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Things are always changing, and this is especially true in content marketing. Podcast content strategy is still wide open to get your brand, message, or business out there. If you're in this field, you'd be aware that the internet runs on content. With regards to lead generation and attracting the right traffic with SEO savvy, the rules change often.

Add to this a bewildering array of potential channels for content, it's no wonder that navigating this terrain can seem difficult. With so many bright shiny objects everywhere, many of us lose our way.

I. A Podcast Content Strategy Avoids Digital Sharecropping

We've seen exhausted clients pour all of their efforts into “rented” social media platforms, posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium, Twitter, YouTube and other channels. To them, it seems like they are doing the right thing. They gravitate to where they feel their audiences' attention is.

Nothing seems wrong with that. But often there is a lack of underlying strategy. More on that in a minute.

Digital sharecropping
Digital Sharecropping – building you online presence on platforms you don't own

Meanwhile, our clients' website's content often lies neglected. It is no longer at the center of their efforts or content they publish. For most clients, social media seems so much easier than blogging. The occasional viral attention gained appears more attractive than building a body of authority content – a convenient and sexy shortcut.

The issue is that social media content has a limited life span. It disappears up Facebook's or Twitter's timeline. Thus it serves no real purpose in growing a website, domain authority and SERP rank. The social posts need to refer to and drive traffic and engagement back to the central website.

The social networks fight this tooth and nail, they want ALL engagement to take place on their own platforms.

So what's the solution?

I won't pretend to have all the answers, but in the last couple of years we have discovered a self-generating content strategy that seems to works well for the “content marketing” challenged: Podcasting as a Content Strategy.

This might surprise you, or you may think of it as another content fad; but hang on for a minute and allow me to explain the often surprising benefits.

II. Podcasting is a Self Generating Content Strategy

Instead of laboring over creating blog content, our clients interview other people in their field. They love doing it, it’s fun, energizing and not as time consuming as blogging. They jump on a Skype call, hit the record button and discuss a topic they and their guest find energizing, and voilà: original content.

I’m not saying it’s easy or less work, but it’s a less intense effort for clients. They focus on recording a meaningful conversation, and we, as their podcasting partner, take care of the rest. For example, we use a transcription service and edit these conversations, and have an almost instant 5,000+ word article. We then apply both technical and other SEO optimizations – in fact the topics and episode titles are based on SEO research and low competition key phrases in the first place.

Podcasting can serve as the missing center for a multi channel strategy

Once a podcast is recorded, the show notes become the central business asset from which all multi-channel and social media efforts emanate. So yes, we still do “traditional” social media content distribution campaigns to share and boost the podcast show-notes. But that’s only the beginning.

Podcast content strategy as a multi channel approach
Podcast Content Strategy as Multi Channel Content Distribution

We often produce videos from our podcast episodes. There are some automation tools that help us. These transform audio into video. Later, we publish these episodes on YouTube, DailyMotion and other social video channels.

For an example of this audio video combo, check out our episode about "Podcast Guesting".

And for a completely automated tool that converts audio into video, check out a tool called “Headliner”. It produces audiograms and even adds relevant images and slides to the videos. In our previous post, Podcast Audiogram Alternatives For Promotion and Visual Storytelling, we are excited to show how we now use the Invideo platform as our video platform of choice.

Social Content Platform Syndication:

We syndicate the content to platforms with existing engaged audiences and built-in internal search engines, for example Medium, Blogger, Facebook Stories or LinkedIn.

Snackable Videos:

Michael Seltzner’s “Social Media Examiner” team recently cancelled 3 Facebook video shows. He moved them from Facebook to YouTube. Why? Because the data shows that videos longer than 1-2 minutes penalize your Facebook page rank. So when publishing video to Facebook, the idea is to take 15-45 seconds from the podcast video episode and publish it as “teaser content“ with subtitles. I’m still working on automating this part of the process.

Syndication And Content Distribution Automation:

We use a smart and affordable content syndication and distribution platform from a Belgian company called StoryChief. The reason I like it so much is that it can publish natively to multiple platforms (like WordPress, Drupal etc.), and supports podcast player embeds.

What’s smart about it is their use “rel=canonical” tags. You get to decide where your primary content should live. For those unfamiliar with this tag, it lets search engine indexing bots know where to apply the SERP rank credit and link juice. This way, your podcast show notes will rank pointing to your site, NOT to Medium or other platforms.

Podcast directories RSS syndication:

Promoting a podcast requires submission to dozens of podcast directories. These directories will automatically link to each published episode and your primary website. This results in a valuable SEO benefit, namely, links from high domain authority sites.

III. Podcasting as SEO Cornerstones

A lot of podcasts tackle content themes. In podcast parlance, these can be thought of as "Seasons". For example on an SEO podcast, you might focus on "Technical SEO" in Season 1, and "Link Building Techniques" in Season 2.

This is the genesis of a cornerstone strategy. You cross link this content to other important long form content pieces on your site. Such content will naturally rank higher because of the relevance of all participating articles. Furthermore, we have seen this content rank very quickly.

