How To Build Your Brand and Start a Podcast: A Reflection on 150 Episodes

How to start a podcast - SaaS Breakthrough episode 150

Welcome to a special SaaS Breakthrough Episode with Ashley Levesque, who’s taking over as host for today. She’s interviewing David Abrams to uncover his top insights on how to start a podcast to build your brand after hosting the previous 149 episodes.

In this special interview, you’ll hear how the SaaS Breakthrough podcast began, what David would do if he started over today, key lessons he learned from guests, and his best advice and tips for anyone wanting to start a podcast for marketing. Enjoy!


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Show Notes:
How the SaaS Breakthrough Podcast Began
Landing the First Guests
Taking a Narrower Approach
What David Would Do If He Started Over Today
Unique Guests and the Company Most Referenced
Expecting the Unexpected and Rolling With the Punches
Skills Needed for a One-Man Show
A Key Lesson for Podcast Newbies
Investing in Audio Equipment
A Pro Tip To Control Dogs While Recording
Best Insights From Past Guests on Marketing and Podcasting

DA (02:04):
Hello? Hello. How are you doing?

AL (02:06):
I'm well, how are you?

DA (02:07):
I am fabulous. Wearing a green shirt with a green background in a green room in Demio. Lots of green today.

AL (02:13):
I'm wearing green too!

DA (02:15):
Looks like blue. It looks like blue to me.

AL (02:16):
Okay, well you're color blind, but that's okay. We're here together. I'm excited.

DA (02:20):
Yeah. We're learning about color blindness. We're learning about Demio. Lots of talk about.

AL (02:25):
Episode 150!

DA (02:27):
It's crazy. It's a milestone. You know, I think we started this like four years ago. This whole podcasting journey. The original podcast was called Demio Discover where I was interviewing entrepreneurs and founders. And we had this really cool, like video intro and we did it all in Demio live in video. And like we had just launched Demio, I think like maybe a month before. So it was all new. There were a lot of bugs in the video, so that was always fun. You know, I was always like going live and just sweating bullets right before the episode. So, yeah, that was a good one.

AL (03:02):
How did you get your first guests back in the early days?

DA (03:08):
Demio Discover days or meaning of this podcast?

AL (03:13):

DA (03:13):
Well, you know, both were really just strategic moves, right? Demio Discover was our kickoff point where we had just launched Demio. We wanted to get some brand recognition. We wanted to really get Demio into the hands of our customers and people that we thought were great. So, you know, we had this like list of customers that we'd love to have, and most of them were entrepreneurs. That's where we came from, our friends, colleagues, business owners, you know, SaaS owners. So the idea was originally like, let's get a bunch of like SaaS entrepreneurs on. So quite honestly, I went to friend groups, people that I knew, and I just reached out to them like, Hey, I'm doing this podcast. And my first guest was Los Silva, that's my old business partner. And he, you know, was running some software stuff and now runs a very large seven-figure agency.

DA (03:55):
And so we just talked about his entrepreneurial journey and just went through a friend group. But you know, the great thing about that is once you get some momentum and some names, you can use that when you then reach out to other people. And so we used a pretty basic strategy that we've used in the past for like cold email outreach, which is, you know, getting people's email addresses either through a list or LinkedIn and then reaching out to them on LinkedIn or via email. And we would write these little pitches and kind of cold email outreach to them. I think that at that time we were using, you know, just cold emailing them with a five-part sequence to get them on to the show. Now that really didn't get much traction and really kind of the takeaway from it was, it was just a broad audience. Like we hadn't yet figured out who Demio was for and what it was for.

DA (04:38):
At that point, it was just a marketing tool. We weren't even really that narrow in marketing. We were just like someone use our webinar platform, we just launched.

