This Is How You Scale Your Podcast Efforts for Maximum Impact with Flip CX's James Gilbert
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.
James Gilbert: I am James Gilbert, the chief marketing Officer here at Flip.
Lindsay Tjepkema: All right James, I am excited to talk with you because you have lots of experience, not just from a podcast, not just from two podcasts, not from three podcasts, but from how many podcasts have you done?
James Gilbert: I've done four. It's wild.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Four podcasts. That's crazy. Over how many years- ish?
James Gilbert: Let's see. First one was in 2013.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Wow.
James Gilbert: So it's right when the podcasting was getting real.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's before a lot of people even knew what they were.
James Gilbert: Yeah. Joe Rogan wasn't even really known then.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, that's so crazy to think about. I remember those were the days that people were like, "A what? A pod what?" And they were even called podcasts because of iPods.
James Gilbert: Yeah, the first podcast was actually called Marketing Cupcakes. I don't even think that you can find the episodes anymore, but it was actually me and my brother, and we owned a consulting firm helping people with their marketing, and we told this story about us going to businesses with frozen cupcakes. We would show up to people's businesses and we would be, " We know you don't know who we are, but we can help you with your marketing. And we brought some treats, because we're the marketing cupcakes." That was the podcast name.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love that.
James Gilbert: So we started this story just telling this one little thing, and it kind of morphed into... I think it only reached eight episodes and then we both decided, " We don't really want to do this anymore."
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love that, because that's actually great segue into what we're going to talk about, which is how podcasts begin. And while I don't believe there's a one size fits all journey, there is no equivalent of buyer's journey for podcasting, but there are stages. Thus this maturity curve that we put together, where quite often a brand, a CMO like yourself or your team, will go through specific stages of it's an idea, and that idea becomes a thing that's recorded. Stage one. And then stage two is it's that idea that's recorded becomes a show. There's a study cadence of this show that's being produced, and it's about producing the show. And then it's like, " Oh wait, we have a show. Now we need to grow the audience," and thus we're in stage three. And then stage four is like, okay, it's not just about the show and the audience, it's about using the show to build the brand. How do we use this show as fuel to build the brand? And then ultimately in stage five, it's, how can we use the show to build the brand to actually grow revenue to build the business? And so you have seen podcasting, and brand building, and content, and all the things related to that from a few different angles. And so I'd love to get into Origin Stories and how it started, yes, at Flip, which also used to be Red Route, and it also impassed from different shows. So where do you want to start as far as origin stories and some of the different stages of evolution that you've seen firsthand?
James Gilbert: Well, if we go back to some of the beginning that we talked about a little bit, when I very first started the first podcast we did, it's interesting because then it was about content creation. At that particular moment in time. People were trying to figure out how they could video themselves. Video actually was not a really big thing in social media. It wasn't. People weren't doing it, but we were looking at ways in which we could distribute content and get content with fresh ideas that people weren't thinking about. So our primary agency at that particular time helped people with their operations, because we saw a big data problem that people needed help with, and every business has it. And so we were like, " Well, everybody has this problem and so we can help with it," and there wasn't a lot of content out there. We would literally, on some of our podcast episodes, we'd pull up our HubSpot instance. We wouldn't do any video, but we would just do it all over our audio. You need to do this hack right now, right? Over a podcast. So those now have become YouTube channels, and people do it on video and they show that stuff. So that was the evolution of there. So you start with content creation, and that's where a lot of people I think start a podcast is they're like, " We need to create a bunch of content." And then they don't think about, " Well how do we distribute it?" So I think there's content creation, content distribution, and then I think sometimes there's also a tangible thing that you can pull out from that, which is more so a strategic initiative that it aligns to. So I'll move to the evolution of, okay, we moved past the Marketing Cupcakes. Then I was the CMO at a company called Cloud Cherry, which provided a customer experience platform. And our CEO was like, " Look, we need to get in front of these influencers," because customer experience at this particular time, it was in 2013, so it was right after we did that podcast, I moved onto this role. And in 2013, customer experience wasn't even a thing. There were not people that had the title of customer experience. But there was platforms like Qualtrics, and SAP Metrics, and Gallia that were doing huge things in there, and we competed with them. So we were like, " How do we get in front of these influencers if we're not a big household brand?" Well the best way to do it is we were seeing them all show up in these podcasts and we were seeing like, " Okay, well how are these people getting access to these amazing influencers?" And we're like, " Let's start a podcast, but let's do it different." So we came up with this idea. We called it the Suites of CX. And we did a little pre- question in every interview, and we asked every single person what their favorite Candy bar was. And part of what I have learned in marketing is you've got to create, I call them wow moments. I know that's kind of tacky, but you've got to create a wow moment in the journey that makes it unforgettable. So the first couple of guests we had on, they were huge influencers in the customer experience space. And we literally sent them their favorite just one candy bar. It wasn't like a bag of them. It wasn't like a gift card, It was a single candy