How Hard Can It Be With Heike Young
How Hard Can It Be With Heike Young
Lindsay Tjepkema: So there you are, getting ready to launch a podcast for your company. You've done your research, you've mapped out your strategy, you've planned your content, you've scheduled your guests. And then just before you launch the show, everything changes. One of your hosts is out. And you're left to figure out who's going to take the mic. Just as you're looking around for that new host, everyone else's eyes turn to you. Surprise. You're the host now. What do you do? Hello everyone. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, the B2B podcast platform. And this is our podcast. So there's this little company called Salesforce. Maybe you've heard of it. Well, that not- so- little company has a not- so- little podcast. It's called the Salesforce Marketing Cloudcast. It was actually one of the first B2B podcasts, launching shortly after another little show called Serial, right after that hit our eardrums for the first time. That show, the Salesforce Marketing Cloudcast that is, has a long history evolving over the years, but maintaining its listenership, and paving the way to a few other Salesforce podcasts. A huge part of the reason for the show's success is one of the show's original hosts, Heike Young. She set out to produce the show, ended up as one of its first hosts, and has since gone on to hand the mic over to a new set of talented hosts. Let's hear from Heike herself on the Salesforce Marketing Cloudcast and how it was created, as well as the unexpected turns it took along the way, and all the work she did behind the scenes to capture great interviews, create exceptional guest experiences, and promote the show to get maximum value from it.
Heike Young: I'm Heike Young, I'm a Senior Manager for Strategy and Insights at Salesforce.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Thanks Heike. It's so good to have you on the show. And you're coming to us from a company we all know, Salesforce. You're here to tell us about the Marketing Cloudcast, which is one of the first really B2B podcasts that was out there. So give me a little bit of context about your history there, your role, and how the podcast came to be.
Heike Young: I've been around Salesforce for about six and a half years, I guess, depending on when this is published and the exact date. So I joined ExactTarget in February of 2013. I was the first ever new hire on the then nascent content marketing team. And so I was writing, working on things like white papers and research reports, and so many different blog posts. Blog posts for everything under the sun in the world of marketing. And I worked on a couple of different content teams at Salesforce right after that, including our corporate content team. And really, I guess it was about five years ago that there was a group of people, I guess I would call them content innovators at Salesforce. Some of our thought leaders internally that were always just pushing the envelope on content types. The individuals I'm referring to are Jeff Rohrs, who used to lead our insights function, and Joel Book, who was our primary thought leader around all things email and digital marketing. And these guys got together and said," Now Heike, you're on our content team. We'd love for you to help us make a podcast. So many of us are listening to podcasts now." This was right around the time that Serial was becoming really popular. And of course, everybody in marketing, anytime you see that bright, shiny object, that new content format, you want to make it too. You feel that creative energy pulsing through your veins. And you want to make something similar to the content creators that you admire. And so Jeff and Joel came to me with this idea. And I was really jazzed about helping them as a producer. And so I said, I'm going to learn how to do this. I'm going to wrap my mind around what's needed logistically to help you. And so, as I was doing all of this research Lindsay, and trying to figure out what I needed to do to produce the show for these guys, one of them, Jeff actually, had the opportunity to pursue a new challenge outside of Salesforce. And I was really sad because we had already put a couple of episodes in the can. And what I was doing at the time was just recording a few of these, and just getting some content ready to launch, so that when we did have a launch day and all their branding in mind, we could go for it. And he said," You know what I really think you should do Heike, is just co- host it yourself. Join Joel. This may not have been anything you've ever done before, but I really think you should just be the one to try it. You've got to be on all the calls anyway, as the producer. So you should just do it. Just run for it." And I was super nervous. But I decided to do it. I'm really glad I did.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's awesome. So I guess lean into that a little bit more. What was it like... Did you end up airing the episodes that Jeff was a part of, and then you just switched over to you? Or what did that look like?