Podcast Guesting as a Lead Generation & SEO Link Building Initiatives

For people not interested in launching their own podcast, “Podcast Guesting” is an alternative. It results in effective link building, lead generation and launch strategy for any business. For example, this method has become a very popular book launch technique. The idea is that you find relevant podcasts in your niche and then run an outreach campaign to approach the hosts of these podcasts to invite you on as a guest.

Benefit: Intimacy With Your Ideal Audience

The first set of big benefits include getting to talk to your ideal and relevant audience when they are in a receptive mode. Think about what people are doing when listening to their favorite podcast, the one you are appearing on. They are likely commuting, working out, going for a walk. The modality is very different from interrupting an audience in the middle of browsing through their Facebook feed.

This is why Podcast Listeners are such a lucrative audience. And you get to present your core ideas to them.

Benefit: SEO Back-Links

The second big benefit is SEO related. Each podcast you appear on will create show notes that feature highly valuable back-links to your site and product or launch. SEO agencies charge a lot for high Domain Authority back-links. And the link building process can be onerous.

You can automate the outreach campaigns, or you can hire agencies to do this for you. We have a free downloadable podcast guesting outreach automation system for this, including outreach email templates and mail merge tools. To learn more how these campaigns can be automated for free, check out our podcast guesting system and templates.

Podcasting Benefits Summary

Our clients love having a podcast. It helps them re-connect with content as their own business asset. “Having a show” re-introduces a strategic purpose and promotes content discipline. Our clients keep on a weekly schedule much more easily than when they were just “blogging”.

The ROI behind podcasting as a content strategy

The ROI is in lead generation and list building and SEO. A year into their podcasting journey, most our clients with medium sized shows get 65% of their traffic and leads from organic search and podcast listeners. These are for keywords they would otherwise have to pay $1,000's a month for on Google AdWords.

In this season we have occasionally touched up our own podcast workflow. For those of you who follow us, you realize that we often talk about "podcasting as a content strategy". So as we approach the end of season 1 of our Podcast Growth Show, I thought it was time to zoom out for a big picture episode.

Basically, this episode is our blueprint to go from podcast content strategy to execution.

Podcast Workflow Overview

Here is how to listen to this episode on the web:

From Podcasting Strategy to Execution Blueprint

From Podcasting Strategy to Execution
From Podcasting Strategy to Execution Blueprint, Click for expanded detail

So I'd like to reveal our overall podcast workflow, all the way from strategy to execution. And in this episode I'll reveal all our little secret tips, tricks, tools and gear we use to save massive amount of time along the way.

Strategy Segment

For both new and existing podcasts, it is good to start with the end in mind, to have clarity about your audience, as well as confidence that the value proposition for your listeners, as well as the reason why you are doing a podcast is clear.

Planning Segment

A lot of people just want to get started and hit the record button already. But unless you already have a dozen or so episodes under your belt, you will discover that there is a lot of planning involved. Especially if podcasting as content strategy is something even remotely on your horizon. I talk to new podcasters all the time, and some get lost in the planning stage. Let's discover how having a planning framework helps us retain clarity.

Execution Segment

I'd like to go into how we approach podcast production ourselves. This is only one of many possible ways, and in no way am I suggesting you should adopt our methods. There is a lot involved, and it can sound scary. We tolerate an amount of complexity because it produces results for us. And complexity doesn't mean things can't be automated, simplified or even outsourced. Both complexity and simplicity can co-exist. For us, it's the results that count.

Promotion Segment

This entire season has been about how to promote a podcast. So we may already have covered some of the methods we use to promote each episode. I'll keep that segment short.

Season Strategy

Podcast seasons can help organize our podcast workflow
Podcast seasons can help organize our podcast content strategy

We like the concept of seasons, as it provides some amount of flexibility when thinking about the overall goals for your podcast as business content strategy.

Advantage of Seasons

Do we have a solo show or an interview based show? Do we have a co-host? Does our podcast have a theme? Would we like to try a different episode structure? Are we afraid your audience is getting bored with our content? What if we want to change up? Or are we suffering from "podfading" and just plain tired and need a break?

All of these can be addressed by organizing our podcast into separate seasons:

  • They allow us to take a sabbatical from your own show if we need a break
  • They enable us to develop focused themes for each season
  • We can switch the format of the show, including who is hosting, guesting or if it's a solo show
  • And all of that with no surprises for our listeners, as we announce the end of the current or start of the next seasons
  • Each season is a good excuse for a podcast re-launch and much needed promotional activities

Value Proposition Design

I know a lot of podcasters who just barrel on producing episode after episode without ever pausing, re-thinking, changing direction or taking stock. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the audience is with us on this.

Other podcasters plan each season carefully, and conceptualize exactly what they want to cover, who their guests will be, and most importantly what experience they want to create for their audience. Either way:

Periodically revisiting the value proposition of our podcast is an excellent habit.

