Mission Marketing host Whitney Cole spoke with 20-year digital marketing veteran and podcasting thought leader Jared Johnson. The traffic analytics firm Analytica named Jared a healthcare top 100 Twitter influencer, as did the peer-nominated HIT 100 Twitter and LinkedIn list. What drove him to such heights?
Industry innovation and personal experience.
After spending years in the medical device and health tech world, including a Fortune 500 medical device manufacturer, he became a consultant because he wanted to help health tech and healthcare organizations make life better for people.
After losing his father-in-law to prostate cancer, one of the most treatable forms of cancer, he started noticing many holes in the healthcare system and became determined to find a way to help transform it. He soon realized that by connecting people with the right healthcare information, he could potentially help prevent such tragic deaths.
Embracing Podcasting Innovation
Jared started his first podcast — Health IT Marketer — in 2015 to help health tech, biotech, med-tech companies, and digital health companies develop digital marketing strategies. This weekly podcast with guest interviews expanded his network and got him excited about podcasting — it served a trial run, helping him understand the value of marketing.
A few years after he stopped podcasting, Janet Kennedy interviewed him on her podcast, Get Social Health, and challenged him to get back on the air — so he did with his new podcast Healthcare Rap.
As a church youth group leader, Jared would keep teenagers’ attention by performing a little rap about them for special occasions. This inspired him to do the same at the Ragan Healthcare Communicators Conference, where he introduced himself in the keynote with a rap to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The audience loved it — and Jared realized that B2B marketing didn’t have to be so serious. The rest is podcasting history.
The Power of Podcasting
“I want people to be as loyal as they are to Netflix.”
— Jared Johnson
You may ask: “Why should I start podcasting now, when so many people are already out there doing it — what new information can I add?” Jared is convinced there is plenty of room left for quality conversation in the podcasting arena. “We feel like we have something to talk about, and a podcast can be the medium for us to engage and connect with people who are going to find value in that … it’s all about what you’re saying. It has very little to do with the medium itself.”
There are so many mediums and content formats vying for our time and attention — and podcasting can capture those listeners long term. When he started the Healthcare Rap, Jared had to simultaneously create a steady flow of long-form content and engage distracted audiences. Then, he needed to get them to come back. In order to build loyalty, he nurtured his prospects, strengthened relationships with existing customers and stakeholders, and networked with new industry experts.
He needed to establish himself as a thought leader while remaining purpose-driven and providing valuable content that could be repurposed in every marketing channel. He was determined to give his brand something to offer besides sales pitches.
When Jared realized he needed more resources to produce a wealth of robust content, he invited his Phoenix Children’s Hospital colleague to co-host with him. “Peter Balistrieri sees the world the same way I do, so it’s really a delight to have a co-host that shares the desire to attack the status quo.”
They believed they needed to challenge the healthcare marketing status quo in order to better reach the people who most needed solutions that their services could provide. To make their lives better while having fun. So they created a rap that served as the intro and transition between show segments. It attracted and retained listeners by entertaining them while informing them — an irresistible combination.
People Have Already Embraced Podcasts
Considering taking a stab at podcasting but worried you won’t find an audience? According to Edison Research, 51% of Americans have listened to a podcast — so you’re in the minority if you never have. A whopping 144 million Americans have embraced podcasting, which is 20 million more than last year. Every week, 62 million Americans listen to podcasts — and they’re always looking for even more engaging content. Habitual listeners like Jared indulge in up to seven podcasts every week!
It’s easy to understand why podcasting has taken off so quickly and so intensely. We all love multitasking — but written content is hard to consume while you’re doing something else. Podcasts allow us to multi-task and consume more content — at any time that’s convenient for us.
Jared predicts that audio is going to take a different track than written content or video content did. Car Play and apps like Overcast already allow us to create playlists on our phones and even listen to them on Alexa devices or Google Home Assistants. Audio content is here to stay. And Jared is convinced that yours can become one of those seven podcasts that habitual listeners turn to weekly.
