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One of my favorite marketing quotes comes from Bruce Springsteen, not Seth Godin or any speaker on the marketing keynote circuit. It goes like this: “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”

As marketers, reaching our customers — and capturing their attention over the long-term — has never been easy. But today, touchpoints happen across devices and disconnects. Crafting a unique experience is hard (as Bruce knows), and customers are choosy.

For an idea of where customer expectations are headed, consider these stats from our newest Connected Shoppers Report:

  • Forty percent of millennials (aged 18-36) say they use voice-enabled digital assistants, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, to research merchandise before buying online.

  • Sixty percent of millennials believe they know more about products than store employees and 43% think robots could replace human store associates.

  • Compared to Baby Boomers, millennials are 2.5x more likely to say personalized offers from retailers in a digital channel (i.e., email, mobile app, website) based on their purchasing history would appeal to them (28% vs. 11%).

For the latest episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, the marketing podcast from Salesforce, I wanted to talk with someone who’s had great success at building a loyal audience as a master podcaster: Jay Acunzo, host of Unthinkable. Jay calls podcasting “intimacy at scale” because of the depth of the relationship between listener and host.

We talked about audience growth through podcasting, resonance vs. reach, and many more relevant topics to any marketer who’s wearing many content creation and audience-building hats.

Listen to a preview of my conversation with Jay:

For the full conversation that's filled with many more insights from Jay, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Here were a few of my favorite takeaways from our conversation.

 

1. Don’t be the marketer with the fanciest gear but no real skills.

 

All the sweet tech stacks in the world can’t compensate for poor marketing strategy. Bright, shiny objects don’t build intimacy. Jay explains: “In marketing, what we tend to do is we act like that guy in your corporate basketball league who waltzes into the gym and is wearing the latest gear. They’ve got the headband, they’ve got the compression sleeves, a protein bar, some smoothie you've never heard of, and the latest Lebron James shoes.”

“And then the game starts and they can't play. And it's like, playing basketball is what basketball is.” Jay continues to explain that, for podcasting, the central critical skill is how you perform on a microphone, and it doesn’t matter how great your audio set-up is.

In marketing, it’s all about crafting something that actually matters to your audience. Avoid the trap of all style and no substance.

 

2. Don’t mistake reach for resonance.

 

Reach is great. But it can be misleading. You might have a message that reaches thousands of screens but lacks any meaningful engagement. That’s a problem. It’s more reminiscent of batch-and-blast marketing than intimacy at scale.

Jay shares, “We're so tempted as marketers to focus on reach. But that’s like a basketball team where everybody just wants to score. Not everything is going to grow reach. Not everything is going to convert A to B. Sometimes you need to create the thing that sets up the thing that sets up the other thing that gets that result. That's a healthy, thriving, successful team.”

Jay-basketball.jpg

 

3. Think “get them to the end.”

 

When you create content, are you thinking about the journey of someone who’s experiencing that content for the first time, or just trying to check off boxes of what you think the content should be? This can be the difference between impersonal marketing at scale and intimacy at scale.

Jay says a common pitfall of marketers is “we fail to look on the inside of the container that is content. But that is where the magic happens. There's this golden rule of audio which is: get them to the end. That's it. As long as you think that in every decision you make (topic, talent, technology, distribution, everything), you will make all the right decisions.”

So whether you’re creating a podcast like Jay, a new video series, a webinar, an email, or an Instagram story, remember “get them to the end” when you reach a strategic fork in the road. What will keep people engaged? There’s your answer.

 

4. Create something worth your audience’s time, or don’t create it at all.

 

We know the importance of permissions in marketing — in other words, don’t spam the Facebook news feed or the email inbox. But this same approach rings true for all marketing efforts. Here’s Jay’s advice for podcasting, which applies to anything you create: “Let the listener know why they should invest their precious resource, which is time, in your episode.”

All content should have a hook that makes it immediately differentiated to your audience and describes why they should spend their time with it. That’s how you truly grow an audience that’s loyal to your brand and grows with you, as you scale.

Jay shares this example from the podcasting world: “If my show is called Science Versus, which is a great show from Gimlet Media, and my episode is organic foods, ‘Oh. This show says science versus. They say that they pit facts against everything else. They're going to pit the facts of the actual science against the trend.’ But now you're thinking, ‘This is how they're different, and I like that idea. I will subscribe over time.’”

Whether it’s an email campaign or a podcast, retaining an audience over time is always the goal. You deliver on that promise by respecting your customers’ time.

Jay offers much more insight in the full episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, including how to sell your boss on a risky but innovative marketing idea. Join the thousands of smart marketers who are Cloudcast subscribers on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or Overcast.