for brands using a content approach is to set the only marketing goal they need right now – subscribers.
“I think it’s important to consider that if you’re focusing on filling your leads pipeline as the primary objective of a content marketing approach, you’re setting yourself up to fail,” Cobb says.
“Your primary objective, first and foremost, should be filling your email subscriber list. These people will buy more from you, pay more for what you’re selling and tell more people about you.”
“Your primary objective, first and foremost, should be filling your email subscriber list.” Josh Cobb, Stepps
But how does Cobb know this? The answer is in the very real, very measurable data he extracts from his content marketing approach.
“Until recently, 90 per cent of our new business came from our email subscriber list, 7 per cent from existing clients and 3 per cent from organic search,” he says.
“More recently, a lot of our subscribers were telling us they wanted training on the practice of content marketing in real estate, so we started a series of workshops, run four times a year all around the country. Today, much of our new business comes from those who’ve attended our in-person events – but I should stress, they started as email subscribers.”
Real, human connections
Brisbane’s chief digital officer Cat Matson often talks about how there’s no such thing as B2B or B2C any more. It’s H2H – human to human. And a good podcast creates and maintains that connection.
Cobb sums it up: “I was standing at the San Francisco airport waiting for my bags while speaking on the phone to my wife. After I finished the phone call, a gentleman with an Australian accent came up to me and asked if I was Josh Cobb.
“After initially feeling a little creeped out, he told me how he had listened to every episode of our podcast and recognised my voice, even though he didn’t know what I looked like. That gentleman is the head of sales for one of Australia’s largest real estate franchise groups and they are now one of our largest clients.
“Content marketing allows your audience to get to know you and your opinions well before they meet you. And when they do, it completely changes the conversation from us saying ‘will you buy stuff from me’ to them asking ‘can you please sell something to me.'”