Creating Connection and Generating Demand with Stirista’s Vincent Pietrafesa
Speaker 1: 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.
Speaker 2: Hello, everybody. This is Vincent Pietrafesa. I'm the vice president of B2B products here at Stirista, and I am the co- host of The Marketing Stir.
Speaker 1: What is The Marketing Stir? Tell us about the show. What is it? What does exist to do? And then let's get into the origin story.
Speaker 2: Yeah. The Marketing Stir is a podcast now at its third season. Listen to us, seasons. Who do we think we are? But we started this podcast, Lindsay, March of 2020.
Speaker 1: Hmm. Interesting time.
Speaker 2: Infamous, yeah, interesting time. Now, it's not the time where I had the idea of the podcast. I joined Stirista June of 2019, and one of the ideas coming in, heading up this B2B division, was a podcast. I have a lot of friends who do podcasts. In my other world, I've been a part of podcasts, and I thought that would be a great idea, so I came up with this idea. I said, " Let's call it The Marketing Stir," stirring things up. Stirista kind of plays there.
Speaker 1: Oh, love it.
Speaker 2: But also, the stir of a drink. This is the crazy part. We wanted the podcast to be, all right, I met you at a bar, at a conference. What are we talking about? What are you doing in Indianapolis? What are you doing? What's your job? What's happening there? Just a conversation. And that's kind of why people love our podcast, because it's not just marketing. We get into some personal life stuff. We have fun. So, the concept was that, and then we started March of 2020 when a lot of our campaign work for clients paused. The world paused. Let's put marketing-
Speaker 1: I don't know what you're talking about, this pause. What happened in 2020? I'd like to know.
Speaker 2: Yeah. What happened in 2020? Yeah, I know. Yeah, this, oh, it's only a couple week thing, right? Not supposed to happen. It's just like, " It'll be done by Easter." Yeah.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Oh, gosh.
Speaker 2: Yeah, crazy, and then we just started putting out episodes. And I tell people this. The Marketing Stir, it's also still broad enough that you could cover a lot of topics. I always tell people, when they're like, " We want to do a podcast about artificial intelligence in the manufacturing industry." I'm like, " All right, that's seven episodes, man. That's all you're going to be able to do." So, that's how we started it.
Speaker 1: I love it. And one of the things that comes up on this show a lot is how podcasting is uniquely positioned to ... You said one of my triggers in a good way, which is human. It's the most human medium, because it uniquely relates to people in this intimate personal way, because you're inviting someone in on a conversation. People are listening to us talk right now, and they feel like they're here, even if subconsciously, and so that builds trust and it builds relationship. And it sounds like the concept for the show kind of even doubles down on that, where it feels like they're standing next to you at the bar, at the conference, kind of like, "Well, I'm Vincent." " I'm Lindsay. What are we going to talk about? Who are you? What are we doing?" Was that what you fell into or was that the intention from day one?
Speaker 2: It was the intention from day one, because I've listened to a lot of podcasts, and my favorite podcasts are not business podcasts, of those that are just conversations and just talking to people, or topics that I want to hear from. And so it was me and my co- host. My co- host is our CEO, Mr. Ajay Gupta, and he and I are very different, but we've known each other so long that it just works. And we wanted it to be more interesting than this, like, " Tell me about your marketing tactics." No, we've had podcasts, Lindsay, where one minute we're talking to a Harvard graduate about marketing, and then we're talking about the Bachelorette TV show. When we started the podcast, Tiger King was huge, so-
Speaker 1: Oh, gosh.
Speaker 2: ...we're just having conversations, what I would normally talk to... I would talk to you about so many different things if I'd met you, right?
Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah.
Speaker 2: And so it was a conscious effort in the beginning to make it different. At least we think so.
Speaker 1: I love it. Okay, so talking about in the beginning, you knew coming into Stirista that podcasting was going to be a part of your role and your strategy, right?
Speaker 2: It was part of ideas that I had coming in. It wasn't, " Hey, we want to bring you in because we think you'd be great on a podcast." No, it was something that I thought prior to the pandemic. Prior to me joining here, I said, " I think this is something that could be relevant and it'd be also fun to do."
Speaker 1: Mm- hmm, mm- hmm. Okay, so then you got started. Walk us back all the way to that idea. Did you have to sell it up? Was there any pushback? What did those earliest inklings, those little seeds, what did that look like?
