In episode 202 of the Search Engine Journal Show, I had the opportunity to chat with the moderators of Marketing O’Clock, a podcast by New York-based full-service digital agency Cypress North on SEJNetwork.
Every Friday Greg Finn, Christine "Shep" Zirnheld and Jess Budde give the audience insights, tips and the latest news in digital marketing.
We'll talk about the moving parts that play a role in creating a successful podcast, as well as tips on how to keep your shows appealing to the listener.
Why did you choose a podcast?
Greg Finn (GF): It really started where we tried to have social content and we tried to post videos in general and we all went down and basically made a video and covered something special and it took a lot of time to do that to do.
It was a very tedious process in which we edited these videos and covered these specific topics, and we have them every week, but a lot has been worked on.
Jess Budde (JB): We made it as a video and it was shot in advance and edited later. It was like in the style of "Between Two Ferns" when you know this little sketch on YouTube.
But we were sitting on chairs and it was kind of super awkward and it felt unnatural because we were super nervous and it passed over.
We said, "What if we only do it live?"
And we really did a couple of live videos, and for some reason we screwed up less.
We actually did a better job than I think the pressure just helped us really focus and do it.
To make it live, we started experimenting with different microphones and better equipment.
One day Greg and I just sat at the table doing a microphone check and we just turned the fuck to each other and talked to each other and we said, "Oh, we're in a really good mood. It could only be a podcast."
We don't even need videos and that's how the podcast was born.
We still make videos, but we really only record for the podcast.
But we found the sweet spot in podcasting format because we can only joke a little more with video, especially on the produced page.
It just feels like you have to be more rigid and new, while podcasts are more talkative.
Why did you choose to make it live, but then edit it and publish it later?
JB: It was (a live show) for a couple of episodes … and that was just to save time without having to edit and post it.
But we found that if we did it as live as possible and only had the comfort of knowing that we could work on something if we stuttered or screwed up a word or the sky forbade us to say anything inaccurate and could fix it.
We're still working on the mood as if we're going through as much as possible, but then we can say, "Sorry, hope!" Who is our sound engineer and has them repaired something?
GF: I just think that there is a little bit more safety net.
Where, when you do it live, you have to be so meticulous about everything and a little mistake or something could really make it loop.
You only have a little bit more confidence to go there, and when something happens you can go back and fix it.
Shep Zirnheld (SZ): That gives us a bit of flexibility.
If you're going to do it live, you have to tell your audience, "We'll be active at this point."
We actually have other jobs that we do for our agency as much work as the podcast.
It's nice that we can postpone it by an hour if we have a customer call or if we don't finish our preparatory notes on time. It is also a small safety net.
How did you create the show outline, structure and process and what did you want from it?
GF: I think one of the things we soon realized when Jess and I sat there and only the cameramen broke down was that the entertainment value was really important.
And we were able to get that out during the show. I say all the time, nobody cares about the news.
Although we do a fantastic job of reporting, we want people to laugh, have a good time, and enjoy the time spent.
The main goal is to make people laugh, smile and have fun.
I think that's one of the great things, at least on my part, that we get a lot of feedback from it.
People keep jumping in and DMs and saying here are our favorite parts of the show.
They are like well-known digital marketers. I think that's one thing that is very important to us.
Would you recommend people to share their personal experiences and be a little vulnerable? Do you have the feeling that this really connects you well?
SZ: Yes, I would say both I and Greg are big podcast consumers. Everyone I hear is pretty funny.
I just think it helps you connect with the show and the moderator and just be yourself and be authentic.
A large part of our humor is always self-irony and only dealing honestly with the listener.
We follow the news and do our best. However, if you come here to get every single detail right, we will always correct ourselves.
But the most important thing we have to do here is talk about what's going on in the news, be ourselves, and hopefully keep people busy, and I think that really helps the sense of humor.
How did you deal with the format of the content?
JB: It has obviously become where it is over time.
But I think we're trying to break things out, at least in terms of structuring.
In the Lightning Round we treat all PPC messages in one block and then organic messages in one block and then social.
That's just so people can keep track of what they're interested in (depending on what).
In terms of coverage, we're marketers first, right?
And then we make the podcast as something we do, but we are not professional podcasters, we are professional marketers.
We only think about it ourselves.
- What is important to us about this story?
- What is stupid about us that we can comment on?
- What are the real effects of something?
And then we can make fun of it, and if it creates humor, great.
If we have to tell a story about our personal life to make fun of it, it's great. But there is no perfect formula.
I mean, the secret sauce is likely we don't have one.
It's all about mood and that obviously comes from making a living from it and just reporting the news.
How do you go about not annoying too many people?
GF: We are not careful. Honestly, we're not going to strike.
I mean, we're not a vulgar show. We don't swear or anything, but we tell him what it's like.
A few weeks ago, when Google announced that someone was monitoring ads and searches, we called them, put their feet to the fire, and talked about an article that John Henshaw had.
It's another thing that I find really nice. The search engine journal is now the point of contact for news, but there are other things that we can contribute and we are not committed to just one thing.
I would say that the search engine journal probably accounts for 75% of the articles, but we feed strange articles and things from everywhere.
We don't hit and don't filter.
I think that's something that really helps the show.
SZ: When I was our customer, the most important thing is to be honest. We want to give people real advice that we would follow.
The most important thing is to always be honest with our listeners and not give them advice that we would not take.
What worked when promoting the podcast?
SZ: I think before we get into our partnership with SEJ, which has really moved us when it comes to advertising, we do a lot on organic social media.
We haven't really addressed this yet, but much of our content comes from the digital marketing community, mostly from Twitter. (We're not really LinkedIn people.)
We have our news segments where we have articles from the Search Engine Journal and various publications in the industry.
But then a lot of our content is just a tweet – and it's a hot take on someone in the industry what's going on.
We kind of picked up on that and got that on the show. Then we have our organic tweets every week talking about the different sources we have for the show.
Hopefully they want to listen to the show and retweet our tweet and it just becomes a nice cycle where our sources are our listeners and we are this great community. It really helps.
GF: It's like a real community, and I think we're really proud of that – involving people, talking about people and letting them see, hopefully making their hard work and stories go a long way.
What is the reason why you don't really get guests for your show?
GF: I think there are several reasons.
We tried that a bit. We call it "Off the Clock" and have two shows a week.
I think one of the things that jumped out right away is that you can see the relationship we all have.
It's super fun, loving, great, but then it changes based on who you talk to, and it's not that consistent.
The other thing that is difficult is just the non-stop booking.
Can you find someone who fits into that specific niche every time?
Or will you start talking about technical SEO and then Facebook ads and then Data Studio?
How you keep people going has been one of the things we looked at and we think it takes a lot of time to get a guest.
They rely on how good they are and not everyone is great about what is a problem.
A lot of people are fantastic, but you are really committed to it, and I think one of the downsides to what we do on the news side is that this is not always green.
Everything has many different advantages and disadvantages.
But for us we just thought that the combination of all of us simply cannot be surpassed.
That was our strength and why don't we just play along?
This podcast is provided by Ahrefs and Opteo.
To hear this search engine show podcast with the Marketing O’Clock team:
Selected picture: Paulo Bobita
In post image: Cypress North