Brand Positioning for B2B Growth with Ambient Strategy's April Dunford

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This is a podcast episode titled, Brand Positioning for B2B Growth with Ambient Strategy's April Dunford. The summary for this episode is: <p>Unlock the hidden potential of podcasting and revolutionalize your marketing strategy.</p><p><br></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">April Dunford</a> is the author of&nbsp;<em>Obviously Awesome</em>&nbsp;and the Founder of Ambient Strategy, where she helps growing B2B companies by developing positioning to stand out in the market.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>Today, she and Lindsay explore the power of different content modalities and share insights on how companies can experiment with various formats to engage their target audience better. Discover the secrets to creating a standout podcast, positioning it against the competition, and leveraging video for a more significant impact. Whether you're a marketing professional or a business owner, this episode can help you unlock your podcast's potential and stay ahead in your marketing initiatives.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Listen in for:</strong></p><p>🔥 02:34&nbsp;-&nbsp;06:45 The importance of positioning &amp; elevating marketing beyond tactics</p><p>💡 08:50&nbsp;-&nbsp;12:51 Adapt your marketing strategies to customer needs and market opportunities</p><p>🏎️ 13:12&nbsp;-&nbsp;15:46 Drive your marketing results by identifying what works and amplify your success</p><p>🗝️ 20:24&nbsp;-&nbsp;23:38 Harness the power of your podcast and fuel your growth</p><p>🧪 24:43&nbsp;-&nbsp;26:42 Experiment with content formats to boost audience engagement</p><p>🔮 31:22&nbsp;-&nbsp;33:39 Standing Out &amp; Staying Ahead: Navigating the competitive podcasting landscape</p>
🔥 The importance of positioning & elevating marketing beyond tactics
04:10 MIN
💡 Adapt your marketing strategies to customer needs and market opportunities
04:01 MIN
🏎️ Drive your marketing results by identifying what works and amplify your success
02:33 MIN
🗝️ Harness the power of your podcast and fuel your growth
03:13 MIN
🧪 Experiment with content formats to boost audience engagement
01:58 MIN
🔮 Standing Out & Staying Ahead: Navigating the competitive podcasting landscape
02:17 MIN

Lindsay Tjepkema: Welcome to The Casted Podcast. It's the destination for the most innovative and forward- thinking marketers in B2B, like you. Each week I host conversations with brilliant marketing leaders on the tactics and tricks that they're harnessing to reach their revenue goals, rev their thought leadership engines, amplify their marketing voice in the marketplace, and ultimately drive real business results. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, and this is The Casted Podcast.

April Dunford: I'm April Dunford. I run a consulting business called Ambient Strategy. I work mainly with B2B high- growth tech companies, and my focus, very specifically, is on positioning. I'm also an author. So I wrote a book called Obviously Awesome, which is my thinking around positioning, and how to actually do it. So if you think your positioning is not- so- good, how would you go about fixing it? You can see it here on my shelf.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Strategic brand placement. I like it. Okay. So, thank you so much for being here. I'm really excited for this conversation. I am a brand nerd. I have been for 20 years, and I'm excited to talk to somebody who knows a lot more than I do about branding and positioning.

April Dunford: I'm super- happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. Okay. So, let's first talk about the fact that you have a book that is obviously awesome. Let's start there as a foundation of what it's about, why you wrote it, why you felt compelled to put that out into the world, and then we'll use that as a touchstone for where to go in our conversation.

April Dunford: So I spent the first 25 years of my career as a repeat vice president of marketing at a series of high- growth tech companies, and I think I did seven in total. Six of those were acquired. After I was coming out of my last one I thought, " Am I really going to do this again? Or maybe I'm going to do something different this time." So about seven, eight years ago, I made the switch to consulting. And in my career, I had been really specifically focused on positioning, particularly in the latter steps of my career. I had developed a way to do positioning. And for the last few years of my career, if you hired me as the VP of marketing, you hired me because you had a positioning problem, and I came into the interview and spoke intelligently about how we were going to fix that. So when I decided to switch into consulting, it made sense for me to focus on that as a thing that I could work with companies on. So, that was my focus. The book came about for two reasons. One was, there were a lot of little early- stage startups who would come to me with questions about positioning. And they're so early- stage that the founders aren't even paying themselves, so they don't have any money to pay a consultant. So instead we'd just have these coffee meetings, where I'm trying to teach them something in an hour or two hours. And I got thinking, " You know what? I should really write this methodology down. And then I could just point them at the blog post or whatever and say, 'This is how you do it, and stop bugging me over coffee meetings.'" And then the second thing was that founders would call me with positioning issues, and we'd spend the first call just talking about, " What is positioning? How should we think about that?" And generally we'd have to have a second call to talk about, " Well, the positioning is maybe not good. Here's how I'm going to go about fixing it." And I thought, " Well, wouldn't it be great if I had a book that just wrote this methodology down? And then everyone could read that, and then you could decide on your own whether you thought that was a good idea or not, to fix it that way. And then if you did, you'd call me, and we'd be past that already." So it started out, I thought, " Well, I'll just write a blog post." And then that blog post started to get really long, and then I was like, " Oh, this is actually kind of more like a book." And then that's how the book came about.