Heike Young: No. Unfortunately we ended up needing to upcycle a couple of elements of those episodes, but not fully using them. So we didn't end up doing that. So through this process, I just began to think about some of my favorite podcasts. Not just those in marketing, but really out in the world in general. And what made me big fans of those shows. And try to just figure out how Joel and I could bring something similar to the people. And that's really what I did. And at least in terms of thinking about how we would approach the hosting. But there were so many other logistical considerations for launching a show like this. And it sounds so easy. I think podcasts sounds very low- fi. I'm sure anybody out there who's ever launched a podcast or thinking about it, has thought about it, can relate. But a podcast sounds so easy. How hard could it possibly be? Get a microphone, hit record, talk about some interesting stuff. On the contrary, all of us, especially those of us who are in B2B, marketing at large, complex organizations know that there are so many more boxes to check off when you embark on a project like this. And it's really not as simple as the best podcasters make it sound.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. That's one of the things. It's like watching Olympic sports, and it's like," I could totally do that." The very best make it seem so flawless. Like," That ski slope, I could totally do that. I've never actually been skiing before, but I'm sure I could do that." And it seems like a podcast. You listen to a really, really good one, and it just seems so effortless, which is how you know it's good. Tell me about time leading up to the show. How much was involved between the day you said," Okay, we're going to do this thing," and the launch day?
Heike Young: So many logistics. I could probably write a book just on what I did logistically to try to prepare for this. And I probably still didn't do everything that I possibly could have to make this a real success. There was definitely a lot of that internal selling and pitching of the idea, namely my manager. I let her know with some numbers, financially what this was going to cost the team. That even though a podcast isn't too expensive, it can certainly escalate in costs with the complexity and with the more that you want to do things like run ads for it, do some paid campaigns for it. There's really no shortage of money that you could spend if you had the ability to do so, even though it's pretty cheap to get started. So starting off with some of those initial numbers, crunching those," This is what we think that we should do." And then just really going into the logistics of where this was going to be published, all of the distribution tactics, our blog, our social channels. I mentioned those. Organic channels are great for podcasters because they are free. And I think many of us going into podcasting, it may not be a proven tactic yet. So you may have to start with like a smaller budget than you would for a brand new event, for example, a proven tactic. We did a lot of work on the branding. So we did go through a process of working out a couple of logos, working on the title, making sure everybody felt good about that. All of the legal approvals necessary to make sure you can bring a new brand name like that into market. Licensing a bunch of music for things like the intros or commercials on other podcasts, outros, and so on. Getting all of the equipment together for the hosts as well as guests, if they did need it, and they wanted to borrow it. Also just some of the other logistics. Things like transcriptions, like pre- interview questions that you would send them, getting all of that up and running. Because once... The podcast is like a train. Once it starts, it's just keeps going. The train is moving, and you are the conductor of the train. You've got to feed the beast. You got to be piping hot coals into that thing every week, so that it's continuing to maintain momentum in the market, get more listens and downloads, at least if you're trying to do a weekly podcasting model, instead of something where you drop an entire mini season at once. So really no shortage to things that you could consider. I would say if I had to think about the one or two that would make the biggest impact, it was really analyzing the strategy, like analyzing the topics, and just the types of guests that we wanted to feature, making sure everybody felt good and was aligned on that. And then aligning on the distribution. So all of the channels, week to week that we would be using to promote it. Because there's nothing worse than creating something amazing, creating some wonderful content, and then nobody can help you promote it. They say," We're promoting another thing right now. We're launching this," or," We can't actually use that at this time because our paid budgets are going to this thing." Really the distribution arm is as important as the creation arm. So aligning on that is super, super key.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Absolutely. And one thing we talk a lot about here at Casted is, go create your show. Once you hit publish, you're just getting started. I mean, if you just hit publish, you're leaving so much value on the table. It's what you do with it from there. So talk to me a little bit about that. So how in your time with the show, did you leverage the show? What did you do with it once you published it?