But just how we do that? We have developed a process for developing a podcast's branding and value proposition. This Value Proposition Design (VPD) process is driven by over a hundred trigger questions designed to achieve clarity about our audience. To be more specific, clarity about what our listening audience is experiencing, what problems we help them solve or wrestle with, and what goals and transformation we help them achieve.

Not only that, there are also over 100 trigger questions to get us to think about how well our podcast topics match up to our audience desires, needs, tasks and expectations.

We have online forms for these trigger questions, and the answers we produce during this process are worth their weight in gold: They become a rich source of podcast themes, episode topics, SEO keywords, episode titles.

Think of your podcast as a product – with a market fit

This clarity is what you can when going through the VPD process.

Focus on Overall Goals

It is also important to keep focused on our podcast goals, and to periodically revisit these.

Perhaps we started out just wanting to have fun and get our message out to the world, but now we are finding ourselves wanting to build a list, or speak on stages, or to use your podcast as a vehicle to help promote a book. These are significant shifts in goals, and require significant adjustments to the way we utilize and market our podcast.

Strategy Planning Session 3 Month

Of course none of this has to do with the week to week podcast workflow of producing episodes in the middle of a season.

I'm just pointing all of this out as an important baseline activity that we try to do every 3 months or so. And to point out 3 things:

  1. If you are about to launch a podcast, take the time to go through the VPD process to achieve clarity and a product market fit for your show
  2. If you already started to podcast without any of this in mind, it's not too late to start and revisit once in a while
  3. If you have a podcast based on seasons, revisit your goals and value proposition for each seasons

Podcast Episode SEO Research

SEO for Podcasts

Why do we do SEO research for something audio based?

SEO = Developing A Business Asset With Positive ROI

Our own podcast website gets 65% of subscribers from SEO search. 50% of my new clients come from search. Our podcast is less than 2 months old at the time of this recording, and has yielded 4 new clients and many more prospects. Not from iTunes discoverability, not referrals. So our entire podcast workflow is based on solid SEO research.

You may think that this is all overkill. And again, I will point out that this is just the process we follow because it works for us and our results speak for themselves. BTW, we have a whole course on podcast SEO.

For Our Podcast, 80% Planning and 20% Execution is Normal

Topical Research

So the assumption is that we do have clarity about our goals and value proposition for the audience. At this point, we want to identify potential SEO opportunities and turn these into topics for our season long episode plan.

The goal is to be able to rank for our show notes pages.

And there are 2 important pitfalls that we avoid by doing some quick SEO research:

  1. If we target impossibly difficult keywords, we will never rank on page one in Google, and thus we will never get search result traffic or new listeners
  2. If we target obscure keywords that no one ever searches for, we may rank on page one of the search results, but no one will ever visit our podcast from that.

SEO Keyword Opportunities

I myself may have a bit of an unfair advantage, because Polymash started life in part as an SEO agency. So we have access to some enterprise level SEO tools.

But the good news for podcasters is that there are affordable and even free tools out there to do the same thing.

So here is a quick demo (at 13:50 ) of how we identify high opportunity keywords using Mangool's SEO suite, particularly the KWFinder utility. This is a central part of our podcast workflow, and KWFinder is by far my favorite and simple to use SEO keyword research tool. We have coached a ton of podcasters to use it to good effect.

Disclosure: This free sign up is an affiliate link

It gets better: This keyword research tool is only on part of an entire SEO suite to quickly add the following capabilities to your podcast planning:

  • KWFinder: Our favorite keyword research utility for podcasters.
  • SERP Watcher: Allows us to track progress as you start ranking for your desired keywords
  • SERP Checker: Provides deep insights into Google search results, and allows us to judge which keywords to target and which to stay away from

Converting Podcast SEO Keywords into Episode Ideas

So in the podcast workflow, once we have identified a list of keywords with potential, it is time to take these keywords and base our episode plan on these.

In our Google Sheets planning template we have developed a formula to address the following SEO issue:

Each site has something called Domain Authority and Alexa Rank, which indicates how likely the site's content will rank on Google. This means every site needs to target keywords that are commensurate with their Domain Authority and Alexa Rank.

For old, established and popular sites it is easier to rank for more difficult keywords.

But new site owners with low DA and Alexa rank need to choose key-phrases they can actually rank for.

The formula we have developed matches the domain authority of any site with the keyword difficulty to target on KW Finder. This is all about prioritizing high opportunity topics, from high opportunity keywords.

Google Sheets to Organize Output

We have developed a Google Sheets template to help map this out.

Episode Topic Identification

Identifying topics for each podcast season
Identifying topics for each podcast season

Here is the process we follow to identify episode themes and topics based on our Podcast SEO research.

SEO Based Topics

As I mentioned earlier, we base our podcast episodes on our prior SEO research. By the time we are mid-season, we usually have a range of potential topics for a season to choose from, and hundreds of potential SEO keywords to choose from as well.

Initial Titles

Initially we develop working titles for each episode before we even incorporate relevant SEO keywords from our list. But at some point it is important to design episode titles with relevant keywords that fits the topic, and that are commensurate with the ranking power of our site as well.