Lindsay Tjepkema: That's awesome. That's fantastic. I love the focus on positioning, because I think that one thing that I found at many different companies, and it's definitely true today, but has been over the years, is that positioning is often overlooked. Because marketers are-

April Dunford: Oh, yeah.

Lindsay Tjepkema: ...under so much pressure to deliver. Deliver stuff. Anything from conversions, to blog posts, and everything in between. Like, " Do, do, do, do, do. Keep going. Keep going." And we often don't feel that we have the luxury to stop and ponder about such things as positioning. But it's so foundational. It is absolutely imperative.

April Dunford: Well, and sometimes we get the vibe that maybe that's not our job. When I was working at startups, when I started in marketing at startups, I got the impression that that was the CEO's job or something. To figure out, " How do we win in the market, and who are we going to target, and what's our competition?" And even thinking about things like, " What's our differentiated value? Why does a customer pick us versus the other guys?" I had the impression at the beginning, my job wasn't to figure that stuff out. That's an input. Somebody gives me that, and my job is to work my marketing tactical magic, and make the leads appear. Like, " This is my job." So at the beginning, I had this impression. You just throw whatever crap it is that you got. It comes flying over the fence, and my job is to spin that crap into gold. And the big money, hearts, and sparkles, and rainbows comes out the other side. So, I actually thought that was my job. So if I wasn't doing that job, it's because I didn't know what I was doing tactically. If the email campaigns weren't performing, I had to get better at email. And if the ads weren't performing, I had to get better at ads. If the content didn't convert, well, my content must be crappy. But then, as I got more senior, it became clear to me that it is kind of a garbage- in, garbage- out situation. If what I've got is a positioning that basically... value propositions that my customers don't care about, a product that appears to be completely undifferentiated, I can be doing a perfect job at tactical marketing stuff and it is going to produce nothing. So once I realized that, then I was like, " Okay. Well, Boss Man might not think this is my job. But if we don't fix this, I can't do my job. So I got to figure out a way to at least agitate to get this fixed, even if I'm not the one fixing it. We got to figure out how to fix these inputs, because otherwise I got garbage coming in and garbage coming out, and there's nothing left for me to do except quit my job and find a new one."

Lindsay Tjepkema: Right. Yeah. And I think now more than ever... When did you start writing the book? How long ago?

April Dunford: Oh, man. Ages ago. You know what? I had a bunch of false starts on this book. I thought I was going to write it, and then I got halfway through it and I was like, " I'm not a book writer."

Lindsay Tjepkema: Apparently you are, April.

April Dunford: Yeah. Well, I mean, now I can say that, because I actually wrote a book. But I still don't feel like a book writer. I have an engineering degree. I shouldn't be writing anything. Even when I was running marketing teams, I think it's important as a marketing leader to understand where your strengths and weaknesses are, and writing was in my weak pile. I would always hire somebody who's really good at writing to make up for my lousy writing skills. Anyway. So, yeah. I had a few false starts, where I'd get halfway through and I'm like, " Why am I even writing this stupid thing?" So I probably started writing the in 2015, 2016, and it didn't actually get out until 2019. And then nobody really heard of it until 2020, which is where it started to sort of take off. But yeah, it's been a road.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Okay. I like that background. That context is really interesting, because I was going to ask, based on when you were putting it together... Because a lot has changed.

April Dunford: Yeah.

