Innovative Marketing Tech And Growth Strategies with Benjamin Shapiro

BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For Growth

Innovative Marketing Tech And Growth Strategies with Benjamin Shapiro

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    There is a process when it comes to growing your business; but before that, it is important to think about marketing first. Brand development and marketing strategy consultant, Benjamin Shapiro, dives deep into some of the strategies that he uses to help growth-stage companies. He shares how to build an effective marketing strategy and shows the importance of understanding your identity and customers' needs. Benjamin also tells us the story of him becoming a marketer and the lessons he learned from working with eBay before he took off to do his own business. He now hosts and produces the MarTech Podcast and shares the growth strategies he uses for it.

    To learn more about Benjamin Shapiro, his business, podcast, and more, visit https://benjshap.com/

    Some Topics We Discussed Include:

    • How Benjamin became the marketer he is now
    • What lessons he learned from working at eBay
    • Some marketing tips and tricks
    • What MarTech Podcast is all about
    • How to start podcasting the right way
    • Benefits of partnerships, networking, and sponsorships to growing your podcast
    • Some technological solutions and strategies

    About The Guest: Benjamin Shapiro

    BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For GrowthBenjamin left a successful career in business development at eBay to become an entrepreneur that has run a bootstrapped startup, multiple marketing teams at early-stage VC-backed companies, and an independent consulting & content business.

    He specializes in helping growth-stage companies understand how to identify the overlap between corporate identity and customer needs to build an effective marketing strategy. He is also the producer & host of the top-rated MarTech Podcast.

    Innovative Marketing Tech And Growth Strategies with Benjamin Shapiro

    Benjamin Shapiro is a brand development and marketing strategy consultant. He left a career in biz dev at eBay to become an entrepreneur that runs a bootstrap startup, multiple marketing teams at an early stage VC-backed companies and an independent consulting and content business.

    He's also the host of MarTech Podcast. We're going to dive into some of the strategies that are working as Ben helps growth-stage companies understand how to identify the overlap between corporate identity and customer needs to build an effective marketing strategy.

    Ben and I share a very similar business model background from consulting to podcasting. Ben, welcome to the show.

    Brad, what's up?

    As I mentioned, you are not the controversial Ben Shapiro.

    I’m the boring Ben Shapiro. I’m the guy that runs the marketing-consulting business, not the one that's in your political news feed.

    One of the very first things that got my attention is that you used to be pretty big in the biz dev side at eBay, correct?

    Yeah, that’s where I cut my teeth. I bounced around a little bit before working at eBay out of college. I got some sales experience. I worked at a sports marketing agency.

    My career started when I got into the technology sector and I learned the basic blocking and tackling of internet marketing. I was fortunate enough to be on the business development team within the internet marketing organization.

    I was put in charge of some relationships that were pretty meaningful. eBay's relationship with Yahoo, HP, Facebook and Google. I'm managing a lot of their fixed placements. Basically, where eBay’s logo would be where it wasn’t media and it wasn’t a variable.

    It wasn’t a stuck placement like your instant messengers or desktop icons back in the day. Those were $10 million relationships.

    I learned the lay of the land in terms of the different types of internet marketing and got a good sense for strategic business development negotiations and what business models should look like. It was a springboard for the rest of my career.

    It also is a great network at eBay. It's like getting an MBA. The caliber of talent while I was there is incredible.

    What years were you there?

    I was there for seven years. I started in 2005 and I left in 2012.

    Good businesses are driven out of opportunity, and passion plays a role and keeps you interested. Click To Tweet

    That had to be pretty exciting to watch the growth and everything happened.

    I was there as eBay peaked. My first day was eBay's tenth year anniversary and it was the internet darling was kind of the end of the 1.0 internet era. I saw some big strategic acquisitions like the Skype acquisition, which ended up being a little bit of a failure.

    eBay came off being the biggest and the worst bully on the block. It had its lunch eaten by Google, Facebook, Amazon and a couple of other companies.

    I still use eBay occasionally, but it doesn't hit the media that much. It's not as talked about as much. It doesn't seem as though they're doing as many innovative things anymore, but there's still a behemoth.

    The eBay playbook was less about strategic media and brand building. It was important to develop the brand in the first ten years. That's why everybody knows eBay.

    They don't need to do television ads unless they're trying to remind you or reposition. Now, you see eBay television ads that are about how eBay is great for all of the new stuff and you'll find better deals there. They're trying to reposition what you think of the brand, which is used stuff auctions.