Episode Title Optimization

The exact wording of our episode titles is more important than many podcasters realize. You can have a great episode, but if the title is not compelling, click worthy, interesting or thought provoking, people will never click through.

Sure, your existing subscribers may listen. But this is about attracting new listeners and subscribers. Just think about where your episode titles appear, and what role they play in your podcast workflow and the way people consume podcasts.

  • People may see your episode title on their iPhone or listening device of choice. Will they be interested enough to tap and listen?
  • People may come across your show notes and episodes as a result of a Google search. But will your episode title be compelling enough for them click through?
  • Your episodes titles may appear on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Will it arouse people's curiosity?

So what makes a click-worthy episode title?

CoSchedule Headline Optimizer

There are a bunch of tools out there that help, for example the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule is a well know the social media scheduling platform we use, and they have developed a wonderful tool for designing highly converting titles for blog posts as well as for podcast episodes.

The tool is free, and you can try it out here. Their recommendations are based on a ton of research, word usage and title patterns proven to be successful on social media. Their algorithm checks for the presence of unusual words, power words, emotional words and the structure and length of each title.

Of course, fair warning: Don't become a slave to such a tool.

Making Title Optimization Part of our Podcast Workflow

But my point is more about following this thinking process and formulating a range of potential titles. I guarantee you this: If you formulate only a single title for each episode, it will never be as good as if you formulate 7+ titles to choose from. So it is making this discipline part of our podcast workflow that makes all the difference.

Google Sheets to Organize Output

For us to stay organized and to collaborate on SEO research as well as podcast topic and title planning, we again use our trusty Google sheet template to stay organized.

Episode Recording Preparation

Episode Recording And Script Preparation
Episode Recording And Script Preparation

OK so we've finally gotten closer to actually recording an episode.

Pre Recording Notes

Our own podcast's current season is a solo recording effort.

Using StoryChief For Script Development Ahead Of Time

If you've listened to our previous episode "How To: Easy Podcast Distribution And Content Syndication [S1E08]", you would have learned about the StoryChief app we use to distribute our show notes to more than 16+ platforms.

Podcast Syndication With StoryChief

But we also use StoryChief to develop our solo episode scripts. This saves us a lot of time later, after the recording process. And because this season is video based, the podcast workflow to incorporate video is by nature a bit harder.

If you are interested in giving StoryChief a try, they offer a free account:

Our podcast workflow utilizes Story Chief
Disclosure: This free sign up is an affiliate link, if you choose to upgrade the account later

Beyond this it's 5 stories for 10$/month, 10 stories for 20$/month, 15 for 30, 20 for 40, 25 for 50 up until 30 for 60$; and 20% discount if you pay yearly.

Episode Specific Template Google Docs

Google docs are great for collaboration with clients, and we have designed our template to work for preparing, ID3 tagging, and creating show notes.

Episode Metadata

Our episode preparation template on Google docs that works for solo, interview or co-host driven formats. We also use this for our own podcast, but that is for capturing titles, descriptions, video metadata, ID3 tag information, embed codes for the episodes once everything is done.

Episode Video Data

This season combines an audio podcast with a video tutorials, demos and more. Because we cross publish each episode to our YouTube Channel as well, it is important to formulate the YouTube tags, description and links for each episode, and again our template allows for this.

Our Podcast Workflow Process for Video + Audio Recording

Podcast production workflow containing audio as well as video
Podcast production workflow containing audio as well as video

Finally, after all this planning, we are ready to record something.

ScreenFlow Video Templates For Youtube Channels

I use a somewhat unusual setup for podcast + video recording. You may have heard of desktop screen recorders like Techsmith's Camtasia and Telestream ScreenFlow? These are screen recorders that also use your webcam. Many people use them for creating courseware or evergreen webinar content. We've used both extensively here at Polymash. But for our podcast workflow a clear winner emerged:

ScreenFlow launched an innovation this year that I had been looking for a long time.

It automates the production process with the ability to configure recording templates. These templates then place your video into a template with a pre-existing intro, outro, lower thirds, resizing and repositioning the webcam image as a picture in picture on the screen.

ScreenFlow templates save us an amazing amount of time for our YouTube channel

If you click play on the video above, you can see the effect. After the initial setup of my YouTube channel, I do nothing more to produce these videos, other than to press the record button. Clever, no?

If you are relatively new to podcast, and video is not something you are considerding right off the bat, here is our review of several new and highly innovative podcast recording software

TelePrompter Secrets

You might also have noticed that in my opening sequences I talk directly to the camera. Hopefully I come across as fluent in these videos, but what you may not realize is that I'm assisted by a mini teleprompter attached to my webcam.

  • My scripts live on an iPad on my desk, which I can speed up or slow down as I record. It's a strictly one man operation.
  • The actual teleprompting screen is driven by my iPhone, and all of this allows me to look directly into the camera as I record my episodes.

If you are curious about this setup, below is an (affiliate) link to this amazingly small and affordable teleprompting device.

