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Content Marketing in Action: 10 Years of Thinks Out Loud (Episode 359)

Man talking into podcast microphone to illustrate the concept of content marketing in action

Can you believe that you’ve been listening to Thinks Out Loud for ten years? I’m amazed that the podcast has been around for that long and even more thrilled that you’ve joined us for so much of that time.

But what have we learned from 10 years of the podcast? What lessons can we take and apply to your business and your content marketing? After all, Thinks Out Loud isn’t just a podcast; it’s content marketing in action.

This episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at the lessons learned from ten years of podcasting. We dive into how you can use those lessons to improve your business. We explore how you can put content marketing into action for your brand. And we look at where Thinks Out Loud might be going in the future—and how we can succeed together when we get there.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

Content Marketing in Action: 10 Years of Thinks Out Loud — Relevant Links and Show Notes

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Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 24m 23s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Transcript: Content Marketing in Action: 10 Years of Thinks Out Loud

Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, this is episode 359 of the big show and I am thrilled to be back with you.

I think anyone who listens regularly, knows we’ve been doing re-broadcast, revisiting posts as we call them, revisiting episodes over the last handful of weeks as we closed out the summer of 2022. I went and touched some grass, I went and relaxed a little bit—and hopefully you did as well—and started to gear up for another whole round of new episodes for you. And this one’s interesting, because this is our 10th birthday. Today, at the date this will be released, will be Tuesday, September 13th. We released our first episode September 14th, 2012. So this is 10 years of Thinks Out Loud, which is mind boggling to me.

This Podcast is Content Marketing in Action

When I first thought about doing a podcast, it really was an experiment. It really was about, is there any value to this medium for my business? And for you as an audience, would people listen? Would people care? And as it happens, you do. We get a good number of downloads every week. We’ve had, over the course of 10 years, we’re now on episode 359, a few dozen interviews with people, great subscriber numbers, measurable improvements in brand awareness, leads, and some sales have come from this, which is terrific, attributable directly to the podcast.

And so, the data shows that the podcast has been successful, that it has accomplished my goals. And I love the sales, I want to be very clear. Who doesn’t love the sales? I’m a marketing guy. This is about driving business, but it’s not the only reason I do it. It’s just a reason I do it.

What Have We Learned From 10 Years of Thinks Out Loud

And the other huge success that I’ve gained from this, and I think I’ve learned from this, is the sense of community and hearing from you, hearing your stories, hearing from people who have found the podcast valuable. And that’s something that’s tough to put a number on, but would make the show worth doing, even if we’d never gotten a sale out of it. And what I want to do today, for the rest of the time we’re together today is, I want to talk about what I’ve learned.

The Value of Content in Building a Community

One of the core things I have talked about on this show for the entire 10 years we’ve been here, is the importance of content marketing for your business. The importance of content to digital. You’ve heard me say countless times that content is king, customer experience is queen, and data is the crown jewels. Well, this is content marketing. The reason I started the podcast, the reason the team and I put the podcasts together was, as a form of content marketing.

And we’ve definitely learned some things about how to do content marketing better over the last 10 years, and particularly how to do content marketing with a podcast. And so, what I thought I would do is, take you behind the scenes a little, tell you what I’ve learned, tell you some history, tell you a couple of stories. And then, tell you about where we might go in the future or where we’re thinking of going in the future.

Why a Podcast? Customer-centric and Data Driven

So first, why did we do a podcast? Well, it was customer centric and data informed. I know that’s buzzwordy, but the reality is, it really was driven by customer behaviors. I have a blog, the company has a blog. We’ve had a blog for a very, very long time. I’m going to have to look and see how long the blog’s been around, but it’s been around for years and years and years. 2004 I think, was when I started blogging.

Podcasting as a Mobile Strategy

And one of the things that I saw over time—one of the things we saw, the team saw in the data—was that, particularly on mobile, customers were engaging with blog posts less. It’s not so much that we weren’t getting traffic. It’s not so much that we weren’t getting mobile traffic. It’s that people weren’t reading the whole post. They were clicking away quickly, they weren’t engaging much, they weren’t sharing much, they weren’t spending time with the content—and again, particularly on mobile. So, we started thinking about, what could we do that would work for mobile?