AL (04:46):

DA (04:46):
Anyone, please use it, please. And you know, I think there's like a thousand podcasts out there talking to founders and, you know, nothing that we were doing was really special except being live on Demio. And we had live audience for the first, like five episodes, but attendance went down which was always cool cause we could do like live Q&A, but there was a lot of work that went into that. You had to really drive attendance on each one. Send the replay. It was like a full on webinar series. We also had limited resources. I was doing all of that stuff, you know, including running the company and day-to-day product stuff.

DA (05:17):
Like I think we were five people. So it was like, there was a lot to do. So Wyatt had this really good idea of thinking about it again and just kind of reframing it into a more narrow approach. So the SaaS Breakthrough podcast was really the brainchild of that of thinking, how can we get in front of the more strategic audience that we want to talk to. Which was marketers. We really wanted to build a product that was built for marketing and sales, you know, kind of be specific for them. So then the idea became, what is something that's out there in the podcasting world that's not overly used, overly like talked about. And it was really SaaS marketing for marketers. That was a super niche audience. I'm just not a huge you know, addressable marketplace, but very, very, very much like who we wanted to talk to, with a good marketing strategy where we could literally get on a call with them.

DA (06:05):
They could talk about Demio, learn about Demio. The guests were our audience and the audience was our target audience. So from there we kind of transitioned to again, I think I used friends as the first three episodes. I think I did three episodes canned and we launched with three and then we did a cadence of one every week after that. Utilize our email list, our customers to just try to drive our initial reviews and all that, but utilize those first three friend guests to kind of leverage names. I would do the same thing. I did cold email outreach. I think we got in our first 10 episodes. I think I got Typeform. I got like Hotjar and some like really great SaaS companies, with email outreach, and all it took was a little elbow grease, you know, to go in there and hustle it.

AL (06:50):
If you were starting over today, would you do that same pathway or would you do something different?

DA (06:56):
If everything was going to stay the same? And I was just gonna run an audio based podcast, I'd probably do the same thing. I think, you know, there's a couple of ways that you can do this and we thought about this. You can send direct gifts, like a really kind of what's it called more, more of like a personalized gift campaign where you can get in front of people. We kind of played with this for a while. We had, we like made custom pillows. We would go on your Twitter and find a quote that you said on your Twitter. And then we like, put it on a pillow and send it to you. Or we thought about like custom mugs or like custom things like, yeah, it would be expensive, but you ship that to someone that gets them right in front of them with a little card that's like, we would love to have you on our podcast.

DA (07:31):
Like literally just something that disrupts attention is always great from that side of things. Cold email is so tough right now. There's about a thousand people cold emailing you every day. So, you know, even with what we were doing, we would probably, I think our initial SaaS list, not the one that I liked personally reached out to, but like our SaaS list that we went through in was like a thousand companies. And I think we got, you know, maybe 30 of them. So response isn't always great, but you're going to get something from it. So I think it's always worth doing that strategy cause it's just addressable. It's something you can do with just some, you know, really good copy and targeted reach outs. Again, you can do gift campaigns, you can do video campaigns. I've done a lot of personal videos to people as well. You know I think events are great. We went to an, obviously that's tough right now, right with COVID. But like we went to an event in Dublin, a SaaS event in Dublin, and I just walked from booth to booth and talked to every marketer, got their business card and brought them all into a podcast episode afterwards. And you know, we kept in touch with some, some became customers and some just became guests.

AL (08:34):
Amazing. And here we are, you've done, you've done 149 episodes with incredible marketers, incredible SaaS companies. Are there any anecdotes or stories that have stuck with you over 149, any particular company that stands out, any interview that stands out?

DA (08:55):
I think every guest was really unique. Everyone kind of had their own specialization. I think that was such a cool aspect of running this podcast is, you know, learning from each individual marketing and their experience. Nobody was the same. You know, the two major stories that stick out to me is our SaaS Breakthrough Summit, where we brought on five really spectacular guests from the podcast. And we did like a full live free content day, nothing being like sold. It was just like everyone come on Demio and hear from these great speakers and they were all awesome. We had like, I think ActiveCampaign and Advanced B2B, Wistia amazing. Drift was there, loved it. Corey Haynes, who's now just incredible marketer and businessman in his own. Right. from Baremetrics was there. So yeah, lots of good guests. Aaron Kroll was on there talking about you know, his onboarding.