Meet our unique mini teleprompter

Big part of our podcast workflow: The ability to record smooth video
Big part of our podcast workflow: The ability to record smooth video

We use a compact, versatile, and easy to use teleprompter that helps us quickly deliver polished show notes to our listeners.  Until now, teleprompters have been clunky, expensive, and difficult to operate–and many required film studios or a production team.  This teleprompter changes all of that.  

It’s a simple tool that helps us nail smooth delivery using just a smartphone and our desktop computer, DSLR, or webcam.

Our video production workflow is so much easier using a mini teleprompter
Our video production workflow is so much easier using a mini teleprompter

Podcast Quality Audio While Recording Video

One issue with doing a video podcast, especially one where one stands or moves around, is audio quality.

While sitting I can use my microphone and arm easily, but if I'm standing or moving around I like to use a wireless mic. This is also true for general video production or conducting on-camera interviews. I really did a lot of research before investing in this piece of kit.

What we use is what I feel is the most affordable and yet high quality pair of wireless lavalier microphones on the market. I think the quality is as good as the famous Sennheisers, but the price is 1/2. The system is called the COMICA CVM-WM300(A). There is also an optional interview mic to take this setup on the road and conduct amazing mobile podcasts and or video interviews.

Again, if you'd like to check it out, below is an (affiliate) link.

Lavalier systems can be useful add ons to podcast and video recording workflows
Lavalier systems can be useful add ons to podcast and video recording workflows

Live Audio through Loopback and Audio Hijack

We produce our client podcasts using a professional audio editing platform called Adobe Audition.

One of my favorite things is when podcast clients comment on how amazing they sound on the podcasts we produce for them.

This is in part because as a former audio engineer and record producer I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get that professional "broadcast" sound. (Let me know in the comments if I should do a special episode on that, happy to share!)

But it is also because Adobe Audition comes with some professional and sophisticated tools to help us shape a warm and inviting sound profile for each podcast host of guest.

So far, so good. But when recording video as well as an audio podcast, things become more complicated. And time consuming.

We would have to extract the audio tracks from video to import them into Adobe Audition to achieve the same custom broadcast ready sound, and then re-import them into the video. Too much work…

Luckily, I'm both lazy and smart:

Loopback interface for routing audio on my desktop
Loopback interface for routing audio on my desktop

So we've come up with a shortcut to get broadcast quality video sound, using 2 apps by a company called Rogue Amoeba:

  1. Loopback to create virtual audio devices to take the sound from apps and audio input devices, then pass it to any audio processing software.
  2. Audio Hijack, which functions like a real-time, virtual mixing console with EQ, compression and noise gating built in.

These 2 apps allow me to apply sound profiles in real time. Ordinarily this is done with a mixing console or in post-production, but this happens live. So the final video has that "broadcast" ready sound as it is being recorded.

Our Audio Hijack setup to produce real time optimized audio
Our Audio Hijack setup to produce real time optimized audio

The other advantage is that I can create profiles to attempt to make my lavaliers sound the same or similar to my Heil PR40 mic. (I can hear audiophiles groaning now). But at least I can get similar sound quality.

Audio Extraction and .mp3 Files From Video

Our podcast workflow includes several conversion tasks
Our podcast workflow includes several conversion tasks

So now that we have the video portion of our podcast recorded, it's time to extract the audio from the video and to export and upload it to our podcasts' .mp3 file

Video to Audio Conversion

We use the Wondershare Video Converter app to extract a high quality audio file from the video.

Loudness Standards, Noise Removal, Voice Leveling

A swiss company called Auphonic has developed a brilliant set of audio automation tools every podcaster should check out. We use Auphonic desktop app to automate the following steps:

  1. Establish a noise profile
  2. Applying Noise reduction from that noise profile
  3. Speech Volume Leveling
  4. Industry standard loudness standards for broadcast ready files at -16LUF
  5. Export to .mp3 formatted output file

This automation saves us at least 20 minutes per episode.

Audio Export to Libsyn

So now we finally have the .mp3 file to upload and release on our podcast hosting software Libsyn. First we apply the episodes title, descriptions and other podcast metadata to the .mp3 file. Then we upload to Libsyn and schedule the episode to go live at the desired time.

Video Export to YouTube

Remember we are using Screenflow to record our video content. It has the built in ability to export each video to our Youtube channel, including custom thumbnails, tags, descriptions and links. So the video portion of our podcast was already uploaded and scheduled on YouTube in a previous step.

Multi Channel Show Notes Syndication

Sign Up For Free, Disclosure: The above affiliate link, if you choose to upgrade the account later
Sign Up For Free, Disclosure: The above affiliate link, if you choose to upgrade the account later

I will keep this short, since syndication and distribution of show notes was the topic of an entire episode, episode 8. Suffice it to say this:

A critical step in our podcast workflow is to distribute and syndicate our show notes to as many platforms as possible.

After all, our podcast's audio files are being syndicated to be available in iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play.

Content syndication with StoryChief is to show notes what RSS feeds are to your podcast audio.

Finalize Episode Show Notes on StoryChief

Because we prepare our episode scripts in StoryChief, by the time we record our episode the show notes are 90% written already.