Heike Young: There were really three key audiences that I wanted to love this show; marketing at Salesforce, sales at Salesforce, and of course our customers and our prospects. And so I had different metrics of success, and just different measures of how I would know that I was resonating for each of these groups. On the marketing side, my goal was really to tap into as many organic channels as possible. So things like organic social, social images, audiograms. There's a lot of really cool tools that let you do this now. So just as many free channels as you can possibly tap into on the marketing side, do all of those. It's a great idea. Then there is the sales side. So for us, our salespeople have a ton content that they can push out to customers. Some of it does tend to, you might guess, be pretty salesy. It's pretty product- focused. And so having a more top of the funnel thought leadership type of approach here, and something very engaging and interactive for them to share with their customers, is great. But it's also an educational tool for sales. Salespeople are not just the mouthpiece to customers. They're not just the middleman between you and customers. Your sales team needs this information to probably get educated on the market as well. So one of the things I was really proud of was how much our sales team would reach out to me and say," I always listened to this when I'm driving into my territory. It just gets me in the right mindset for work. And it keeps me fresh on all of the latest trending topics that I'm going to be talking to customers about later." So that's perfect. And then finally on the customer side, really wanting to make sure that customers knew about it, that they could participate in it by joining as guests. And that if they were guests, that they had that VIP experience. So I was really focused on making sure that customers who appeared just felt like, even though this was the Salesforce Marketing podcast, and I knew I'm the wizard of Oz behind the curtains pulling all of the levers and it's just me, but making it feel like a very first- rate experience for them. Sending a gift afterward, making sure that they knew the nice things that people internally at Salesforce were saying about it, how we were using it, and just giving them a great memory of their time. And so I think the podcast, it becomes an essential part of sales, marketing, and external engagement if you look at it that way.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Absolutely. Because again, if all you're doing is just publishing the show and expecting feels to use it, and success to know that it's there, and your guests to share it, and people to just fall in love with it, and for it to go viral so to speak, that's not typically what happens. You're just getting started, and leveraging it, and making sure that you're getting all the value out of it. Not just as a podcast, but also like as part of your overall content strategy. You were talking about consumption of podcasts, and how you crank through, and doing more and more. Same could be said for creation of podcasts. I mean, there's definitely a lot of podcasts out there, that it's all about quantity. And nobody's going back and editing. And you're pushing through guests, and you're not prepping or following up. When you have someone who's on your show, whether they are a high- profile author, or influencer, or they're a practitioner, someone who's doing the work that you're talking about on the show, it's really, really important to really be thoughtful about that experience, and what your guests go through. So how did that evolve? How did that come about, and how did it evolve?
Heike Young: It's a great question. And I think it's definitely, even though I wasn't so eloquent as to say the guest experience as you just said, I think that it did become apparent to me that if I wanted these guests to be repeat guests, or if I wanted them to share with their networks like you said, if they were an influencer and they had a broad social network, part of the benefit, obviously of getting that guest is also that you hope they're going to share it with people. Of course. So it became clear to me that creating a great experience for them, from the scheduling process all the way through to the interview itself, down to giving them some assets for social sharing, was really important. So I had a few different templatized emails. I'm just a sucker for efficiency. So I definitely had some templated emails that I would use, some social graphics that I would share with them. Initially it was just PNGs and images. But later I brought in like some audiograms and different types of videos for social sharing. But it's all an important part of the process. And probably the apex of that experience is really the interview itself. So whether you are planning to interview the person, and then just almost verbatim, cut that tape and then publish it, or whether you're planning to do a more detailed type of edit with it, the interview is really everything. That's where you get all of the tape, and the great moments. And so I actually asked a lot of experts while back, people that always go on podcasts, what are the best podcast hosts doing to make this a good experience for you. Like, I don't want it to just be another show, and then you forget about it. I don't know. There's some simple things you can do, like being prepared, doing your homework. It sounds really simple. But not everybody does it. Also just getting to answer questions that they've never answered before. I think this is why the show Hot Ones on YouTube is so popular. The interviewer is always asking these sometimes seemingly random, but certainly well- researched questions to all of the guests. And also just treating people, really treating them like humans, and not just like interview robots. Because you can't... People are not dogs. You can't say, sit, stay. Say a great quote. You really have to coax them into great moments of tape. The benefit that I really had for launching a new podcast at Salesforce like this, was that I had the buy in of a couple of key individuals, namely Jeff and Joel, who thought it was a great idea and who wanted to help. And so having a couple of folks who have a lot of respect in the organization is a great way to just get some of those early executives bought in once they know that there's already a lot of great talent devoted to a project like this. But definitely aside from just us, there weren't that many people who were all part of this team. It was a pretty small tiger team who came together and said," Yeah, we're going to make the time to do this week after week. We're going to schedule the guests. All we really need is a small investment in real estate, on the blog, maybe some creative resources to create a few logos, and different images for social sharing." But a lot of the thought early on was really put more toward why do we need this? What are going to be the differentiators of this show? Do we have the bandwidth? Is it a podcast that we need to create a video series or something else? And really just thinking through what it would take realistically, I think was key in evangelizing this idea. We took several months to really go through this due diligence. And I think that really helped pay off in the end in terms of making sure everybody was bought in on the fact that this wouldn't just be such a small lift. It would actually require a lot of collaboration.