Speaker 2: It really wasn't. It was more of the, okay, how do we do this? How do we get guests? That was kind of the biggest thing. So, we did some internal talking to some of our... that these episodes actually never aired, but it would be like, if you were my coworker, Lindsay, we would talk to you, interview people here, and then just get our flow going. So, no, there wasn't any pushback. And it's not only, okay, we're going to do this, but we're going to also put people on it. We're also going to put a marketing budget, and we'll talk about that later, because I think that's very important, especially doing, I think any podcast, especially a B2B podcast, whether you have the means, just try, really market it.
Speaker 1: Putting some real substance and some real commitment and resources behind it, even from the very beginning, what did that look like? So you had this idea, you're like, " This is the thing we're going to do." What did that investment look like? Whether it's money or not, even just team, what did that mean? What did that mean for the business, we're going to launch a podcast?
Speaker 2: So during that time, because marketing, for our customers, it's part of Stirista does. We help companies market their solutions, products, and services through our technology. A lot of companies were laying off. We didn't do any layoffs. We said, " We have a robust marketing department. Let's look inside at these resources, and what are some of their specialties?" Well, I found out one of my producers, Vin, he's great with editing and loves this sort of thing, posts podcasts himself. Okay, so we made him kind of one of our producers, our editor. We then said, " Okay, we had someone there who handles our social. Let's put some effort there." And then we had hired an intern who became a producer of ours to help formulate questions, so, about two or three people. And the investment early on was, we had the CEO's buy- in. He's on all the podcasts, so he's donating his time and doing it. So, you just need one or two people, I think, really, to get started.
Speaker 1: That's great. And then what were your earliest goals, if you can remember?
Speaker 2: You know, it wasn't that long ago, obviously, but we just started it to just put out some thought leadership, really. And I know that's like, you hear that, it's like, that's really what we wanted to do. We just wanted to highlight some of the great people in our industry. We really started with, how do we get people on this thing? How do we have people take their time out? So we invited some of our friends and our clients on, and then, okay, we don't have 125 clients, so it was just getting that thought leadership out there. And also a great way for people to learn about Stirista. In our podcast, we talk about Stirista for 12 seconds, that's it, and then it's just thought leadership. We thought that people could really utilize that at that time, because a lot of the guests that we've talked to, it's like, " What are you doing marketing- wise during the pandemic? How did you adapt? How was it for you? What was that like?" But the earliest goal was just to get something out there. We never had listenership goals. It's crazy to say, but just the goals were to, if we think we're a great company, not many people know about us, because we're a smaller company, but we are real people. And once people learn to know us and like us, then maybe they'll discover Stirista, but that's not even about that. It's just, everyone out there has been like, " Oh, what could I do to help during this time?" Meanwhile, they're trying to sell you something. So, let's just put some thought leadership out there. That's really how it started.
Speaker 1: Something that you said that I think is really important, your earliest goal was just to get something out there, right, and that's huge. I think that's often overlooked as a goal. That's an important goal. We always look at the results, and here I am sitting in the CEO seat, and you're a VP. You got to have results, and it's things that have to generate revenue, and they have to generate conversions and things. But in the earliest days, don't overlook the, let's get something out there. Let's make a thing. Let's create something. Let's publish something. Let's do this. So, I think that that's really important.
Speaker 2: Yeah. That's the way to go into it, Lindsay, to be honest with you. It's not, and we still don't. We don't put, like, " What's our ROI from this thing?" Maybe you should, but we just think about putting out some great stuff. It's our social media. It's our thought leadership. That's what it is. It's just, if you're going to do it, don't go crazy over all the goals and how many listeners you want. Just put something out there. I would recommend you obviously just do it, but also try to think of a concept that if you want longevity, think about that. I think too narrow isn't always great, because with The Marketing Stir, we have a lot of CMOs on, but we have a variety of size companies. We talk to companies where we're like, " Okay, what's a company that we think we want to highlight that might have been pretty hurt during the pandemic? Oh, movie theaters. Let's have on the CMO of Regal Cinemas, and let's get his take on it." And that's what we do. So now, it becomes easier to get guests when you have listeners and you have episodes under your belt, but at the beginning it was just like, " Let's just get some of our friends on and see how they're doing and how we can help."
Speaker 1: Yeah. I love that. We've talked about how it started. Let's talk about how it's going. What has changed about that investment? We talked about who's involved, what processes look like. Earliest days it was, let's get something out there. You have something out there. You have 125 somethings out there. How has that changed as processes have come together, as far as who's involved, what that investment looks like, what resources are part of this? Tell me more about what it looks like today and how it's evolved.