Embed YouTube Video Player

So all that's left is to embed the episode video into StoryChief.

Embed Libsyn Audio Player

We love StoryChief as a content syndication in part because it is podcast ready. We easily embed the Libsyn player widget into our episode to allow site visitors to choose their modality: Read, Listen or Watch.

Embed Lead Generation Widgets

Another reason we love StoryChief is that it allows for embedding various lead generation and email capture widgets. So if our episode has a "Lead Magnet" like a bonus guide, mind-map or check-list, we embedding it right in the StoryChief show notes.

Publish to 16+ Channels

At the end of the day, our show notes are scheduled to go live and to trickle out to an ever growing list of platforms, communities and blogs and "Ambassador Networks"

1/2 Year Evergreen Social Boost Campaign

Saving time in our podcast workflow involves creating evergreen social campaigns
Saving time in our podcast workflow involves creating evergreen social campaigns

In an upcoming episode I am planning to go into detail about how we create a 1/2 year long automated campaign to promote each episode on social media. Over the years we have tried and used a ton of different platforms for this.

The one I think is most innovative is called CoSchedule. It allows us to design a social campaign on autopilot.

I am lazy, but engagement cannot be automated

I answer every RT, question or DM related to our podcast episodes. But that does not mean I want to spend a lot of time on social media crafting individual tweets and social shares for our episodes.

CoSchedule has a clever automation concept called "social helpers". These are content snippets that help to produce a varied social feed, with different hashtags, images, messages. It shares our episode show notes content, but does not repeat the same tweet or image all the time.

Again, it's the sort of one time up-front effort that takes some time to set up initially, but then saves a ton of time for each episode. If you are interested in seeing this in more detail, let me know in the comments.

Conclusion

Again – this episode was just the process we follow because it is producing results for us. I do not recommend it to everyone, and the fact that we are producing video alongside the audio portion complicates things a bit.

If you are a new podcaster or a business considering podcasting as a content strategy, you may well think all of this is overkill.

But keep in mind that the lion share of the work goes into the initial planning, the setting up of templates and designing and implementing the various automation steps. And this is a one time only effort. And the routine production can be done by other people.

If you'd like to chat and explore possibilities for your own podcast workflow, feel free to book a time with me.

Part 2 of 2

This is the second post in a series about Value Proposition Design and focuses on a technique to build a digital strategy roadmap using the VPD methodology. The series covers what Value Proposition Design is, what its benefits are and how it fits into a larger Digital Strategy. Click here for part 1. Also, stay tuned for our updated Digital Strategy Resources Guide.

About This Series

Value Proposition Design Flying lensIn my previous post in this series about Value Proposition Design, we covered the high-level benefits of VPD as a design thinking process. In addition to its inherent benefits, it can help establish a common language that connects 10,000-foot level thinkers with their more detail oriented counterparts, be it employees or service providers.

If you missed the previous post, you might like to check out Value Proposition Design – “Just Do Me Up One Of These”.

What You Will Get Out Of Reading This Post

In this post, I will go into how we use the Value Proposition Design process in a slightly unorthodox way. The goal is to create an actionable digital strategy roadmap and project plans, even for solopreneurs and small business owners.

Benefits of using VPD as a starting point in this way are many:

  • Better web design and site content
  • Better SEO and link building approach
  • Better Engagement for blog and social media posts
  • Increased e-Mail list sign up rates
  • Better converting lead magnets
  • Inbound Marketing Readiness
  • More compelling marketing language
  • Clarity about what analytics to measure
  • Clarity around UX goals
  • More representative UX design processes

So if you are interested in these outcomes, read on!

Origins of Value Proposition Design

So where did Value Proposition Design come from? Many of our readers who are into the start-up scene will have heard of the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and lean start-up template for developing new, or documenting existing, business models. It is one of the better known “lean” start-up processes. (Wikipedia and YouTube references).

Digital strategy roadmaps are not just for start-upsHave you and your business ever looked for partners or investors?

You may not be going in front of Shark Tank, but creating a pitch for potential partners or investors in your business or non-profit happens more often than one might think.

The Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Design processes allow you to communicate and test the ins and outs of your business model. For a good overview of the canvas, check out this Business Model Canvas post on Floship. Some start-ups use it to build their “Shark Tank Ready” pitch to investors covering all the bases in terms of customer segments, product market fit, financials, etc. But it is also a terrific process to test out the viability of new product and business ideas. And we use it in a unique way to feed into our digital strategy roadmap process.

“Do you produce products and services customers actually want? “

Value Proposition Design BookValue Proposition Design (VPD) was authored by Alex Osterwalder and his team at Strategyzer.com, and has emerged as a subset of the Business Model Canvas. It focuses specifically on understanding customer segments and product-market fit of your products and services. The clear value proposition definitions that emerge from a VPD exercise are extremely useful, regardless of where in your business life-cycle you currently are.

As I touched upon in my previous post, we often find that many of our clients benefit hugely from creating clear value proposition statements around their products and services. Often these have not been formally established and can be used to connect their various marketing activities and projects in a strategic and holistic way.