Lindsay Tjepkema: A lot has changed over the last decade, over the last few years, over the last year. Right? Positioning is, was, and always will be super- duper important. But I'm curious, especially now, in whatever the heck you want to call it that's happening in the economy, things are happening. Especially to marketing budgets, especially to marketing teams. Marketing teams are feeling the crunch more than usual. I mean, marketers are used to having to do more with less, and to constantly deliver more and more with less and less. But now, I mean, it's a whole new level now. So, I'm curious what you've seen as you've had lots of these conversations about positioning and about your expertise. How good, bad, or otherwise, how is that impacting how people are paying attention or not to positioning?

April Dunford: Yeah. So, I think there's a handful of things. So one is, when there is a turn in the macroeconomic climate, often we need to do an adjustment in our positioning to account for that. And what's actually going on is, customer behavior and preferences change because they are under economic strain. So, it's not so much that we're under economic strain. It's that our buyers are under economic strain. That's actually really the problem. So first, the buyers get under economic strain. So you'll have this thing, particularly in B2B, if we sell something to businesses. If you think about it at super- high conceptual level, if I'm selling something to a business, my value to that business is generally, I'm either helping you make money or I'm helping you save money. That's about it. It's one or the other. This product is going to help you make more money or save more money. And when the economy is good, helping a company make money is a way better value proposition than helping them save a few bucks. So when the economy is good, we tend to be really focused on, " How are we going to help you make more money? Everything's growing. Everything's good. How are we going to..." Now, you'll get this thing where all of a sudden the customer's under constraints, economic climate has turned. They're not making so much money anymore. They got budget pressures. So then they're like, " Okay, I'm actually not worried about making money right now, because the making money option is off the table." So now what I'm trying to do is, more with less. I'm getting my budgets clawed back. So I'm really interested in, " How do I save money? If you've got a thing that's going to help me reduce my budget a little bit, that would actually be really handy." So us, as the vendor, we're left in a situation where, " Oh my gosh, we got to react to that." So we had this make- money value proposition that all of a sudden doesn't work so well, and maybe we want to adjust, and focus on the ways we're going to help you save money. So, that's one thing that happens. The second thing that tends to happen for us as vendors is, we'll get into a downturn like this, and customers don't have budgets, and they're not buying. So our revenue starts getting flat, our budgets get cut. And oh my gosh, we've got to do more with less. And one of the obvious ways to do more with less, if you're a B2B company, is to adjust your targeting. So usually what we've got, and this is very true in this economic climate we have right now, not everybody's in bad shape. So some segments of the economy is in bad shape, other segments are on fire. So if you happen to sell to tech companies, growing tech companies right now, not so good. Most of them, they're not raising money. They're trying to keep their budgets low, all that stuff. If you're selling to healthcare, healthcare is actually pretty good right now. If you're selling to travel and hospitality is actually really good right now. There's a bunch of things that are actually growing, and on fire, and amazing. So if you are a company that sells to a wide swath of customers, one of the things you could do to do more with less is to say, " You know what? We're really going to focus in on this sub- segment of our market that does have money, that is buying stuff. And we're going to focus less on the parts that aren't doing anything, and we'll come back to them later, when they've got budget and stuff. But we know these people are buying, so we're going to focus over here." That is a shift in positioning, generally. So if I look at the companies that I'm working with right now, a lot of them are tightening their positioning up to really run at this section of the market that's got budget that's growing. So they're fishing where the fish are, basically. And putting less of a focus on the parts of their target market that, they're just not buying right now be, but we'll worry about them next year whenever they get budget back.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Interesting, and it just makes sense. That makes sense. So if you are a marketing leader, you might feel like you have a little bit more say over that than a marketing manager or a marketing specialist. So, what would you say to the more junior individuals that are trying to figure out how they can help? What do you say to them?

April Dunford: Yeah. Well, I think a lot of the signal that we're looking for to see what's working and what isn't, and what segments are buying, and clicking, and whatever, a lot of that signal is going to come from the tactical stuff that we're running right now. So I think if I was more junior, let's say I was involved in content creation, I'd be getting really tight on my metrics around that, and looking at what's working and what isn't. But really, in particular, what's working, because there's a lot of stuff that's not working. But are there bright spots, and what can we learn from the bright spots on the things that are working? And then run that up the chain as much as you can. Because the more your bosses understand about what's working, the more they can, again, focus in on the stuff that does work. So I find what does happen, when we get a shift like this, is everybody starts to panic a little bit. And people get bummed out, and all they do is say, " This doesn't work. This doesn't work. This doesn't work. This doesn't work." And there's nothing I can do with that as a manager. You come and tell me a whole bunch of stuff doesn't work, I'm like, " Well, no kidding. I know nothing's working. Tell me what is working." So I think if you're more junior, what you're looking for is any signs of light. You're looking for any signs of light, and generally there's something you can grab onto. So I would be looking around and saying, " What is working?" Even if it's just working a little bit. What is working, and then is there a way we can double down on that? Is there a way we can expand on that? Is there a way that we could take that little spark and turn it into a big flame?