Speaker 2: You said something funny. You know you see online those memes where it's like, " How it started, how it's going." You ever see that?
Speaker 1: Uh-huh.
Speaker 2: So for us, we have two producers, we have someone who does social media, but we have our full marketing department behind it. Stirista, we own our own demand- side platform, our own DSP platform, to help push out media, so we drink our own champagne. We do display campaigns. We market to people in the marketing industry who would be great listeners for this podcast. So, it's a well- oiled machine now. We do a 30- minute preliminary interview with each guest just to see if we're going to cover the topics. We get reached out by PR agencies all the time to get some of their guests on. We actually really don't take too many of them. We kind of just go after our own guests and we have a team that does that. I do that myself. I set some time. Consistency is another thing, so consistency is every Tuesday, so one comes out. And then in those months we realize that people are on vacation, we put out snippets or a best of, if you will, but that's it. It's now a well- oiled machine and people look for it. And now how it's going is, I go to conferences now, and there's at least four or five people at each conference is like, " Hey, I listen to your podcast. That's awesome." So, that's how it's going.
Speaker 1: That's so great. And a couple things that I'm taking away from this are just get started. Just get something out there. That was the earliest takeaway. And now, I mean, you're building real relationships and you're having people ask to be on the show, and you're building connections through the show, and you have people that are recognizing you from the show. And so it sounds like you have gone beyond the, let's get something out there, to saying, what else? What else can we do with it? What else is possible through this? What other opportunities exist to market the show and to market through the show, and to use the show to connect with other people? So, it sounds like you're starting to get to that amplification of, what else can this do? How can this fuel other connections, other exposures, to really elevate awareness and interaction with the brand?
Speaker 2: That's absolutely true. Right now, what we love to hear is our listeners, like, "You know what? Lindsay recommended a book. I read it and now I'm better at my job because of it." Or, " Hey, I discovered a company I didn't realize and now I became a customer of that." So, even for Stirista, we never set out to say, " Hey, wow, we're going to get customers because of this." No, but people discover Stirista. We have guests on who were like, " Wait, I never heard of you guys. What do you guys do again?" We even have clients or prospects who say to our sales team, " Hey, yeah, I'm happy we're in business together. We're good. Let's do this deal, but can I be on the podcast?" That's happened.
Speaker 1: Wow.
Speaker 2: And I'm like, " That is great." And again, we have companies who reach out and they want to do some advertising with, or we haven't done any of that, because it's just, we want a natural flow.
Speaker 1: And I think that goes to show when you set out to do something that is authentic, and going way back to the beginning of our conversation, focuses on the human, building human connections, it pays off, and it takes a little time. You've been doing this for two and a half years, and now you're able to start to say these things and people are coming up to you, and there's demand there because you're doing the long game. You're focusing on the long game of, let's just build human connection and let's establish trust and credibility. And I love that you're highlighting the benefits of that, because I think people want to see... We hear this stuff about podcast fade. I don't know if you've heard that, where it's like, " We've done 10 shows or 30 shows or a season, and the results aren't there." It's like, " Well, give it a minute. Give it some time."
Speaker 2: Some time, yeah.
Speaker 1: And they will be. Just stay focused on who it's for and why you're doing it, and it will come.
Speaker 2: No, I truly believe that. You have to be consistent, because listeners will reach out to you and say, " Hey, you normally send this out at 11:00 AM. Why is it 11:04 ..." You're like, " Oh, well wait a minute." You get people all the time who just message us and say, " I listen to this in the morning. I listen to this while I'm on the treadmill." I'm like, all right, it's great. So you have to be. And don't take it too seriously. That's kind of the way I think about it, even though it's like, " That's a business podcast," I'm like, " If you listen to our podcast-
Speaker 1: It's human.
Speaker 2: ... it's just human.We're talking to you. We're talking to..."" So, it's like, " Lindsay, tell us about your company." No, it's not that. It's like, " Lindsay, let's get to know you. Let's get your company out of there. Let's get it out of the way. Sure, let's get your role, but how you got into marketing?" We ask a question about LinkedIn. What's a LinkedIn question you hate? Or what gets your attention when someone reaches out to you? And that question is our staple. People love that.
