Kathleen Booth’s Inbound Success podcast launched on August 27th, 2017. Now, nearly two years later, she has just published her 100th episode. I sat with Kathleen to talk about the lessons she’s learned along the way, including which guest surprised her the most, how she’s honed her interview style, and the tech she uses to produce and distribute her weekly show.
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John Becker: Can you talk to me about how the Inbound Success podcast began?
My husband was the co-founder of the agency and we started this podcast that was called “He Said, She Said — an Inbound Marketing and Sales Podcast.” We started it originally because we used to bicker all the time in the office. He has a sales background and I have a marketing background, and our team kept saying, "Well, why don't you just bicker on a podcast, and people can hear all these debates you're having."
It was fun and it was a great, easy start to podcasting, but I realized that we had started it without a real strategy. We just kind of jumped in. So it was a good learning experience, but it wasn't generating leads for my agency.
We eventually stopped doing that podcast, and I thought, "If I'm going to do this again, I really need to approach it strategically."
I started by thinking, "What's my real objective?" and it was to generate leads for the agency. "Well, who am I trying to generate leads with?" and it was senior-level marketers who are looking for an agency solution for their business, or business owners who need a marketing solution.
It seemed natural that the focus of the podcast should be telling stories about people who've had phenomenal success with inbound marketing, and breaking those stories down in a way that was very actionable.
I knew, just from my own experience, that for it to be useful for that audience, it would need to be highly, highly actionable. So, when I first started it, I was envisioning that it would be looking at specific campaigns that have been really successful.
Over time, it became more broad in the sense that it's not always campaign-level discussions. It's often like, "Here's a very specific tactic that's been working well, or a particular strategy, or a tool."
JB: That breadth allows you to diversify who your guests are, and it allows them to speak to passions and interests that might be more broad than what the initial strategy would allow.
KB: It lets me go broad and deep, because if I was focusing just on campaigns, I couldn't talk to some of these amazing niche experts. And I've learned so much by being able to take those deep dives.
JB: What strikes me is the incredible diversity of voices you present.
KB: The diversity of these interviews is somewhat unintentional. My guests come to me through a combination of happenstance and some deliberate strategies.
The greatest thing for me about having the podcast is it gives me an entrée to speak to people that I really want to meet and otherwise would have no good excuse to connect with.
There are some people that I've just hounded, like Goldie Chan, the LinkedIn video influencer. I saw her mentioned in somebody else's post on LinkedIn and I started to Google and learn more about her, and I was like, "She's so interesting. I want to know her."
When I say "come on the podcast and talk about how you're doing this," it's an opportunity to know her on a different level. And there have been plenty of guests that I look up to and have respect for, and this has given me an excuse to form a professional connection and learn from them.
And then some people have come to me as introductions from other guests. This actually started with a guy named Joel Klettke. I had interviewed somebody for the podcast who just anecdotally mentioned how HubSpot had increased its conversions with the help of a conversion copywriter. They didn't even mention his name. And I was like, "Huh, I need to talk to that guy."
So, I did a little digging and I found out it was this guy, Joel. And I reached out and I said, "I would love to have you come on and tell the story of this thing that somebody mentioned." And he did, and it was a great interview.
At the end of every podcast, I ask “Who is doing [inbound marketing] really well right now?" And Joel mentioned Val Geisler. So then I reached out to Val and said, "Joel said you're really good at this. Would you come on?" And she did. And we had a great interview.
And then just a few weeks ago, Val messaged me out of the blue and said, "I have somebody I think you should talk to" and that led me to interview Jason Resnick.
It has worked out really beautifully because there are so many amazing marketers out there. Some of them are very well known, and I've definitely had my share — like Eric Siu — who have come on.
And then some of them are really not well-known, but they're doing incredible things under the radar. That's the mix I love. I love having some people who everyone's heard of and then some people who nobody's heard of, and they're just killing it in this really quiet way.
JB: I love that the show is built on the idea of "Let's talk with someone who's doing interesting work." It doesn't matter if they’re big or small. They’ve got things to teach us.
KB: One of the most interesting interviews was a guy named Conor Malloy. He's a lawyer and he has a company called Chi City Legal. It's him and one other guy. They're both attorneys, and they do landlord-tenant law in Chicago. They don't have any other staff.
He went into detail on this system that he's built around how he generates leads using almost all free tools. And he's a practicing attorney, who is doing his own marketing.
Stories like that make you realize there's no excuse, as long as you're willing to put in the time to learn, and then to execute. That's really all it is — giving your marketing the time and attention it deserves.
JB: I am inspired by your interview skills. You start by building rapport and asking some questions about the person and their expertise and their experience. But I love how you get out of the way and let them speak.
KB: Well, it's humbling to hear you say that because I don't think of myself as being a particularly great interviewer.
It’s a skill that has unfolded over time. I will say there is nothing quite like seeing a transcript of yourself interviewing somebody to bring full visibility to all the filler words that you use. I've learned that I constantly start my conversations by saying, "Yeah." Someone finishes saying something, and I say, "Yeah! And," then I ask my question.