bar, and it blew people away. It just blew people away. We were sending a little candy bar, it cost us a dollar of shipping. It was$5 or something like that. It was super cheap to do. And they would get this candy bar right before the episode. So the very first part of the episode was us talking about the wow moment and how that matters in customer experience. So here we were providing a strategic initiative on which we wanted to get in front of influencers and start creating what we would call our community of CX champions, which eventually became this really big thing where we actually invited these influencers to be the judges of a contest that became the CX Championship, which became huge. So that developed into an idea and a strategy. That's what the podcast did for us. So then you fast forward to before I came to Flip and Red Route, I was working for a company called CRM Next, and we started the Banking on Experience podcast. I had already had the experience of content creation. We had great traction across creating a community. So then we were like, " I'm going to double down on this at CRM Next." So the first year at Serum Next we brought in people that were specific to our ICP that could buy our product, but we never sold on the podcast. It was always just like, " Let's just get them on and let's talk to them about the great work that they're doing." We were at 80 episodes on the Banking on Experience podcast and we decided, "You know what? We need to do something really cool, because there's not enough women that are being recognized in the financial services world now." Now, not enough women get recognized, period, but there was certainly a massive gap in the financial services industry. So we came up with this really cool idea, we called it WOW, and it was the Women on Work, and we had the America's Credit Union Museum. It's ran by a woman named Stephanie Smith. And we brought her in and we said, " Look, we want you to come in once a month. That's it. And you're going to have one episode in the four episodes that we have in the month, and it's going to be a unique series where you are going to interview with somebody else, another woman in the credit union industry." So we brought this series into the podcast and it actually became a GTM initiative for us to recognize incredible work that women were doing, which also became an initiative that the Credit Union Museum eventually ended up doing, and they actually inducted women into the hall of fame.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's awesome.
James Gilbert: This is how it eventually started evolving. We got over 100 episodes and that's when I was like, " It's time for me to go on a new journey." Came here to Red Route and Flip, and the first thing Brian says to me is like, " We're going to have you do a podcast, right?"
Lindsay Tjepkema: One common thread that I'm hearing is that it doesn't seem like you were ever thinking of, " Oh I'm going to do a podcast as a channel, over here doing a thing." It sounds like it's always been part of an integrated strategy. Not just with marketing, not just this is a marketing, this is a content thing, but this is a full on business brand thing. You were talking about CX, and how do you create an experience for the guests? Talk about that experience that then positions you as a CX leader. It's that back and forth, and it's what I always come back to. " Who is this for? Why are we doing it?" And your why are we doing it seems like it's always been much bigger than start a show, build an audience. It seems like it's been very holistic.
James Gilbert: Yeah. It's interesting because when we were doing the suites of CX I remember leaving Cisco and I was like, " You know what? It really stinks that we didn't have more insights that we could've pulled from there, because I had them in my head because that was the host." And our writer, Summer, her and I had this stuff in our head. And so there was moments in which we would have these influencers on, and it was a pulse of the market. And we were like, " Man, it would be awesome if we could capture this." So then Gong starts going crazy. So then I had this crazy idea at when I was at CRM Max, I was like, " We are going to have Gong sit in the background of every Zoom call as well, and analyze every podcast we do." So most people were thinking of Gong as how can you leverage this in marketing? I was putting it on every single podcast. And what came from that was we were able to adjust our entire go to market strategy because of it. Because of the insights we were getting. We were talking to people in the ICP, we were talking to people that were interested in our product or that could buy our product. We're talking to specific roles that we knew were going to be part of the buying decision. And we had all of this data now, all through doing the podcast. So what was interesting is because I was the host, it kind of positioned me on the leadership team to be the thought leader within our own team to help guide the GTM. Our CEO really relied on me a lot when we were in our leadership discussions. James talked to us about what's happening in the market right now. Because you can have a pulse, you can hire a research firm to spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, or you can do a podcast and invite the right people.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Right? That's the clip right there. You can hire out all kinds of research, you can do all kinds of analysis, or you can do a podcast. And nothing really compares to talking to your customers and hearing how things are going and talking to partners, and talking to industry leaders, and individuals who are living it every single day and hearing how they're innovating, how they're overcoming challenges, what they're challenged by, and what they're seeing firsthand. There's a lot of ground covered with every single conversation. It's relationship building, it's trust building, it's teaching, and it is obviously helping you connect with your audiences in a very human way. That's very humble, and that's very authentic, and that's very curious to say, " How can we ask the questions that we want to hear and we want to know the answers to because it'll make us a stronger business, and will also be of interest and relevance to our audience." That is so key. There's this constant pressure to more and more and more perform, perform, perform, measure, measure, measure, convert, convert, convert. When if we think come at it from a place of humility and gentleness and seeking curiosity and how can I serve others, there's a lot there. And I'm curious if you had that in mind, or if it's just your nature.