Lindsay Tjepkema: So do you feel like, looking back that those estimates and predictions were correct? Or did you overestimate or underestimate how much would be involved?
Heike Young: Well, I definitely overestimated and underestimated across the board. Now looking back there's things that I definitely know, that I didn't know then. I guess a couple of things I would say. One is that, I took for granted that a lot of people would know how to listen to, and download podcasts. It sounds really simple. But I'm not just talking about customers and audience members. I'm also talking about people internally. I think there's a subset of the American and global population that loves listening to podcasts. We've got them on our devices everywhere. We're listening at double the speed so we can get through more. We're super listeners. But there's a lot of folks that maybe they've never actually downloaded a podcast before. Maybe this is brand new information to them. They don't know if they should use that native iTunes app, or if they should use something else. And both externally and internally, I think I overestimated the amount of people that would just immediately know how to do this. So one of the things that I began doing was in all of my blog posts early on, I would just include a couple of quick screenshots with literally how to subscribe, just to let people know how to do this. Like, click on this button and you will be subscribed. Another thing that I guess I underestimated was probably just the amount of time it would take to schedule and get high- quality guests, as well as just sending them swag. Just basically everything having to do with external guests. It is such a beast of a job. It involves things like PR if you're dealing with high- profile authors or customers. It involves things like enablement. Maybe there's some sales people that you want to capitalize on their relationships with customers. So you need to educate them about what you need, and then get their customers on board. It just involves so many different pieces. I also had this idea early on that I had seen other podcasters do where they mailed gifts to all of their guests. So I thought that was a really sweet idea. And that alone, that spreadsheet that I maintained of addresses and shipping gifts, it took so many hours of my life, and I think it was probably worth it. But I would want to crunch some ROI numbers to know for sure.
Lindsay Tjepkema: What did success look like to you? What kinds of things were you measuring, and how were you doing that?
Heike Young: Definitely. Well, anybody who's ever worked on a podcast knows that measuring is a moving target. We talked a little bit earlier about how a lot has changed since I launched this podcast in 2015. So back in 2015, iTunes didn't even have that data yet on duration listened to. It was really just downloads, countries in the world where people had listened from. And it was really rough. If I were doing so today, I would not only look at downloads, but I would also look at certainly duration listened to. This is something J Kenzo says all the time. Get them to the end. That's the most important thing, and what percentage are actually getting to the end? And if they're not getting to the end, there could be a couple of things at play. It could be too long of content. It could be not resonant enough. There's some different things you could look into there. I also did a number of listener surveys to just inquire what were some of the most interesting pieces of content to them? What were their favorite interviews, as well as their least favorite. So it's hard, but you got to ask," What don't you like about this?" And you'll get some really interesting answers. And then I also measured success by a number of customer stories highlighted. So I wanted to make sure we had a sufficient number of those on each quarter, as well as how it spawned off other content. So we talked about how this can be the crux or the apex of a multifaceted content strategy. So just measuring how many other types of content that we were able to create based on these interviews, which admittedly are a high lift. So there's definitely a lot more, I think that podcasters can look into for their specific business needs. Another thing that we did at one point, I should point out too, was we did a bunch of SMS text to downloads. And we had those links created in Salesforce. They were unique URLs just with the podcast as the driver. And so we were able to see how many people downloaded different PDFs from lead generation pages based on the podcast. So that was a cool idea to try with SMS. But I think more so than just the numbers alone, there's so many vanity metrics around this," We're in the top 10 on iTunes in the business category," or whatever, that are great. But I think for me, what I was more pleased with was just the resonance. So not so much just the reach, but just the resonance. We won a couple of awards. One for best podcast from the Content Marketing Institute. One for best content marketing multi- year program, which I'm probably more proud of just, because I think anybody can create something cool one time. But if you can create something cool repeatedly, that is more impressive. And just the long tail of it, that people still come up to me at conferences and talk to me about my participation in the Cloudcast years later. It's still really amazing. The back catalog of podcasts is so, so popular. People love to go back to their favorite shows and listen from the beginning. So just knowing that it continues to find an audience from something that I did years ago, it's so cool. And it's one of the things that I'm really proudest of in my marketing career.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. As you should be. So what was it like to hand it over? And when did that happen?