DA (09:44):
So that was incredible. I think just the responsiveness from those marketers at those companies to be willing to spend time with our audience, you know, do that promotion together. It really, it went well. I think we got like 5,000 plus leads from it as like joint promotion, which was a really cool campaign. But if I think about an individual guests, we had them on there twice. And you know, when we ask this question at the end, like a fire round question, you know, what does a company that stands out to you or that you admire today? I think the number one response was Drift. Like literally that company is incredible. The branding, the marketing, the strategies, you know, I remember talking with Dan Murphy and you know, also their community manager, and they were literally doing a product launch every month.

DA (10:31):
That was their strategy. Every month we are going to build something worth noting and do a launch every month. And that is with, along with their brand marketing, that is how they expanded. Which to me is just incredible. Like I'm scared by that. Like that sounds like an incredible amount of work and just momentum, like to be able to hit those deadlines and every month just do a launch. Launches are just like terrifying in general, you know, like good for them. But, but yeah, I think they're an incredible company. You know, one company I would love to have learned from was Gong. They had a lot of people talking about them near the end of the podcast as well. They're really coming out on their own too.

AL (11:10):
Yeah. I love that. Those are great answers. I can't wait to tag all those incredible people in this when we, when we push this live so that they can all see the amazing things you said about them.

DA (11:19):
Well, I think I also want to, I want to shout out Chris and Bryant too. I think all of these people have either moved on to new companies or they might be still with the same companies. But Wistia was, you know, a company that Wyatt and I have always looked up to for like 10 years and to be able to interview them, learn from them. That was a really humbling, humbling moment.

AL (11:38):
Absolutely. So let's spill some tea, even if it's just like on you. I want to know, like, what was the most embarrassing or awkward thing that happened during one of these interviews?

DA (11:56):
Unfortunately I don't have a lot of tea to spill here. Nothing really crazy. It's not like I have these crazy stories. You know, you're doing an audio only podcast. There's only so much that can happen.

AL (12:05):
That's true. You do have a lot of pets though.

DA (12:08):
I do have dogs and that's a thing. And I do everything from home. I'm in my home office, as you can see on this and, you know, I, I learned very quickly to mute. So, you know, I ask my questions, I mute, I then wait to talk. I think there was actually something really good that came from that too, which is you allow people room to speak, right. Without jumping on them, talking over them. I've seen reviews on podcasts where like hosts will talk over people and you don't really, you're only, especially in an interview, you're only there to ask questions and then kind of kick it forward. But yeah, I've had dogs bark through. I've had you know, people knock on the door, we've had retakes and that's what we have audio editing for afterwards. So, you know, we've had moments where someone has said an entire response and then been like, I literally have no idea what I just said, and gone back and done it, or, you know, guests come on and they're nervous.

DA (12:58):
And they're saying hmn every other word and that's, you know, a three-hour long editing process, but it comes out great. So, you know, you just gotta go into it, expecting the unexpected and you just roll with the punches. You know, that's just kinda my personality anyways, but you know, nothing too crazy. I think one time that I did kind of have some real anxiety was an internet outage, plus I think Zencastr the platform that we were using got hit with that. So we did the entire episode and like cut out the recording was like, like four parts recording. Cause it just kept restarting. And then afterwards I couldn't even download or access it. And I was like, it was a great interview, but it was just disruptive. We were like all over the place. I felt unprofessional. It was really like, you know, internet platform stuff. But somehow, you know, Zencastr worked with us. We found all the recordings. At that point I was doing all the editing myself. So I spent like a day piecing it all together and the episode came out great. It was fine. But you know, that's always a tough one when technology kind of fails you.

