Podcasting is on a growth trend. And more and more people are getting started on the medium in order to market themselves and build their brand.
Interview-based podcasts are pretty popular right now. The idea is that you bring on guests from your niche, ask them questions, and bam!… you got yourself a podcast. They’re creating the content and its a beautiful thing.
Well, actually, maybe not.
I’ve been on MANY interview podcasts during my time as a guest. And, given the niche I’m active in, most of them are in the business and marketing niche. So, this post will be more or less confined to that space… although I would imagine it applies to most of them.
The Danger Of Following The Leader
I’m just going to come out the gate here and name a few names. I’m sure most people reading this post will know full well what I’m talking about…
The interview-style show certainly isn’t anything new. Many popular podcasts, such as Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income, have been booking guests for awhile now. And Pat, specifically, does a very fine job with his show. What I personally like about Pat’s interviews is that he plays the role of the audience member, and Pat specifically asks questions that will get a good response from his guest.
Later on, John Lee Dumas started up the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast and he rocketed up the rankings. I was actually one of John’s first guests and I remember asking him privately about his plans. He told me about his daily schedule. Quite radical at the time and… nobody had done it before (that part is key).
Fast forward what seems like an instant and Dumas is basically the podcasting “bad ass”. Today, many are trained by him and consult with him about launching their own podcast.
And in my opinion, some are in danger of copying him into nowhere-ville. Let me explain…
How To Blend In And Not Get Noticed
Dumas is very systems-oriented. He created a repeatable system that works and he simply keeps repeating it.
It worked wonders for him, because at the time a daily show was a solid unique selling proposition (USP) for this niche. To my knowledge, he was the first to do it. And his systematic, disciplined approach was a huge part of what allows him to keep up such an aggressive schedule.
Part of his system is that the interview questions are mostly the same from show to show. His guests are scheduled and shown the questions.
And, this is where I must forewarn others who want to follow in his fullsteps…
Two things come to mind here that will have you blending in:
- Asking the same exact questions every single show gets quite repetitive.
- It is MUCH worse if the questions being asked are the same kind of stuff being asked by everybody else.
Case in point, after being a guest on many podcasts now in the area of business, I get asked some of the same questions routinely. Things like:
- What’s your biggest marketing tip?
- What’s your favorite business book?
- What’s your favorite “success quote”?
These kinds of questions aren’t helpful for the AUDIENCE. Here’s why…
- “What’s your biggest marketing tip?” – It is way too broad and could easily lead to the same answers every time. How many times does the audience need to hear the importance of building a list, for instance? Your job as the interviewer is to LEAD the interview into something which will be most helpful or insightful for the listener.
- “What’s your favorite business book?” – Is it some kind of stereotype that all entrepreneurs have to read a bunch of business books? The other thing is that your listener probably doesn’t CARE. This question is often asked merely as an excuse to drop an affiliate link to Amazon.
- “What’s your favorite “success quote”?” – Seriously, what good is this going to do anybody? Is your listener going to be able to solve a problem or get something done because they heard somebody else’s pre-digested thought, spewed out in some witty way which makes us grin?
Point is…. these kinds of questions aren’t being asked with the audience in mind. They aren’t being asked with any kind of unique selling proposition in mind.
To be blunt, they’re being asked to…
- Fill “air time”
- Do what you think other successful podcasters are doing.
- Try to build your brand by simply having name association with your guest.
A word of advice on that last point…
Why Are You Building A Podcast In The First Place?
Many people start a podcast because they want to build their brand, build their community, and increase their authority.
If that’s the case for you, how does simply being a question reader position you as an authority?
The truthful answer is… it doesn’t.
Merely talking to a famous guest doesn’t mean some of their success is going to rub off on you, or that your audience is going to see you as an automatic authority because of it.
The word “authority” means…
the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people
Reading pre-written questions doesn’t do that. Simply having a guest doesn’t do it, either.
For you to be the authority for your audience, you need to conduct the interview with a little more foresight. A few ideas…
- Go “off script” and have real conversations with your guest, asking them probing questions that get them to go deeper on certain things.
- By being able to go deeper on the topic and hold your own, you are also positioning YOURSELF as an authority.
- Every now and then, consider doing a “solo” show where you simply display your expertise and don’t rely on a guest. Mix it up.
- Keeping in mind your reader avatar, your job with the podcast is to deliver “wins” to the listener. Allow them to solve a problem, have an “aha moment”, accomplish something. And you can do this by asking the right questions of your guest. By doing this, you highlight your guest (which is important), but you also position yourself and your brand as the provider of solutions. You just made yourself VALUABLE.
See how this is completely different than coming into an interview with a script and simply reading questions at your guest?
Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
What is going to make your podcast stand out?
At the time, EOFire was in a position to grow like crazy because a daily business interview podcast was unique. Today, however, I’m seeing many podcasts launch without any real USP in mind (or at least apparent).
Interview-based podcasts work well. Beyond the obvious benefits of cross promotion and easier content creation, I think the dynamic of not having one person drone on by themselves for 20-30 minutes is nice. Two or more people on a show makes it more conversational.
All that said, there STILL needs to be a good USP.
- Are the questions going to dive deeper and get more tactical than other shows in your niche?
- Are you going to approach the guest from a different angle than usual?
- Is personality going to make a difference? (i.e. comedy, bluntness, etc.). Information coupled with entertainment make an awesome mix.
I would spend some time at the outset really nailing down exactly what your future podcast audience needs and wants. What hole can you fill in your marketplace?
And then you deliver like crazy. All with a focus on those “aha moments” and those solutions that your listener wants. The interview is merely a vehicle to derive that information…. the interview shouldn’t exist simply for its own sake.
Personally, I think one pre-requisite to having a good USP is to throw the damn interview script out the window. How can you be unique when every show is the same?
As a frequent guest, I can tell you that I do appreciate a general overview of the topics for an interview. For me, that is part of the deciding factor of whether I’ll agree to be a guest or not. Beyond that, however, don’t READ it at me during the show, m’kay? Let’s have a real conversation!
But, I know content marketing. Whether it be a blog or a podcast, the marketing principles are the same. I see too many podcasters forgetting some of the fundamentals and instead copying the guru while being too overly focused on mechanics.
How ’bout we think for ourselves a bit here, shall we? 🙂