Podcasting Offers a Unique Content Angle
Digital health companies are such consistent drivers of innovation, they’ll always have a wealth of information to share and plenty of intriguing issues to raise. If you listen and follow healthtech CEOs, you’ll find they’re always sharing knowledge, insights, and big ideas for future innovation — a myriad of content just waiting to be shared with the public through podcasting.
The same process you’re applying to launch the rest of your content strategy should apply to your podcasting — you should be strategizing your angle. You should be developing your “content tilt,” as the Godfather of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi, puts it. Ask yourself: “What’s unique about the way I’m presenting, analyzing, or assessing the topic at hand? Do I have a niche perspective on it? A new, more engaging presentation style?” Answering these hard questions will help you find your “content tilt” — then you’ll just need to lean into it.
How To Start Podcasting
Find Your Voice
To find your podcasting voice, become an expert on your subject matter. Devour and analyze all the content you can find about it — including books, podcasts, videos, TV, and radio programs. Spend more time than you think you need pitching it to people. Pull them aside at conferences, meetings, and industry gatherings, and ask: “Hey, I just want to see, have you heard anyone talking about these things, in this sort of way?”
Know who’s already talking about your topic and make sure you have a different way to talk about it. Jared says this process will help you create a new voice by process of elimination.
Find Your Format
Once you’re intimately knowledgeable with your subject matter, you’ll be prepared to decide which format best amplifies it. If you’re an experienced, dynamic speaker who’s been complimented for your delivery or sense of humor, you may decide to be the sole voice on your podcast. Maybe you’ve always used music in your presentations — leverage it when podcasting.
You may decide that your subject matter is best delivered via guest interviews. If you don’t feel you have a large enough network or a dynamic enough broadcast voice, you may partner with a co-host. You can find successful examples of every type of format out there. It’s really up to you which podcasting format to use, but Jared recommends playing to your strengths. There are benefits to connecting with thought leaders, interviewing them on your show, and turning them into brand advocates.
Make a Topic List and a Guest List
Jared took a chance and reached out to an industry rock star — he didn’t expect her to have much time or interest. It turned out she had never been on a podcast before! “You would be surprised who hasn’t been, and you’d be surprised how willing people are to come on, so sometimes that’s the easiest way,” Jared explains.
When you write up your list of potential guests, make it as long as you can. Exhaust it. See how many people you know off the top of your head. Then, go through your LinkedIn network and identify people you admire. If you’re still talking about only five or six guests or topics, then you’re going to have to either decide to put something out less often or partner up with somebody who has more resources. Podcasting with a co-host from another organization can expand your network — and make for a more dynamic listening experience.
How To Find Podcast Guests
There are so many sources for finding podcast guests — you just have to be open and aware of and engaged with your industry hubs. Jared shared these basic steps to attract guests and fortify your podcasting efforts:
- Make Connections
You’re likely already publishing content in all sorts of other channels — so you have a conversation starter when making connections at industry conferences, symposiums, galas, or celebrations. If your peers enjoy and engage with that content, they’re likely to enjoy engaging with you on your podcast.
LinkedIn is a place to engage with a lot of people you admire or want to learn from. Jared has been able to entice some highly influential authors through LinkedIn messages. He excitedly recounted: “The Jay Baers, and the Jay Acunzos of the world, who are rock stars. I’ve even had to say, on the air, ‘Trying not to be starstruck right now.’” Those celebrity interviews will inspire other industry influencers who want to be in the same league to be your guests. Successful podcasting requires some initial momentum — those first few shows can forge your reputation.
- Reach Out
Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a former co-worker, or an industry influencer, reach out with genuine curiosity about their insights. Tell your prospective guests how much you value their experience and opinion. You’d be surprised how many people are happy to share. As Jared explains: “A LinkedIn invitation saying, ‘Hey, I’d love to connect. And by the way, I’d love to have you on this podcast, here’s what we’re all about.’ Half the time, at least, maybe more, it’s somebody who’s never heard of me — and they can be famous — they’ll reply ‘Hey, I’d love to!’”
- Ask for Recommendations
Each of your guests likely has a network as big or bigger than yours — leverage it. After you’ve had a pleasant, insightful conversation and wrapped the podcast episode, you’ll thank your guests for their time. They’ll likely be in a good mood and focused on you, so why not ask them who else they imagine can call value to your podcasting mission?
