Published DateAuthorStrategic Coach Founder Dan Sullivan and Gord Vickman
Join Dan Sullivan and Gord Vickman as they explore the rapid growth of podcasts and how the most successful shows get things done. Why are so many people turning to them over traditional media? The answer, Dan says, is relationship: The best podcasters know that it’s not about them, it’s about you.
In This Episode:
Why podcasts exploded in popularity.
Why creating a podcast is no longer just fringe marketing.
The importance of building relationships with listeners.
A marriage analogy for building a show from a seed.
The importance of understanding the listener's needs.
A timely transition from broadcast to podcast.
The D.O.S. Conversation “A deceptively simple method for immediately making a powerful connection with any client or prospect, which allows you to create unique value in their life.”
Dan Sullivan: Hi, this is Dan Sullivan and this is the next episode of our podcast series, and I’m here with Gord Vickman, who’s the manager of all podcasts at Strategic Coach. And Gord, before we get into some of the strategies that we use to actually constantly enlarge our multi-series podcast network around the world, why the interest today in podcasts? Because it’s really taken, I think, most people totally by surprise, how big this got so fast.
Gord Vickman: That’s a big and wide question, Dan, but I think there’s a lot of reasons. I mean, some of this is my own opinion and then, the data science and the way that people are looking at these right now, the storytelling aspect of podcasting and how you can wrap a story around your brand and how you can wrap a story around your relationships and the medium is used to build relationships.
A lot of people, I think, thought these would be a flash in the pan and they weren’t going to be around for very long and maybe they would just simply go away, or maybe it would be a trend and it would become a niche thing, but we’ve seen here at Strategic Coach just a really, really impressive—exponential actually—growth in not only the numbers, because the sexy metric is the downloads, but also the impact that the shows are having.
And there’s probably a million reasons why that is, but I just think that they’re incredibly effective tools at building relationships with the people who are interested in what you have to say. And a lot of people are interested in what you have to say, Dan, and what Shannon has to say here and our other associate coaches here at Coach and the tips that you’re giving on the shows, I think people are getting value from it.
And there is an investment. People have said, “Oh, well, podcasts are free.” Well, they’re not free, because essentially, you’re gifting us your time and we do appreciate it. Those of you joining us here on Podcast Payoffs, we do appreciate it and we recognize there is a cost associated. Time is our most valuable resource. It’s not money. So you’re gifting us your time. So we, in turn, need to provide value and we need to give you something back. That’s the relationship.
And I think when people find podcasts that give them that which they’re looking for, they are going to come back and that’s what we’re hoping to do here at Strategic Coach, with the 11 shows now in our network. Strategicpodcasts.com, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the homepage and they’re all available there for you to check out.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. One of the things that I looked forward so much when you joined the team here at Strategic Coach, and I actually told you this in one of our meetings, and I said you’ve got this experience in broadcast medium on live radio with big shows, big audiences, and you’ve also done documentary work of producing documentary films. And I grew up in that world, because a lot of people know that in my early days, I was a copywriter with BBDO, it’s a worldwide ad agency, but I was here in the Toronto branch, which was the big Canadian... It was the second-biggest advertising agency. This was in the early 1970s. It was all about broadcast and broadcast is, when I think about, it’s one way. Broadcasts are just one way. You were doing it with scarce broad-
Gord Vickman: Broadband.
Dan Sullivan: Broadband. You had to pay a large amount of money to get your presentations and the backstage expense of making sure it was perfect because you only got one chance. And then, I mean, if it wasn’t good, it got multiplied not-good 100,000 times. And so, you had this preparation of years and years. A couple decades of actually thinking where you’re sending out a one-way message and probably, the biggest thing that surprised people, that people had this experience, it had to be perfect, it had to be scripted, you had to get out the right messaging, but the podcasts have become very, very popular just for the opposite reasons.
Gord Vickman: Once you say something on live radio, it comes out of your mouth, you cannot grab it and stuff it back into your face. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. So live radio and television is a great training ground for people who are going to move into the podcast space, because you can tailor your message and curate it, but we have a wonderful audio engineer, Willard Bond, who oversees all of the shows here at Strategic Coach, and he makes sure that we sound super-duper, or at least as good as we can possibly sound. And on that subject of relationships, there’s this great analogy that comes from the radio world.