    The brand was already established. When I was there, the playbook was how do we get the individual right product in front of you when you're searching, which was more about SEO, SEM and affiliates. It was less of brand development and more of a product marketing exercise.

    After eBay, did you go to work for another company? Did you branch out on your own?

    I jumped off the cliff and started my own company. All the cool kids were leaving the big companies to go work in San Francisco to start up. I wanted to do that, but I didn't have a lot of previous experience.

    I didn't have a lot of other tech experience. Going from BD to being a marketer at an early stage startup was challenging for me. My resume was looked at as a big company guy because I spent so much time at eBay.

    The way for me to make the transition to being more operational and getting that hands-on experience was to do everything by myself. I started a startup that was a video guitar lesson service called Strum School. I decided that I wanted to spend my life thinking about how to learn the guitar.

    I started this video guitar lesson website. It was Google Hangouts for guitar lessons but before Google Hangouts. I wasn't a great product person, but I was a better marketer. We got a lot of people to the website, but not a lot of people buy anything.

    My very first digital product when I started off was in the magic tricks. It was bar tricks and impromptu magic tricks. Instead of trying to sell to magicians, I typically try to sell it to the men's dating advice crowds.

    We were trying to get a little bit more attention from girls. The whole dating-pick-up seduction market was pretty hot, so I was like, “I'm going to teach magic tricks to that crowd.”

    It was fun to write copy for it. There wasn't that big of a market. There weren’t a ton of people out there searching for it.

    I had to hone my skills in building joint ventures and alliances with other people in that market to promote it. I dominated SEO, but the volume was absolutely minuscule. I still got that business up to about half a million a year, so I was pretty happy.

    You did better than I did. That's kind of the classic first-time entrepreneurs' mistake as you create a business based on something that you are personally passionate about, not an opportunity. Good businesses are driven out of opportunity and passion plays a role and keeps you interested.

    If there was a need for a guitar lesson website when I launched Strum School, that was probably to the detriment. I did not do enough market analysis and enough customer research.

    BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For Growth

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    That's one of the hardest ways that I learned the lesson about what marketing is, how to develop a brand and think about building a business. It's figuring out where there's a need for our product that you can build.

    I know mine was opportunistic and I'd read two books back to back, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. That introduced me to the concept of selling information online. At the same time, I had read Niel Strauss' book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

    I never considered myself a pickup artist, but I remember him talking about how he used magic tricks and bars to break the ice with women and build curiosity. I know a couple of dozen magic tricks. I went looking for pickup artist’s magic tricks.

    I wanted to see if this guy would teach them, but he didn't. He had a New York Times bestselling book and the opportunity I thought was that people out there are just like me probably googling this and not finding a solution.

    I was opportunistic more than passionate. The problem was the opportunity wasn't big enough. I squeezed out of that fruit to get as much juice as I could.

    In retrospect I was like, “This is great. There's no competition for this.” There was a reason there was no competition.

    You got into the consulting side of things and you started to work with the company's early growth stage middle market. Who has been your sweet spot of companies that have engaged you to help with our growth plans?

    After Strum School, I went and worked at the VC-backed companies. I'm still in-house. I spent about five years working for other people's startups, running the marketing department.

    It was gratifying and interesting. I loved the challenge, the work and figuring out what the brand was and how to operationalize it.

    The problem that I had was working at an early-stage startup, you're spending long hours. You're underpaid with the hope that your equity is going to be worth something five years down the road and that never came for me.

    I was sitting there looking at having a wife and a kid on the way and saying, “I'm busting my butt for an under-market salary in the hope that this brand is going to grow.” The relationships weren't good. I was tired of it.

    I wasn't motivated and so I said, “I'm going to go do my own thing. I'm going to go figure out what I want to do next.” This isn't working for me.

    My intent was to go back and find a real job. I was taking on short-term projects to pay the bills while I was figuring out what I was going to do with my life. One short-term project got referred to another short-term project, which another and another.

    The next thing you knew, I was running a consulting business. I've been doing these short-term projects for a year and I was happier than I'd ever been. I was working on things that I was interested in.

    I was doing the things that I did well. I had independence, more authority and autonomy. I sat there in year two of my consulting business saying, “Maybe, I'm not going to go back and get another job.”

    Having somebody else be my boss is overrated. I'm sure I'll get a job at some point. It feels inevitable, but I'm enjoying riding this wave.

    When you mentioned some of the short-term projects, you were working on and doing the things you were good at. Marketing and biz dev, in general as a field are so fragmented. There are so many different aspects of that.

