Giving Your Brand an Authentic Voice with BombBomb's Ethan Beute
Lindsay Tjepkema: Authentic conversations. We all have them, every day probably but what role do they play in a brand? In a business? The bottom line? Sure, authentic conversations make for great podcasts, no doubt. But where else do they fit into the brand beyond the episodes? How should marketers think about these conversations to spin out more content? How should we be thinking about not only external audiences, but also internal listeners? And who should even be having these conversations in the first place? Answers to all these questions and more in today's episode. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO, and cofounder of Casted, the first and the only marketing platform built around brand podcast. And this is our podcast. Welcome to season four of the Casted Podcast, in which I am talking to business and marketing leaders, as they share how and why podcasts fit into their overall marketing and business strategy? What impact do they have on the business? How about what they have done for their teams and even for them personally? Today's conversation is with Ethan Beute, Chief Evangelist at BombBomb and host of the Customer Experience Podcast. BombBomb is a video company as you'll hear yet, their podcast has been foundational as part of their marketing strategy and it even helped Ethan write a book. So hear how that all came to be and the role that podcasting plays at BombBomb and in Ethan's life on today's episode and in today's authentic conversation.
Ethan Beute: I am Ethan Beute, I'm Chief Evangelist at a software company called BombBomb. I'm coauthor of a bestselling book called Rehumanize Your Business, and I host the Customer Experience Podcast.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Awesome. And I'm so excited to have you here, Ethan, because we are going to get into podcasting on this podcast, it's a podcast about podcasts. And I just would love to hear about how podcasting has played a role in your strategy at BombBomb. Why is it such an important part of your efforts?
Ethan Beute: I'll say it was really, it came out of actually the book writing process where the subtitle of the book is how personal videos, accelerate sales and improve customer experience. And the idea of adding the customer experience there was video isn't just for sales, but customer service, or customer support, or even customer success felt a little bit too small for the impact that being more personal and human can have. And so I created the space in writing the book and I knew that when I came back to the team full time that either, that two things were happening while I was gone, either what I was doing before was so important that someone else picked it up and was doing it better than I was, or no one picked it up cause it wasn't important to keep doing. And so I knew that I had the space to start podcasting and I knew that I wanted to explore customer experience in particular. And it was for two reasons. One was for what I would learn and be able to share internally and that as you know, so many of our team members listened to the podcast that we're having a lot of internal conversations about what I'm learning through the conversation as we publish them. So the internal value is massive and I don't think enough people talk about it enough. And then the other one was we're in a little bit of a pivot in our business where our first 35,000 customers or so were smaller teams, and solo preneurs, or independent operators inside larger organizations. But over the years we've gotten better and better at selling to larger organizations, selling larger deals to teams and things. And so in making this pivot, I knew that if we were able to have these experiences about customer experience, that we would be able to produce and share content that would be useful to our next customer. I know that's not a completely novel idea. I know that a lot of podcasts are inviting guests in producing conversation specifically to attract their ideal customer, but it works on that level for us very well too.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Tell me, you started to get into this a little bit, but how and where does podcasting really fit into your overall strategy? So paint the picture for me of what pillars of your marketing strategy are and where podcasting is. Is it one of the pillars? Is it the center? Is it at the core? Is it on one of the outer rings? Where does it fit in and how does it fit in what role does it?