How We Use VPD Design Thinking To Impact Small and Large Businesses

Digital Strategy Roadmap Design PrimerI should note that we at Polymash use VPD in a slightly unorthodox way: We do not necessarily create fully fledged Shark Tank ready business plans and pitch decks for investors.

More often we use the initial stages of the VPD process to feed into our own Digital Strategy Design methodology, which creates actionable plans across multiple dimensions of a digital strategy roadmap.

And we do not focus only on supporting start-ups but have found ways to help businesses of any size, including solopreneurs, small businesses, and corporates. To see why this works so well for us, read on.

In short, we call this process “inbound design“, the intentional design patterns and practices that more easily allow you and your business to be customer-centric, and as a result to attract, convert, close and delight your audience and turn them into customers.

Appreciative Inquiry is Asset Based ThinkingAnother point of differentiation is that we start by focusing on existing assets, rather than on deficits. Starting with what already works well and can be built upon is a more energizing experience for clients to work on, rather than on solely zooming in on gaps that exist. The “Strength-Based Approach” we use is based on applying “Appreciative Inquiry” methodology. It creates a more collaborative and blame-free environment, with people more willingly contributing and implementing changes, all the while feeling like they are co-creating their own digital future presence.

How Does A VPD Workshop Function, And Who Should Attend?

Value Proposition Design Workshop as part of building a clients digital strategy roadmapIt is best to invite a facilitator familiar with the VPD process run the workshop. As far as attendees, we think that 3-25 stakeholders are a good size, depending on the size and complexity of the business or product set being worked on.

It is, of course, a good idea to get diverse representation from inside the business. Business owners or C-level execs, product management, marketing, operations, and sales should all be represented. For small businesses, the owners and supporters that know the business intimately can suffice.

But getting input from actual clients representing different customer segments is valuable. For example, if you were developing an educational product or business it would be great to have representation from students, teachers as well as parents.

VPD workshops can be conducted in a single day or spread out into smaller sessions in multiple days, but it will be difficult to be productive in just a few hours. Building a digital strategy is a strategic effort, and we recommend doing at least 2 sessions, usually on separate days.

  • Session One focuses on customer profiles, value maps and product marketing fit. It produces “Value Proposition Statements” as an end of session deliverable.
  • Session Two can have fewer attendees who focus on project planning as part of a larger digital strategy roadmap. This is achieved by feeding the VPD statements into each relevant dimension on our Digital Strategy CCC Process.

Suggested Workshop Sessions & Workflow

Session One

  • Identify Customer Segments to Work On
  • Use Sticky Notes and Dotmocracy to document ideas
  • Post-It App to digitize
  • Focus on Customer Profile First
  • Focus on Value Map Second
  • Produce Value Proposition Statements

Session Two

  • Recap Session One
  • Evaluate Potential Fits
  • Focus on Most Compelling VPD Statements
  • Digital Strategy Roadmap Design (CCC Process)
  • Follow Up Task and Project Plan

Workshop Trigger Questions

Example Trigger Questions for "Customer Jobs To Be Done" courtesy of Strategyzer.com

Example Trigger Questions, courtesy of Strategyzer.com

To stimulate thinking during the workshop, the VPD process provides a series of trigger questions that lead participants to consider aspects they may not have thought of before.

  • “Jobs to Be Done” trigger questions explore key jobs customers do, as well as contexts and even emotional states in which they operate.
  • “Pains” trigger questions focus on pains customers may experience in their daily lives, in terms of money, time, effort and frustrations they may encounter.
  • “Gains” trigger questions explore potential gains, in terms how saving time, cost, effort or increased quality can delight customers and lead them to achieve their aspirations.

Trigger questions are also used to explore your current of future products and services, and how well these products and services address gains or pains of each customer segment.

Customer Profile Trigger Questions

  • Customer Jobs
  • Customer Pains
  • Customer Gains

Value Map Trigger Questions

  • Pain Relievers
  • Gain Creators

Sticky Notes and Dotmocracy

VPD results for a client building a digital strategy roadmap with our processDepending on the number of people in the room, the activities can be split into sub-groups, each working a separate customer profile or product profile for example.

We use whiteboards with large VPD diagrams to work on and place sticky notes with participant ideas to record all ideas.

The sticky notes can be prioritized and sorted in a number of ways. We are fond of “Dotmocracy” sorting, where every participant gets 10 small “dot” stickers they can vote with by placing a dot on the ideas they like best.


PostItPlus App used to create a digital strategy roadmapSide Note Alert:
There is a terrific way to capture and digitize these sticky notes along the way:

One of my favorite apps in this process is “Post-It Plus App”, which takes a photo of the entire whiteboard and produces digital “sticky note” square images that can be assembled and used to create great looking workshop documentation and client reports after the session.

Click here for a video of this in action…

Value Proposition Statements

Example of a Value Proposition Statement, part of a digital strategy roadmap

Example VPD Statement

“Value Proposition Statements” are a quick but formalized way of describing how your products solve problems or create gains for each of your customer segments.