The Value of Long-Form Content

We also saw that generally speaking, what did do well was longer form content. The market was telling us what we got right. And we started thinking about, "Well, what can we do that works for mobile and engages people in a mobile context?" And so we thought, "Why not try a podcast?"

Now, obviously podcasts were starting to become a thing then. I think we were a little bit on the early side, but clearly there was a market out there. Clearly people were using their phones to listen to audio. And so, this really was a mobile strategy, driven by what the data told us.

And again, as I noted a minute ago, I would say it has worked quite well. We’ve learned a bunch of things over the last 10 years. We’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years. In the interest of time, I’m not going to focus on all of them, but I am going to focus on some of them.

Respect Your Audience’s Time

One of the things is that, time matters. Your time matters, your listeners time matters. Your audience’s time matters. That’s true for all kinds of content, but it’s particularly true for a podcast.

Podcasts and the Attention Economy

People who choose to listen to podcasts have a choice of what to listen to. Obviously you’ve heard the expression before, that we live in an attention economy. When someone chooses to listen to a podcast, when you choose to listen to a podcast, this is the only podcast you can listen to in that moment. Whatever time you spend, whatever time the audience spends listening to this episode, is time they can’t spend listening to any other episode or watching any other item. Not well, anyway. Sure, we provide transcripts for the people who want them, but clearly, we can tell from the data that most people engage with the podcast by listening to the episode.

And so, I have to make good use of your time. We’ve tried to make it that. Each episode focuses on a specific topic and gets to the point. In the early days, we covered three or four different segments and we got away from that because it seemed like the single focus worked better. We try to keep the episodes fairly tight.

There are lots of 50 minute, hour long, hour and a quarter, hour and a half long podcasts out there. I try to make mine "workout length." I try to make this show "workout length" or "commute length"—back when people commuted to the office. You can listen to it in 20, 25, 30 minutes tops.

A good friend of mine, Ed St Onge, of the travel technology firm, Flip.to, once said, "The job of every second of video, or audio in this case, is to earn another second of attention." One of the reasons I keep these episodes short is because, if that’s all we have to say, that’s all we have to say. Get in, get out, let you, let the audience get back to their lives. And that seems to have worked really well.

Differentiation: Why Should an Audience Choose Your Content?

The other thing to be aware, when we talk about time and we talk about focus and the like, is just like anything else in marketing, you have to know your competition and how you’re differentiated. It’s not just that I have to make good use of your time. I have to make the case, why you should spend time here versus somewhere else.

I think we do a good job of that generally, but it’s something I’m always looking to improve. Lots of podcasts do that by trying to get specific guests, big names in whichever field they happen to be in. And in this case, it’s narrowed to business. They’re going to get a Seth Godin. They’re going to get a Neil Patel, they’re going to get Rand Fishkin, somebody like that. And all those guys are great. They’re terrific. One of the reasons I’ve rarely done interviews though, is specifically to offer an alternative to that, by keeping episodes short and focused.

I’m trying to make sure that the audience gets more value for their time. You and the rest of the audience don’t need to wait around for a long time to get to the point and hear what it is you care about. That doesn’t mean interviews are bad. I’ve done them. We will do more of them in the future. They have their benefits and there’s a lot of important voices out there for you to hear from, and often, not the people you’ve heard from before. So we are going to do more of that. We’re also going to do it in a way that I think is authentic to what we’ve tried to do here and keeping things focused, keeping things tight, and keeping things to the point.

Consistency Matters

Another big lesson, and this is one I should have known. I feel like I should have known. The other people who work on the podcast with me, brought specific skills, but maybe didn’t have the content marketing background per se. And one of the things that really matters, is consistency. In the early days of the podcast, I believed that the day of the week we published on, mattered. It does a little. We are a business focused podcast, and producing something earlier in the week does seem to do better numbers than if we release on say, a Friday. That makes sense for a business focused podcast, I try to make this a fun business focused podcast, but we’re not a weekend kind of fun all the time. I get that. That’s okay. So we do a little better when we release earlier in the week. But what matters more is that, we consistently publish on the same day.