James Gilbert: I'm a very different CMO, for sure.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I like it.
James Gilbert: I will say that right now. I am a firm believer in giving without asking for something in return. It always comes back around. Always. Kindness, if you give that, it will come back around tenfold. But also recognize that people come on a podcast and they get excited to come on a podcast as a guest, because they want their voice heard. Everybody wants their voice heard, and a lot of times they don't have the platform to do it. So come at it from an angle of you're bringing these guests on, and many of them probably don't have an angle that they're allowed to do it at their company. And I say the word allowed on purpose. Because it's sad that companies have limited the voices of their own employees to get their POV out there more. And I think that the more that we can approach it... I would always set expectations with my sales team. If you want them to come on the podcast, that's totally fine. But I am telling you right now, I am not going to pitch to them. I'm not going to ask them, " Hey, can you meet with our sales team?" That's not going to happen. If it happens organically and they ask, then I will do it. That's the expectation that I think you have to set with your sales team. Look, this is also a way in which you can become human as a salesperson. I just feel really strongly that this is something that's missing in the world, is a little bit more humanity in all the things that we do. That resonates.
Lindsay Tjepkema: We have to protect it. Those of us who have shows and are leading brand podcasts, we need to protect this space so that it doesn't become a cringey thing where it's like, " Oh, I was asked to be on a podcast and somebody tried to sell me again." We need to protect and maintain the authenticity and the human nature of it, where it's like, " No, come have a conversation of something that's relevant to you and relevant to my audience and that I think is going to serve everybody."
James Gilbert: I think it's more important that you treat the podcast as more like, okay, what can we learn from this audience? And is there correlation across our greater go to market that we're also needing to get more of? It's like your research firm. And then what value can we provide that same ICP that they're not currently getting in a sales cycle.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah.
James Gilbert: Meaning value add. One, we're letting them use us to get their voice heard. We're even letting them use us to promote their brand. Three, there needs to be something that is also equally as valuable to them for being on the show outside of those two things.
Lindsay Tjepkema: What do you look for? What does success look like for these shows and for you and for your team? Is that anecdotal, is it quality, is it quantity, is there some key metric? I want to know if and how that's evolved over the last nine years since you started podcasting?
James Gilbert: Yeah, I think one key metric and you know hear a lot nowadays about vanity metrics, but you still got to track some of those vanity metrics, because believe it or not, your board cares about some of those things. They care about your traffic. That's a good brand indicator. I would look for spikes in traffic. You see actually a direct comparison to your spikes in traffic the day an episode is released, versus not. And you see these ups and downs. So every Monday if you're releasing a podcast, you see a spike. There's a reason for that. Now, that one spike always turns into another somewhere else in a different channel. So we would look at indirect comparisons too. So we would look at engagement. So we'd score things like how often are they looking at a podcast? So that's where we love working with Casted. Because you guys can give us watch time and you can give us a lot of these deep analytics that other platforms can't give you, or you have to export them and figure it all out, and that's hairy. And then when guests come on and eventually turn into a deal. Most times we were the relationship starter rather than the finisher. And people think, " Oh, we'll have them on the podcast. We'll finish the deal." Should be the other way around. Invite them to the podcast, let them get their voice heard on a topic that they care deeply about, and then provide value and value add in promoting that, and it will develop it into a relationship over time, if you do it right. But also look at how the podcast had direct ties into us adjusting our GTM, which it did because of the things that we're doing from a research perspective. And that's currently what we're doing right now at Flip, because when at a company like we're at right now, we're creating a new category. So we don't have the luxury of some others where you can do a lot of great SEO work. Nobody's searching for what we provide. So in order to do that, you use a podcast to find the search signals and the keywords for SCM that are really going to resonate with people. And it can be as simple as when we get on with a guest, and we don't do this on the actual episode, but we make sure we weave in one or two questions that we can pull from and we can say, " Okay, this is what people are going to search for." In our pre- podcast inaudible link with Spamming Zero. We ask every guest, " Tell us what you think about when you have to call customer support." We solve for that. So why not get everybody's answer on the exact same question?
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's so smart.