Decide on Your Target Audience
Podcasting shouldn’t be an island within your content marketing strategy — your audiences should follow you from channel to channel. Who do you really want listening to your podcast? If you’ve done all your homework on other content channels, you probably have a good idea of the kind of person who may find your content interesting. If you’ve been engaging and commenting on other industry channels, some of your future listeners may even be familiar with you. Look at podcasting as a way of building an audience, connecting with them, and learning what they care about.
Get to Work
The production process behind podcasting will take some time, so you’ll have to plan and gather technical partners and editors to produce as many episodes as possible up-front. Jared suggests: “Have them as often as possible. I love to have several episodes — six, to eight, to ten — ready to go at the beginning.”
It’s also a good idea to do a recap blog post (like this one), or at least a full transcript of each episode. Follow up with constant social media posts to draw people to every episode. Get the word out before you launch and before you release each episode.
What channels do you already have traction on? Leverage them to let people know that you’ve got engaging content they don’t want to miss. You’ve got to have a little bit of time between the time when you record the episode and the time you get it out there. That gives you time to set up links, create posts with them, and create a transcript. Make sure to reach back out to your guests and ask them to promote the episode to their networks. It takes a lot of time to get all those little pieces lined up — plan accordingly.
Find Your Hosting Service
Check in with other successful podcast hosts to see which podcasting platforms they use and why. That’s the quickest way to do it. You’ll be creating an audio file, then uploading it to a hosting platform. The hosting service then distributes your audio file each week — or however often you publish — to the Apple Store, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Amazon, or any other distributors you may choose. They each come with pros and cons, so do your research after you get those recommendations from other podcasters.
Common Podcasting Mistakes
Health tech B2B marketing is unique. As Jared puts it: “We’re not selling sneakers, or wine, or something where it’s so transactional. This is a relationship-based industry.” It’s also a tech-based industry, so you have to be a bit tech-savvy and understand how your relationships are going to impact a customer’s journey.
Not Enough Topics
If you’re going to take podcasting seriously, you can’t run out of topics. That means keeping up with industry trends, insights, influencers, and start-ups. Don’t assume a new company is ever too small or insignificant to learn about — you never know where they’ll be tomorrow. Getting more touchpoints, more topics, and more engaging content in front of people helps them understand why you’re relevant to them and why they should engage with, trust, and be loyal to you.
No Unique Voice
Successful podcasting requires constantly brainstorming new ways to talk about the same topics. You should always be searching for new angles. Anyone who has started a podcast with a following has created a distinct voice and a new way of saying something. B2B doesn’t mean boring. Find a way to get through to people — companies are made up of people who consume all sorts of content. Lean into that fact and find a way to get their attention.
What’s Next for Content Marketing?
Voice search is the next frontier, according to Jared. It’s going to take a long time for voice content to mature to a point where everyone recognizes it as the place to spend time and resources, but those who don’t invest in it now will be sorry. “When voice technology emerges even more than it is now, we’ll be better prepared for it. We’ll be one of the first ones out there.”
Podcasting is your opportunity to get ahead of the curve again — but in most marketing strategies, there’s no dedicated place for it.
Now that Spotify has bought Gimlet Audio, podcasting is just as important as music for Spotify users who can now create a playlist of podcast episodes. Google is buying original content and Amazon will be doing the same. We’ll soon be able to search podcasts by talking to Alexa. What the internet was for blog content, voice search will be for podcasting.
“It’s the textbook I wished I had in school.”
The book that’s been the most earth-shattering for Jared’s career is This Is Marketing by Seth Godin. It dives deep into the evolving purpose of marketing. It is not a guidebook with techniques on how to succeed in each social media channel. It’s a more philosophical look at what marketing can do. It’s very purpose-driven — a word not normally associated with marketing.
Jared’s biggest takeaway is that a lot of things he learned about marketing over the years — like the traditional Four Ps, promotion, and advertising — are not true anymore. Jared agrees. He believes marketing can create magic and even change the world.
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