Actually seeing the words I say in writing has made me so much more conscious of my verbal ticks and habits. And I certainly haven't solved them all, because I still say "Yeah" at the beginning of almost every statement I make in the podcast, which slowly kills me inside.
But, it’s an interesting exercise to go through. And I definitely suggest that anybody who wants to work on their interviewing skills, have it transcribed and just read the words you say.
JB: Can you talk to the challenges of doing phone-based interviews?
KB: Nine times out of ten, it is virtual face-to-face because I use Zoom. I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to be able to see the other person, because if you cannot see them, it exponentially increases the odds that you're going to wind up talking over them.
Different people have different communication cadences, and being able to physically see that person and those physical cues helps you understand, "Are they done with their thought, or are they just about to roll into another one?"
There have been a couple of podcast interviews that I have done where the video hasn't worked out, and those have been the hardest interviews to do.
JB: If you could generalize, what is one thing you would like a listener to take away from any single episode?
KB: I do a 15-minute call with every guest before an interview. In that call we align on a topic, and I make sure that it's going to be something my audience is interested in.
What makes for a compelling episode? A lot of it has to do with being able to talk about measurable results. You'll see it in my titles a lot of times. If somebody is getting great results, I'll put it right there: "They've 10x'd their conversions," or, "They've doubled traffic."
In terms of the takeaways, I want to make sure that anybody who's listening has at least one thing that they can do immediately and see better results.
There has to be something that is immediately actionable. There can be other things that are actionable but less immediately, or that are not actionable, but inspirational. But there has to be something immediately actionable or I just think that people will not find the same value that they do.
JB: Do you have one guest that stands out in your mind who shared something really unexpected?
KB: A guy named Phil Singleton, who has a company called Kansas City SEO. He does a lot of what many of us in the agency world do: he works with clients on creating blogs and other content as part of their lead generation strategies.
Phil has his clients write a series of blogs for their website and then he goes to Amazon, and through Kindle Direct Publishing, he will string those blogs together, maybe add an introduction, and he'll turn it into an electronic book, which is cool.
But then what's even cooler is, with Amazon Publishing you can actually go in and order a single hard-copy, and at a very reasonable price.
And that, to me, was like an “a-ha” moment. That's one that I have on my bucket list. Whether it's for me and something I've written, or as a gift to somebody who's written for IMPACT, to be able to say, "I took all your articles and I compiled them into this hardcover book," is an amazing thing.
JB: So, after you wrap a show, what happens next? Can you talk to me about distribution — How it gets shared and how it gets promoted?
KB: Recording is the fun part. Once I finish recording, that's when all the work really starts.
When I finish recording, I have a video and an audio file. I send the audio file off to get transcribed. I use rev.com, which is a great platform. Within 24 hours, I get a full transcription back.
Then I have to do the audio editing, which involves packaging my interview with the intro and the outro, and cleaning up the middle. I use Audacity for that. I've been doing it exactly the same way since the beginning, and if I had to change it, I'd probably be lost. But that's been a great program.
Then I have to actually create the show notes. I go through and edit the entire transcript. I add headings in. I try to make it more readable. I add links in. And I marry the show notes with the embedded player from my podcast host. Then, I can schedule it.
Once that's all done, I still have promotion to do. There's some promotion that IMPACT does, but a lot of it I do myself.
I'm not always consistent, because life gets busy, but on a good week, I create a video to talk about the episode, and I push that out to LinkedIn. I'll create an image for an Instagram story. I'll try to create a meme with a quote from a guest. And I'm promoting it all on my different social channels. And that's been very effective so far.
In terms of actual podcast distribution, I use a platform called Libsyn, which is where I host the actual podcast. I upload the audio file there and add my show notes. Libsyn is an automatic system that pushes the podcast out to Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify and some other podcast platforms.
And you set that all up in the very beginning, when you create your Libsyn account.
JB: Lastly, can you talk to me about any tech hacks you swear by?
KB: I have my Blue Yeti Microphone, which is great. I love it. I use Zoom to record, which is so easy. I love that I have a HubSpot meetings link, so, when I first speak to somebody about coming on, I'll send them my meeting link so we can book that 15-minute call.
Then I send them a meeting invitation with the actual interview time slot. I have a template in HubSpot that I have set up which is my preparatory email for every guest. It’s the same copy every time, "Looking forward to our interview. Here are some notes to help you prepare, things to think about. Here are some questions I usually ask. Here's what I need you to send me in terms of photos."
And then of course, Rev.com for transcribing and Libsyn for hosting.
One that I haven't tested out too much yet but I'm really excited about is RepurposeHouse, which is going to hopefully help me make promotion a lot easier.
But at the end of the day, I don’t worry nearly as much about promotion as I do about creating great content, which means a really good interview with a knowledgeable guest and leaving my listeners with information and tips that will make them feel smarter and help them to get better marketing results.
That’s what it’s all about, and that’s why I love doing the podcast.