300: Cultivating Long-term Relationships through Podcasting – with David Bain

300: Cultivating Long-term Relationships through Podcasting - with David Bain

Meet David

David launched his first web business in the year 2000 and his first podcast in 2006. Since then, he’s worked on the agency side as a Head of SEO, in-house as Head of Digital Marketing, and for a trading company as a Digital Marketing Course Producer. He’s built his own podcast, Digital Marketing Radio up to 20,000 downloads a month, and in 2019 he founded his own podcast production agency for b2b brands called Casting Cred. You can find David over at castingcred.com

So you were way ahead of the whole podcasting trend, weren’t you?

I was! It was only a bit of fun for me back then around 2006 or so. I published a few shows then and got quite a few listeners and didn’t really think too much of it. I just thought of it as a bit of fun rather than actually a serious marketing channel, which I probably should have done.

What mistakes do you see big brands making with their podcasts in 2021?

Oh, there are a lot of big mistakes. There’s just horrific quality that you actually hear. There’s just not a lot of thought that goes into podcasts by many b2b brands. I compare it back to how brands used to actually think of their websites back in about 2004, 2005,  2006 because back then, brands used to get the intern or a junior person within the business to design the website for their brand and this is a multi-million dollar brand you’re talking about here. They just didn’t appreciate that digital presence can actually relate to how your brand is perceived in its entirety and actually switch people off from using that brand. So as I said, back then, about 15 years ago or so, brands used to get these lowly paid people to design their websites for them and think nothing for it and the senior people didn’t even look at the websites. Exactly the same thing is happening with podcasts nowadays, in 2021. Even in the upcoming years, what brands are doing is they’re getting these people who are interested in podcasts, junior in the business, but probably don’t know that much about producing professional quality audio, probably don’t know that much about brand identity, what needs to be said, what doesn’t need to be said to produce the shows in their behalf and they’re producing amateurish sounding shows. These reflect how their audience perceived these brands and it’s just not a good idea.

What are some of the equipment that you recommend for podcasting?

Sure, and for many big brands out there this probably the biggest mistake, to begin with, is that they just go with the microphone that they’ve already got kicking around the office or in someone’s home. In general, if a business does webinars, then they’ve got a big condenser microphone sitting in front of them in the middle of a boardroom table and a condenser microphone is good in that it picks up the full frequency of a human voice. However, it also picks up everything else that’s going on around the room. It picks up the air conditioner unit, it picks up a computer fan noise, it picks up someone shutting the door two rooms away from where you are it’s not an ideal microphone to use for a podcast. Condenser microphones are wonderful if you’re in a professional studio environment if you really have a decent soundproof room that you’re operating in. Otherwise, I highly recommend the use of a dynamic microphone. So a dynamic microphone is less sensitive and it means that it needs to be closer to your mouth, it needs to be roughly three or four inches away from your mouth and 45 degrees away from your mouth so you’re speaking over it just to get the best quality from that microphone. But if you do that is not gonna pick up all the rest of the noise from around the room. So then the question after that becomes, okay, what type of dynamic microphone that you use? There are very few dynamic microphones available that have both what’s called an XLR and a USB out. So if you are looking for your dynamic microphone to easily connect to your computer, you’re looking for a USB out from the dynamic microphone. So if that’s the case, then you’re looking for either a Samsung Q2U or an Audio-Technica ATR-2100x. So those are the two main microphones, there are a couple of small up-and-coming brands that are just in the process of launching similar microphones. But those are the two main microphones that I would highly recommend. In addition to that, you need a windscreen. So something to go on top of the microphone to stop sudden bursts of air going into the microphone just to make your sound a little bit more pleasant for the user and you want a boom arm. So something to hold the microphone right next to your face, rather than actually you having to duck down, or have the microphone too far away from your mouth.

Let’s switch a little bit here to talk about the six steps of publishing a podcast to publishing a book. So I’m really curious about what you’ve got to say about this?