AL (14:01):
Let's talk about those skills actually. Prior to, so at one point you were managing this entire podcast production hosting, editing, you were doing that all yourself. Were you learning this stuff on the fly? Like just like, okay, well I guess I need an audio recording. So let's figure out what that looks like and how to use it. And I guess we need to edit it. So let's figure out what that looks like. What was that process like for you?

DA (14:23):
Luckily pre-Demio, I was doing some video stuff, so I had Final Cut Pro on my computer and I had learned some basic key strokes, like how to cut a frame, how to delete a frame, move audio stuff over. So I knew the basics. I've always done the basics of like Photoshop, nothing crazy. Like Wyatt on our team is like an incredible video editor and an incredible Photoshop person. Lucas, you know, some of our team members are, you know, they're young, so they're, they're good with technology. I'm like the grandpa of the group. I'm trying to figure this stuff out as I go. But you know, I came into it with a little bit of knowledge. I really did have to kind of pick it up and figure it out as I went along, no really getting help asking others for help has always been great.

DA (15:01):
There's a lot of stuff on YouTube too, to like show you how to do it. So there's tutorials also you know, you're just gonna get into a process. You build a template it's easy to do. You just know exactly what you need to do with that template. You know, the system, you make a little process and you just check through that process. I didn't think was always the hardest because you have to go through and I didn't have an audio editor. I literally used Final Cut Pro for like 125 or a hundred episodes or something like that, of the podcast, which is a video editing software. So I'm editing like audio in there and it's just, it's not easy. It would take, you know, a couple of hours of time, but you know, you do what you gotta do.

AL (15:36):
Yeah, absolutely. To produce something great, which is exactly what you did. I have two more questions. So one is, if you were to give advice to someone who wants to start a podcast today, especially someone talking to marketers, what would you say?

DA (15:54):
Well, I would say go back and listen to a couple of our episodes. There are a couple of really great SaaS companies that came on that specialize in podcasting or this type of marketing strategy. I don't know the episode numbers from the top of my head. Maybe we can link to them after in the show notes, but they talk about some really great strategies. And I think one of the key things that I learned that I would pass on to anyone is that if you are going to, or are planning to do podcasting or video marketing or any type of channel like that, as your marketing strategy, be in it for the long term. These things do not have quick turnaround time. These are organic strategies. You're building an audience, you're building a base, you're figuring out how to get guests. There's, there's a million pieces of this equation to put together and you're going to have to be patient and diligent to keep going, because there's going to be weeks you don't want to do it.

DA (16:43):
Daisy doesn't want to do it. You know, the results aren't immediate. It's not like turning on advertising and seeing a result tomorrow. So I remember hearing from like Eric Siu from, from Single Grain and his podcast marketing school with Neil Patel with millions of downloads every month. You know, he said, his first podcast, like the first eight months they had like 300 downloads. And then by year three, he was at like 10,000 a month. Right? Like, so he just didn't give up. You just got to keep going, but understand that when you're going in, don't expect short term results from this. So be strategic with your strategy. What are you ultimately trying to do? Who are you trying to target? Who is your audience base? You know, is the content that you're producing going to be captivating enough, specific enough for that audience?

DA (17:27):
Are you actually going to give them content that they're going to want to spend time every week, digesting? How long has the content form that you're giving them? Is it, you know, for us, I think when you came on, you're like, listen the podcast is too long. Cut it down. And we did, you know, just because Marcos didn't have that much time. So if you're talking to someone, I mean, there's, there's three-hour long podcasts out there, which I think are great, cause they're open-ended podcast. But if you're doing something like to a specific type of user base that, you know, only has about 30 minutes of free time a day, you got to cut that down. So, you know, a big piece of advice is just know your audience, what's your strategy, what are your goals? And then be patient through it.

DA (18:02):
You know, I also think, you know, you want to make sure you have good audio equipment. That's like baseline thing for this. Like I got this, this microphone here that I use for every episode, very, very good investment. I think I maybe spent $300 on this microphone in the stand, but again used it for every single episode, highly recommended. You know, make sure you have a room that you can record in. You know, if you have dogs, I don't know what you do with that, but you know, you just work around them.

AL (18:29):
Well, you used to tell me that you like keep treats in your hand, you just got in the habit of kind of always having snacks for them at the ready. So if they were to do something, you just kind of like gently put your hand down and

DA (18:40):
Yeah. So snacks was a good one. DnD your phone is a big one. Don't forget to do that. That's always a big one. Making sure that no scheduled appointments are coming to your office or house during that recording time. That's a good one. Right? That's something you've got to expect. One of the things that helped me was I hired a trainer for my dogs. And one of the tricks that we taught them was called spot, where you put their bed in and you just point towards the bed and they just lay on the bed and they know that they can't move off the bed until you release them. So that has been great for me. Just being able to spot the dogs. Yeah.

AL (19:12):
That's amazing. I wish we could do that with people.

DA (19:15):

AL (19:17):
You should do that to me. I have one final question for you. So this is your last chance to share meaningful advice with our listeners. What's the last thing you want to share?

DA (19:32):
Meaningful advice to the listeners? Wow. Well, I think if we're just talking lessons learned from the SaaS Breakthrough podcast, not my lessons learned, but just things that I've heard from these incredible marketers who, you know, I've really been lucky to speak to and to learn from, you know, is that there's a lot of channels. There's a lot of things that you can do. You gotta be very focused on the channels that will work for you. And that's really by understanding your ICP. So doing a lot of that initial research, really going deep on that, talking to your customers often, learning their pain points, learning what they want, building your content based on what they need. And then you kind of experiment and being really okay with failure and experiments. We've heard all kinds of strategies on this podcast that people, you know, promoting failure as part of the marketing process, like let's get comfortable with failing because then you're just finding the experiments that work, then scaling them up.

DA (20:28):
We've also heard a lot about creativity. Like how do you bring in creative strategies into this as well? So you know, I think the channels will always be the same. Like those things don't change. It's how you use them, that changes. So there always will be email, you know, webinars are not going anywhere, but how you utilize webinars, how you utilize podcasts, how you talk to that audience. Those are the things that really matter. And so when you kind of hear from every marketer, they're doing these things in their own way for the company that they work with. But I think that the truth is, is that the marketing basics, the core marketing never really changes. The medium might change. The channel might change. The team might change, you know, your prioritization methods of ice scoring or whatever you're doing, those things might change, but the actual functionality of marketing is very basic. What is, who is your audience? How do I find them? How do I solve their problem? And then how do I get my product in front of them at the right time?

AL (21:22):
Absolutely. Oh, what powerful ending words. That's that's

DA (21:26):
I don't know if that's wise enough, you know, we should, we should think about that, but we'll do some post-editing you guys will hear like a cut at this point, and this will be very smart. It's going to be like chimed in.

AL (21:36):
Someone else's voice, just like a voiceover. No, I think that was brilliant. On behalf of marketers everywhere, thank you for 149 incredible episodes. So, so grateful. So such amazing insights. Thank you for your awesome work. And maybe we'll invite you back at some point again, but probably not.

DA (21:58):
Right, right. Yeah. No, I understand. To all the listeners, you know, thank you so much for, for joining us on this journey. I'm so excited to hand over, you know, pass the torch to you. I think you're just an incredible marketer and great host and just a great, great everything. So I'm excited for you. I'm excited for the future and to the listeners again, thank you so much for listening to me drone on on these episodes, you know. To our amazing guests, thank you all for your time and you know, onwards and upwards, right?

AL (22:25):
Thank you, David.

DA (22:26):
All right. Thank you everyone.

There, you have it. Join us again for episode 151, the start of Season Two of SaaS Breakthrough. We have incredible guests lined up and you don't want to miss it. See you then.

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