    There are people who specialize in traffic and conversion, profit optimization, SEO and paid media. It gets so granular. What were some of the areas that you are particularly good at and the areas that you didn't like to focus on?

    The ironic thing is when I sat down two days after leaving my last startup job, I was hurt. I wanted to build a website that repositioned my career and told everybody I'm taking on these short-term projects and explain what my experience was.

    I made it feel like it was a logical decision to move from the startup that I was in. Truthfully, I hadn't thought it out that well. It was just time to do something different.

    Marketing is figuring out where there's a need for a product that you can build. Click To Tweet

    The copy that I wrote going through that initial process was to give your brand a voice. I went back while I was sitting there thinking of what didn't work in my career and what I did well.

    What I wanted to do was to help people figure out how people in brand companies figure out who their authentic selves were. How to articulate that to the people that are interested in it? Where to go and say the words they need to say to make a business impact?

    There are a couple of pithy lines that are on my website. It's not personal, it's not business, it's business with personality. Those are the types of things that sum up what I did as a marketing consultant, which is first off, helping brands get the foundation of their marketing department together.

    A lot of the times what happens is, brands even successful ones start marketing, but what they're doing is starting growth. They don't think about marketing, positioning and matching who their company is against who the target market is.

    They don't do a lot of customer research. They go out and they play some ads on Facebook and say, “We're marketing.”

    I have a client and they are a venture-backed startup. I have equity in the business as well. We were having our second or third call, and we are in the early stages of laying out the marketing plan. The CEO said, “Should we go start driving AdWords right now?”

    I was like, “There's a whole lot more before you start throwing money at AdWords because a lot of what you said, the foundation has not been laid. They’re like, “We need to grow.” I'm like, “Let’s make sure we have the right brand messaging and avatar just right.”

    It’s a common thing for VC-backed businesses, “I took a bunch of money. I need to show that I'm on the path to this trajectory of growth so we need to get going and show business results.”

    In reality, the brands that have the best marketing departments that are the most efficient, are the ones that have an understanding of who their customers are. They've done their research.

    They have a very clear view of what’s the purpose of their company and what their products are and how they solve their customer's problems. Knowing all of that information, they're more efficient with their targeting.

    They have a better channel selection because their customers are saying what they want to hear about this type of product. By doing all this research, “It’s not just doing the foundation and I'm building a framework.”

    You are doing the things that are going to make you more efficient, that is going to spend efficiently. You're having a positive business impact, but you need to do your homework first before you start throwing money. Otherwise, you're going to throw it away.

    As they say, measure twice and cut once, it will save you a whole lot of time and energy on the backside. A commonality is that the foundation, as well as the brand voice messaging, is a little bit more on the conversion side of things in the creative.

    That’s where I've shined when I'm working with clients. Those are the aspects I like because when you are able to dial in the creative, it makes all the various traffic channels so much easier than trying to shovel that I can do something that hasn't been well thought out.

    Most executives that are non-marketers think of marketing as customer acquisition. They don't think of it as the combination of positioning, customer acquisition, conversion rate optimization and customer retention. All of that is underlaid with what your brand and what's the experience.

    That's changing a little bit now. We went through this phase where everyone was looking for growth hackers. People are going to come in and do technical stuff to the website or to a marketing channel that is going to make users appear, drive virality and all of this stuff.

    All these brands get big quickly and then plateau because there wasn't a real sense of brand and direction. Look what's happening with Uber. They built this huge growth hacking engine, they call it growth and that stalled out.

    They needed to invest a ton of money into performance marketing. Now, they're doubling back and thinking about the brand. Uber is a gigantic company and has been very successful.

    They ignored building a marketing foundation and didn't cultivate all of these channels at once. That's the best way to drive sustainable growth. You have to understand who you are and who your customers are, then cultivate marketing channels that are exceedingly efficient over a long period of time.

    BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For Growth

    Marketing Strategies For Growth: To drive sustainable growth, you have to understand who you are and who your customers are.

     

    When you need to show growth, be operationally efficient enough at the performance marketing stuff that gets dollars in the doors right away.

    Nobody just goes and says, “I'm going to buy my way in,” as opposed to developing content, marketing strategies and partnerships that are in the long-term one of the efficient ways to build a brand.

    I’ve seen it. This is from HubSpot that I ran across not too long ago. They were talking about how the funnel was dead, long live the marketing flywheel.

    I've always been a big fan of this flywheel concept. It's a mechanical thing. It goes in engines whereby when you get the wheel turning or the components turning, the more momentum it creates. It's like where force creates a force.