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, so you've been VP of marketing. You said you kept getting hired for these VP of marketing roles. I've sat in that seat before too. And I think, so that anyone who's listening to this hears it from both of us. I know for me, and I'm curious if you would agree, if I was VP of marketing role and someone on my team came to me, if it was an intern, anyone on the team came to me and said, " There's a bunch of things that aren't working. Here's a list of things that are. I highlighted the ones that I think that we should double down on, and here's why."

April Dunford: Amazing.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Amazing, right?

April Dunford: Amazing. Great. Let's go.

Lindsay Tjepkema: And understanding the value that has to your leader is really important. And then it gets into understanding the money- making model of the business, and why all that stuff is important.

April Dunford: Well, that's it.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Regardless of what role you have on your team, doing that kind of thing matters. So, there you go. It's a really great takeaway.

April Dunford: Exactly, and you come to me with problems. If you come to me and say, " Well, here's all the things I ran this month. Oh, and here's all the things that didn't work," there's nothing I can do with that information. Unless you got a theory about why it didn't work, and now you're going to test it and turn it into something that does work. Okay, then I'm down. Now I'm listening. But if you just come in and say... And this is often what happens when things abruptly go bad, is the team freaks out. It's like everything was working, and now everything's not, and they're like, " Oh, crap." So they're in there going, " Ah, all the things are not working." And I think my job as the leader is to, one, tell everybody, " Okay, downturns happen." And I feel like that old lady that says, " Ah, you should have seen it in 2000. Way worse." I'm that person. Or I'm like, " You know what? It happens. We go in cycles. So, this is going to be bad. It's going to be bad. We're going to have to put our heads down. Our budget's going to get clawed back. We're going to have to do more with less. All the things that worked last year, a whole bunch of those things aren't going to work anymore. Our job now is to figure out what works now. And we all know there's a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't work, but don't come to me with the stuff that doesn't work."

Lindsay Tjepkema: It's like standing in the pantry, looking at everything, and it's like, " Okay, we need to make something." It's like, " Don't shout at me all the things that have gone bad. Tell me the things that are good. Even if you don't have a recipe, tell me the things that we do have to work with." Don't be like, " Well, we don't have any more chili powder." It's like, " Okay. Cool. What do we have though?" Even if you don't know what to do.

April Dunford: I got this job as the VP of marketing, and we had been doing trade shows forever and ever. And trade shows clearly didn't work for this company, but they kept doing them because nobody had any other bright ideas about what to do. That was one reason. And the second reason was, they had a couple of people on the team whose job it was to run trade show stuff. So my first week I was in there, the trade show people are in my office and they're like, " Trade shows aren't working." And I was like, "Well, I gathered this-

Lindsay Tjepkema: I can see that. Yes.

April Dunford: ...from looking at the data. So, can we fix it? It looks like they've been not working for two years. Have we tried stuff, or should we just stop doing trade shows?" And my folks came in with this like I was supposed to fix it, and I was like, " You've been working on trade shows for two years?" You know me. So we tried a few things, but in the end we stopped doing trade shows and started doing other things, because trade shows had run their course. It just wasn't working for us for the target market we were trying to go after.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Exactly. Exactly.

April Dunford: Virtual events ended up being quite good for us. So that was good, because one of my people that was focused on trade shows was like, " Well, we ran this one virtual event six months ago, and that was pretty good." And I was like, " That sounds good. Why don't we try more of that?"

Lindsay Tjepkema: There you go. There you go. It's not being afraid. You can't lead from fear. You can't lead from what's not working. You have to say, " Here are the things that are working. And I don't know what to do with it. I don't know what to do with this data, but here's the thing that worked." That serves your leader at being able to help you solve the problem.

April Dunford: Yeah.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Because I also think there's a lot of pressure with, " Don't come to me with problems. Come to me with solutions." It's like, " Even if you don't have a solution, just come to me with ingredients. What do we have?"

