How to Craft Your Podcast Strategy with Trava’s Megan Noel
Lindsay Tjepkema: Welcome to the Casted Podcast. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, and I'm bringing you the conversations with the most innovative and forward- thinking podcasters in the B2B world. These brilliant marketers are harnessing the power of podcasting to reach their revenue goals, to rev their thought leadership engines, and to amplify their voices in the marketplace. Let's dive in to this week's conversation.
Megan Noel: I am Megan Noel. I'm the director of marketing here at Trava.
Lindsay Tjepkema: So Megan, tell me a little bit about how it started. You're launching a podcast as we speak, very soon, but this is not your beginning. What's your origin story look like in audio and video?
Megan Noel: Yeah, so when I came on at Trava about in January, so of this year, not a long time, there was a decent foundation of just content creation. We've only been, this is our third year, so we're still a relatively new company. So I was lucky in the sense that I had a bit of a clean slate to work with. So we had been doing some blogging, we were dabbling in some basic SEO strategy, but not anything really fleshed out. So taking a step back and looking at who are our ICPs, what are they reading, what are they watching, where do they live digitally, right? We had to begin to develop a strategy around that. So we started exploring what I keep calling differentiation of content. So what was working on our blog so far, what was working with our search, and then how do we make that less boring from a lack of a better word? So we started with video. We started doing more partner webinars, more recorded content from some of our leadership team. They were sitting down in front of their computer and talking about a topic, and we started putting it out there and seeing where it went. So we probably dug in about NQ2. We signed with Casted, obviously as a means for distribution and just making everything a little bit neater, and then started creating that content and playing around what was the best way to, not only what was the best content to produce to begin with, what was going to resonate, and then was it long form, was it short form? Was it a panel discussion, was it a formal webinar? And messing with those different pieces to the puzzle.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Got it. Okay. So that's only been a few months, right?
Megan Noel: Yeah.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. And who all is involved? So there's you presumably, yes. Who else is involved in what you're doing so far?
Megan Noel: Yeah, so I have a wonderful content specialist on my team named Jira. Her heads all in on content and content creation. And so the two of us kind of bounce ideas off of each other. She's always digging into the data. We're looking at what's working. And then we obviously are lucky enough to have a leadership team and just generally a supportive company as a whole that whenever we have these crazy marketing asks that most of the time they're like, " Yeah, okay. If that's what you're going to try, I can help you out with that." So we've been really lucky that no one has pushed back too hard on some of our ideas. But TBD.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I think you're good. I know your team and your leadership, you got some good ones. And what has that looked like as far as investment? I don't even necessarily mean how much are you paying, but time and people and resources and energy compared to everything else that you're doing. because I guarantee this is not the only thing you're doing in your job, what is your overall investment in what you're doing so far? And then we'll get to podcasts and what's next, how does that look? What kind of portion of your time and your resources is going to this video stuff that you're doing?
Megan Noel: So our team is really lean. It's myself and Jira. So that is the marketing team. Save some freelancers that we use for other projects, right? So when I was going to hire a person, choosing somebody that was specific on content creation was really important to me because looking at, I mean, we're a cybersecurity company, if you look out at the landscape, there are thousands of cybersecurity companies and how do you even begin to compete in a category when you are among so many similar people, right? We have not finished this journey of looking at what are we saying, how are we saying it, or even speaking in the right language because we don't want to be the image of, I always say the guy in the dark hoodie behind a computer screen that you think of cybersecurity companies, like we're approachable people that will help you through a journey. So it's well, how do we come off as being authentic and approachable if we are not ourselves in front of the camera? So that's kind of what started the journey into video and then into podcasting, because we discovered that our customers and our potential customers, they may be techy, they may have a tech background, but very rarely are they security savvy enough to understand the things that they need to understand for their business. So it's okay to be like, " We got, you don't have to know all the answers, let us help you." Versus looking at something and being, I'm just going to pretend I know what I'm talking about and fumble my way through a process. So we're trying to be more approachable, therefore putting ourselves out there as being real people behind a company instead of, I guess brand forward.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, no other content can do that quite like audio and video. On that note tell me about how this has evolved into this very, very soon to be podcast. Was that always in the picture? Did you always know that that was an end goal and just took some building? Or is it something that came up after you started doing video? How has this come to be?