    It almost becomes a self-perpetuating thing. It was an interesting concept. Many people are so focused on a funnel, which is customer acquisition.

    When you add in the flywheel concept, it became the sales, it’s marketing, it's the retention and it's all the other things that drive more people back.

    It is more of a holistic mechanism that has to be built to run for a while. You approach the marketing strategy a lot differently than if it's growth acquire users.

    I think that more sophisticated marketers find value at multiple points of what was the funnel or getting people into the flywheel. You can come to my website. You can listen to my podcast.

    Maybe you don't want to subscribe and that's fine. I hope you enjoyed the content. Maybe you didn't feel like subscribing. Maybe you were on the treadmill and couldn't click the button.

    Let's be honest, it's not fine if they don't subscribe. It's the worst thing somebody can do.

    88% of people that listen to my podcast are subscribers. The other 12% of the people are busy, but that's fine. Maybe it's not their cup of tea or maybe they could not subscribe and that's fine.

    Marketers are sophisticated enough, and we get enough data to be able to figure out who are the non-subscribers and then to remarket to them.

    Even if you didn't convert for the first time, you've now self-selected as somebody who is likely going to be interested in more of my content. I'm going to continue to market to you. It's not the one that got away. It's you're halfway there.

    With marketing technology out there, it's harder to get away. There are more opportunities to stay in contact with your customers and with your prospects. If you approach it correctly, it's much more powerful than just trying to get them on the first go-round.

    I make performance marketing for the MarTech Podcast. There are people that come on to my website and don't become a subscriber, and I’m going to continue to market to them.

    I'm going to continue to present content to them. Retarget them on Facebook with a short audiogram or another list of the people that we've had on the show. Give them the ability to reengage and give them a second opportunity.

    Think about when you’re buying a car. You go onto their website, then you research the car. Maybe you go to the lot, you walk through or you talk to the salesperson. The next time, you go for a test drive and then you start negation.

    It's a five-touch experience minimum and that’s okay, “You want to test drive the car and walk off, that’s perfectly fine. I know how to get a hold of you. If you're interested, I can get you back.”

    Speaking of podcasts, MarTech or Marketing Technology, tell us a little bit more about the theme, the kind of guests and the topics that you like to cover on your show.

    The brands that have the best marketing departments are the ones that have an understanding of who their customers are. Click To Tweet

    We talk to marketers about how they use technology to drive business growth and career success. I’ve been producing content for the show for several months.

    It's a podcast that originally was going to be a lead generation tool for my consulting practice. It grew way faster than I ever could've expected. We decided to keep it as a content asset.

    The episodes are 15 to 25 minutes a day, discrete and actionable pieces of content. We cover all sorts of topics from how people use technology for B2B, everything from influencer marketing to multi-touch attribution strategies.

    We cover the gamut of things that modern marketers need to know and be aware of. We also talked to a lot of marketers that have interesting career paths so you can think about what the right path is for you.

    We've had people like Gary Briggs, who was the former CMO of Facebook, on the show talking about how he went from being a college student and standing around a keg to becoming the CMO of Facebook. That was a fun story with actionable stuff and interesting stories from great marketers.

    When you started off the podcast, you said it grew a lot faster than you expected. What were some of the catalysts for that? What did you do correctly?

    Originally, that was the plan. There are four or five things that you need to think about when you're launching a podcast, organic, viral, paid and partnerships.

    Organic is what’s your content and how's the app store going to look at you? What's your title? What are some of the other pieces of content that are out there?

    My show is the MarTech Podcast. There wasn’t a lot of MarTech titled podcasts, so I started getting a lot of downloads because people were just searching from MarTech in the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

    We produce a lot of content so we're able to do keyword optimization in our titles. That's the organic side. With virality because we produce a lot of content, we have a lot of guests. A lot of guests means a lot of people sharing the content because they want to promote their interview.

    People are on the show to try to get fame and fortune or at least promote their brands. The biggest thing that we did that most podcasters don't do is we bought media. I use a platform called Knit.

    Knit is a dynamic ad insertion platform. I have a little less than a 60-second ad that says something to the extent of, “Are you ready for your next great podcast?

    If you're interested in learning how great businesses grow, check out the MarTech Podcast. Here's a sample of the content. Just search for MarTech Podcast wherever you listen to your podcast.”

    Where do those show up?

    It's a dynamic insertion. Unlike a host read ad, it is not somebody saying, “I'm going to read this ad and it's going to show up in this episode.” I can give Knit a budget, “I want to spend a $1,000 on these for three days and I want them to show up on these ten podcasts.”