April Dunford: Well, this is it. That advice, " Don't come to me with problems. Come to me with solutions." Sometimes you do have to come to me with problems. Sometimes you have problems that only the boss can fix, and that's okay. But if you're coming to me with a problem that I'm like, " I got no way to fix that any more than you do." Sometimes we have a tactic that used to work, and now it doesn't work anymore. I don't know, unless we got some things. The one thing, I think, when we have an economic turn this is, everybody's got to adjust. Everybody's got to let go some of the, " Yeah, I know that stuff used to be great, and now it's not. So, now what are we going to do?" We just got to let it go, some of it. And just say, " You know what? No, that's just..." Maybe we'll get back to that next year or the year after. But right now, no budget, no people, no time, no results. We're going to do different stuff.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Going to do different stuff. Okay. So, that's an interesting door- opening for me to talk podcasts. So we're on a podcast about podcasts. I am curious, as a brand positioning extraordinaire, where do you think podcasts fit in? How do you see something like this medium and conversations like these helping a marketing team with their positioning?

April Dunford: One of the things I think about podcasts is that I think you can use a podcast for lots of things. Lots of things. And I think it's actually worthwhile, if you're going to do a podcast, to sit down and decide, " What's it for? What are we trying to do here?" Is this a front- of- the- funnel thing? Is this a back- of- the- funnel thing? " What are we actually doing the podcast for," I think is a really good question. I've seen companies do a good job of, where they have an idea that is very closely associated with their point- of- view on a market, and they're using the podcast as a way to just explore that. So they're exploring it with people in the company, they're exploring it with customers, they're exploring it with experts. So it's this idea that we've got a thesis or an idea about the market, and then we're going to do a podcast around that, and just run around the edges of it and talk about this thing. It's good early- funnel stuff, but it actually is sometimes very good mid- funnel stuff too. I've seen people do a good job with podcasts that I would consider later- funnel stuff. A lot of people think about podcasts as being branding, getting the word out, awareness sort of stuff. Very early- funnel stuff. But I've seen people do a good job where they're actually just bringing customers in, and they're having customers talk about stuff. And then the sales team are using particular episodes almost like a case study, where they're like, " Oh, here's this customer having a conversation with us about how they did X, Y, Z with A, B, C.". And I mean, that's late- funnel stuff. What's neat about podcasts over a case study is that sometimes you don't need to get the same legal approvals and things like that as you do if you're running a case study. In some ways I think it's a neat little hack to get a customer talking about what they did with your stuff, where you can kind of run around the legal department because we're not writing it down.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, and you see, April, I have been saying these things. But now that they hear it coming from you, everybody's going to know that it's for real.

April Dunford: Well, that's it. And again, a case study, if I write it down and it's a thing. Well, now I send it to you, and it's got to go to your legal department, and someone's got to approve it, and someone's going to say, " I don't like this word, blah, blah, blah, blah." Whereas we're just having a conversation about stuff. Sometimes it doesn't go through the same... It depends on the size of the company. Some big companies will have a thing where they're like, " You're not allowed to talk about that stuff." But mid- size companies, a lot of times you try to do a case study, no way. You get them on the podcast, they'll talk away, and it's fine.

Lindsay Tjepkema: I think that's twofold. One, yes, it's all of the proofing, and approvals, and that whole thing. It's also just easier. It's so much easier. We did two or three seasons on our podcast that were exclusively talking to customers. That's it. And it wasn't about Casted, but it was about, " How are your podcasts working, and why are you using a podcast, and how does it fit into your strategy?" And it's so much easier to say, " Give me an hour of your time. In fact, I'll probably end up just taking about 40 minutes. And let's just talk about you, and let's talk about how this is working. And sure, if you mention the product, that's great. But this is about you. And by the way, you're going to get coverage from this too. And hopefully this is a lift for you, and this is great exposure for you."

April Dunford: This is exactly it. And I do think it's funny. I started out being a podcast guest for this exact reason. It's 10,000 times easier to do this with you than it is for me to sit down and write a blog post about, " What do you do in an economic downturn?" And again, I'm an engineer. I need help on the writing side.

Lindsay Tjepkema: And how do you structure the flow, and how do you format it, and how long should it be?

April Dunford: Well, and then distribution. So, then I write it. But then where's it going to go, and how's anybody ever going to see it? Whereas I'm on your podcast and I'm in front of your audience. I didn't have to build this audience. You built the audience.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, there's a lot you can do with podcasts. There's a lot. You can use it at different parts of the funnel, different parts of the buying process. What else do you think, when you're talking to brands or talking to your own audience, about what they want to know about positioning and branding? What else do you tell them about how podcasts... Or in video as well. Conversations with their audience, conversations with their users and their influencers. What advice do you give?