Heike Young: It was really bittersweet to hand over the Marketing Cloudcast to the very capable and talented hosts that run it now, Tina and Megan. Although I knew that it wasn't the right time for me to continue doing it. I had received a promotion inside the company, and a new role on a different team. And it just didn't make sense for me to try to hold on to it. I was still sad to just lose that week to week connection with my audience, and all of the relationships that I had built with different guests. It's just so unique to podcasting, I think just the richness and the quality of the relationships and the conversations that you have. But it was ultimately for the best. I was able to pursue something in our industry's team at Salesforce. So I'm over on our retail and consumer goods side now. And it's more of a niche area than marketing in general. And so I just think Tina and Megan are absolutely rocking it now. I'm really proud of everything that they brought to the show. I continue to hear such great feedback from our customers and our listeners about the show. And so I'm really happy with where it ended up. But I definitely do still miss it. And I miss just being able to hop on the phone with some of the industry's coolest, most interesting people, and just ask them whatever I wanted to for 30 minutes. So if you're in a position of getting to do this for your company, you're producing a show, you're editing it, you're even one of the hosts, you should feel really fortunate. Because it's a big deal to get to serve in this function for your company, you're being trusted with a lot of important relationships and conversations. And that's something to be very proud of.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, for sure. So as podcasters, we all have stories behind the mic, if you will. Those times where you forgot to hit record, or there's something happening in the studio that you're so glad there's no video feed. So I know in the 100- plus episodes that you did, you've got stories. So share one. What's one you could share?
Heike Young: Back when I was using Skype, there was definitely one time that I was under the blanket for. And I accidentally turned the camera on. And so I'm not sure if anyone saw it. If they did, they were very polite. But I'm pretty sure that I turned the camera on by accident for a split second. So people saw my sweaty face in my closet recording this podcast. It was so embarrassing.
Lindsay Tjepkema: They're like," Wait, what? What is happening over there?"
Heike Young: Yeah. These are the things that happen when you're-
Lindsay Tjepkema: ...do what you got to do.
Heike Young: Yeah. Wine it. Yeah.
Lindsay Tjepkema: You do what you got to do. And hey, acoustics don't get much better than in a closet under a blanket.
Heike Young: They don't.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing everything. Is there anything you would share with listeners who might be getting started on this path, or anything that you would have done differently? Learnings you'd share.
Heike Young: One of the things I would really recommend doing as much as possible and as early as possible is, as much listener feedback as you possibly can. So I did some listener surveys via Google Forms. I think this was really effective. But I would have loved to do it sooner in the process if I had just more resources for getting it out there, and then addressing some of the feedback. So more listener surveys. I also recommend a digital focus group, giving them sneak previews, like a Patreon model for your podcast. This is something that I never did, but I've heard of some great podcasters doing it that I really admire. Folks like J Kenzo, who has a group of VIP listeners that he just bounces ideas off of and shares content with before releasing to the general public. And I think this is a great idea, and something I should have tried. I also think it would have been a great idea to just get an email list for our show. I think email could have really been the key to unlock longterm subscribership, and participation beyond just the podcast. But it was hard to implement. Getting email addresses, there's so many opt- in requirements and rules. And it was a little bit of a bearer to try to get it set up. And so that's something that I would definitely try to do more, just to get people to engage off of the headphones.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's it for today's show. Thank you so much to today's guest. To learn more about them and see Casted in action with clips of today's show and related content, visit casted. us. Thanks so much for listening.