Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Kai Davis, a business coach who helps entrepreneurs uncover hidden profits in their business without spending more on marketing.
In addition to being a highly regarded coach and author, Kai is also the founder of the public relations agency Double Your Audience, and host of the podcasts “Make Money Online” and “Get More Clients.”
Kai was on this podcast back in episode 17 where we talked about using podcast appearances to grow your business. In that interview, we covered the specifics of how to maximize your opportunity as a podcast guest, but we didn’t discuss as much about how to get those interviews in the first place.
Today we’re going to fix that by taking an in-depth look at how to use digital outreach strategies to land podcast appearances, guest posts, webinars, and all sorts of partnerships.
If you’re interested in hearing a unique take on how to make traditional PR work and drive results in the digital world, then this is the episode for you.
- Background leading up to today
- What type of work do you do with Double Your Audience?
- Outreach: Walking through your process
- What exactly is outreach and why should startups care about it?
- Walk us through your process (using Groove as an example)
- Initial discovery
- Roadmapping (i.e. Digital Outreach Plan)
- How are you prioritizing where they should focus?
- How are you finding relevant targets?
- What does an effective outreach email look like?
- What do these strategies look like in practice?
- How many placements can people expect?
- What work does the client have to do?
- How does this scale?
- How many truly relevant podcasts are there?
- How do you measure success?
- What do these strategies look like in practice?
- What is the hardest part for you about managing these campaigns?
- What about for your clients?
- How has your approach to outreach evolved over time?
- Parting advice for founders
- What advice do you wish somebody gave you when you got started with outreach?
- “Rapid Fire” Questions
- What do you spend too much time on?
- What do you not spend enough time on?
- Who do you learn from?
- What is the biggest challenge facing your business today?
- Where can listeners go to learn more?
- The Magic Google Search
- Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
- Hack The Entrepreneur: Investing in Yourself with Kai Davis
Where to learn more:
Andy Baldacci: Kai, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Kai Davis: Hey, it’s a pleasure to be on here. Thank you so much for inviting me back on.
Andy Baldacci: Of course, and so we actually talked … I think it was episode 17, almost a year ago, right at the … I guess on the New Year of 2017, and in that episode we covered podcasting specifically — how to reach out to guests, how to do a good podcast interview. But today I want to get a little bit broader than that. I know that as a consultant, you have a lot of tools in your toolkit that you use to help businesses make more money, but specifically let’s focus on the outreach side of things, and so, just generally, what type of work do you do for your clients at Double Your Audience?
Kai Davis: Absolutely. So, Double Your Audience is my digital public relations and outreach marketing … I think of it as a mini-agency — it’s myself and two contractors. We work with startup founders, entrepreneurs, and authors to help them promote their best content and build and manage valuable relationships within their business, and it really boils down to identifying people within their existing audience, or people who are peers, or colleagues, or a few levels ahead of them and saying, “Well, how could we stimulate a conversation and build a relationship with these in a natural, authentic way that allows us to grow our audience or promote our best products or content to a new audience made up of our best buyers?”
Andy Baldacci: Interesting. I know that you’ve kind of branded yourself in that positioning as an outreach consultant, and that outreach, in my mind, is sort of the process that enables that, but how would you define or just say what exactly outreach is?
Kai Davis: Good question. I very much think of outreach as a specialization or a tool that you could use in a bunch of different modalities, be it podcast outreach, guest article outreach, or sales outreach, so I really think of outreach as the process of building a relationship and stimulating a conversation with someone. It might be you’re working on a referral campaign, or you’re working on getting on podcasts, or getting guest articles placed — it all boils down to building a relationship. Nobody’s going to send you a referral without there being a relationship first. Nobody’s going to say, “We’d love to publish your guest article or have you on a podcast,” without there being a relationship first.
So, before we focus on sort of the output of those marketing activities, we want to focus on the inputs, and what I found is the input really is focusing on building an authentic relationship with that contact or that person, and the best way to do that is through outreach marketing — stimulating a conversation with them; identifying shared interests; identifying what their goals are and saying, “Well, hey, here’s something I can provide that will help you reach that goal,” and then authentically building a relationship with that person.
Andy Baldacci: And is this distinct from influencer marketing?
Kai Davis: There is a lot of overlap between the two. Influencer marketing I see as being a part of outreach overall. It’s sort of one sub-modality, but a lot of the work I do with Double Your Audience — getting my clients on podcasts, guest articles placed — or other forms of outreach marketing does overlap heavily with influencer marketing.
Andy Baldacci: Okay, and that’s something that’s definitely been a buzzword in the startup space for at least the past couple of years, and I’ve talked to a lot of people about influencer marketing, about outreach, about just what I guess more traditionally could be considered almost PR — obviously there’s more to it, and you are a bit more measured than a typical PR agency would be. But why should specific startups care about building these relationships? If I’m listening in, I’m like, “Okay, this is like whenever everyone tells me I need to network more. I don’t get how that’s gonna help me in the long run. It just seems so ambiguous to me.”