April Dunford: I think that it's good to experiment with different modalities for content. A lot of companies default to, " We're going to do text, basically. We're writing white papers and we're doing stuff." Traditionally, our content's been pretty text- heavy, and I think there's a lot of people that just don't want to consume content that way. We've seen the explosion in podcasting. Audio content, a lot of people just prefer to consume content that way. And then same thing with video. It's engaging. Some people love videos. Some people don't like videos so much. But I think it's important for companies to experiment with stuff so that they know what works for your audience. I worked with a company. They sell to really, really techy developer types. And they experimented with video, and didn't have very much luck with that. So they were doing video, and it was kind of not- so- good. And then they went into podcasting without video, weirdly. So they were building these corporate video things, and nobody was doing that. Then they went into podcasting. That was good. So, they got lots of listeners with the podcast. Then they added a video to the podcast, and that worked. And then they start started doing all kinds of things that were a lot more visual to augment that. So again, I think it's experimentation. I think it's super easy to spin up a podcast right now. So, it used to be harder. The tech used to be harder, the equipment used to be more complicated. Now it's pretty easy to just spin one up, and run it as an experiment, and let's just see.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. I think so too, and you do need to run it long enough to understand whether or not you get results.

April Dunford: That's true. Any content. It's the same if we were talking about the blog or anything else. We can't just say, " Oh, we're going to do Twitter for a week and see if it works."

Lindsay Tjepkema: Isn't that funny? We get asked about benchmarks all the time, which I think are important. What should we be looking for? What does good look like? But nobody asks about that for blogs anymore. Everybody knows that you're going to have a blog, obviously. We're a company. Of course we have a blog. But how many people are coming to it?

April Dunford: And again, I would treat that everything else. Like, " Maybe we do, maybe we don't. I don't know. Let's test it and see."

Lindsay Tjepkema: Right. It depends on, " Who's it for, why are you doing it, and what works best for your brand?" Because for one company... And I'm 100% sure that you deal with this all the time with people that you talk to. One company that's doing a podcast and seeing 10 listens or views a month, but they're the right 10 people. That might make perfect sense for them. Whereas another one, if they're not getting 10,000 downloads a month from most of the right people, they're not going to see it generate the results that they need. So that's what makes it so difficult with, again, all content. Yes, podcasts. Yes, video. But all content is that it's bringing this all full- circle. You have to be so crystal clear about, " Who is it for, why are you doing it, and what is your positioning?" What are you going for for your brand, for your positioning? Then and only then can you start to say, " Is any of this working?" Because otherwise you're comparing yourself to other brands with other goals, and other audiences, other positioning. And it's not apples- to- apples. It never will be.

April Dunford: That's exactly it. That's exactly it. And I think there's a real danger for people. I think podcasting is one, it's hard to know how... People say, " How many listeners is good?" That's like saying, " How long's a piece of string?" I don't know. I don't know. And then the other thing is, people exaggerate their numbers. So they'll say, " Well, my friend has this podcast that gets..." They'll throw some number at me, and I'll be like, " Pretty sure your friend's not getting that, but okay." So then it's almost impossible to get listenership numbers from anybody, unless you... There's no good way. We're getting better on tools now, that we can at least see where people rank relative to each other, but-

Lindsay Tjepkema: I love that. How long is a piece of string? Because understanding, first of all, you can't compare, you shouldn't compare B2B podcasts with the number- one true- crime podcast.

April Dunford: Oh my gosh, no. No. That'd be like trying to compare website traffic B2C versus B2B. The audiences are smaller. We're going for a niche here. We actually don't want everybody coming. We just want our people coming. Yeah. So as a result, the numbers are never going to be the same.

Lindsay Tjepkema: And it's not about quantity. It's about who. Who is consuming the content? Who. That's what we try to get to.

April Dunford: We need these things to be somewhat qualified.

Lindsay Tjepkema: It's true. It's true.