    Knit has inventory. Most of it is Turner media such as CNN, NBA and Bleacher Report. There are some business shows and politics, technology and there's a whole bunch of stuff. It’s a lot of impressions and because it's a marketplace, you can get the inventory for super cheap.

    Since the inventory is cheap, you get a lot of impressions and even though it's not super-targeted, I run most of my stuff on the CNN network. There are fifteen million people that are listening to CNN daily.

    A lot of people, I can reach for a cheap amount. I've been absolutely pumping as much money as I possibly can into Knit. We spend about $6,000 a month just through that channel to try to grow the MarTech Podcast.

    The other thing is partnerships. Networking with people that are in your industry, working with other blogs, and content partnerships. Getting your content out there doing syndication and getting other people to share and promote it.

    BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For Growth

    Marketing Strategies For Growth: When you're not putting yourself out there, you don't get new users, listeners, and subscribers.

     

    That's the other way to try to drive growth. A combination of those four things is what helped us hit the ground running.

    Where have there as far as partnerships go, has there been anything besides getting onto other shows that have worked particularly well?

    We have a relationship with the MarTech conference. They're a sponsor of the MarTech Podcast. I think that being involved and helping them promote their podcast probably gives us a little credibility.

    We are very specific in saying that they are a sponsor of the show, but we are not affiliated. We are not the same company. I've talked to them about an opportunity for us to take the MarTech Podcast content, match it and put it on their web properties.

    That’s a good example of a partnership. That would be an exciting opportunity. There are other brands that are interested in promoting the content and that gets into our sponsorship program.

    Those are partnerships in my mind. We get other people to help us pay for our advertising. They do some promotion as well.

    On Knit, you typically bid about $1 CPM. What metrics are you able to track from that?

    That's the gift and the curse of podcasting and being in a developing medium is that the analytics aren't great. You don't get a lot of attribution.

    I've done long enough to know that when I advertise, it works and when I don't advertise, I don't grow. We spent $1,000 here and there. In the first year of the podcast, I think I spent a total of $10,000.

    In the weeks that I was advertising, we'd see great weeks and the weeks that I didn't have the capital, we didn't grow. We didn't grow as fast.

    Eventually, I started taking on sponsorships. When I had money to invest back into the podcast, we advertise more consistently and we saw more consistent growth. Then the first week of the quarter, I turn off all of the advertising.

    Do you know what happened? We don't grow. Everything stays flat. You don't get new users or you get very few new users, listeners, and subscribers when you're not putting yourself out there. There are inherently some churns and people are going to unsubscribe or stop listening.

    That's why we have to keep our foot on the gas. For me, it’s more of an off-on A/B test but I have a test and a control group. I figured out that the cost per incremental download is somewhere between my best week was $0.75 and probably my worst week was around $2.

    We've seen very strong returns. If I'm putting in $1,000, my expectation is I'm going to get $1,000 new downloads compared to the previous time period. I've done this for other brands that are a little bit more specific. I do an SEO podcast called the Voices of Search for a company called Searchmetrics.

    They're only marketing towards the SEO community. There are fewer SEOs than there are marketers. Their cost per acquisition is $2 to $3 instead of $1 to $2.

    Do you just tell them to go search for MarTech in their favorite podcast app?

    That's been my call to action. Truthfully, I haven't got around to republishing the MarTech Podcast website. If you go to MarTechPod.com it redirects you to my consulting website where the MarTech Podcast is hosted.

    If I had a separate domain, that was a better landing page experience. I would say visit the MarTechPod.com or search for MarTech Podcast, wherever you find your shows. Just giving the audio prompt, here's how you find the show, go to your app store and type in MarTech Podcast.

    That's the only call to action we've had on Knit. It’s totally imperfect and the tracking and attribution are terrible, but it works.

    When you need to show growth, be operationally efficient enough at the performance marketing. Click To Tweet

    What are the types of clients you bring on there? Do you bring on a lot of SaaS owners, marketing technology, CEOs and companies who are doing innovative stuff?

    Most everybody is a marketer or an executive at a marketing company. On some level, those are marketers as well. B2B and B2C, we don't specify. We’re probably about 50/50 in terms of the content we produce.

    If you listen and you're a B2B or a B2C brand, you'll get value out of listening to some of the other channels. B2B is moving more towards a performance marketing and influencer channel. ABM is a thing.

    B2C brands are getting better at CRM and integrating their data, like the B2B brands. A lot of stuff is getting blended together. At the end of the day, what matters to me is that there are good marketers and we try to be very channel-specific and mix it up.

    We don't only talk about marketing attribution or tech stack building all the time. We've had somebody come in and talk about how to market to Millennials like how to use Snapchat. We've had people show how to you use CRM and optimize your brand for use in Salesforce.

    Are there any technological solutions and strategies that got your attention as innovative, cool and share-worthy?

    There are a couple of different things. There are podcast hacks. I love Podsights, which is an analytics platform for podcasters that gives you more data about who's listening to your show and allows you to retarget them.

    I'm a huge fan of that product and brand. They're a sponsor of the show. They were guests on the show. That stuff's interesting and it's relevant to me.

    The trend of brands moving towards micro-influencers is interesting. Media is getting more expensive. Going on Facebook is getting spendy.

    People are looking for other channels. AdWords are getting more expensive. I can't just throw my performance marketing dollars, I need to find ways to spend more efficiently.

    That gets into content marketing, targeting, CRM and influencers. Being a little bit more nuanced and creative with how you put together your marketing platform. It goes back to understanding who your customers are and doing that homework.

    When you know the people that you're trying to reach, it's a lot easier to figure out the channels and the people that are influential in those channels. I think that's an interesting trend.

    Are there any technological solutions around the micro-influencers that you've come across that’s a top of mind?

    There's a whole list of micro-influencer platforms. The one that first comes to my mind is Heartbeat. I had a good conversation with their CEO.

    Intellifluence is another one by Joe Sinkwitz who has been on my podcast. The MarTech Podcast and the Voices of Search podcasts are an interesting platform for getting reviews and people talking positively about your brand.

    How much of your time is devoted to growing the podcast? You mentioned this has been your main initiative because you see all of the success and scale that’s already happening. Has this been one of your primary focuses at the moment?

    It's the primary focus. I’ve put the consulting business on the back burner. Instead of me being an operator as a consultant, I can do some strategic stuff, but the people that I'm working with have to have the operations under control.

    It's more being a sounding board as a consultant and being an advisor. In terms of my operational time, it's all going towards content development, ad sales, and developing new podcasts in the night.

    BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For Growth

    Marketing Strategies For Growth: To get somebody to remember the brand and to activate it, you need to be in front of them over a long period of time.

     

    I have one consulting relationship with Searchmetrics where I am building that podcast for them. That is the Voices of Search show.

    Are you doing any of the content yourself like recording or do you just help to produce?

    I am the host and the producer. Every episode, I’m yapping away about organic growth and content marketing. Most of the guests are Searchmetrics employees talking about ways to develop growth strategies and a lot of technical SEO stuff.

    We do a lot of content marketing work, but we have interesting SEO guests as well. I'm dangerous enough at content marketing and SEO to be able to ask the questions, but not good enough to be able to answer them. That's why I'm the host.

    How soon after you started MarTech did you start to go after the sponsor and people too?

    When we hit 10,000 downloads a month, I felt like we had a large enough audience that it was monetizable. It took us nine months to get down to the five-figure download mark.

    In the first month, we sold our advertising, we sold all of our Q1 inventory. It took us a month to sell three months' worth of ads.

    This is one of the things I learned as I start to subscribe and listen to your show. How many ads are you throwing in a show?

    We do the dynamic insertion. There are two ad spots, the pre-roll and post-roll. In each one of them, there's an A and B spot.

    It’s a minute to two minutes of advertising, two minutes into the show, and about 30 to 45 seconds of advertising at the end. It's not a ton there.

    There are also short pieces of content. They're 15 to 25 minutes long. We don't want to have the Joe Rogan seven minutes of advertising upfront because you're not going to spend three hours with us.

    We also want to keep all the advertisers very specific and interesting to the audience. People that listen to the MarTech Podcast are there because they're interested in learning about B2B and SaaS technologies. Most of the sponsors are B2B and SaaS technology.

    There's a value in understanding what some of these companies are and do. We try to keep it relatively short. The thing that we do, that's a little different than the standard podcast is we will sell all of our inventory to a sponsor for a given period of time.

    If a sponsor comes to me, I don’t say, “I'm going to put you in Tuesday’s episode.” I say, “I'm going to put you in every episode that has an ad unit for a week or for a month so we can swap out the ad units dynamically for a given period of time.” We have a couple of sponsors ad running all of the time.

    We're getting to the point where we're sold out and people are coming and saying, “We want to sponsor the podcast and we want to do it in October,” so we're testing what happens if we do three ads. That means that we have to shorten all of the ads.

    Instead of it being four or five minutes of ads, we're trying to keep it for a minute and a half or two minutes.