Speaker 1: That's an important tactic too that I think, that I hear a lot, and that we do sometimes that I think is underrated, which is ask one or two or three consistent questions every single time. Because one, your listeners will listen for it, and two, you can always go back. You could even do a whole series around the answers to that question, which is just kind of fun. And those of us in marketing, you could do a report. You could do, of the hundred people that we asked this question, here was the response. So when you think with the end in mind and you put humans first, you can come up with some really, really cool content that you can do a lot with. One thing that I love that you're doing and that you're thinking about is all of the things you do after you hit publish, right? Quite often, podcasts and brands sell themselves short. They leave a lot of value on the table, a lot of opportunity to connect with people, when they hit publish and they move on to the next thing, and maybe they smear it around social media a little bit. And I get it, that's fine. We're all super busy, but if you're going to go so far as to find a guest, bring them on the show, record an interview, edit it, publish it, you're only halfway there. You're dropping out of the marathon. Just finish. And so, tell me a little bit about what you do after you hit publish, not only to promote the show, but to promote, raise awareness of, make connections with Stirista, using the show. After you hit publish, what's that look like?
Speaker 2: I like the marathon reference. I've never run a marathon, but it's kind of like after you're done, after you're done you get the medal, you just throw out the medal? It's like, no, you show everybody that medal.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Speaker 2: You display it somewhere. I also think it's important to have a separate site, your own site. Call it whatever. If it's the podcast-
Speaker 1: Own your audience.
Speaker 2: Own your audience. If it's like The Vincent Hour, have thevincenthour. com. Go out and get that URL. Get your URLs beforehand, I would say. Make sure it's something, and then have all your episodes there. Obviously, you have it on different platforms, but it's like that is the place where it's themarketingstore. com, right there. You could come and you could download episodes. The majority of our listeners come right to that site. So have it there. Talk to your guest and say, " Hey, Lindsay, thank you for being on the podcast. The only thing we do ask of you is that you connect us with someone on your social team, and we put it out together. Let's joint get it out together." We also, again, champagne, right? We also will take snippets of it. We record it on... We have it on YouTube as well. No one watches us there, really. It's just so we could take it and snippets, and put it out there. And because it's content, you have it. It's done already. There's a major article, there's something major in the industry that happened, tag a particular episode. We just mentioned an episode from six months ago the other day, so don't stop there. That's content that you have. Make sure that you could drive people to that. It's relevant. Don't just put it on the shelf. And also, what we do sometimes is the people who like and look at our podcast, or we also encourage people. " Hey, if you like this podcast, you want to be on the show, reach out to us. Reach out to us." Like you said in the beginning, Lindsay, it's content. And the hardest part, I think, is inaudible it, but it's there. You did it, so now just don't put it on a shelf.
Speaker 1: Don't throw away the medal at the end of the race.
Speaker 2: No. Keep that medal. You show everyone. I'll wear that medal for two years every day.
Speaker 1: Right.
Speaker 2: Still wouldn't be the weirdest thing you see in New York City.
Speaker 1: Okay. So, in summary, what is something that you would share with other B2B marketers, or individuals at a brand that are looking to possibly start a podcast that might be at risk of comparing their beginning to your middle, and want what you want? Take it back to your beginning. What would you share with people who are in that spot?
Speaker 2: Just get started. It's so easy nowadays. I would say just start with getting your customers on. What a great way to highlight the work you're doing with them, or just have a conversation with them. I would say it's so easy to start. Just come up with an idea, something that you are passionate about, that you think other people would be passionate about. Don't overthink it, and record it. Practice a little bit, record it, and then you could just put it out on LinkedIn or something. Just get it out there.
Speaker 1: Yup.
Speaker 2: It could be five minutes, four minutes. It highlights you. It highlights the company. And if the company doesn't want to do that, it's like you're really missing out, and reach out. Again, we're not professional, but reach out to Lindsay. Reach out to her company. She can help you.
Speaker 1: Well, thank you so much for being here on our show. I'm glad that you are, and thanks for sharing your insights.
Speaker 2: Thanks for having me, Lindsay. Appreciate it.
Speaker 1: 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.
After launching a brand podcast right before the pandemic, Vincent Pietrafesa has lots of lessons and advice to give to anyone thinking of starting a podcast. Most importantly? Just press record.
Vincent Pietrafesa, VP of B2B Products and Partnerships at Stirista and co-host of The Marketing Stir podcast, has combined the power of thought leadership and the machine of campaign marketing to create a podcast that is pushing Stirista forward. Listen in to hear how his team is creating connection and generating demand with their podcast.