The Art of Creating Valuable Podcasts
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
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The Art of Creating Valuable Podcasts
We've made incredible leaps since the days of wireless radio. Once, families sat huddled around their radios in the living room, waiting impatiently for their favorite shows. It's unbelievable to compare that time period with the broadcasting technology of today.
Think about the last time you listened to a podcast. How many options did you have to choose from? Did you pause for any incoming calls, or to watch a quick Instagram reel?
Needless to say, things have changed – but not just in the way we listen. The nature of what we listen to has evolved as well.
Today, I want to touch on something super relevant to those starting their business podcast journey: the art of creating something truly valuable.
Because although making a podcast is relatively simple in 2022, making something worth listening to is a far greater challenge – and for every expertly crafted podcast episode on the block, there are ten more that could use a bit more TLC.
Let's dive in.
Today's guest: Yaagneshwaran Ganesh
What sparked my interest in this issue was an interview I had with Yaagneshwaran Ganesh, award-winning author and Director of Marketing at Avoma. Yaagneshwaran is a highly intelligent, highly successful individual – and one who places a tremendous emphasis on the quality of the content he produces.
If you haven't seen the interview on my channel yet, here's a rundown of Yaagneshwaran's career and achievements thus far:
He's an award-winning marketer, an author, and a TEDx speaker, and has spoken at other business forums like Performance Marketing Moscow, Chamber of Commerce Netherlands, and The World Marketing Congress
With more than 12 years of marketing experience in the MarTech space, he successfully produces industry-specific books, podcasts, and other content
He is recognized by The World Marketing Congress as one of the Marketing Mavericks
From all of that, I don't need to tell you that Yaagneshwaran knows a thing or two about marketing. What I do want to share, however, is his immense wisdom in the art of producing value.
What is the meaning of 'value'?
In the content creation industry, this concept of 'value' is something we hear and use often. Of course, it's a standard we all aspire to meet in the podcasts we publish and the posts we write – but what does it actually mean?
I posed this question to Yaagneshwaran during our interview. As the successful creator of the top podcast for B2B professionals – The AMB Conversations Podcast – I was keen to know how Yaagneshwaran defines this all-important term.
"Value is a word that is so commonly used, and so commonly misused. Everybody says deliver value! but nobody tells you what value actually is."
He's right, of course. A simple Google search digs up thousands of articles, but they're mostly focused on product or service value and calculating utility.
"To me, what I mean by value here is this: somebody gives you 45 minutes to one hour of their time. And if you don't deliver something that is useful to them, they can clearly see that."
I love Yaagneshwaran's explanation. It's so simple, but so clear – deliver something that your audience will find useful. It also serves as a reminder that time is a commodity, and if people are willing to use their time to listen to your podcast, you'd better make sure it's worth their while.
Let's dig into that a little further.
What's the opposite of value?
Despite its ambiguity, I'm sure you can recognize value when you see it. Value is a blog post you read until the very end, or a book you can't stop talking about. It's the video you watch twice, or the podcast episode you listen to over and over.
By the same token, you can identify the absence of value when you experience it. A blog post that's full of fluff and awkwardly-placed keywords, or a podcast that would be better described as one long-winded advertisement – these are the things that lack value.
These are also the things we want to avoid. An SEO-optimized blog post will get you good rankings, affiliate commissions, and possibly advertisement clicks, but if you don't balance it with real value, you'll lose the most important thing: trust.
Why create valuable content?
Audience trust and loyalty is one of the most valuable assets a content creator can have. It's what keeps people coming back for more, even when there are so many other things competing for their attention.
These aren't just my shower thoughts – research actually shows that consumers value trustworthiness over everything else when deciding whether or not to consume media.
This makes total sense. Would you go back to a blog if the first article you read delivers zero value? If you spent an hour listening to a useless podcast, would you then subject yourself to another hour of the same?
Probably not. We're all busy people, and we want to make sure that the time we spend consuming content is time well spent.
Which is why creating valuable content is so important. It's what will set you apart from the competition and make your audience come back for more.
Why podcasts must have value
When content creators write blog posts, it's preferable that they write something valuable to their audience – but if not, they've got backup. Think affiliate links, sponsorships, advertisements, and so on. Not so with podcasts.
There are millions of people tuning in to podcasts on a regular basis, but their attention is split between the thousands of options at their disposal – and research shows that if your podcast is sub-par, they'll ditch you like a hot rock.