    That’s awesome that you were able to sell a sponsor so quickly. A lot of podcasters can go years without going out and getting those sponsors.

    The way that you've monetized this and created innovative sponsorship opportunities is absolutely fantastic. It's a cool way to think out of the box. Can you reexplain that to the audience?

    Most people in the podcast are saying, “I have ad space and I'll record your ad on Tuesday's episode. You’ll get how many downloads I get. You’ll get 10,000 downloads for that one episode.

    When you know the people you're trying to reach, it's a lot easier to figure out the channels and those who are influential in it. Click To Tweet

    What are you going to pay for that? A $25 CPM, you're going to make $250 a show and that’s not a lot. When you're doing one show a week, now you're looking at $1,000 a month. You can't run a business on that.

    Maybe you decided to do a couple of episodes. You’ll be looking at $3,000. It's not enough money. What we do is a combination of four different things.

    First is advertorial content. We are going to have the people that are sponsors of the show come and produce content. We're going to make content for them.

    CallRail and SparkPost were our first two sponsors. Instead of saying, “I want you to come in and buy the ads,” we say, “We’re going to create a week of content that is about what your topic is.”

    We did a telemarketing week. We did an email marketing week. We created a piece of content for them, which was a 90-minute interview that I broke up into five different pieces or five episodes.

    It allows the brand to tell a deeper story. There are very few mediums where you can get somebody to listen to you for fifteen minutes a day for five days in a row. That is a television series.

    How much would you pay to have somebody develop a television series for you? It's expensive for somebody to meet to create a week of content for a brand. It's $5,000 a week.

    It's dramatically less than you are going out and saying, “I'm going to produce my own radio show or I'm going to make a television series.” You supplement that with deep engagement where people are getting into the message and they're thinking of you as an influencer.

    To get somebody to remember the brand and to activate it, you need to be in front of them over a long period of time. That's what the host for advertising is for.

    Somebody will do a week of advertorial content and we'll follow that up with a month of advertising. The people that are hearing your story then remember your brand for the next month when they listen to the rest of our content.

    You're getting somebody that knows what you do, who you are and respects you hearing about your brand ten times in a month. Those are the people that are going to get off their butt and get to your website.

    The Podsights analytics platform is interesting to me. It gives us the ability to understand who is listening to our podcast and to retarget them. When a brand comes to me and asks to create an advertorial content, I can say that that’s only the first half.

    I can then take the people that listened to your content on my show and create a lookalike audience on Facebook. Now, we're doing performance marketing to get other marketers that are not in our existing universe of podcast listeners and we're driving them to be advertorial content for our brands.

    You take those people who are listening over to Facebook and run an ad directly to the ones who listened. You run ads back to specific episodic advertorial pieces of content.

    Think about it this way, I am taking people that look like Brad Costanzo fans and I'm going to market them to land on a piece of content with Brad Costanzo.

    Now, you have a high propensity to be interested in this speaker because Facebook is great at telling me that and other marketing channels as well like Twitter, Google and all the remarketing platforms. We're going to run a big programmatic advertising test as well.

    We're going to run around the internet and we’re going to get to all the people that look like they would be Brad Costanzo fans. We’re going them off on the Brad Costanzo piece of content. Now, we're getting more listeners and they're getting that deep engagement with you.

    The last thing we do is go back to the brand and say, “Do you want to buy the retargeting audience for everybody that's listened to your piece of content? You can then do performance marketing to try to sell them things. Those are the four products that we have.”

    On the third one where you're going to run ads to the lookalike audience on Facebook, back to the advertorial content, you're buying those ads. Probably part of the package is you're using their budget. Let's say that the budget would be $5,000 in order to do that.

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    He gives me $5,000 and says, “Go onto Facebook.” I am taking that $5,000 and I am marketing it towards a piece of my podcast’s content.

    I'm getting podcast listeners. 88% of people that listen to my podcast become subscribers. It helps me grow my brand. It also fuels the retargeting audience that the brands then buy.

    They get warm leads out of doing this advertising. They care about who is listening to me tell their story. If it happens and helps you grow your podcast, that’s wonderful.

    If they want to do their own performance marketing, that's fine. I'll give them the retargeting audience. They can create a lookalike audience as well and do performance marketing, direct marketing to them. I'm a little more efficient at marketing my content than other brands are.

    That fourth piece is we’ll give you audiences. We can download and give you the audience so that you can upload them into your own Facebook and you can advertise if you want.