So several times, I’ve been crazy enough to host an eight-hour live stream, and have 100 plus guests on there at the same time, and a lot of other people say, “Well, how on earth do you do that? Do you think I should do something similar for my brand?” And my immediate answer is no! You don’t want to do that, it’s just too much hassle. Another reason that I say no, is that it’s actually too difficult or you’re juggling too many balls when you haven’t done audio podcasting, videos, live streaming, and steps like that beforehand. You really want to work up towards being able to host multiple people at the same time, be on there for a very long time, look into the camera, or deal with the audience at the same time. So I recommend working up towards doing that. And obviously, you talked about publishing a book. So one of the last big live streams I did I published a book, as a result of doing that. I figured out having an eight-hour live stream, you end up being able to produce roughly 60,000 words of transcripts, and then you can turn that into a book. It’s just about as much work turning out a 60,000-word transcript into a book by rewriting it because obviously, people don’t write in the same way that they actually articulate things verbally. So it’s not necessarily easier, but it’s just a path that is a relatively slightly more convenient way to publish a book. But in terms of the steps towards doing that, I highly recommend starting off with an audio-only podcast and starting off with a fairly basic podcast equipment-wise using the microphones that are recommended. Then when you’re started, focus on the audio podcast, get comfortable with using the microphone, get comfortable with what your show structure is going to be like, and then you’ll hone that naturally over the first 10 to 20 episodes or so. Then when you get comfortable with doing that, you can start to do things like you do Lori, which is to record the whole show as a one-off, have your intro, have your outro, have your midsection recorded as part of the whole show. That way, you’re doing less editing afterward so it’s easier to produce. You don’t have much editing to do afterward at all. Then move on to video after that, and move on to pre-recorded video. Don’t do live video straight away if you’re doing your show, do it pre-recorded so you don’t have to think of an audience and if you make mistakes, you can restart and you don’t get so nervous in front of guests. Step four is live streaming while you record a podcast. The whole additional challenging element to that is, of course, the audience. If you’ve got people watching live, if you’ve got questions coming in. Ideally, you can listen to what the person that you’re interviewing is saying, but at the same time, see what the audience is saying. Bring their questions into the mix at the appropriate time, engage with him at the same time, or perhaps even type back to them at the same time. You don’t want to be doing that if you’re not comfortable using a microphone, if you’re not comfortable with podcasting, or if you’re not comfortable even with looking into the camera, to begin with just to do the intros and the outros and to acknowledge people at the very beginning of your video. Then simply you get to that big summit that I was talking about, that’s like 12 live streams all in one take. So once you’re comfortable with the live streams, it’s bringing everything together, it’s doing it for a longer time, it’s having 100 plus guests involved in a single project. So it’s just a case of making those relationships which is obviously what this show is all about and the wonderful thing about doing a podcast, apart from the fact that you get people listening to your content is the quality of the relationships that you make with the guests that you end up talking to. You can ideally maintain those relationships by doing things like hosting a virtual summit and getting people back on with you perhaps on an annual basis.

Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?

I think networking is all about the quality rather than the quantity. You can talk about some articles that have been written like 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly, and similar advice has been shared by Seth Godin. If you get to that number of people that engage with you and like your content on a regular basis, then you’re going to be successful. But in my experience, the number is even less if you put in the effort to really ensure that the relationships that you build are of high quality. That’s why I love podcasting because it’s such a wonderful way to build a relationship, to begin with, and then it gives you that opportunity to maintain the relationship because if you go to networking events, I know we’re talking in COVID times it’s a little bit more challenging to meet face to face, and perhaps even meet new people. But if you imagine a conventional face-to-face networking event, you’d do really well to have five minutes uninterrupted with anyone. It’s challenging sometimes just to discover what someone else does, and make them aware of what you do, and then remember them afterward and then get back to them and really build any kind of meaningful relationship. The internet, podcasting, or just online discussions that aren’t even necessarily broadcasted online give us a wonderful opportunity to have a higher quality conversation or lengthier conversation. So I think if you can aim to have 10 of those conversations a month on a regular basis, and then maintain the relationships with people that you think would be beneficial to you and your business in the future and you could be beneficial to them, then that would be probably a wonderful use of podcasting as a wonderful way to network and build maintain those relationships.

How do you best nurture your network and stay in front of these individuals?