Kai Davis: Yeah, it could be definitely nebulous at times, so if we were to boil it down to sort of that one or two sentence summary that encapsulates the value of outreach marketing or influencer marketing or the value of the methodologies that I teach and preach, I’d say it’s building your authority and expertise in the market, and adding a new lead source or marketing channel to your business. If we focus in on any of the different expressions of outreach marketing — getting guest articles published, appearing on podcasts, building relationships with influencers — it’s all about adding new marketing channels to our business and seeing if we’re able to acquire leads through those marketing channels.
With one client I worked with, we were able to do a podcast outreach campaign that ended up with them acquiring leads that I think under $2 each, which was a huge, huge win for them just because it was an effective way for the founder to present the pitch for their product and say, “If you want to learn more, here’s a landing page,” and podcast outreach and podcast guesting consistently brought in new leads and email subscribers for them. So, really it boils down to building your authority and expertise. If you appear on 10, 20, 30 podcasts talking about a topic, or published guest articles writing about a topic, you are perceived as an expert, and, on top of that, it adds a lead generation channel to your business.
Andy Baldacci: When you combine those two aspects of it — the lead generation with kind of that authority building — I feel like the leads that come from those channels are gonna convert at a much higher rate because they do see you as that authority. They’re not just kind of coming in cold; they’ve already been exposed to you, to your message, and have kind of raised their hand and said, “Hey, you seem like a good fit for me,” so I’m assuming they’re gonna convert a lot better as well.
Kai Davis: Expertly put, and exactly on the money. What I’ve discovered is when you use guest articles, or podcast guesting, or webinars — the three modalities of outreach marketing or digital public relations I primarily focus on — the prospects and leads you get … well, they’ve already been exposed to a 1,000 or a 5,000 word article you wrote, or a 30 minute interview you gave, or a 30 minute presentation you gave. They’re coming in not only warm, but hot. They’re saying, “Wow. I sat through this interview. I know so much. It feels like I know you. What’s the next step? How do I get started?” They are very, very good leads.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, and your website … you said it really well, and it was when I was just kind of prepping for this and obviously being familiar with it myself before, you said that a podcast ad can cost thousands of dollars for 60 seconds, whereas when you’re the guest on a podcast you’re gonna have 30 to 60 minutes to give your pitch, to explain kind of why you can help, and obviously you’re not pitching the entire time, but you’re establishing authority and building trust, which is very difficult to do in a short ad spot.
Kai Davis: Entirely. Entirely.
Andy Baldacci: And, that being said, though, podcasting is obviously just one of the modalities you had mentioned. You talked about guest posting and webinars as well, and I know that when people work with you, you typically will start off with what you call a digital outreach plan to kind of figure out what options are best for them — what’s a good fit, where are the low-hanging fruits. So, can you just walk us through, first at a high level then we’ll really dig into it, but, just first, what exactly is a digital outreach plan and how do you go about putting that together?
Kai Davis: Great question. So, at a high level, the digital outreach plan is trying to answer a few key questions about the client’s business to help us figure out, “Does outreach marketing make sense?” And if so, “How do we want to approach it?” Typically, in a digital outreach plan, we’re going through a set of exercises to understand and refine our understanding of who are target market is. Is it companies? Well, we need to be a little more specific than that. Is it healthcare companies? Okay, that’s better. We can work with that. We want to identify who we’re marketing to, so we’re able to focus our marketing just with laser-focus precision on that target market.
From there, once we determined who our target market is, we go through a series of exercises — identifying what marketing channels make the most sense to reach that audience. Sometimes I’ll go through a digital outreach plan of a client, and we’ll reach the end and say, “Well, we came into this asking the question, ‘Will guest posting and appearing on podcasts as a guest help us to reach our audience?'” and at the end of the digital outreach plan we’re able to say, “You know what? It will not. Our audience, the target market that you are going after in your business, does not listen to podcasts, does not attend webinars, does not read guest posts. I do not recommend we go in this direction.”
On the flip side, sometimes we come out of … often, we come out of the digital outreach plan saying, “Okay, we refined our understanding of the different channels that make the most sense — podcasting seem great; guest articles seem okay. Let’s focus our attention on podcasts first and foremost.” So, the digital outreach plan really let’s us assess who our target market is, what marketing channels would work best to reach that target market, and how we could use that marketing channel, or those marketing channels, within the client’s business to reach that target market. It all really boils down to an exercise and understanding who we’re trying to reach and what the best channels are to use to reach that audience.