Megan Noel: Yeah, very shortly after I was hired, I mean, it was always kind of a whisper of, it would be great if we had a podcast. And I think part of that came out of is that we have such great talented leaders in this team that have really big Rolodex of contacts. And so it's like how do we leverage all the people and the expertise that is on our team? And the best way we could think of was a podcast. Now how that's evolved a little bit more has been really looking at our ICP and figuring out, we don't need to talk at this level, right? We need to start at a more basic level. And that's among when Jira is doing a lot of the market research for existing cybersecurity companies and their podcasts. They were all talking up here, which is great, but there was nobody saying, " All right, talk to me. I'm a child about this compliance that I need to go through to be able to sell to enterprise customers." There was nobody kind of breaking it down. So we'd took a little bit of a pivot, at least in this first season, just to really break down the basics.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's so great because you said a couple things that I think are really important that I think will resonate, and if they haven't resonated yet, they should. Some big takeaways are you said it's crowded. Basically the summary is it's a crowded marketplace. There's lots of cybersecurity companies saying lots of things. There's also some preconceived notions, some conceptions about, perhaps even misconceptions, about what a cybersecurity company is and who they are. So you have a lot of noise, a lot of competition for share of eyeballs and ears, and you have a wider array of people that you could talk to, lots of different levels. And so what you did is you sought out the opportunity to fill a gap and to say, " Okay, everybody else is zigging, how can we zag? And how can we talk to a specific set of the audience on a really human level in a way that really resonates with them, provide some of the basics that maybe some people are perhaps afraid to ask or feel sheepish asking about or talking about?" And you're providing that support and guidance and answering some of the basic questions that I think people you're finding really need. Did you see that's accurate?
Megan Noel: And that's where, as we were brainstorming this, I always told her she was voluntold, right Jira was like, " We are marketers first and that we are becoming security savvy." So I was like, " You need to be the host. She needs to be the person on there saying, okay, I don't understand what you're talking about. Explain it in more depth." Because those are the real conversations we're having with our customers is they don't understand, just like we wouldn't understand maybe to a little bit deeper level, they understand. So she's really breaking it down so that it is a non- expert and an expert having a conversation on something, making it digestible.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I think that's so often overlooked. Everyone, always, full disclosure, we are a customer of yours too. And we went through SOC 2 compliance and Trava was a huge help. And perhaps there are people out there that are like, what is SOC 2 compliance? Tell me what this is. Don't tell me your hot, hot take on it or how and why or all these things. Break it down from me straight. So I think that's something that's really important for our audience too, is where can you even just fill a gap and provide some of the basics and be that trusted safe place where somebody can go for some of the most basic information because then you become, again, relating with someone on a human level and establishing trust starts sometimes in the most basic places.
Megan Noel: And it's funny that you say that because I read a study, and I hate saying millennials, but there are so many now, millennials that are business owners, especially SaaS startups. There's a lot of people that the study would resonate with, but they connect with people, not brands. So it truly is more about being authentic as a person and not selling something, being the most thought leaders, however, you said that thought leader of the group isn't necessarily important. It's showing the authenticity and vulnerability, but also providing knowledge and takeaways for the audience at the same time.
Lindsay Tjepkema: So as you have approached the last several months working from a video standpoint and a podcast standpoint, we've talked a little bit about it. You've really, it sounds like gotten into the Who's it for? Why are you doing it? What's the opportunity? That's great. From a content strategy standpoint. Let's talk about from a process and production standpoint, how is this looking for you? How does it work? You're a very small team. That's something we hear about a lot is, I have the bandwidth, it's just myself or it's just myself and the small team. How are you doing it? What is the day- to- day of putting your show together look like?
Megan Noel: So we both had some experience with podcasting. I actually produced a podcast in a previous role. But to speak to what you're saying is I don't have the time to produce a podcast nor does Jira. So we are leaning on an outside company. It's really great. They have a cohort model. So we're in a cohort with other podcasts beginners. So as they're all launching their, it might have been their second or third podcast, but we are in that group with them being able to bounce ideas off of each other and get walked through all of the nitty gritty of the details because people think, " Oh, I'll just sit down and I'll record a podcast and we'll get it out there because it's sexy." Everyone has a podcast. But there are really a lot more details. I go into it, whether it's guest management or the post production in the promotion, all of that.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Tell me more about that. Tell me more about the post production and kind of what you do after you capture an interview, after you have a conversation because I think that's something that you all are on a really great track with even just now getting started. You're on the path to do some pretty cool stuff with what you're planning to create, and you're not falling into the trap that I think a lot of companies do, which is let's create a show and publish it. You've got some other thoughts about what else to do with it.
Megan Noel: Yeah, I would say I think another plug for Casted, but we are using Share Your Genius, which I believe is a partner of yours as well.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah.
Megan Noel: It really has been a very seamless process, and they're not afraid of telling us when we need to redo something or try it again a different way, or let's sit down and walk through a better way to do this. So that's been really helpful, especially as we're, I mean, this is our first season, so you don't want to screw it up out of the gate, right?
Lindsay Tjepkema: And you don't know what you don't know.
Megan Noel: Right. So it's been a really great process and it's been really easy to get everything published. So Jira will normally do the interview, send it over to them, they do the post production for us and they get it looking really pretty and get it published on Casted and it's out into the world. But as far as just what is a success metric, there we're, at least I, am less concerned about growing an audience for our show. It truly is just about more content creation, that differentiation of content and how do we get it out there and people are going to watch it or engage with it or see us as somebody in the space beyond the ads that you can put out on a variety of different media and just how do we break through the noise a little bit more?