And I love to borrow things from my past life as a radio producer and radio broadcaster, it’s the marriage analogy when it comes to establishing relationships on your show. So it’s sort of like dating, that’s what they always say, and when they’re coaching you in terms of how to build a show essentially from nothing to something, they would say, “It’s kind of like, well, you’re at a party, okay? And you see someone that you think is kind of attractive on the other side of the room, so you make eyes at him or her and he or she makes eyes at you.” And then, that’s like when the person sees your logo for the first time or maybe your podcast pops up or maybe someone mentions, “Hey, you should check this out.” So now, you’re in that phase. And then, maybe you go and you have a conversation with that person. You say hello to them, they say hello to you, and there’s a little bit of a spark there. That’s when they start to kind of maybe listen to your show here or there, but nothing exclusive yet. They’re still listening to other shows at the same time. Then you go out on a few dates and you realize you like each other. And now, you’re on their preset dial. Now, you’re someone that they’re going to start checking out more regularly and then, the relationship progresses and eventually, you ask them to go steady. And then eventually, if they really, really fall for you, a marriage might be in the cards. So you are the number one show they’re listening to, you are their number one go-to. They’re subscribed to your show. They listen to your show. They’re vocal advocates for you. They tell everyone about you. They encourage everyone to listen to you, and that’s the foundations for building a relationship with anything, with a podcast or if you have a YouTube series or if you have any media entity. It works for blogs, too. Consider it like a marriage.
So when people start these shows, and I hear this sometimes they’re like, “Well, I started a show, we’re putting a lot of work into it, but we’re just not seeing the numbers.” Well, you have to remember, you’re not going to go from googly eyes at the party to walking down the aisle. There is that progression and it has to follow those steps. You have to give people the time to find you and to figure out what you’re about and see if they’re right for you. And if you are, and if there’s a match, then they’re going to be with you and they’re going to tell everyone about you and that’s how you grow the shows.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. The big thing people say, well, how long do you stay with a podcast particular series? So as you mentioned before, it’s 10 or 11 series that we now have, and each of them is something that I’m particularly interested in that I know that my particular listeners who are talented, successful, ambitious entrepreneurs are interested in. And we have a framework inside Strategic Coach that we call D.O.S., and D.O.S. means the other person’s Dangers as they perceive them, the Opportunities as they perceive them, and their Strengths as they perceive them.
So basically, when I put together the ideas for a new podcast series, it’s not about what I want to say. It’s my understanding of what the listener wants to hear and what specific topics they want to hear something new, better, and different about.
So I think the big thing, a lot of people put the emphasis, “Do I sound right, am I saying it right?”
And I said, “You know, if you can get this through your mind right up front, and it’s just Rule Number One. And then, I’ll tell you Rule Number Two and Three.” Rule Number One is it’s not about you, it’s about them. Okay? Rule Number Two is “If you’re still confused, refer to Rule Number One.” And Rule Number Three is “Get really good at Rule Number One.”
In other words, make it entirely about them. And the more comfortable you get with the medium, with the technology and the process of doing podcasts, it’s not about you at all. You’re visiting their mind and you’re joining a conversation that they already had going in their mind with some new information, with some new insights that actually help them develop thinking that... They’re already on the road to this kind of thinking and you’re just giving them some new input, new insights about the thinking that they’re already doing.
So that’s how I look at it, whether it’s “Podcast Payoff” or it’s “10x Talk” with Joe Polish or “Exponential Wisdom” with Peter Diamandis or “The American Checklist” with Mark Young.
The other thing is that my most comfortable form of communication is one-to-one discussion with other individuals. So I like the going back and forth, almost tennis game kind of improv type of action that goes on where it’s really working if I’m continually surprised by what the other person says. And then, it allows me to respond in a really useful way to what the other person has said.
And it’s just the opposite of broadcast. It’s just the opposite of that pre-preparation. I remember the British Broadcasting Corporation in the 1930s with their radio shows that all the announcers, commentators on the BBC had to wear tuxedos when they were in the studio and all the women had to wear evening dresses so that they were...
Gord Vickman: You don’t like my tuxedo, Dan? I wore it just for you today.
Dan Sullivan: I do like it. I was going to talk to you a little bit about that. Yeah. Did you get that discount? Was that...?
Anyway, that was really good. But the whole point, you can see the whole mentality that if you’re wearing a tuxedo, you would talk in a particular way that was appropriate for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
So that whole notion that it’s all about you and it’s how you sound and it’s the ideas and the authority and you’re representing... It’s who you’re representing that’s important, not who you’re talking to.
Gord Vickman: I’d never heard that tuxedo story, but that’s hilarious that they were showing up... If you could think of a less comfortable thing to have to sit there and try and broadcast and enunciate in than a cummerbund, I can’t really imagine what that would be.