Ethan Beute: I would say it operates at two particular levels, as for the ring, I'm not sure I might arrive at that as I talk my way into it, but really for us, because we are a video platform, make it really easy to record and send videos in a variety of places, Gmail, Outlook, mobile apps, integrated into Salesforce and Zendesk and outreach and a number of other places in order to get people face to face. But not everyone is ready, it's part of my chief evangelist role too, not everyone's ready to have that conversation, not everyone thinks about a video in that way. And so from a top of funnel standpoint, if we can start talking about customer experience, and what it feels like to work with us, and how we can align within our organizations to better serve our customers, video naturally comes up in that conversation because so much of it is about building relationship, communicating more clearly, getting more yeses, whatever that conversion looks like for you, no matter your seat in the organization. And so for us to be able to publish this, it really is this top of funnel awareness where I am a character in the podcast, BombBomb is a character in the podcasts that appears now and then, video is a subject that occasionally comes up, but we could go weeks without any conversations around video. So this top of funnel piece is really, really valuable. On the other side, though, for our existing customers and our existing community, I think it's a very interesting conversation for them. Most of our customers at this point, you would have to regard as early adopters of video in the simple, casual, conversational style. So to have these other conversations, they came to us for video and we serve them on that, and we teach video, we talk about, and we talk about how to get more emails open and more videos played and longer play durations and all the other ins and outs of getting really good at communicating with video on a day to day basis. But to have this conversation as part of it as well is a value add for a lot of our customers too. And so there is this ongoing community building we're providing more value in a unique way that isn't necessarily core to the product, or service, or really even the reason the business exists or what the business sells directly. So it really works across the customer life cycle in general, it could be of value in a variety of places. And I would say the way we're structured, I would say we're somewhere in the middle to the outer rings. I think if it went away, there'd be a handful of folks internally would be like," No, that can't go away," and there'd be some other folks that are like," Oh yeah, that podcast." So it's somewhere in the middle for us right now.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I heard you say a couple of times relationships and connection and conversations. And I think that that's so important because podcasts, and video too, do something really, really interesting, which just they invite the member of the audience in on a conversation and not all content can do that. And so I'm curious about how you view that. Tell me about how that relationship building and conversation, how that fits in for you?
Ethan Beute: Yeah. It's confidence and familiarity, and so to your observation, the audio that we release as the podcasts, and I do video clips as well, I do video clips, short ones in LinkedIn. I do them occasionally to Twitter and Facebook. I drop them into blog posts, but primarily 99% of the engagement with the podcast is audio. And so you get things like pace and tone. And if you were the host in someone who's listening to multiple episodes, for example, I listen to your podcast. And so I have a sense of how you approach things and what your followup questions are and just that just the nature of you being you in your own podcast allows people to feel this level of familiarity, which inspires some level of confidence, like these are competent professionals, they're having interesting conversations, I find value in them. And if I'm going to make a choice about this, that, or the other thing, I think the space that you're in with Casted is obviously far from being commoditized, unlike a lot of other spaces. I don't know what the window is on lightweight, casual, personal, conversational video is, but it's approaching commodification. There are a lot of freemium type offerings in the space. And so it's these little things that allow people to say," Yes, I choose you." And again, it's this trust, confidence, familiarity, a sense of personality. I think the corporate brand, if it hasn't completely faded in importance, at a minimum it's being dramatically informed by the personal brand. So if someone is connected to five BombBomb team members on LinkedIn, they know a lot more about us than they would ever learn from following BombBomb on LinkedIn, for example, or really on any social network. And so this idea of the personal brand as the face and the personality and the representative, in the real meaningful quality relative to the corporate brand, I think podcasting takes it to another level too. Especially if you continue to release episodes and you continue to put yourself into the format as a host or as multiple hosts within a company. And unlike so much other produced content, just to reiterate your other point there, one, this is just, it's so much more open its guard down, it's just conversational. And then two, to put this type of personality into a blog post or into a downloadable element, you have to have a really, really good writer. I write a lot. I'm not that good. I read a lot of stuff. Most people publishing on the internet are not that good. Good enough and they're covering topics I'm interested in, or else I wouldn't be reading, but you have to be a very, very, very good writer to really put forth a sense of personality where I'm like," Gosh, I really feel like I know that writer," or," I know that person," or," I know that brand."
Lindsay Tjepkema: How should a brand go about choosing who hosts the show? There's all kinds of... It takes a lot of time, so it shouldn't be a senior leader, or it should be somebody who's dedicated, or it should be someone that that's their whole job, or it should be subject matter expert, or it should be someone in marketing. What advice do you have about how to choose host?