Lindsay Tjepkema: Of course. So on that note, tell me a little bit more about what you're going to be looking for as you launch the show. What are you going to be watching? What are you going to be hoping for? And also, I think you kind of alluded to this too, but what also you're like, " I don't care about this or I don't care about this yet." What do you care about? What do you not care about at the moment?
Megan Noel: As much as I'm sure a lot of, especially my CEO would love for it to go viral, I'm not necessarily looking at that as a success measure out of the gate. I think if we can leverage some of our organic traffic in our organic social to generate more just engagement, if we're watching that people are commenting or subscribing or sharing with their friends some clips from the podcast, it doesn't even have to be the full thing. If we can get a little bit more engagement and we're seeing those numbers go up, for me, that is a measure of this is something we need to lean into because people enjoy it. They're being able to gain information from us, which is ultimately what we want. We want to be thought leaders. We want to be the people that when they're ready to roll out a SOC 2 compliance or a security program in their organization, that Trava is the first name that they think of instead of the thousand other options out there for security.
Lindsay Tjepkema: This is a really interesting conversation at an interesting time because quite often, I love it, I'm so glad that you were willing to come talk with me as you're just getting started in so many ways. You're very early in kind of one part of your strategy and you're just getting started in the podcast part. And so thank you for sharing in real time what you're going through. Yet there are still a lot of people listening and paying attention that say, " How do I get started?" So you're a lot further along than a lot of marketers and a lot of brands, and you're a startup, so you're a small team at a fast growing startup, yet you're doing this, yet you're finding a way, yet you've already got some really early traction and buy- in from leadership. What advice would you give to those listening that want desperately to be where you are?
Megan Noel: You have to go back to who are your customers, right? It might even just be call up your existing customers and ask them, " How did you find us? Were you reading something that led you to us, or what were your pain points?" Figure out what was hurting. And then also where were they searching for the answers too? So we discovered that our customers, they were out searching for a solution that they couldn't necessarily find an answer to. That combined with some of the just testing something, they always say, what, " 50% of marketing works? We just don't know which 50%," right? So start putting things out there as a test to see if, does your customer group engage with video content? Do they engage with audiograms? What are the tools that are the most engaging for your audience? So I guess as far as where to start, it would just be look at who your customers are is baseline, right? Then I would say, well, we started with an outline, so it was like, " Okay, here's kind of the concept. Let's look and see what else is out there for cybersecurity related podcasts. Do we have a space that we could potentially fill? Is there a gap?" And then let's create an outline. What are some of our ideas? And then we started flushing them out. Now a lot of them got scrapped, but a lot of them we kept. And then again, this whole first season is still just another test. So I don't know if we've gotten it right, but we're going to try it. And then if we didn't get it right, then we'll pivot for the next season.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. One thing I want to actually go back to real quick is, I think is really important, and I would love to hear your why for partnership, for working with a producer, working with a production agency, Share Your Genius, as you mentioned, as one of our partners. What made you decide to say, " Hey, we shouldn't do this on our own. This is the path forward for us." Would you recommend it?
Megan Noel: So everyone's an expert, right? So we could have very easily gone in, very easily, might be an overstatement, gone in, done it ourselves, see how it went, and then gone from there. The bonus of having a production company is that they are truly a lens or a screen for us, so they will catch anything that we are screwing up before it's out into the masses. So that's one. We have their expertise. I mean, this is not their first rodeo. So they've seen what works. They know what is going to be trendy or what's going to resonate with particular audiences, just because of the depth of knowledge they have on a variety of different podcasts situations. That on top of they have this cohort model that we're part of right now. There's always a benefit to having peers in that space that you can focus group. You can say, " All right, is this a horrible intro? Should we redo this?" And get ideas that way? So just brainstorming plus expertise, plus the time savings that nobody wants to sit and edit a podcast. That's like you're re- listening to an entire-
Lindsay Tjepkema: Twice as long, an hour of recording, so yeah. That's fantastic. What do you want people to know? Where should they find it?
Megan Noel: They should be able to find it anywhere. They can go to Casted, but it's called the Tea on Cybersecurity, so you can drink tea while you're having it, while we spill the tea. All the things about, Joe, if you have any kind of curiosity about a security program for your business, what is cybersecurity? What are these things that people keep talking about? What are you seeing in the news? What does it mean? Tune in. Because we'll have hopefully the answers to just the most basic questions.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, I love it. Well, thank you so much, Megan, for sharing your thoughts and your experiences as you get up and running and watch.
Megan Noel: Well thanks Lindsay.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, that's our show. Thank you so much for tuning in. And if you are 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 all of our shows, and for all the latest content from our team of experts to yours. Until next time,
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