    It's more efficient for me to take my content and market it socially. The MarTech Podcast promotes a piece of MarTech Podcast content. Once people have consumed that content, I'm going to spend the budget to try to get them to buy something.

    What's a nut you're trying to crack? What skill are you trying to learn, a person you're trying to meet, an initiative you're trying to get accomplished or a problem you're trying to solve?

    Is it safe to say that the biggest nut you're trying to crack is how to scale up the listeners of MarTech and find all the different ways from appearing on the shows? I know that all of the various other growth strategies you're testing are continuously adding subscribers to MarTech Podcast.

    Is there anything else that you're trying to figure out that either myself or maybe some of the readers might jog our minds and be able to help you out?

    I do a monthly recap of what we're doing to grow the MarTech Podcast and how the business is performing. We answer this question once a month about what we're trying to accomplish and what our approach is.

    We talked about yearly goals. Some of them are quantifiable, some of them aren't. The big milestone for me this year was to go from 10,000 to 100,000 downloads a month.

    That is the primary thing that I'm focused on, which is growing the MarTech Podcast to be one order of magnitude bigger than it was last year in terms of monthly downloads at the size of the podcast, building the audience. The goal was to hit $100,000 in revenue per year.

    We've already passed that, fortunately. We’ve monetized the podcast well. The other things that we're doing are now investigating.

    We definitely feel good about how we're able to monetize a podcast. The question becomes, is it better for us as an organization to create more podcasts and create the content ourselves or does it make sense to take what we're doing and create a podcast network?

    You might say, “It's a pain in the ass selling these ads and finding the sponsors. I'm making $10,000 to $20,000 a year. If Ben can make $100,000, I would give him $20,000 and take $80,000.”

    We're investigating the idea of building out the ad network and finding the sponsors. In that way, podcasters only have to worry about producing the content. They still get all of the other value out of building networks. You can focus on growing your show and monetizing it through lead generation.

    I think the podcast network is a tremendous idea. It's something you're probably moving forward with. Anytime, you can create that network effect in anything in any business, you're probably familiar.

    You've got a tremendous amount of exponential value. I can see how it would be very valuable to a lot of podcasters. Do you think you would be going more after developing new podcasts and then adding them to the network versus finding existing ones?

    We're testing it. The second podcast we've launched since the MarTech Podcast is a show called the Finding a Job Podcast. It's targeted at a different group. It's for early careerists.

    The people that are just coming out of college looking for their first job as opposed to the MarTech Podcast is for career marketers, people that already have defined themselves in their careers as being focused on marketing.

    There’s a huge audience of people that are graduating from college, writing their resumes and looking for their first jobs. There are also tons of brands that are trying to hire them.

    People are marketing towards college students. The people who are looking for their first jobs is an important demographic and it’s big. We're a month into publishing content for the Finding a Job Podcast.

    One idea is to pick off different verticals. Maybe we'll do a technology podcast, maybe we'll do finance and investing. I will definitely not be the host of either of those shows.

    We'll have to figure out whether it's easier to find people that are great hosts and train them to produce or if it's easier to just say, “You've already got a podcast. Let me go sell the ads. I've got an audience.”

    We're going to test out both. In 2019, we're laying the groundwork and building the foundation. Our bread is buttered with the audience growth of the MarTech Podcast.

    This has been filled awesome. Let's tell people some of the best places where they can go subscribe. Anybody will be crazy not to subscribe, especially since you explained what you're doing. Where's the best place people can go to subscribe and to find you?

    On the podcast player, search for the keyword MarTech Podcast. You can go to MarTechpod.com. We're going to relaunch the website and it's going to be all beautiful and fancy.

    If you're interested in learning more about my background and don't want to hear the MarTech Podcast, the consulting website is BenJShap.com. All the social stuff is @BenJShap.

    I appreciate your time, Ben. I can't wait to put some of this very tactical stuff into practice myself.

    I had a blast. It was great spending a minute with you.

    Thank you very much. If you have any questions, you can always send me an email to AskBrad@BaconWrappedBusiness.com. I appreciate you all and I look forward to dropping the next episizzle on you. I’ll see you on the next one.

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    About The Guest: Benjamin Shapiro

    BWB BShap | Marketing Strategies For GrowthBenjamin left a successful career in business development at eBay to become an entrepreneur that has run a bootstrapped startup, multiple marketing teams at early-stage VC-backed companies, and an independent consulting & content business.

    He specializes in helping growth-stage companies understand how to identify the overlap between corporate identity and customer needs to build an effective marketing strategy. He is also the producer & host of the top-rated MarTech Podcast.

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