James Gilbert: Then we can create correlations with it, and then we have a content distribution plan that goes along with the key topics and pain points that people, like yourself, can relate to.
Lindsay Tjepkema: There's a lot of thinking with the end in mind. There's a lot of, " How does it all work together?" I just love how interwoven it all seems to be, just naturally from your brain.
James Gilbert: Where's my manners, Lindsay? How about you? How do you think about this?
Lindsay Tjepkema: I agree. I'm sitting here nodding along for all these reasons. That's the very reason that Casted exists is to say the podcast shouldn't be over here on an island as a channel, it should be the place where the center of your strategy happens, and the center of your strategy should be these conversations. It should really fuel everything. And from that you get efficiency, because from one conversation you have many things that come out of it. Many initiatives and pieces and touch points that can come out of one conversation, and you also have unity. Because from this conversation, we're going to pull all sorts of different touch points with our audience from it, and it's going to be one unified message because it's going to be from one source. It's almost like a tree, where there's this seed that's planted and it grows up to provide all this value to the audience with all the different leaves and branches, but then it also grows down and the roots and everything that's happening behind the scenes in and around the business internally with different parts of the team, and different departments and different leaders, and it's a beautiful thing.
James Gilbert: I think there's also some key things that people forget to do. Don't give up on your podcast.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yes.
James Gilbert: Because it takes time.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yes.
James Gilbert: And what I mean by time is it's not just the recording and the producing and all that that takes times. Sure that takes time, but it takes time in order for you to see some of these results.
Lindsay Tjepkema: It was a marathon, for sure. Not a sprint.
James Gilbert: Exactly. So you can't hire a research company to go out and do a single survey and then you call that good. And even a single survey that a research company would do would take several weeks, if not months. So you have to think of it like that. Your podcast is an avenue for you to get these insights. So I think that's a big mistake. And I think the other big mistake people make is they don't leverage the podcast as a way to test their own POV within their organization.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. Tell me more about that.
James Gilbert: So we're doing category creation. Our POV, before we became Flip, it started off with we're solving the capacity problem. That was our POV. You have all these agents, and they do all this work, but automation needs to help with it. Well that wasn't resonating terribly well with people, because people wanted a more human experience. So then we started testing the POV more and more on some of the podcasts. We would ask guests straight up, " What do you think about when you think about calling customer support?" The answer to that helped develop our POV into what it is today. Well we provided an Alexa- like experience. That's something that I don't think enough businesses do. Because you as a CEO, you have a line of sight that no other leader has. Is that you're probably talking to more customers, you understand how your business is flourishing through the market better than anybody, you understand the pains and challenges that you're having as an organization better than anybody. But when you have somebody that is not the CEO run the show of the podcast, it gives you another angle that then the two of you can figure out how to adjust your GTM, and that's what I think can adjust the POV. And so I think that more senior level marketers, because they're closest to the content, and typically do have a line of sight into some of the customers, they should be inviting them to the podcast. Then I think that it also allows them to help adjust messaging and positioning, which is exactly where it should be coming from. It's from the leadership team.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. You have nine years on a lot of people that are listening right now in podcasting, who are thinking, " Okay, but how do I get started? Where in the world do I start?" What advice do you have to somebody who doesn't have that expertise and that background and wants to get to where you are, nonetheless?
James Gilbert: This is always a really hard question for me, because I don't think there's one thing that works for everyone. I really think that, one, you should decide is the podcast for your own personal growth or is it for the business? If it's for your own personal growth, do what you're passionate about. Forget everything else, because that's what's going to produce the best type of content, and that's what's going to get you a following. If it's about the business, then it really needs to somewhat align to your POV and what your high level message is. Now, it doesn't mean if you are a cybersecurity company that you should just talk about cybersecurity. It means that... Think about what your audience cares about. They're all human. So don't be afraid to go off on tangents with topics, and even don't be afraid to not even have a topic in mind when you get on with a guest. Let it be fresh.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's a big one to me. The more passionate the people that are having the conversation are about whatever they're talking about, the audience feels it. Absolutely they feel it. And it's a lot more interesting to listen to. I think the embracing of audio and video content, the embracing of storytelling, the embracing of human connection as an important factor of growth, I think to me is what's exciting.
James Gilbert: The storytelling piece is the key to me. That, in my mind, is how you can really stand out.
Lindsay Tjepkema: All right. As always, pleasure. Thanks James.
James Gilbert: You bet, Lindsey.
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.
James Gilbert is a multiple-times-over CMO. And, he's dead set on podcasts being his secret weapon for building a successful marketing strategy. James has successfully launched not one, but FOUR brand podcasts—most recently at his current company, Flip, which provides voice-based automation technology for business operations.