Ethan Beute: I think first and foremost, the most important thing is that the person really, really wants to do it. Just like anything, if you're not excited about it, it's going to be a drag and that's going to come through for all the reasons we were just talking about. If I'm not excited to host a guest on my podcast from the first 10 seconds, no one's really going to be as particularly excited either. So it's like the experience is in part the transfer of emotion. So someone needs to be excited to do it. Someone who, these are just some other qualities, likes to learn, is maybe a natural conversationalist or has some of those tendencies or qualities or enjoys doing that. I think someone who is a good communicator, because if you're going to really maximize the value of your investment in hosting and publishing these conversations, you should probably be at some level also involved in how does it get to a blog post if that's what you choose to do? How does it get into video content, if that's what you choose to do? How will you teach it internally and break down the essence of it? How will you title it in summarize it? And so I think being a good communicator in general, I think some of that lends itself to a marketing background maybe, or at least a content, someone who is adept at content, no matter what they're seeing in the houses, we have people who are great at content and sales at BombBomb, we have people who are great at content and CS at BombBomb, we have some folks on the executive leadership team that are good at it. So I think... And then another quality would be don't underestimate the amount of time. I don't want to scare people because you can have an excellent show and not do a mountain of pre prep on it. But in general, I would probably overestimate rather than underestimate, just to guard yourself and guard your time. I think if you're looking for executive type guests, if you are looking for C- suite people in successful companies, I think it would certainly help if the host is a little bit more peer to peer. I think the host would not find herself or himself out of his or her depth probably as likely if it was a little bit more peer to peer that way. So I think the host could, should, would potentially also reflect not just the guest, but could also reflect the desired audience as well. I think, again, going back to what I offered before about asking your own natural followup questions to honor your own curiosity, to drive the conversation, to honor the spirit and the goals and the mission of the show itself, I think if you come from a seat somewhere adjacent to the type of audience you would like to attract, you're in a better position to be successful as well.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Great advice, really great advice. I think it's important to really think about it. It's not always the super obvious person that would be the right host. It's not always like," Oh, the CMO, well obviously they're the face of the brand." Maybe it's the product marketer, or maybe it's an engineer depending on what you're talking about, who it's for and why you're doing it. Tell me a little bit, you got into this a bit about how valuable the show is internally, which I have found that too and talking to a lot of people. I think that some of the most successful shows see that, it's not just about, it's absolutely about the external audience, but it's also about the internal audience. So I'm curious, what does it look like? You publish a show, then what? How do you use it both externally and internally? What do you do with it and where do you find the most success?
Ethan Beute: I wish I was doing more internally. I should probably be doing lunch and learns maybe twice a month or maybe even once a week, although it'd essentially turned out to be a podcast recap inaudible podcast. So what I do, I'll record an episode. I edit the video myself is something that I've done a lot. And it allows me as I turn over the content to people who will offer some titles, offer some descriptions, get it into WordPress once it's ready to be written up. And it gives me a level of editorial control where A, I'm refamiliarizing myself with the materials, so that when I do go to social media and I tee things up, I can find those sweet spots where it has value in and of itself. If I only watch this 84 second video clip, I can still learn something, but B, there's also a conversation to be had there, whether it's a controversial point of view, or something counter- intuitive, or something fun or interesting or curious. And so I'm looking for those moments. And again, by what I select as video clips, it lets the people who support the launch of each episode, it gives them some guideposts of what I think was important or interesting or valuable in the conversation. So I have these video clips, I put some of them into the blog posts, I put some of them to LinkedIn, I'll put them to Twitter, I'll put them to Facebook, I'll offer some of them to our, I don't personally put them into Instagram, but I have squared up some of the video clips to go there as well. inaudible is obviously the majority of listening is happening in Apple podcasts, but it also goes to all the other places with content syndication. I will drop it into, especially if it's a really hot topic, something that we've been talking about internally, I'll drop it into one or more Slack channels. If it is specifically a CS conversation, I'll put it in a couple of CS oriented Slack channels at BombBomb, same thing with sales, same thing with senior leadership, if there's something that we've been talking about in executive leadership, that's just something we've been wrestling with, or something that we think is important, or something that we want to work on and someone speaks to it, I'll promote the episode in there. So I do promote the episodes internally, primarily through Slack. I go to social. At a certain point, if I didn't do anything, besides let it release through syndication to all the various podcast places, I'll bet it would continue to grow. But I think the opportunity to continue to allow your guest to be the superstar expert that they are, which is what I'm always trying to do in the conversation and what I'm always trying to do on social. If you can make them look good, then you're in a position to be successful. And so those are some of the reasons I go to social with it. It's just it extends my appreciation and respect for them and the work that they do.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love that approach. That's a really good way to think about it. As those who are listening, lots of marketers, lots marketing leaders who either already have podcasts or who are thinking of wine. What's some advice that you would give from your perspective, really zooming out from the brand? What are some things that you've learned? Some things that maybe you wish you had learned earlier on or something that served you really well about how the role that the podcast plays and your brand overall, and for you as a leader, what insights would you share?