Andy Baldacci: Why don’t we kind of just walk through this process? If I came to you with Groove, who I’m working with now … if I came to you and said, “Kai, we’re thinking about outreach.” What should we be asking ourselves?
Kai Davis: Great question. I’d start off by asking, “Well, why outreach? Why not your existing marketing channels?” I think that asking that counter-question at the start of any discovery process is valuable because it forces us to say, “Well, this is why we want to choose this channel.” Sometimes when I’m working with a client who we’ll start off with a question like that — “Why outreach? Why pursue this form of marketing?” — the answer is, “We thought it would be a good idea. Or it’s something that somebody suggested to us,” and often times when we find sort of a loose, squishy answer like that it’s valuable to dive in and say, “Okay, let’s make sure we both understand the benefits and outcomes that will come from an engagement like this.”
Andy Baldacci: I see. And so for us actually, my kind of thought process behind it is, coming in, we have a successful blog, which is driving the vast majority of our traffic, but we aren’t doing as great a job as we could at tapping into other audiences to try to expand our own audience by kind of leveraging what’s already out there, so that’s one component. The other component is something that I know you have a background in, but haven’t talked as much with the outreach, so truly a lot of this is going to be SEO, it’s going to be getting high quality relevant links through guest posts, through podcasting, through all of that. So, if I had said that to you, which I guess I just did, what would you think? Does that seem like a reasonable place to start?”
Kai Davis: Yes. I think those are two ideal goals for a digital public relations, or a digital outreach campaign — identifying existing audiences N saying, “Well, how could we best interact with these audiences and build a connection with them and promote our products or promote our content to them?” And saying, “Well, we want to focus on search engine optimization. We want to earn high quality relevant links.” Great. Appearing on podcasts, publishing high quality guest articles are all white hat, above the table methods that Google recommends.
Andy Baldacci: So, with that, once we kind of have agreed that, “Okay, it makes sense to explore outreach a bit more.” How would you kind of walk us through prioritizing where to focus?
Kai Davis: What I typically do is go through that discovery process with both the client and through a competitive research process on the client’s competitors to understand what types of markets make sense to target, so it might be talking with you about Groove. Well, let’s ask the questions right now. So, describe your audience for me. Tell me about who your target market is, who that ideal reader or ideal person you want to encounter through this outreach is.
Andy Baldacci: So, right now, we sort of have two audiences on our blog, at least, where we have startups, which is kind of where we got our start by just talking about the process of building it up, but we’ve tried to get a little closer to the money now and focus more on people who are looking to improve their customer service needs because we have customer service software. So, we would want to probably, though, from my perspective, target podcasts that have startup founders as listeners, but go on and talk about the value of customer support and how to do customer support the right way.
Kai Davis: I think that’s perfect because you’ve clearly identified who the target market is and what the pitch or what the story is. It’s not just, “Hey, we want to speak to startup founders,” it’s, “Well, we have a specific narrative that we want to share with these founders that leads them to saying, ‘Oh, I’m experiencing the pain that you’re describing around customer support. The best next step for me is signing up for a trial, or signing up for a lead magnet, or signing up for a free course,'” after they’ve listened to that episode or read that guest article, they’re able to move forward in your funnel. So, I think you have a very clear understanding there of the target market you’re trying to reach and what your messaging needs to be around. You know the pain that your product solves for your audience is, so you’re able to say, “Okay, it makes sense to pitch topics around these areas.”
Andy Baldacci: One thing that whenever I look into what you offer and what … there are others that offer specifically like booking podcast interviews, and a lot of times … You don’t take this approach. I like your more value-driven approach, but a lot of times they’ll say, “We’ll get you on four podcasts a month for X rate every month.” I guess my question is how many podcasts, relevant podcasts that I should care about actually being on … how many are out there? I feel like this is something I should have a good answer to, but I just have … I struggle to wrap my head around that.
Kai Davis: It’s a hard question to answer, honestly. Whenever I start an outreach campaign with a client, my research assistant and I spend a lot of time understanding what the ecosystem looks like for that target market, and there’s no real one singular way to do this. I’ll often use tools like Cast.Market, an online directory of podcasts, the iTunes podcast directory, and a number of custom Google searches that I’ve crafted over time just to understand, “Well, who are the authorities in this target market? Who are the podcasts in this market? How many podcasts are there out there? What podcast makes sense for us to appear on?”
So, there’s not definitive answer in terms of what number we should be aiming for, there’s just a process that I recommend going through to evaluate, “Okay, this is what the market looks like,” so often times it might be going into iTunes and just saying, “Hey, we’re gonna start at base 100 level strategies here. Let’s search for the industry terminology we’re using in iTunes and see how many podcasts come back.” So, it might be we search for startups and we say, “Okay, there’s a hundred podcasts that came back. Maybe half of these are good and recently published and updated recently. Okay, great. That still gives us 50 podcasts to start with,” but it really is a “go out and hunt around” type of methodology to identify the different options that are out there in terms of podcast guesting or channels to reach a target market.