If you are releasing content, releasing in a consistent manner, matters more. There’s a funny story in Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants. She talks about a time when she was the head writer of Saturday Night Live and was talking to Saturday Night Live’s producer, Lauren Michaels. And she thought that the week’s show wasn’t as good as she wanted it to be. And Lauren Michael said to her, "Tina, we don’t start the show because it’s perfect. We start the show because it’s 11:30 on Saturday."

Balancing Quality and Consistency in Podcasts (and All Content, Really)

And we’ve adopted that philosophy as best as we’re able. I want to be clear, I try to make this show as perfect as I can. The people who work behind the scenes on this show, work to make it as perfect as they can. It’s always about finding that balance between perfect and 11:30 on Saturday night. We won’t release just any old crap.

We put out a revisiting episode once, a while back, because I was writing the script and the script that I was working on for that week’s episode was frankly, terrible. And we simply weren’t going to release that. So we bagged the episode, repackaged an earlier episode, and shared it, because it was better to be consistent than put out garbage.

It was also important that we put out something consistently. So it’s one of those things that people and you, the audience, clearly prefer to get the show roughly the same day and time each week. That’s something we’ve worked hard to get better at, and it’s something we will continue to work at to get better, while also producing high quality, new content, regularly.

Plan for Consistency and Quality

It’s just something that you’ve got to balance that reality of consistency and quality. I would suggest, if you’re not sure you can do quality consistently. You may want to think about how to approach that before you decide to embark on any content marketing initiative. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It means you should come up with a plan for how you’re going to accomplish some of what you’re going to accomplish, that you can produce quality consistently, because it’s really about both of those.

Repurposing Content

Another key lesson about content marketing generally, is repurposing content. You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s something we do a lot of. Every podcast episode turns into blog posts or turns into columns for any of the other blogs or magazines I write for. Almost every talk I give, both starts as a podcast episode and ends as a podcast episode.

I’ll build episodes to help me work out the theme and the core points of the talk. And often, a single slide from a talk I’ve given, makes for a full episode, especially the way we do them.

All of this works its way into my teaching at Rutgers Business School. These all matter, because you can keep using the content:

  • to make a point
  • to improve on a point
  • to learn more about the point you’re making and
  • to get feedback from an audience, which is the next lesson.

All Marketing is Social: Community Matters

I’ve said for years that all marketing is social. We have reached a point where that is completely true. Your community matters. Your community matters for all kinds of reasons. One, because your community helps you get better at what you do. You learn from them, you hear from them, you get ideas from them, you get questions from them, you get questions from them. I get questions from you, that help me understand my thinking better and sometimes change my thinking, because people will ask a question and say, "Are you sure about that?" And you go, "Oh, wait a second. Maybe I’m not."

When I talk about the lessons I’ve learned in 10 years of doing this show, most of those are lessons I’ve learned from you. So that’s something that’s incredibly important.

Great Content Needs Great Distribution

Also, and I think you know this, but content only works if you also have distribution. One advantage to shows that do interviews, is that they provide built in distribution. The guest shares the interview with their friends and family and fans and followers. They promote the episode and by extension, the show, the content. As I’ve talked about plenty of times, content without distribution, doesn’t do anything for you, doesn’t benefit you much. Any content marketing plan has to have a content distribution plan as part of it. We deal with that. We do this by fostering community on Twitter, by fostering community on LinkedIn. I will tell you, there’s still work to be done there.

I think we do an okay job of it. It’s something I intend to get better at, and it’s a commitment I’m making to you very publicly now, that I want this community to grow, I want to hear from you more. I want to hear from more voices, because I think it will make the entire community better. I think it will make the show better. I think it will make me better at what I do, and I think it will be better for everyone in the community as you get to learn from each other.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So those are some of the lessons we’ve learned. Those are some of the things I’ve learned and some of the things the team has learned, and some of the things we are trying to improve upon. I also want to talk a little bit about what’s next for the show.