One has to experience the entire process to see how amazingly concise and nuanced the VPD can be for each customer segment. The format to follow is illustrated in the example to the right, taken from a recent educational website we are building for a client.

Finding “Fit”

Here you discover what sort of fit exists between your products and the needs of each market segment you have defined. In his VPD book Alex Osterwalder differentiates between three types of potential fit:

On Paper: Problem Solution Fit
This occurs when you have evidence that customers care about certain jobs, pains or gains, and have designed a VPD statement that matches your product or service up with these needs.
In The Market: Product Market Fit
Occurs when you have evidence that your existing products and services are actually solving customer pains and providing gains the market. In short, you are in the process of getting traction.
In the Bank: Business Model Fit
occurs when there is evidence that your VPD statements can be part of a sustainable and scalable business model

So Now What? How to make the VPD Statements Actionable

Steps in Building a Digital Strategy RoadmapThis is where the “rubber meets the road”. This is also where we at Polymash diverge from the rest of the VPD and Business Model Canvas process. We utilize a simple “Create, Chuck, Continue” (CCC Process) to define follow up tasks and projects as we evaluate strategic application areas. (More on this later)

The goal is to take the VPD insights gained and to then apply the carefully crafted VPD statements to all segments of a digital strategy.

Application areas quickly become obvious.

1.) VPD Drives Content Strategy

Good VPD statement can drive Content Strategy. For example, clarity gained around customer segments and what they truly value will help you create an editorial calendar with more relevant topics for blog posts that better connect your target audience.

2.) VPD Drives Web Design and Re-Design

Think of how your website is structured. Think about how it is laid out, the pages that exist today. Can VPD help you improve your site design to make the content more compelling, more relevant to your audience? Can you think of creating sections and content that better connect with your customers and “speaks” to their needs? The answer has been a resounding “yes” in our experience. It can inform what pages to A/B test, VPD design can drive SEO keyword and Google AdWords research, it can drive link building efforts, the list goes on.

3.) VPD Drives User Experience

Not all businesses have a UX practice in place, but many smaller and start-up businesses have at least built design personas to understand their customer better. VPD is terrific input into many UX processes, from Design Personas to Customer Journey Mapping or Core Model Designs.

4.) VPD Drives Marketing

When it comes to Marketing, there are too many application areas to even mention. Obviously VPD improves the overall marketing language by being more focused and clear about needs and wants of each customer segment. But it also provides a basis for social media posts, topics of content curation, targeted offers, discount strategy and so on. Applications are only limited by a marketers imagination.

5.) VPD Drives Analytics

Lastly, the overall VPD process creates clarity around what to measure and where to apply analytics. This can help in setting up Google analytics segmentation, can be used to drive SEO keyword research. And of course, the output of analytics can then also be used to inform the next phase of validating, refining, changing and adjusting the overall strategy from year to year.

Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap: Our CCC Process

Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap does not need to be complex or expensive.

Polymash CCC Process for our digital strategy roadmap

One Example of our Polymash CCC Process Template

The overall investment of time is relatively low when compared to the results and ROI we have observed from this approach. And the way in which these insights can be executed can vary from simple to do lists to more robust project planning tools for larger businesses.

The process we use to build a holistic strategy roadmap is our Create, Chuck, Continue (CCC) process.

  • For each customer segment and for each Digital Strategy dimension we use this process to decide which activities need to take place (Create), what should be discontinued (Chuck), and what should be kept in place (Continue).

At the end of the entire workshop process, this will produce a high-level roadmap of small or large projects that need to take place in each Digital Strategy Dimension listed above. This roadmap can then easily be transferred into to do lists, editorial calendars, social media scheduling tools or an organization’s project planning software.

Strategy Roadmap Case Studies and Examples

Ready For Life digital strategy roadmap

I’m excited to be launching several new sites for clients who have gone through the entire VPD process. The client has been delighted with the VPD process, and has applied the insights to the user experience and web designs for his new site, as well as to his content strategy and all other aspects of the digital strategy roadmap we co-created.

Ready4Life

  • The first of these sites is called Ready4Life, it helps parents and kids by providing tools and a practical processes to help them know their strengths and discover opportunities in the world that need what they do best.

Positivity Strategist

Good Dad Project

  • The Good Dad Project uses value proposition design patterns to help the audience self select into segments on parenting, fitness or relationships, all topics that provide different resources to each audience.

I’ll be posting additional case studies and success stories soon.

Afterword

If you’ve read this far, I thank you for bearing with me through this rather lengthy discussion on how we collaborate with our clients to build holistic digital strategy roadmaps.

Since starting Polymash as an app and web design and development company, we’ve observed that most of our engagements are never “just about creating an app” or “re-designing a website”. When asking our client’s fundamental questions about their business goals and reasons behind wanting to start a web or app project, a clear need for a holistic digital strategy usually emerged.

Starting with VPD and finishing with our Digital Strategy Roadmap process has made this a reality for our clients and has successfully produced significant and measurable results.

I’d love to hear your views, observations or questions about this process, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us at info@polymash.com.