Andy Baldacci: I see. Obviously, if someone wants to focus exclusively on podcasts, that’s where you’re going to begin, but if we’re looking at this as more of a general outreach play of podcasts, of guest posts, you’re looking for the authorities in the space regardless of whether or not they have a podcast or a blog. You’re first trying to identify, “These are the authorities,” and then, second, saying, “What are the mediums we can use to connect with that audience?” Is that a good assumption or am I off base?
Kai Davis: That’s a very good assumption, and one of the reasons that I’m very focused on podcasts is because there’s a challenge in identifying those authorities. If we think about any space, take the startup space, and say, “Well, who are the authorities in this space?” There’s no easy directory or no easy way to slice that answer. What I found is we want to look at sort of authority signals, so who is writing guest articles already? Who is appearing on podcasts frequently as a guest to talk about whatever it may be in the space? Who is hosting webinars, or being on joint venture webinars, or being a guest on webinars?
We look at these signals to identify the authorities, and then once we’ve identified the authorities we can sort of go one level larger and say, “Okay, for the authorities we’ve identified — maybe it’s only five people — well, what channels have they appeared on? What podcasts have they appeared on? Who have they partnered with? Where are they publishing guest articles?” And I think that is a hub and spoke model, where we start off with a hub of an authority and then say, “Well, where are these people publishing? Where are they being republished?” And then tap into those channels ourselves, so there is a large element of competitor research here to understand what the landscape looks like, and where we could sort of copy the best strategies that other people have already put in place.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, and right now, as I’ve been digging into more of the SEO side of it, this is the exact same thing you’re doing when you’re looking at good platforms to potentially get white hat links, as you’re gonna do competitive research, see which posts are getting the most links from your competitors, and then it’s like, “Okay, where are those links? What are the sites that come up again and again and clearly have an appetite for this type of content?” So, it seems like this kind of reverse engineering applies to kind of all of the modalities of this, to kind of the bigger picture of how you’re going after to find these relevant targets.
Kai Davis: Entirely. Entirely, and exactly as you put it earlier on, my background starts from search engine optimization, and so the tools, and tactics, and techniques I use to identify different influencers, different authorities, different places for my clients to publish their content or reach an audience really come from that schooling in search engine optimization, understanding, “Well, what are the innovative ways we can use to identify placements or audiences that we’re able to reach?”
Andy Baldacci: So, the answer to this might be no, but I know you have a ton of content and I know you give away a lot of value in that content, so do you have articles that you wrote or that you know someone else wrote that has some of those Google searches, because obviously a search parameter with a bunch of operators and all this and that is not the best to say on a podcast because people are gonna be trying to write down while they’re driving their car and this and that. But are there any articles out there that actually writes out a lot of what these search operators and other research practices look like?
Kai Davis: Absolutely. I have an article on my site, and we’ll include this in the show notes, on what I call the “magic Google search”. A pair of searches, custom Google queries I use that help me identify podcasts that influencers have appeared on, guest posts that influencers have appeared on, or just industry topic-focused blogs or podcasts or content sources that we’re able to then build relationship with. So, we’ll go ahead and get that link included in the show notes for the episode.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome. I’ll make sure to dig that up and get that in there. One other thing, just to add on to this, for the resources, is that Ahrefs … is literally how it’s spelled … is something that is a huge tool and SEO, but it’s really good for this because when you do find some of those links in Google — some of those pages, some of those sites, some of those whatever — you can then plug them into Ahrefs and see who else is linked to them to go back that extra level that Kai was talking about as well.
Kai Davis: Bingo. Bingo. I always think of it … I call it the reverse iterative process, which is possibly the most confusing and terrible name for a thing ever. But, really, it’s a process of saying, “Okay, I found one person.” Let’s say I found Kai Davis, and I want to figure out the podcast Kai has been on. Well, we go through this process. We use the magic Google search. We identify through a back link tool like Ahrefs or majestic.com the different sites linking to Kai and say, “Okay, let’s go through and do a manual review of these. What are the sites linking? What are the valuable sites?”
And we might start with 500 links and then window it down to a 100 and say, “Well, these are the most valuable ones. Let’s see if we’re able to duplicate those efforts.” So, if Kai’s been on ten podcasts about this topic, well let’s reach out the podcast host. We know that they’ll have guests on about that topic. Let’s pitch a similar topic, likewise guest articles, or webinars, or other forms of content by doing this sort of reverse analysis where we start with the person and then go wide and say, “Well, where have they been published?” It allows us to understand what will get placed in those different areas, but we could even go a step further.
So, if we say, “We started with Kai. We’ve identified,” let’s shrink the number here, just for the example, “ten podcasts he’s been on.” Well, we could look through that podcast list and say, “Wow. The podcast has had 100 people on it. Let’s identify the most popular episodes of that podcast and run the same process on it. Where have those guests appeared?” And so, it’s sort of this exponential scaling where each podcast you identify might give you two, three, five, or ten more people to do the search on and you quickly and easily scale the number of potential placements you could start pitching by going through this process of analyzing both the initial target, where they’ve appeared, and who else has appeared on those podcasts or guest article sites.
Andy Baldacci: One thing that I’m thinking about right now is that this, when done right, ’cause you are focused on building authentic relationships … We’re not trying to do black hat or even gray hat stuff here. We are really trying to build authentic relationships where we can provide value to someone else’s audience and make connections with people who have those audiences. But you still have to do some sort of mental math on deciding if the effort is worth it, and so once you do have this list of potential connections you could make, how do you decide like, all right, this is worth actually devoting the resources to reach out, to go on the podcast, to write the guest posts, to do whatever it is? How do you make that calculation?
Kai Davis: Good question. So, there’s both a quantitative approach and a qualitative approach. On the quantitative approach, I’ll look at a few what I think of as primarily ranking signals, but we could also call them authority signals, to see who we want to reach out to, so using a tool like Ahrefs or majestic.com. I’ll say, “Okay, for this list of sites that we’ve identified, how many different people are linking to them? How many unique sites are linking to them?” In the SEO world, this is known as “referring domains” or “unique referring domains”, and I’ll use this as a proxy for how established a site is.
What I’ve discovered is above 1,000 unique sites linking to them, often times there are gatekeepers in place. There’s a harsh editorial calendar, and so I’ll do a screen and say, “Okay, I want to throw out sites I’ve identified above a certain threshold — it might be 1,000, it might be 500, or it might be something else — and sites below a certain threshold.” They’re too small. They won’t have the audience that we’re looking for. This allows me to just focus on the most valuable targets within everybody I’ve identified.
Andy Baldacci: I see. Generally speaking, what do those thresholds look like? You had mentioned more than 1,000 is gonna have to be a slightly higher touch approach. Is that just the line right there? You have above that or below that? Can you go a little deeper on that?
Kai Davis: Absolutely. So, it honestly does most often boil down to a hard cutoff at above 1,000 referring domains and a hard cutoff at below 200 with a quantitative approach just because I found the earlier, newer sites … it’s easier to get placements on, but it might not produce the results we’re looking for, so I’ll initially set those aside. For the larger sites, it typically is too long of a process to pitch, negotiate on the pitch, get on the editorial calendar, deliver the content, have it published for a client and for myself to see results with this outreach process, so I’ll typically avoid those larger sites. What I’ve discovered is in the time it takes to get a placement live on a larger sit, you often could have three, five, or ten placements go live on small to medium sized sites, and get the same impact. So, I typically encourage my clients to focus on those smaller or medium sized sites because we could get a larger return for the effort invested than one placement that expires.
Andy Baldacci: Right. It’s not so much that getting that one bigger placement would, I guess, in my poker mind would be like minus EV, but it’s that you have to look at cost benefits now, so you have to look at opportunity cost specifically and say, “I don’t have the time, the budget, the resources, whatever it is to pursue all of these, so while that one big engagement, that one big post, interview, whatever, would be great to get. It would be much better for my business today to put the resources we have into just getting three or four kind of mid level ones.”
Kai Davis: Exactly. We can even frame it in sort of that perspective to the client — is the client interested in investing in a four month campaign to land one or two placements on much larger podcasts? They might be. It might make sense. Or would they say, “Hey, you know what? It’s more valuable for us to every week or every other week be presenting to an audience of a 1,000 or 5,000 new people.” Okay, that’s much easier to get in place and systematically move forward with.
Andy Baldacci: How are you positioning this to your clients, not in terms of results of the end campaign — we’ll talk about that in a bit — but how does a client know things are on track? What are the kind of deliverables in the mean time that you’re gonna be delivering month to month to let them know you’re doing your job?
Kai Davis: Month to month, it’s a pair of every other week, fortnightly calls to check in and update the client on how the project is progressing, any challenges we’re running into, any successes we have. What I offer for my clients is a white-glove, full-service podcast booking experience. What I’ve noticed is with some of the podcast booking services on the market, they’ll set up the relationship between the founder and the podcast, and then the founder gets to negotiate and handle all the details themselves. Instead, what I offer is from identifying the different potential placement, through outreach, through building the relationship, through booking the time and selecting the topic, to getting the actual interview on my client’s schedule — it’s a complete white-glove process. The experience my clients have is, “I show up. I look at my calendar. I have a thing scheduled — there’s a link to a Trello card — it tells me what topic I’m speaking about. Then I’m able to show up for the interview and give my best presentation possible,” so I often distinguish it from the competitors because it is more of a full service presentation.
Andy Baldacci: I see. And, with that, you know this as well as anybody, that you’re always going to have clients who are going to be stuck more in the traditional mindset of always about the deliverables. So, if someone does ask you, “Well, how many placements can I expect every month?” How would you approach that question?
Kai Davis: I typically answer it by sharing what the average placement numbers are, and, for my clients, we average between four and ten placements each month. Typically, we see the number of placements each month go up over time as we refine our pitches or refine our outreach process, but it really is sort of asking a, “How long is this piece of string?” Type question. We don’t know how many placements we can get until we start sort of an exploratory process. How many different podcasts are there out there that reach this target market? If there’s only ten, it’s going to be hard for us to consistently get placements.
If we can identify 100, well, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to consistently get placement, so it very much depends on the target market, it depends on how pitch heavy or saturated the target market is with people saying, “Hey, I’d love to be on your podcast.” So, there’s a lot of factors that go into it, but I typically share with my clients that on average we book between five and ten guest interviews each month, and our goal is to get us towards the higher end of that range, but what it will take is month after month of iterating on our outreach process, on our pitches, on the most valuable content we have in order for us to get to that placement target.
Andy Baldacci: If in the beginning of an engagement, when you’re really digging into this and doing the digital outreach plan to figure out what the market looks like, if it comes back that there is, say, only 10 to 20 podcasts for a specific market, how are you handling that going forward? Would you do like a limited engagement? Would you say, “Let’s add in guest posts,”? How would you approach that to make it something that won’t run out of steam after just a few months?
Kai Davis: Sometimes when it comes back with, “Hey, there’s only 10, 15 podcasts that reach this target market,” I’ll offer the client a choice of yeses between the different options and however you want to move forward. As you mentioned, it might be saying, “Okay, you know, podcasts alone won’t get us to where we want to be. We need to mix in other channels as well.” Or it might be saying, “You know what? There’s not a lot of depth here in terms of podcasts. We could work on this engagement together. I could get you results, but it will only be for the first few months. Instead, why don’t I hand you all the tools you need to run this campaign yourself? You’ll be able to save money. You have a strategic plan coming out of this digital outreach plan.”
One of the deliverables of the digital outreach plan is an initial list of podcasts including contact name, email address, best/most relevant episode, so the founders I work with are able to say, “Okay, I could start my own outreach campaign here, contact these podcasts, get booked, and not have to worry about a large, ongoing, month-to-month investment.” So, often times I’ll present the client in this scenario with a choice of yeses. Do we want to expand our analysis to say, “Hey, this is for guest articles and podcast guesting and other channels,” or do you want me to prepare deliverables for you that will allow you to run this campaign yourself and get the results you’re looking for?
Andy Baldacci: And this is going backwards a little bit, but … I think we touched on it, but I want to prod a little more. If someone comes to you for podcast outreach, what would the … not argument, but what do you see as like why podcasts are gonna be better than guest posting or why the other way around? How would you lead someone towards making a good decision on which modality they want to pursue?
Kai Davis: The first thing I ask is, “Which sounds more attractive to you?” And it’s not a trick question — this is, I think, the fundamental question. “Would you rather once a week spend 45 minutes being interviewed on a show, or would you rather once a week write a 3,000 word guest article?” Some of my clients say, “I love writing. Writing is my favorite hobby. Let me write more,” and we go the guest article route hard. Some people that are presented with that question are like, “3,000 words a week seems like a lot. Can we do the podcast thing? That seems less time intensive.” So, it really comes down to, A, what does the person like doing? If they really love writing, great. Let’s go hard on guest articles. If they really like speaking, or it seems like it’ll be easier or take less time to be consistently booked on podcasts, we’ll focus on podcasts, or webinars, or joint venture opportunities, or other tactics we might identify along the way. But it really comes down to where that natural aptitude is and what’s most interesting to that client.
Andy Baldacci: I think that makes perfect sense. It’s a simple way of seeing it. It is truthfully like, for most marketing campaigns, anything like this that you want to have be a long term kind of channel for yourself, for your business, you need to be able to stick with it, and having a white-glove service like yourself doing the heavy lifting makes it a lot easier, but it still has to be something that doesn’t drive you crazy week in, week out. But beyond that, do you think that they both have equal value? If I’m someone who just doesn’t care, I just say, “Just show me what’s gonna have the higher return,” how would you approach that?
Kai Davis: I think that podcasts, honestly, right now have a higher return just because you’re able to build a stronger emotional connection with the audience over that 30 minute time period than you can through a guest article. That said, I’ve had clients have guest articles go live and I’ve had guest articles of my own that go live that, years later, are still producing a steady inflow of leads and email subscribers. So, it’s hard to say which one is the definitive best. It, I think, comes down to a lot of factors. What timeframe are the clients looking for results on? As we mentioned before, are they more comfortable writing or are they more comfortable speaking?
Also, what does the audience really like consuming? If we look around and see like, “Wow. There’s a hundred different sites publishing guest articles on this topic.” Great. People love reading about it. We probably should be writing more. If we see a hundred different podcasts, okay, we probably should be doing guest interviews on podcasts. But it really comes down to looking at where that founder’s natural skill is and interest is, and looking at the market itself and asking, “Well, where do we see people consuming content? How could we get in front of that audience?”
Andy Baldacci: That’s really smart. You touched on that then, and you’ve mentioned it throughout, about the results, about making this a long term commitment to really reach our audience. I know, in the past, this is something I’ve struggled with, is actually measuring the success of something that’s kind of squishy like podcast metrics, and so how are you advising your clients, or advising listeners in general, to measure the success of an outreach campaign like this?
Kai Davis: It really depends on the marketing sophistication of the client, and that’s one of the challenges I’ve discovered with podcast outreach, that unless the client is more sophisticated, and by that I mean they have landing pages set up, they have an email marketing system set up, they have a lead magnet created and defined, and they have the analytics to track from the top of the funnel, “Somebody has arrived at this custom landing page through the end of the funnel. Hey, they just gave us money for a thing.” It could often be hard to give a strong quantitative return on investment assessment of a podcast outreach campaign.
So, if a client has that analytical setup and has that marketing setup in place, it’s very easy to say, “Okay, great. We got on the podcast. We could see the results that are happening. We are getting this level of opt-ins, and we can see that they’re converting at this rate.” Wonderful. We have a strong quantitative measure. You appear on a podcast, you make $3,000. Seems like a great deal. If we don’t have that in place, though, it does get a bit more squishy in terms of metrics.
I work with the client to help implement the systems as best as I can within the engagement, but I am focused on saying, “Hey, we don’t have the tools in place to give an effective measurement of the true return on investment for this, so instead we’re going to focus on what we are able to measure. What’s the number of placements we’re seeing? What’s the acceptance rate on our pitches? How many visitors are we seeing? How many new email subscribers are we seeing if we’re able to track it as compared to podcast placements?” So, we’re able to give some sort of quantitative indicator of, “Hey, this is working because we could see this never going up,” or, “Hey, we need to change these things because this number is stagnant, and we agreed this was the key metric we’re focusing on for this campaign.”
Andy Baldacci: You paint the picture for them and point to the indicators that you have, but ultimately that’s all you can do, and so it’s about seeing if they can kind of tie that all together themselves and make that value judgment. I think a lot of people that I’ve spoken to who have got into podcasting, whether on the hosting or the guesting side, … to them it’s just really obvious. They don’t have the hard numbers to back it up, but they have so many people coming to them because of what they said on an episode, or because of the content they’ve been putting out there, or anything like that where, to them, it’s just obvious that this is worth the investment, and a lot of data geeks, which I kind of fall into that category of, is not the best answer, but I think it’s one of those things where you know it when you see it.
Kai Davis: It very much is. That’s my experience for my own podcast placements and for placing founders on podcasts and other entrepreneurs on podcasts. There’s that qualitative feeling of like, “Whoa, a lot of people are emailing me saying they just heard that podcast episode.” I just was on Hack the Entrepreneur, and a number of people directly reached out to me and said, “Hey, I love that episode. It was one of my favorite episodes in recent time,” and it was wonderful to see that. It was a great indicator that, oh, wow — the podcasting thing, it’s working. People appreciated that episode, but let’s say I was a client — I was a founder that I placed on Hack the Entrepreneur. I, as the consultant, won’t be exposed to those emails or those tweets or that celebration of that episode, and so it gets hard to know, “Oh, wow. Is this a success or not?”
Directly to your point, I think it comes down to those conversations with the client and saying like, “How are you feeling about this engagement?” “Oh, I’m getting a ton of emails that people love the podcast appearances.” Well, we might not have the quantitative return on investment to show, but we have that qualitative return on investment. The founder’s happy; we’re getting the placements; we’re seeing people reach out and say, “That was a great interview. I loved hearing it.” We know that it’s working even if we aren’t able to sort of close the loop and say, “And that means we’re making “X” additional dollars for each podcast we’re on.”
Andy Baldacci: So, we covered a ton in this interview. It was really fun going through this, ’cause this is something, like I was telling you before, I’d been working on a lot. I know you are the expert of this, so it was fun being able to pick your brain and bounce ideas off of you. To tie it all together, for a founder of a growing SaaS company who has limited resources, at what point is it okay for them to take a chance on something that may not be as quantitative as other options? When do you think a serious outreach campaign is right for a startup?
Kai Davis: I hate to fall back to the subjective qualitative answer, but it sort of feels a bit subjective, at least before I fully think it through. It definitely doesn’t want to be too early. I know a number of founders who have done very, very early stage podcast outreach campaigns and have seen results in terms of podcast placements, but because they don’t have a landing page put together, or don’t have a strong value proposition, or don’t have a strong understanding of who their target market is, the podcast campaign just doesn’t really hit the mark.
So, it probably is a company that has a clear understanding of their target market, has a clear understanding of what the expensive problem, what the pain that target market is experiencing is, and understands how to communicate about that pain with that audience either by demonstrating their authority, their knowledge of this area of expertise, sharing solutions for that pain or problem, or just sharing a controversial opinion about, “Hey, there’s this problem in the industry, and people say ‘A’, but I say ‘not A’. I say ‘Z’,” so I really think it comes down to understanding your market and saying, “Hey this makes sense,” but I really don’t have a strict quantitative definition for when it makes sense to jump in. Good, good question, though. I need to think on this.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, and once you do get that email out there, I’ll be sure to link that up. And for people who aren’t familiar with Kai’s daily emails, where can they go to get that?
Kai Davis: Oh, they could go to kaidavis.com/daily. That’s K-A-I-D-A-V-I-S dot com/daily. Every day, I send out an email on marketing and consulting for independent business owners, primarily an audience of freelancers and consultants, but the ideas very much are evergreen and apply to founders of bootstrap companies or founders of funded companies.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome. And so, before we wrap up, Kai, I like to ask all of my guests just a few rapid-fire questions. So, I’m gonna go through them pretty quickly, but your answers don’t have to be too short. The first one is just right now, what are you currently finding yourself spending too much time on?
Kai Davis: I’m in the middle of migrating between project management tools, and so I’m spending a lot of time on meta, “How do I know what to focus on at the right time?” And so, it’s something that I know will be solved in the short term, but I just find myself spending a lot of time thinking about, “What’s the best way to organize this task?” Or, “When is it something that I should not focus on and sort of put in a backlog or a notebook to consider again in three months? And when is it something I should focus on now?”
Andy Baldacci: What are you migrating from, and, I guess, what are you migrating to?
Kai Davis: I’ve been a long term OmniFocus user for the last eight years. I took a break for about a year and a half and switched to Trello as my project management tool, and I’m just now migrating back to OmniFocus with a short detour to Things in the middle. Things is a great piece of software — absolutely love it — but I just kept trying to hack it into OmniFocus, so I decided to move back to OmniFocus, and after some time away, I’m very much enjoying the new version of OmniFocus.
Andy Baldacci: Nice. What do you not spend enough time doing?
Kai Davis: Probably working on my own business, and that’s hard to say as somebody who repeatedly evangelizes, “Make time to work on your own business.”
Andy Baldacci: Who do you find yourself learning from?
Kai Davis: I just ordered a copy of “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz, and I honestly think it’s the best book on copywriting, and advertising, and marketing that I’ve read in my life. So, Eugene Schwartz is high, high, high on my list of authors I’m learning from at the moment.
Andy Baldacci: That book … when you gave it a recommendation, I immediately spent the $100, $150 to buy that, and it is now at the top of my list, so I’m excited to dig into that. And then the last one, Kai, is just what is the biggest challenge that you’re facing in your business today?
Kai Davis: It really comes down to attention and focus. There’s so many different opportunities that you could be presented with in a day, a week, or a year — learning how to say no to a great opportunity that makes sense on paper, but just doesn’t make sense in terms of time or attention or other limited resources is one of the hardest lessons to learn. I’ve read about this through my entire life, “Hey, the distinction that makes a good company leader or a good CEO, a good CEO is being able to say no to a great idea because you don’t have the time or attention to focus on it,” but implementing that is incredibly, incredibly hard, and so I’m constantly saying, “Hey, this is a great idea. I don’t have the time to do it well. I’m going to have to set it aside even though it seems like a great idea.”
Andy Baldacci: Interesting, and I think a lot of listeners and I think myself as well can definitely relate to that. But, Kai, it’s been a lot of fun chatting today. If listeners want to hear more from you or learn more about what you’re up to at Double Your Audience, where are the best places for them to go to do that?
Kai Davis: I’d recommend either … Actually, I’d recommend both — signing up for my daily email newsletter at kaidavis.com/daily, and I’ll put together a few bonus resources for the listeners of the show if they head to doubleyouraudience.com/ESF. That’s doubleyouraudience.com/ESF. You could download a few bonus resources and get the latest on what I’m up to.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome, and I’ll make sure to get all of that linked up in the show notes. Kai, thank you, again, so much for coming on the show today.
Kai Davis: Thank you so much for having me.