Dan Sullivan: No, but you have to understand that for most people, radio was very recent in their experience. So radio as we understand it didn’t really start until the 1920s, 1930s. And I remember there before “Downton Abbey”, there was a famous series that came out of British television called “Upstairs, Downstairs”, and they have one episode where for the first time, they’ve gotten a telephone in the house and they were operator-triggered telephones. So you picked up the phone and a live operator came on. So there were no numbers, but the butler, his name was ‘Hudson’ in the series, it was really interesting, because the phone rang for the first time and the downstairs staff, the maids, the cooks, and everybody said, “Mr. Hudson, Mr. Hudson, the telephone.” And he stopped and he went and he put his coat on. Put his coat on, his front stage coat as the butler, and then, he went and he answered “Yes?”
And you could see that they were still in the transition of moving into a medium where the person on the other side can’t see what you looked like. They can’t see, but their whole perception, because they were trained in formal settings and they were very stilted when they talked on the phone, and there were charges. They charged you for the limited amount of time that you should be on the phone and it wasn’t for chit-chatting. It took teenagers to actually introduce that.
So the whole thing is the medium of the podcast, I think we’re in one of those transitionary stages where I think there’s a general weariness from broadcast medium, and that would include cable, that would include 500 channels that you can now get on your TV if you want. There’s just a general weariness of being talked at. And the other thing is being talked at about something that’s important to the talker, but not important to you.
So what I get, this was a conversation that you and I had before we came on here, Gord, that you have broadcast and all sorts of different kinds of casts and the word ‘podcasts,’ as you informed me before, it only came about because the original way that people got these shows was on their iPod.
Gord Vickman: Yeah. It was a broadcast on your iPod, it became a podcast. It was coined by... Wish I could remember his name. He was a journalist at The Guardian.
Dan Sullivan: In Manchester.
Gord Vickman: Yeah, and he coined the term ‘podcast.’ It was just a broadcast on your iPod. Now nobody has an iPod anymore. I’m sure there’s a couple floating around somewhere. At the bottom of someone’s dirty gym bag, someone’s got their iPod, but it’s all done on the phone now. So yeah, that’s where it came from.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, but my feeling from what’s actually at work here is that it’s target cast. Okay? So I have a concept in Coach for all my entrepreneurs, and I said, “The more targeted you are about a particular type of client or customer in the marketplace—what goes on in this person’s life?—then almost anything you say is probably going to be interesting to them because it’s about them. It’s not about you.”
So I’ve spent close to 50,000 hours over the last 45 years since I first became a coach to entrepreneurs where I just have done a 360-degree examination of almost every dimension that takes place in an entrepreneur’s life, the different circumstances, the different challenges, and I’m like a jazz musician: I’ve just got hundreds and hundreds of riffs, and there isn’t a lot that surprises me, but putting two things together always produces a surprising result. And that’s where the conversation comes in. If I got someone that I’m working with and half the show that we’re responsible for is coming from, I don’t know what this person’s going to say, so I really have to be on my toes and I have to access my previous knowledge to actually get going.
But it’s all about this targeting, and I’m incredibly smarter about entrepreneurs now than when I started in 1974. I’m a lot smarter since we started the Strategic Coach Workshop 30 years ago in 1989. And this year, I’m still smarter. So I keep learning new things about entrepreneurs, and I try to reflect this in my insights that I share on the podcast series.
Gord Vickman: You know what that reminds me of is your explanation of only testing on check-writers. When you have an idea, and I’ve been in a lot of your workshops, your 10x workshops here at Strategic Coach, and I’ve seen some of the Free Zone Frontier and also our associate coaches as well.
It seems like when you’re going and you’re testing an idea, you’re just kind of throwing it out there. And I’ve actually heard you say to a group of 10X people, “What do you think? Does this make sense?” And it’s almost like you’re workshopping the idea itself, and then, people are hitting on it and people are working on it, and then you’re pulling it back. So that idea of only testing on check-writers, why has that been so paramount to the success of all of the tools that you’ve created and the programs themselves?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. Well, the truth is, the greatest idea in the world as it looks in your head at best, it only gets to the 50% line in terms of whether the idea is actually good or not. And the other 50% actually has to come from “Is this of value to the person who’s actually hearing the idea?” Not only is it valuable to them, but it inspires them to add more value to the actual idea. So I probably put the best thinking into this particular quarter’s workshop than I have in the first 30 years.
Gord Vickman: What does that look like?