Interviews

Where are we going to go from here? One, we are going to do some more interviews. There are lots of great people with amazing points of view we can all learn from. I expect that those will be bonus episodes. I don’t think they’re going to be part of the main show. They will be, but they may be released on a different schedule, so that we keep doing what we know everybody likes. I’d also love to hear your point of view on who you want to hear from and how you want to hear from them. How can we do interviews in a way that’s a little different and a little more true to the spirit of this show, without just turning into every other show that’s out there?

New Voices

It’s also incredibly important to me, to hear from new voices, people who aren’t the same as everyone else.

One, there are huge numbers of smart, talented people out there who bring alternative points of view on the digital economy. Two, as I talked about a minute ago, differentiation matters. Sure, we all like a celebrity guest and I’m sure I’ll invite some of those folks on. But part of the point of what we try to do here, is to remain a different kind of voice, a different kind of show. And doing the same interviews as everyone else does would defeat the purpose. So I’d love to hear from you about, who do you want to hear from? Who isn’t getting the opportunity to be heard as much? How would you like to hear us talk with them?

What kinds of questions should we be asking? How do we make those interviews a little more unique and a little more different than what you’re hearing everywhere else?

Video

I also suspect we’re going to do some video. We’re starting to put plans together to do some video. I’m talking with a friend of mine, who’s brilliant in the video space to learn how we can do it well and how we can do it consistently and with quality. To give you another way to experience the content, and again, to increase distribution, which again, key to making your content work.

New Hotel and Travel Industry Focused Newsletter

One of the things that I will be doing, it’s not really part of the podcast, but that we are going to be doing some more hotel and travel focused content. There’s a new newsletter coming for folks who subscribe, for hotel and travel insights. That’s where I got my start. It’s something that we’ve definitely gotten away from a little more than I would like, and we’re going to start working our way back towards that.

Increased Interactivity

And we want more interactivity, which is my ask of you, as we come up here on the end of the episode. How do we learn even more? How do we help you learn even more? What would you like to hear? What would you like to hear me talk about? What would you like to hear me not talk about? Who else do you want to hear, besides me, talking about things?

How Can You Help?

All of that. I would love it if you would drop me an email or send me a tweet on Twitter or a message on LinkedIn, to hear what matters to you. What do you want this show to be? How do we make it better and more useful to you? Because fundamentally, as I said at the beginning of this episode, that’s the most important part for me, is that we’re building a community, that we’re providing value to people, that we’re helping you learn and grow, that we’re helping each other learn and grow. And I want to work with you to do that. So I really do look forward to hearing your opinions, your thoughts, your comments, your questions, your insights, your views. Help us get better at providing the kind of community you want to be a part of and that you’re proud to be a part of, here at Thinks Out Loud.

Conclusion: Content Marketing in Action: 10 Years of Thinks Out Loud

So that’s what I’ve learned in 10 years. That’s what we’ve done. That’s where we are. I expect we’ve got another 10 years in us, hopefully. We’ll see. Let’s talk in 2032 and see where we are. But I just want to say, as I say every single week, I really do appreciate you tuning in. It means the world to me. I would not have done this show for 10 years without you participating in it. I would not have done this show for 10 years without you listening. I wouldn’t have done this show for 10 years without you, period. You are the reason this show exists and you continue to be the reason this show exists, and you continue to be the reason this show will exist for however long we all decide it makes sense to join each week in conversation.

Show Credits

And now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all the 358 episodes that proceeded this, by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 359.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find, to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcaster every single week. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast. Wherever it is you like to find your podcast episodes, we’ll be there. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those.

Leave a Review for Thinks Out Loud

While you’re on those services. I’d also very much appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating or review. Those give other listeners a window into the show. They tell them what the show’s all about. They help them understand whether they’re a community, whether we are a community they’d like to be part of. So if you would leave a positive rating or review, I would very, very much appreciate it.

Thinks Out Loud on Social Media

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on LinkedIn by going to linkedin.com/timpeterassociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, and of course, you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that’s podcast@timpeter.com.

Show Outro

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning into the show every single week. As I said a moment ago, I simply would not have done this show for 10 years without you. I appreciate the fact that you listen so much. I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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