Ethan Beute: Sure. Something that I'm glad I did in the beginning is that I bookend the conversations with the same question. So I always ask the definition of customer experience at the beginning and then I always have a couple of closing questions that allow the guests to be a little bit warmer and more personal. Something that I was missing was a personal touch off the top of it. So I started adding just a light conversational point from the top with regard to the way we launched it, I feel like it was happening again the same time that we were launching the book, my role day to day, week to week, month to month, looked a lot different. And so I launched the podcast around the same time. And so it wasn't fully integrated into what we were doing in marketing. And so I guess from a cautionary standpoint, I would say that starting it a little bit off on the side, it was nice because I had the freedom to explore and it didn't feel high consequence, there wasn't a lot of scrutiny to it, there weren't a lot of people internally, not that we have this culture at BombBomb anyway, but there weren't a lot of people looking for the first three signs of good or bad and getting ready to pull the plug on it. It wasn't that at all. But I did feel like I was off on the side doing this thing, and I did not do enough work from the get go to make sure that it was properly integrated with the other things at this point. Now, it works really nicely with our account based marketing strategy. I can feed some of the particularly good episodes to our BDR, SDR teams as they're looking to create conversations and lead with value, it's like," Oh, I noticed that you're in this type of role in this type of organization in this industry, actually, on our podcast, we talked about this last month. I think you might enjoy this," just this leading with value piece. And so it's finally to this point where it is more integrated within the various efforts that we have. But I think being more clear about that from the get go, I think I could have had a lot more momentum with it, but there's no reason to second guess anything that you've done, you just learn from it and keep moving.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I guess in closing, you've done, you started the show, you continue to do the show, so I'm guessing you're seeing a positive impact that it's making on the brand. What do you feel has been the impact of the show on BombBomb?
Ethan Beute: I think it, again, going back to the top of funnel conversation and being of value to people who came to us for the specific reason that we exist from a functional standpoint, I think it has allowed us to have different conversations internally and externally, and I think it broadens how people think about us, it's allowed us to broaden the conversation about when, how, and why to use video. By having a conversation that isn't about the core product or service, it's allowed us to think differently, act differently, talk to people who might not be in conversation with us otherwise. It's just had so many benefits and really from a personal standpoint, it's the most fun and interesting thing I do. I love being able to carve out time to have conversations with smart, accomplished people who are doing things that are interesting and to be able to share it with other people.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, that you're passionate about. And I think that goes back to how to choose a host. And it's someone who really is excited about it and truly, at the very least, has a strong interest in the subject matter. And hopefully has a lot of knowledge in the subject matter. And so it really is a natural conversation. I know for me too, it's a highlight of my day getting to talk to smart people like you, about something that we're both passionate about. And that's when you can find that puzzle piece, you can hear it. Thank you so much, this was really fun. This is one of the highlights of my day. So thanks for sharing where the podcast fits into BombBomb and I appreciate you being here.
Ethan Beute: Yeah. Thank you so much again, I love the show. I love these conversations and you're doing important work to raise up a culture and best practices around what I agree with you on is just a fantastic format.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's our show, thanks for listening. For more from today's guest, visit casted. us to subscribe and to receive our show as it's published, along with other exclusive content each and every week.
Today’s conversation is with Ethan Beute, Chief Evangelist at Bomb Bomb, and host of The Customer Experience podcast. BombBomb is a video company, as you will hear, yet their podcast has been a foundational part of their marketing strategy - and even helped Ethan write a book! Hear how in today's authentic conversation.