How We Built the Strategy for Our New Flagship Podcast

How We Built the Strategy for Our New Flagship Podcast
How We Built the Strategy for Our New Flagship Podcast

How We Built the Strategy for Our New Flagship Podcast

How We Built the Strategy for Our New Flagship Podcast

You didn't think we'd launch a podcast network without a new HubSpot show, did you?

We're excited to announce our new flagship podcast, The Shake Up, featuring comedian Alexis Gay and Venture Capitalist Brianne Kimmel. It's produced by Senior Producer, Matthew Brown and brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. 

The Shake Up offers business leaders unfiltered insights into companies that dared to be different. Alexis and Brianne talk with business leaders from disruptive companies like Square, Daily Harvest, and Nerdwallet about their investments and go-to-market strategies.

Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, now we're going to tell you how we did it, including:

  1. Our planning process
  2. Building the format of the show
  3. The structure of a successful podcast team

Let's dive in.

Listen to the Shows in HubSpot's Podcast Network Now

How Can We Be Better and Different?

Once we know our business objective, audience, and budget we set out to put together a show concept that will resonate with our audience and help us hit our goals.

To do that, we needed to know what our audience is listening to today.

According to Chartable, there are over 8,334 branded podcasts on Apple Podcasts.

While we couldn't audit all of them (we're only human), we did want to understand the tactics used by the top podcasts in the business category. So, we did an audit.

We evaluated 20 high-performing business podcasts and gained five insights.

  • Male Voices: 87% of the hosts were male.
  • News & Commentary: 18 out of 20 podcasts provided commentary on industry news.
  • Broadcast Communications: Very few shows used audience engagement tactics to connect the audience with the hosts.
  • Business & Academic: The tone of the shows was lackluster and many used jargon.

This audit gave us the context to define our strategy.

How would our show be better and different?

business podcast differentiators

  • Diverse Voices: A commitment to diverse voices across hosts and guests.
  • Research & Stories: Focusing editorially on relevant stories with added depth.
  • Audience Engagement: Featuring our hosts and implementing tactics to engage the audience on social media.
  • Business & Entertainment: We don't have to be boring and unfashionable to talk business.

These became our editorial guidelines for the rest of the show.

Deciding on the Show Format

Next, we set our show format.

There are a few common podcast formats that have the ability to grow an audience.

  • Interview: A show type that brings on an expert guest for a Q&A.
  • Chat Cast: A co-hosted format where hosts provide commentary and criticism on a variety of topics.
  • Debate: A co-hosted format where hosts take one side of the argument. Debating the facts, figures, and opinions on a given topic.
  • Narrative: A journalistic-style podcast that includes research, scripts, and a strong storyline.

After exploring various formats, we went with a hybrid format — Chat Cast + Interview.

Bringing together the energy of a chat cast with the expertise of an interview.

Sample Episode topic: Why Is Every Company Suddenly A Media Company

Segment 1: The Context

In the opening segment, our co-hosts will provide context and talk through some fun facts and stats about the episode topic

Ex.) HubSpot acquired The Hustle

Segment 2: The Debate / Discuss

In this segment, we'll give our hosts a series of questions on the topic and questions we are featuring for some off-the-cuff opinions on both.

Ex.) Should more SaaS companies follow suit? What happens to media companies if all companies are media companies?

Segment 3: The Interview

In this segment, we'll bring on the business leader of the company/topic we are discussing to get the real story behind the decision and the other decisions that have made them successful.

Ex.) Kipp Bodnar about the Hustle Acquisition

Finally, we had to figure out how we were going to make this thing.  

Your Podcast Team

To build a high-quality podcast, you need to invest in a team.

There are countless things that need to happen in the making of a show. We have broken down those responsibilities into eight core roles, but there are often teams of much more, and there are also teams of much less who are doing 3-4 jobs each:

  1. Executive Producer — The showrunner. Head of operations, creates a vision for the overall show, leads pre-production through post-production, and manages the staff and logistics.
  2. Senior Producer — Establishes content and narrative arc for each episode, writes and edits the scripts, coaches the host, manages the production calendar, research, prep; as well as produce interviews, tape edits, and does preliminary sound design.
  3. Producer — Booking, research, interview prep, transcriptions, edits tape, creates outlines, and works on scripts.
  4. Editor — Oversees the development of story ideas and gives critical feedback on story frameworks and scripts.
  5. Host — Storyteller who shapes the show through their editorial decisions and personality. They prepare for interviews and write / edit scripts.
  6. Managing Producer —New podcast development and builds management processes/paths necessary for a successful program.
  7. Engineer —The first and final stop in the production process. Creates the soundscape for the show by editing and mastering audio to create a seamless listening experience.
  8. Editorial Director — Shapes the vision and leads all planning and execution for podcasts. Drives the creative conception from ideation to execution. Collaborates with company leaders on distribution.

This list does not include the folks involved outside of podcast creation, including the creative team involved with making promotional assets, the person responsible for the communication plan of the show, and more.

Another layer of difficulty here is the decision of whether to build a team in-house or search for a podcast production agency that can fill these roles for you.

Resourcing was one of the biggest challenges in the creation of The Shake Up. We'll let you behind the scenes on some of our decisions:

  1. Internal or external talent for hosts: A host will make or break a podcast. Simple as that. They can either draw an audience in or push them away. We had a very specific vision for the hosts of our show and for that reason, we chose to lead an external search for talent. We chose Alexis and Brianne because of their combination of dynamism and experience, among other things.
  2. Hire a sound engineer or bring in an agency: Engineers perfect the sound of your show. Because of the quality of sound we wanted for this show, we decided to bring in an agency because of the heavy expertise of their team and the resources they have for the job.

We were also lucky enough to have a Senior Producer, Matthew Brown, on staff, who has won awards for previous shows like The Growth Show.

So if you're looking to invest in a team to create podcasts, use this list as a starting point to gain an understanding of the different moving parts, and carefully consider the decision of hiring for these roles, or bringing in some external help.

But the list is just a starting point, and if there's anything that we can recommend about podcast creation, it's the quote from Lao Tzu, “There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.” And your opponent, in this case, is the amount of work involved in creating a show.

Invest in the resources to do it right, and understand that it takes a village.

What Are You Waiting For?

Podcasts aren't a new medium, but they are having a moment.

  • Spotify has heavily invested in the podcast portion of their platform, striking exclusive deals with podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, and designing a total rehaul of the podcast UI.
  • Statista predicts the industry will have a CAGR of 17%, reaching 164 million listeners in the US by 2023.
  • Apple, not to be outdone, is making a bet on podcast subscriptions.

Will podcast marketing become as standard as content marketing? Will having a podcast become as ubiquitous as having a blog?

Time will tell, but it's clear that this is the “wave” that many podcasters predicted.

At HubSpot, we have chosen to invest heavily in media going forward, and podcasts are a large part of that strategy. The HubSpot Podcast Network and The Shake Up are the first parts of that.

If, after reading this, you choose to invest in building one, here is a checklist you should follow:

  1. Define your audience and their problem.
  2. Decide if a podcast is a good medium to provide a solution to that problem.
  3. Audit the podcasts in your target space, figure out how you can be better and different.
  4. Propose the theme and format of your show.
  5. Build a podcast team: host, producer, sound engineer.
  6. You're off to the races.

We are incredibly proud of the hard work that went into launching The Shake Up. Listen to it here on your favorite podcast platform.

hubspot podcast network

Maggi Pier

Maggi Pier

Avid gardener, artist, writer, web designer, video creator, and Google my Business local marketing pro!