Dan Sullivan: The moment the last quarter’s workshop was started, where we were actually giving the goods for last quarter, I was already every workshop and I test on about 14 full day workshops a quarter, about half-and-half Toronto and Chicago, and I immediately said, “In addition to giving this quarter’s workshop, I’m actually going to use this quarter’s workshop days as R&D labs for testing out ideas that I’m going to actually prepare next time.” So I had the full quarter of actually doing the actual workshops, but then I have a six-week period in between, and I just kept going through and making it simpler and simpler. And it comes down to four new ideas. There are four new thinking processes.
But as happy and kind of satisfied I am that I did a better job at preparing this time than I ever have before, I’m still only at the 50% line with the idea and I won’t know until we start doing it in the workshops whether the way I prepared it was really dead-on or I’m off.
And, quite frankly, I’m looking forward to as much being confirmed that I was right, as much as I like getting confirmation that I really guessed right, but also that I’m going to get enough material that I’ll significantly improve the presentation during the next quarter. So every quarter, there’ll be improvements that simply come because I got that back from the audience.
And this is just a new thought that I’m having right here, and that is... It’s like theater. There’s backstage and there’s front stage. Backstage is everything I did to get ready for Thursday, which is front stage. But the more that I can get the actual audience backstage and actually be part of the presentation improvement, that’s a really successful experience for me.
Gord Vickman: Do they even know it’s going on?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. Yeah. I think they do. I think they do. Because first of all, I have a significant number of entrepreneurs who’ve got years in the Program and they’ve noticed the workshops that they love the best it’s where we get to be part of the creative process. The more you can make the audience part of the creative process, I think they really love that experience.
And here, I mean, whatever the costs are of what we’re doing in the studio and whatever the costs are for people to actually download and listen to, which is minimal, people can binge on it. So there’s a far more greater control on our part of what we can experiment with and there’s a lot more control on their part of cherry-picking or picking what they want to listen to.
Gord Vickman: What do they call it? It’s the customer avatar, essentially.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah.
Gord Vickman: If you know exactly who you’re speaking to, focus directly on that person and you’re going to reap the rewards, because... To bring this full-circle here with the marriage analogy, when you show them that ring, they are going to say “Yes,” because you’ve already established that relationship with them being hyper-focused to what they want, testing it on them, and looping back and circling back until you’ve got that thing that you think is going to move the needle forward. And then everything just kind of builds on that. Is that not how it works?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, I think so and the big thing is that the greatest relationships that people have are the most interactive relationships and they’re the most collaborative relationships. I mean, if you just use that as your model of what works in your personal life or in your work life, where you just have a great working relationship or a great complete life relationship with another person, what are the things that work about that? And I think that what podcasting has allowed is to take a lot of the qualities of great personal and work relationships and move it into actual worldwide communication relationships with people.
Gord Vickman: Mm-hmm. And that’s what we’re doing here on the show at Podcast Payoffs and all the shows on our Strategic Podcast Network is the questions that we get from you, from people that we meet, from people that we speak to, we wrap these up and that’s what we present back to you. So it is a collaborative relationship, and we want to thank you for joining us today.
Dan, any final thoughts?
Dan Sullivan: I read murder mysteries and international intrigue mysteries, and I’m always struck by the philosophical overlay that the really best writers, and I’ll give you some of mine: Michael Conley who writes about detective in Los Angeles by the name of ‘Harry Bosch’. And then, there’s a terrific UK writer by the name of Mark Dawson, and he writes a whole series. And what I find really interesting about these writers is that they’ve got to create a great story, but around the story, they give an amazing amount of sociopolitical economic context, historical context, and you learn a lot about that, but there’s philosophy that runs through it, and I was so struck by these little quips. They’ll be a line long, but they’re just a general reflection on life. So I’ve got a file on my internet. As soon as I come across from it, I’ll put the author down the name of the book and the quip.
And the thing that really, really strikes me is that we want to be really truly engaged, and we no longer want somebody else capturing our time with scripted stuff where they’re not even there. They’re expecting us to show up, but they’re not showing up and I think more and more, we’re resenting things where they’re asking for our time, but in fact, they’re not putting in their time for it. They’re not thinking through. They want to maximize the value of our time and I think that’s really the new territory that we’re really entering in. “How by listening to Gord and Dan for a half hour, is my life better as a result of this experience?” And I think that’s what you have to really think about all the time.
Gord Vickman: Mm-hmm. Questions, comments, concerns, always valid, always welcome: Strategicpodcasts.com is the entire Strategic Podcast Network. You can check out with all of our shows there, and you can get in touch with us. If there’s any questions that you’d like Dan to answer or myself, Gord, to answer, please do get in touch, and we will definitely get to them on a future episode of “Podcast Payoffs”. Thanks, Dan.