Take a look at these stats:
20 to 35 percent of listeners will drop off within the first five minutes of a podcast episode.
The average podcast will only receive 27 listens per episode
Apple Podcasts hosts almost 50 million podcast episodes (so there's a lot of competition to cut through)
In other words: if your podcast doesn't hold immense value for listeners, they won't stick around. So how do you make sure your podcast is valuable?
Expert advice on delivering valuable podcasts
In 2019, Yaagneshwaran launched his highly successful podcast for B2B marketing professionals. He didn't set out to be a content creator – you can hear more about his career journey in the full interview – but he quickly learned the importance of delivering value through his podcast episodes.
And it worked, evidently. Fast forward to 2022, and the AMB Conversations podcast is now rated among the top 1% of millions of podcasts. Knowing this, I was excited to pose the question: how do you ensure your podcast provides immense value to listeners?
Here's what he had to say.
Tip 1: Ask the right questions
"The difference between a good podcast episode and a bad podcast episode is purely on the host. That's what I believe – it's about the questions that you ask."
I love this pointer from Yaagneshwaran. As interviewers, there's no such thing as blaming the guest for a lack of value in an episode – it's on us to ask the right questions. This requires preparation, research, and knowing one's audience intimately.
You might be thinking, "But what if the guest is rude? What if they refuse to cooperate? What if they just don't have anything valuable to say?"
Of course, there will be times when things don't go as planned, and guests aren't always predictable. But if you've been diligent in every episode, and you've built a loyal following as a result, those occasional bumps in the road aren't going to kill your show.
As Yaagneshwaran pointed out: "There will be guests who answer you in a Tweet format – maybe one or two lines – and there are also going to be people who give you a half-hour answer for a single question. The beauty is that you bring in your own curiosity."
Tip 2: Know your guest
If you are going to host a podcast based on interviews, it's crucial to know the person you are interviewing.
There's no need to be best friends with them – but if you at least have a cursory understanding of their work and what they stand for, it will show in your questioning and the conversation as a whole.
"I generally take at least two days to go back and do my research about a particular person," Yaagnewshwaran said. "I listen to at least ten of their episodes, or anywhere they've spoken. Any time I go on a jog, I'm listening to their shows."
Now, that's commitment.
What you gain by doing this extra prep work is the ability to frame questions in a way that draws out interesting stories and insights from your guests. You'll also be able to better understand their work, which will give you ammunition for follow-up questions.
Tip 3: Bring your energy and curiosity
You'll never create a valuable podcast by asking the same old questions that have been asked a million times before. Yaagnewshwaran approaches his interviews with a curious and proactive attitude.
"I go and look at whatever they've written," Yaagnewshwaran said. "What are the different places that they have spoken? What have they accomplished? Is there anything relevant to what I'm trying to say through this podcast? When you look at those details, you end up with a set of things that you want to learn."
This is the difference between someone who simply asks questions and someone who has a desire to learn. There's no point feigning interest – your listeners aren't going to be fooled. But if you bring genuine interest and energy to each conversation, your guests will feed off of that and the episode will be more valuable as a result.
"Because you are not the best person at [the interview topic], it makes you all the more curious and wanting to learn. And when you show that energy – that curiosity – that also gets the other person going, because it's a very honest conversation."
Here's the conclusion that I've reached from these three (highly valuable!) tips: if you want to create value for your listeners, you need to truly value your guests. That means doing your homework, being curious and energetic, and asking interesting questions.
"When a guest has given you one hour of their time, the one way that you can show them the respect that you have for them is by going in prepared and asking the right questions. It's showing them that you value their time."
Final thoughts on the art of value
We've focused on podcast creation today, but in my opinion, the value of creating value can't be emphasized enough – no matter which medium you work with.
The easiest way to understand this concept is by reflecting on your own habits as a media consumer. What do your favorite podcasts have in common? If a blog post is just an advertisement thinly disguised as "life advice", how quickly do you click onto something more personable?
This is the power of providing value. It's what makes your audience feel like they're getting something special, and it's a key ingredient in building an audience that trusts you and wants to come back for more.
When it comes to podcasts, remember that you've got access to the ears of your listeners. Out of millions of podcast episodes, they've chosen you; amid the mad rush of their day, they've made time for you – so take the time to create content that's valuable, interesting, and worth their time. I think you'll find that their loyalty pays you back in full.
An enormous thank you to Yaagneshwaran for his insights and advice – be sure to check out his podcast for more marketing goodness.
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