I used to think in the past that what you had to do was published on a regular basis. But to a certain degree, that’s just one-way communication so it’s good to try and maintain those relationships. I’ve been very fortunate to as well as host bowl and podcast, host podcasts for other people, and produce podcasts for other people so it gives me a reason to get back in contact with these people. So the people that have been probably the best guests or the people that have been the most valuable in terms of potential relationships have been the ones that I’ve kept in touch with. I think initially going back to about 2015 when I did my first big online live stream, and I had about 60 people join me for that one. I just went back into people who have been guests before and I viewed it as a great piece of content to produce. But then thinking about it afterward, I suddenly realized it’s not about the content, it’s about relationships, it’s about the network, it’s about maintaining that. So that’s why I try and do an annual basis, I give myself a reason to get back in touch with people and I encourage people to do the same. To think of a reason to reach back to who you’ve had conversations with in the past, and help them. So not necessarily even to produce something of value to what you’re trying to do, but just to see if there’s anything else you can do to assist them. I think you need to be really aware of what they’re currently doing, and maybe suggests something specific that you could do to help them or a reason to have a follow-up conversation. I liken that to messages that I receive on LinkedIn, and probably 1 in 50, I reckon have actually really looked at me and my business and what I do, and crafted message based on that. The messages that I get saying something like, “Oh, it would be great to find out more about Casting Cred and what you do, shall we arrange a call?” No, I ignore those messages because it’s so blatantly obvious that they’ve just taken my company name from some automatic script and added it to a standard intro message. I’m not interested in having a conversation if you haven’t taken the opportunity to check out what I do. Check out what I do and demonstrate that you’ve actually looked at what I do and then we’ll have a conversation.

What advice would you offer that business professional who’s really looking to grow their network?

It doesn’t happen overnight so you’ve got to accept that it’s a long-term game. It’s easy to reach out to people and get disappointed if they don’t engage with you, but have you actually published anything and demonstrated that you are likely to be of genuine interest to the person that you’re trying to reach out to? I go back to podcasting because I’m a podcaster and I think podcasting is a wonderful way to do it. I would quite often publish a podcast based upon the quality of conversations that I have with someone and be willing to publish a podcast, even if it didn’t have any listeners, because of the quality of conversations that I’m having with people. I know people that I’m interviewing wouldn’t necessarily be happy to have the conversation published to no one, but I think that’s a good way to approach podcasting. I would encourage anyone listening to consider starting a webinar series or a podcast or some kind of content series that gives them an opportunity or reason to reach out to people. Maybe an initial starting point even before that is a blog because most people have a blog associated with a website. Put together an article about a particular topic and ask 10 moderately successful people within certain niches about their opinion on the particular subject. I say moderately successful because you’re never likely to get someone like, let’s give Seth Gordon as an example to actually contribute. But if you have someone who’s moderately successful in a very niche industry, then they’re really happy to contribute. So you can probably get 10 people to contribute to blog posts, you don’t even have to speak to them, you can have a contact form for them to fill in and share their advice. Then you can promote what they do afterward, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, you can maintain that relationship. That’s probably a great starting point to building a decent network.

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of us have or differently with regards to your professional career?

It’s very easy to look back with hindsight saying you should do this, you shouldn’t do this. I’ve done lots of different jobs in my time. I’m in my 40s now so I was probably too old to just work in digital marketing or in the digital world. So as a first career, I actually managed restaurants and pubs, and hotels. It was a great experience to have because as a 20-year-old I was managing teams of people. So I got great managerial experience to do that. Perhaps maybe I treated life a little bit too seriously. I would say just to relax a little bit as well and try more things. I think that back then I felt that you had to try and have a career and I think that I grew up as part of the generation that was still told you go through school, you try to go through university, and then you try to get yourself a profession, and you stay with that profession for life. Life’s not really like that nowadays. I would certainly tell myself to try different things, don’t take life too seriously, work hard, but also play hard at the same time.

Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?

Success and building a big network is really a long time coming. Don’t measure what you’re doing with short-term measurements, like how many followers have I gained in the last week or a month or even year? It’s all about the quality of relationships that you make 10 years down the line. So if you’re not bothered by time, what would you do differently now if you knew that the numbers don’t matter and it’s all about quality?


Connect with David

David’s website: https://castingcred.com/ 

David’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidbain/