127: Create A Content Engine With TJ Bonaventura

TJ Bonaventura is the Co-Founder of StudioPod, a full-service podcast media and production company based in Mexico City. We talk about the processes of using podcasts to create a content engine, how to repurpose your podcast content and the best ways to promote your podcast.

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Create A Content Engine With TJ Bonaventura

Our guest is TJ Bonaventura, the CoFounder of StudioPod, a full-service podcast, media and production company. He runs from Mexico City. TJ, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Steve. Happy to be here.

It’s great to have you here. It’s great to have someone who runs a production agency, a podcast agency. That’s pretty exciting. TJ, can you describe your entrepreneurial journey? How do you end up running a podcast agency? How does one do that?

Of course. I don’t know if I have a traditional background or not. I think everybody has their own unique background. I got into the entrepreneurial space a little bit later in life, about when I was in my late 20s, early 30s. I’m from Silicon Valley. If you think about it in terms of where I’m from, that’s pretty late. A lot of people there start much earlier than that.

Out of school, I took a job at a local sports radio station. That became my first love of sound and anything similar to podcasting. As one does, being from San Francisco and the Bay Area, I fell in love with the idea of being in tech and working for startups. I ended up doing that for about 8, 9, 10 years. Very quickly, I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

I always had the spirit and always wanted to do it. It took me a little bit later in life to go ahead and start that. What ended up happening was I tried to start a podcast. I have always been a fan of podcasts. I was living in New York at the time. I tried to start a podcast with a good friend who was in San Francisco. What I realized, Steve, it was very difficult to be able to start this thing. This was back in 2016, 2017.

I didn’t know what equipment to buy. I didn’t know how to record. I wasn’t sure how to edit. I found that my friend and I were spending all of our time on basic tools and skills to start the show that we wanted to. A lot of our time wasn’t focused on the important part, which was the content, how to market it, how to find guests, and all these things you know about. You’ve been doing this for a while.

That struck the idea of why doesn’t a production company or agency exist where a podcaster can’t just record it, hand it off to somebody. From there, the production agency would be able to do everything about marketing, create a cover art, create social content, so on and so forth. From there, that was 2017, 2018. Started the business by taking over a studio space in San Francisco.

We quickly pivoted to realizing that businesses are going to be getting into podcasting. Here we are where StudioPod Media, me and my cofounder, Julian, now have somewhere around twenty different contractors and employees working for us across the world. Work exclusively with B2B organizations to use podcasting as part of their marketing strategy. It’s been quite the journey.

Obviously, it’s a lot to put your podcast out. It takes a lot of organization and a lot of moving pieces. To have a one-stop shop where you basically take care of everything for people. All they have to do is do the fun stuff, which is talking to people like you and recording content. It’s a great thing.

That leads us to the framework that we were talking about because a podcast is a great medium for many professionals and business people. I love podcasting. It’s a great way to connect with people, build relationships, and have interesting conversations with like-minded people. You guys have actually developed the framework to help simplify it for people. You call it the Podcast Solar System. Why did you call it the solar system and what does it allow someone to do? How does it work?

I’m a big fan of analogies. I’m a big visual person. We were constantly coming up with different ideas to create a framework that would be easily digestible by all different content marketers across any field. We landed on this idea, something that I’ve been calling the Podcast Solar System. Anyone following me on LinkedIn knows I love talking about this.

The idea is you can’t create a singular podcast and hope that someone’s going to listen to it. There’s a reason why there’s been a lot of comedians and famous people who have gone to start podcasts. That’s because they have a following. Anyone who doesn’t have a following or some audience already living or existing somewhere else needs to be more tactical and strategic with releasing their episodes.

Specifically, when it comes to businesses and working with businesses in podcasting, the way we like to look at it is, if we’re looking at the solar system, the audience is your sun. All the different planets and moons that are orbiting the sun constantly are going to be the different pieces of content you’re going to be developing. One of which is going to be your full-length audio podcasts.

That could be your Mars, if you will. Maybe your video podcast is going to be your Mercury. If we keep going out and extending the length of a solar system, the good thing about this is the universe is always expanding, but we won’t get too nerdy about that. Every planet and moon is going to represent a different piece of content. That could be maybe a piece of evangelistic content.

Maybe you’re a B2B organization and you want to create a podcast. Take a two-minute clip and give that to your sales team to use as part of their sales tactic to drive customers down the funnel. It could be many different things. We’ve seen people use playlists, YouTube, and LinkedIn lives. These are all things that are surrounding your audience, but all going to be within this podcast solar system. How can we always be orbiting and attracting these pieces of content to be always within the orbit of your sun, AKA, your audience.

What strikes me is that in a solar system, every planet is different. Some are distant, some are close, some are big, some are small, different color, and some has a ring around it like Saturn. These elements in the solar system are different. To make sure that the audience doesn’t get bored.

I think one mistake I have made my podcast is I started posting all my episodes on LinkedIn. Obviously, people get bored of this, and they don’t want to see it, and they switch it off. I’d be better off creating other pieces of content or other planets to keep things more interesting. What is a strategy that you recommend to your clients in terms of how to construct that solar system?

It’s a great question because, a lot of times, our organizations don’t know where to get started. The best thing about that, Steve, is that the content itself, the podcast, is where you get started. You can think of your singular podcast, your episode, as its own content factory. I believe that you can get almost 10 to 20 pieces of content just from 1 episode alone.

If you think about the full-length episode, if you did a video clip, if you want to cut up in the audio clips, that’s where you need to get started. You’re not going to find your audience. You’re not going to build your audience solely by just recording and putting it up on Spotify, Apple, and everywhere else. Everyone listens to the podcast.

You’re going to get the value from creating these pieces of micro-content and supporting content like blogs and posting them at the places where your audience is ultimately going to live. I think there’s this black-and-white area with organizations today. Anyone who’s starting a podcast need to boil the ocean. They need to create this fully enhanced twenty-episode strategy in order for this to be successful.

There are times when we see these organizations who are like, “Screw it. We’re just going to go record and figure it out.” There needs to be a happy medium. I always believe in gray areas. The idea that you’re able to, “Let’s start recording. Let’s start with six episodes.” We love starting with six episodes. Let’s do a short-limited series. Let’s see how it plays out.

It doesn’t need to have a consistent cadence of release, but then let’s use those six pieces of audio content to create upwards of, in this case, 100 pieces of micro-content. We can repurpose for future campaigns going forward. When you get started, start small, start with six episodes, but not too small of just one episode. Build a plan, test it out, see if it’s a pilot, and then turn that limited series into a more consistent, ongoing strategic content pillar.

You mentioned the short video and the blog. What other types of content can be created? What’s the twenty pieces of content? Do you guys have twenty different ideas of how to do this, or is it different media platforms? How does it become twenty?

Definitely. If you think about it, you do a 50-minute podcast, roughly right around there, 50 minutes to 1 hour, 45 minutes, or 30 minutes. That’s probably in line, which I’m happy with, but you usually want to stay on the lower-end. If you have, let’s say, 30 to 35, that’s the sweet spot. Any longer than that, you’re going to lose people’s attention.

Between 30 to 35-minute duration is the sweet spot for content. Any longer than that, you're going to lose people's attention. Click To Tweet

Anyways, within there, you can have, let’s say, 3 to 5 pieces of short audio content. That’s 3 to 5 audio and 3 to 5 video. Right there, you’re looking at 6 to 10. You’re having the full length, so you add 2 more and now you’re looking around 12 pieces of content. You want to create a YouTube playlist from that content. That’s also going to be considered one piece of content.

You have the blog, that’s 14, so we have 6 more to go.

If you think about it, you take the transcription. From that transcription, you use three because you can create that transcription and extend it into evangelistic posts for your salespeople. Now, you’re creating emails. Maybe you want to do a snippet for a newsletter. We’re getting closer to the twenty. If you can start to see, it’s about being creative and making sure that you’re developing these small pieces of content again where your audience is going to live. Content is king right now. It’s been said for a while, but you can extend that into many different channels.

We haven’t mentioned tweets. You can create three tweets out of it, so you’re surfacing 20 now. You’ve got this solar system. I got an audience. In my case, it’s business owners of mid-market companies, CEOs. I post on LinkedIn, I post a blog, I tweet a couple, I do short videos or YouTube playlists, whatever. How do I know that my podcast is successful? Is it putting this out and then it’s going to happen? How do you measure podcasts? Obviously, the number of listeners, but maybe there are other ways of creating traction and being on track with making a podcast great.

This is something that’s changing before our eyes right now within the industry, Steve. Traditionally, as you know and most people who have done podcasts know, the main success metric has been downloads. The problem with downloads is that there’s very little information that we can gather about our audience from that metric.

If you’re an organization, especially a B2B organization who’s trying to develop a larger audience and an ROI around this, I would argue that there’s no real value in doing a podcast if you can’t decide or tell who your audience is. This is where it’s changing. This is where it’s getting really exciting. There are two things that are happening right now.

1) There’s this idea, and we’re part of leading this charge of organizations that need to focus less about using the algorithms on things like LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and all Meta products when releasing their content. Just focus on creating awesome content first and foremost. If you create that awesome content.

When releasing their content, organizations need to focus less on using algorithms and focus on creating awesome content first and foremost. Click To Tweet

You do that from a brand-owned channel on LinkedIn. That’s where most B2B organizations are living right now. You use that algorithm after you’ve already created awesome content to then make sure that the engagement, so post shares, post comments and impressions. Those are the metrics where you’re going to see ROI. That’s where the first trend is happening.

2) With different organizations that are coming and different tech out there, one of which is Casted, one of our partners right now. What they allow us to do is that we can now track firmographic and contact data within your CRM. We can say, “StudioPod has posted this specific video.” Now we can see, because it ties with our CRM and with our lead scoring data. Something like Pardot or HubSpot, or what have you?

What we can do now is see that if this contact is within our CRM, we can see if they’ve listened or watched a video of ours, if they consumed it. Not only what they watched, but how long did they watch it for and how often are they watching it for. All those different things. If you’re familiar with that type of lead scoring, action and metric, we can now tie and say, “This person is moving down the sales funnel because they’ve watched this content.”

We could see the firmographic data if we don’t have that information within our CRM. We can say, “We know that Chase is watching this video. Maybe we should have somebody on the sales team who owns that Chase account reach out to see if they want to have a conversation about starting a podcast.” This is us from the instance of if we’re coming from our business.

We can do this now. There’s intrinsic value being created by the relationship that us and other production companies are doing with Casted, with other companies out there. Now, the investment of B2B organizations is starting to rise because now we can see that, “This person is watching. I’m going to invest in this, and this needs to become a content pillar.”

Where previously it just didn’t happen, Steve. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t available. It’s a fun time to be there. Last I read, there was only about 20% of organizations have even thought about doing a podcast. That number is changing. It is increasing month by month. It’s a very exciting time for us in the podcast agency space. It’s one of those things where, if you haven’t thought about doing a podcast yet as an organization, by the end of 2023, you’re going to be behind.

It’s just a fact. Everyone wants to consume the content. It’s a great way to create messaging or a way to create brand recognition that’s adjacent but similar to what your organization does. Especially if you’re an older financial institution, you want to do something different. This is a great avenue in potential revenue space as well.

How can you actually figure out who is listening? How do you connect the IP addresses of those people to their emails or names? Are there services out there that do that?

This is more about Casted technology than what I can share. You’re right. You’re going to be using the IP of who the individual is. We can make that connection through using their software and embedding it within your landing page as an example. If you want to use their provided hosted landing page or what they call playlists. Now that you have that available and you put it on your website, now we can start to track that information and we can use things like cookies and things behind the scenes that also allows to track firmographic data as well.

We talked about creating a lot of different contents. The solar system strategy. Are there other ways of promoting a podcast and posting content pieces all over the internet? Are there other matters that you see that people can use a podcast to promote it?

Of course. There are always going to be new things that are popping up. There’s a traditional way, just doing organic. It’s going to be on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and wherever your audience is going to live. Talked about doing newsletters, that’s going to be a very important one, also leveraging partners. That is one thing that we’ve seen our organizations or our clients do. They have other, whether it’s going to be platform partners, service partners, agency partners, or whatever it may be.

Creating co-branded recognition is going to be a highly organic and free way to get more audience members to your podcast. It’s ever changing. It will not be too different from what you would normally do. I think for whatever reason, there’s this weird misconception that a lot of content markers don’t believe that their audience is going to listen to their podcast because they’re an organization.

They think it’s going to be “boring or bureaucratic,” which is so far from the truth, Steve. What’s important is that you don’t need 1,000 downloads to be a successful podcast. You can have 200 downloads, if 3 or 4 of those downloads become clients, then you’ve paid for the podcast 3 to 4-fold. That’s the change that we’re trying to get at.

You don’t need to promote it in a way that’s going to be traditional advertising, but you may want to do some paid ad behind that, put that on LinkedIn and other places of that matter. I think it’s not going to be too different from what you’re doing, other pieces of content. It’s going to cost less spend. There’s going to be more on the production side when it comes to the spend. I think that’s a bit of a misconception from what we’re hearing in the industry right now, but that’s changing pretty quickly.

I have a question about turning a podcast into a blog. I understand that people do that because SEO will recognize a blog, but it will not be able to recognize words spoken in a podcast. I don’t know if this is true and how that works. Essentially identifying the most interesting parts over YouTube videos, so maybe it is SEO. That’s the first part of the question.

The second part of the question is, if it’s true that creating a blog is very valuable, then what’s the method for turning a podcast recording into a blog? When there are superflux sounds and words in a podcast, sometimes the conversation is not completely organic. How do you make it a good read and not being too repetitive and simplistic language?

I like that because we get asked this a lot. I wouldn’t see one singular episode that needs to be turned into one adjacent and similar blog. What I mean by that is you want to develop blogs over time. While you’re developing the content and your theme in your series, you’re going to have sub-themes for each episode. This is where you have different guests who have different specialties about whatever your subject matter is going to be.

Over time, you’re going to be developing six episodes, and now you’ve developed anywhere from, at this point, let’s say, at the very least, 60 pieces of content. From those 60 pieces of content, you’ll find common themes that are being mentioned from those guests you’ve had on. What we recommend is using your content writer, or if you’re using StudioPod, you could use one of our content writers.

From there, we can develop a blog series and/or a blog that will incorporate the small video clips or audio clips that we’ve taken from those six pieces of audio. That’s where it comes into play. From an SEO perspective, what we recommend doing is you should absolutely transcribe your audio. That’s something that should be done anyways for accessibility reasons.

You don’t want to deal with any ADA issues there. Really where it comes into is over time, understand what the common themes are. This is something that our partner, Casted, does really well, and this is why we’ve worked so hand-in-hand. It’s understanding. We know that this common theme keeps on popping up. We need to repurpose this content to develop a written series and/or one-off evergreen content that talks about X, Y, and Z.

If it’s about podcasts, to get super Meta here, we want to talk about this Podcast Solar System. We have all these little clips of TJ or Julian talking about the Podcast Solar System. We want to do a blog piece about it. In there, we want to incorporate those videos or smaller clips so people can listen to it. It’s very similar to a consumer brand like ESPN.com, or Bloomberg, or whatever. Where they’re going to be able to consume this content in many different ways. Hear experts talk about it in a short video clip that’s embedded directly within that written piece.

Now, I get what StudioPod probably does because it sounds like a lot of work. It’s easy to record a podcast and send it off to an editor, and they will put it on the podcast engine, and then it goes out. It’s easy to see how it’s done. That’s relatively simple. It still takes work, but it’s simple. If I think about creating the twenty different types of content, putting them on different social media and scheduling it and writing auxiliary content to it. Think about which parts would make a good blog, and then tweet about it, that becomes overwhelming. I definitely don’t want to do that kind of stuff. Is this what you do for people?

Exactly. We’ve attended a lot of conferences and B2B-specific conferences over the last couple of years. The topic du jour right now is creating a media or content engine. Frankly, based on where the economy is right now, where these organizations are taking the biggest hits. They can’t afford to hire full-time employees to be able to take on this arduous process of developing a content and content strategy.

Especially when it comes to podcasting, that’s where we specialize in. Steve, you got to it a little bit here. Organizations think they can record and put it up there and people are going to listen, and they’re going to be disappointed. I was just having a conversation with a prospect where they were like, “We tried doing this and it was a lot of fun. It was one of the most fun things we did, but it was eating into our actual daily responsibilities. We had to stop it because other things were being sacrificed because we were focusing so much on this podcast series.” That’s where we come in.

We want to be your production agency for podcasting specifically and all the content around that. If you have specific themes that you’re trying to hit on for 2023 and you want this podcast to be a part of that. How can we make sure that gets incorporated into the podcast? If your goal is to create X amount of pieces of content, that’s where we come in. We can give a writer, a designer, a social media person all around focusing about the podcast episode or the series itself.

Again, we don’t like to boil the ocean. I think there are a lot of companies out there who are saying, “We need to do at least 12 to 20 episodes.” We don’t say that. Start small. Start six. If it works out, you see the benefit. You maybe get a bit of a lead flow, or you’re moving prospects down the sales funnel, then you’ve had some ROI, and now we can start to uplevel this into a longer standing series.

Readers, if you have a podcast or if you’re considering creating a podcast and you feel overwhelmed and it’s too complicated. You can go to StudioPod and they will take care of everything for you. Do you guys also do the editing piece, the social media posting, and all of that stuff?

We do it all, Steve. Usually, organizations don’t want to give us access to their own channels, which is totally fine. We develop it, we edit it, we sound design it, we provide project managers, and designers, as I had mentioned. All the things that you would need for a podcast, we’re there to support in any way. It’s more of an a la carte service. We work with smaller organizations to Fortune 50 organizations.

Everybody has a different need and want. We’re able to come in and work with them however they see the podcast. Usually, it’s organizations who value the show and don’t want to give it a try. They know it’s a long-term investment in content. Again, it’s across the board, whether you’re a singular individual trying to create your personal brand or if you’re a Fortune 500 Wall Street bank.

Check StudioPod out. You can find the links on MBPPod.com, which is our page. We’re starting to transcribe episodes as well. You can also go and check out TJ’s LinkedIn page, which is going to be also on the MBPPod.com link on our page. TJ, thanks so much for coming and sharing your wisdom about podcasting.

I think it is a booming area. It’s a great opportunity. It’s an easy way to create content and to put your clientele into the middle of the solar system and be all around them with your content. Good thing to do. Stay tuned because we are coming with two episodes a week now, and you can also check it out on MBPPod.com. Thank you.

Awesome. Thanks, Steve. It was great to be here.

 

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