I thought it was a great idea. It's not my expertise, so just for the fun of it, I reached out to a top-flight podcaster. I figured I'd send her a memo with what I learned.
Well, something came up and Josie has to put off producing her show. So, here's the memo I would have otherwise sent my friend:
Before interviewing Michael Katz, who produces a bi-weekly "The Likable Expert" Podcast, I took a moment to write down what I admired about his work. Then I figured we could talk about it. I came up with seven points:
1. Write--Yes, Write--Really Well
Michael's podcast is structured as a five minute story illustrating a coachable moment in small business marketing. For example, in a recent piece called Every Story Tells a Picture, he describes a networking meeting where many of the people he met were forgettable--but not for those people who gave personal details as part of their introduction. He forgot the lawyer in Lexington but remembered the woman with three children who was grateful to have taken a shower that morning. Moral of the story: solos and small businesses must include those personal details that make an impact.
This is a minor theme in his work. When asked, Michael simply said, "Writing these days is less formal, so speaking should also be less formal. And since I am talking to smaller companies, a little personal connection is always appropriate."
I love his humor, by the way. He takes tiny risks with stories that almost always make me laugh aloud. The risk is small--if people like his humor, he'll be remembered. If not--well, he wouldn't want to work with that sourpuss anyway.
2. Devise Good Titles
Did you catch the 'story tells a picture' title, above? Cute, right? In many ways Michael is breaking the rule of many marketing folks, who demand that the podcast both describe the topic and make a promise. (As in, "6 Easy Steps and 1 Hard One That Guarantee a #1 Podcast"). He has trained his listeners to understand that the title contains a little joke that will be explained in the piece. For example, one piece I really enjoyed was "Bagel and Goliath." It's a barn-burner.
3. Speaking of Training the Listener...
Each piece should have a recognizable beginning and ending--music, concluding remarks and tag line. In "Likeable's" case, the music is an upbeat bluegrass thingy that Click and Clack the Tappet brothers would have played if they were marketing geniuses. Which come to think of it, they were.
This is crucial: Don't choose the mood music your sister-in-law plays when she has a headache.
Michael smiles during the reading. At least I thought he did. (I was pretty certain, because voiceover artists smile for their recordings. At least I think they do.) Smiling? He had no comment. But he did think it important to stand during his recording. "Standing gives you more energy, and energy is part of the promise of the podcast--it brings that tiny step of intimacy that the listener appreciates."
5. Be Relevant
This podcast is about small business prosperity. Period. He does not veer off topic the way other mere mortals (ahem) do. It's relevant to, and supports, the business. It provides real information and coachable moments. (Most people have the discipline to do this, but not me. I'm a management writer who occasionally veers into...podcasts.) Anyway,
6. Publish On Time
Many small business announce a monthly newsletter or podcast, and then produce the second one late and the third one not at all. Be consistent.
7. Respect The Listener
A good podcast gives information and entertains, but it doesn't sell. I hardly remember hearing the word "marketing" in this series, except perhaps to gently bring me back to earth after having heard a transportable story.
This work has wonderful qualities, but Michael displays no interest in making it big-time on the podcast charts. He's just recording fun and informative advice to help his clients. "It's about being authentic," he says.
That respect is the hardest part. Which is why it's the key success factor.