April Dunford: And then the other thing is, you might decide that the podcast is serving a different purpose than awareness. So again, you might decide that the point of this podcast is, we're building content for other purposes. So again, if I'm interviewing customers and the sales team is going to use that stuff, who cares how many people listen to it when it comes out? If it's working for the sales team, well, let's just keep doing it. So it's things like that I think you got to get clear on, " What's the purpose? What are we trying to do here? Does it work?" And then you say, " Even if the audience is small, if it's the right audience, then you can get a lot of juice out of that." It's a lot like public speaking in some ways. If you think about speaking in front of an audience, the kind of work I do as a consultant is so niche- y. I only do B2B tech companies of a certain size, of a certain type. So occasionally I'll get invited to these conferences and they'll say, " Oh, you should come speak at our conference. We got 30,000 attendees." But then I look at the attendees and I'm like, " There isn't a single person here that would hire me." As opposed to, and then you'll get the invite for the one that's 300 attendees. But it's all CEOs, and they're all my thing, and whatever. And you're like, " Well, yeah. That's worth getting on the plane, and going out, and doing that talk. Podcast audience is the same thing.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, 100%. Absolutely. Okay. Well, before I let you go, I'm going to make you get out your crystal ball and tell me what you see and coming at us, especially through your lens of positioning. Who's going to win? The brands that focus on what are going to make it?

April Dunford: Well, I'll tell you, it is funny. We're talking about this podcasting topic. Like all things in marketing, when we have a tactic that works... And I would consider podcasting to be a tactic that works. What happens is, you'll get this flood of folks trying to do the tactic. So, it gets harder and harder to stand out. So let's say you're a company, and you're listening to this, and you're like, "Well, I don't know. Should I do a podcast or not?" Again, I think you got to be really careful and really intentional about it. I think it was easier a few years ago to just say, " Well, let's do a podcast. We'll just flop it out there. We'll see what happens." I think now there's so many companies trying to do that, and you're competing for the ears of everybody, and there's so many companies trying to do that that I think the more thoughtful and targeted you can be about, " What is this thing all about? What is the value that my listener's getting? What kind of listener am I trying to get here? How do I position this thing versus the 9, 000 other podcasts out there? Why listen to my thing versus anyone else's, because there's a lot of competition for that?" I think that competition is going to be steeper and steeper. At the same time, I have heard people say, " Oh, gee. Everyone's got a podcast now, so there's no point in launching a podcast now." I do not believe that at all. I think we are at the beginning of this, and that, as a medium, has a long way to go. And I think that about the video version of podcasts in particular. I think if we rolled this back three, four years ago, everybody was doing audio- only. And I think now people are having a lot of success of doing video distribution of this stuff, in particular through things like Instagram Shorts, and TikTok, and things like that as a way to get people into the podcast, and then get them excited about the content and into it. So, I actually think we're still in early days of this thing. So if it was me and I was still the VP of marketing, I'd be experimenting with stuff like this.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. I agree. And being in it every day and seeing how it's grown as a market over the last four years, we are very much still just getting started. Very much. So, I agree. I agree. Get your focus on positioning, include podcasting in it. And I appreciate it. This is really, really interesting. I am very appreciative of your time, and I'm glad that you've been here. And I think everybody should read your book, Obviously Awesome, because it's obviously awesome.

April Dunford: Thank you. Well, thanks so much for having me on.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Hey, that's our show. Thanks for joining in. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, and you can find me on Twitter @ CastedLindsay and on LinkedIn. You know the drill. If you liked this show, you'll like our other episodes too. So consider subscribing, sharing with others, and maybe even leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice. And if you're ready to harness the power of podcasting for your brand strategy, make sure that you click the link in our show notes to subscribe to the Casted newsletter and to all of our shows. You can also go to casted. us for the latest content from our team of experts to yours. Until next time.


Unlock the hidden potential of podcasting and revolutionize your marketing strategy.

April Dunford is the author of Obviously Awesome and the Founder of Ambient Strategy, where she helps growing B2B companies by developing positioning to stand out in the market. 

Today, she and Lindsay explore the power of different content modalities and share insights on how companies can experiment with various formats to engage their target audience better. Discover the secrets to creating a standout podcast, positioning it against the competition, and leveraging video for a more significant impact. Whether you're a marketing professional or a business owner, this episode can help you unlock your podcast's potential and stay ahead in your marketing initiatives.

Subscribe to The Casted Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and for more on B2B marketing and podcasting, sign up for the Casted Newsletter.

Today's Host

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Lindsay Tjepkema

|Co-founder & CEO, Casted

Today's Guests

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April Dunford

|Founder, Ambient Strategy