It’s never been harder for an early-stage founder to break through the noise.
But there is one tactic smart startups are using to stand out: launching a podcast hosted by the founder.
A founder-hosted podcast can help your startup establish credibility, increase brand awareness, and position your brand as a subject matter expert that your customers can trust to lead them into the future.
In this post, we’ll explore the five problems a podcast can solve for your B2B startup — but first, let’s get clear on what exactly we’re talking about here.
What is Thought Leadership Podcasting?
Thought Leadership Podcasting is a podcast hosted by the founder that aims to increase brand awareness and establish trust and credibility. This is achieved by interviewing hand-picked strategic guests for each episode that you collaborate together with to create useful, informative, and original content that engages your target customers.
In 2016, a small startup named Snyk announced they were launching “The Secure Developer” Podcast, hosted by their founder and CEO. The mission of the podcast was clear:
“…I’m excited to announce my new podcast, ‘The Secure Developer’. Each episode will feature a new guest, sharing their experience on building security into their companies, discussing tools that can help, and reviewing good and bad practices seen in the real world. The goal of the podcast is to arm developers and AppSec teams with better ways to upgrade their security posture, one step at a time!”
112 episodes and $1.4 billion in funding later, Snyk’s founder continues to host the podcast. Their founder’s commitment to consistently dedicate time to do this —especially during their rapid growth — is a clear indicator of the value that podcasting can bring.
Now let’s explore the five problems in your startup that launching a thought leadership podcast can solve.
5 Problems Thought Leadership Podcasting Solves For Your Startup
Problem #1: Your startup needs top-of-funnel awareness.
The Problem: Every early-stage company has an awareness problem. Most investors, journalists, analysts, talent, and of course, customers, don’t know that you exist. You need these core groups to know your name, what problem you solve, and why you matter to them. Before you can have the luxury of worrying about the middle and bottom of the funnel, you first need to pour as much awareness into the top of the funnel as possible.
How a Podcast Helps: Launching a podcast provides a path to generate highly targeted awareness. We call this strategic visibility.
First, with each episode, you generate one-to-one awareness with the guest at the very least. Guests can include industry influencers, potential target customers, or strategic partners. Interviewing them on your show opens the door to building a relationship and getting them to know who you are.
Second, once the episode is live, it will be shared with the guest’s network and by others. This pushes your name in front of people that would likely have never heard of you before.
With our own podcast, Category Visionaries, we interview visionary B2B founders who are creating new market categories. Conversations about the future excite us, but most importantly, these are the exact founders who we want to work with. By interviewing these founders on our podcast, we get our name in front of them and begin establishing a relationship. While it would be great if thousands of people listened to each episode, our value and ROI will come from having simply a few of these founders that we interview converting into deals for us anytime in the next one to two years.
Problem #2: Your startup needs trust and credibility.
The Problem: Every startup has a trust and credibility problem. The more innovative your idea is, the bigger your trust deficit will be. That’s because big ideas require people to change the way they think — which is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Big ideas also require people to take a risk. When you are trying to convince a buyer to abandon their legacy tool for your innovative solution, they are taking a risk.
How a Podcast Helps: There are three highly effective ways to build trust and credibility. The first is through social proof. Hosting your own podcast builds social proof by aligning your name with others that your target customers respect. The second is through education. When you teach someone something new, they begin to view you as someone they can trust instead of someone just trying to sell them a product. The third is through repetition. The more times you can get in front of someone, the more familiar you become. Podcasting gives you a way to get in front of your target customers on a regular basis in an authentic way.
Problem #3: You need to be positioned as an expert in the problem you solve.
The Problem: Having a big idea and some venture capital behind you does not mean people will immediately drop what they are doing to pay attention to what you are doing. Before people will give you the time of day and actually care about what you are saying, they need to believe that you know what you are talking about. They need to view you as a subject expert, not a delusional founder with a dream.
How a Podcast Helps: Podcasting helps you build what we call “depth of expertise.” Each episode demonstrates to your target audience that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the problem you are solving. Over time, the more episodes you do, the more proof you have to demonstrate that you are an expert. Most importantly, though, each podcast gives you the opportunity to learn directly from potential customers and industry leaders. With each episode, you are one insight away from a massive breakthrough.
Our client The Trusted Web built an innovative solution to help tackle the problem of fake news. Their target customers are media companies and publishers. To help establish their CEO as an expert, we launched a podcast and brought on targeted guests. The first season, we brought on a dozen leading experts on the problem of fake news. The second season, we brought on editors from the top publications, including TechCrunch, Associated Press, and The Verge. After 40+ episodes, it would be hard to deny that our client is in fact an expert on the problem of fake news. That’s 40+ pieces of proof that he knows what he’s talking about, and that they are capable of building a solution to the problem.
Problem #4: You need to know the people who matter.
The Problem: Every industry has their own version of influencers — highly influential people whose opinions and views are well respected. The problem is that these people most likely have no idea your startup exists, and sending them generic self-promotional email isn’t going to break through the noise and put you on their radar.
How a Podcast Helps: Hosting a podcast is a way for you to open doors with the people you want to bring into your network. Instead of reaching out and asking if you can buy them coffee, pick their brain, or worse, give them a product demo, podcasting gives you a unique reason to reach out to them. It flips the dynamic of the relationship where instead of you reaching out and asking them for a favor, you reach out and offer them something that practically every human on earth wants: the chance to talk about themselves and feel important.
The Our client Raydiant has built a platform to help brick-and-mortar businesses manage their in-location experience. When we launched their “Brick and Mortar Reborn” podcast in early 2020, we focused on interviewing all the established industry experts and key players. This aligned their CEO’s name with those who their target customers know and respect, and dramatically increased their trust and credibility by association.
Problem #5: You need to create and share quality content consistently.
The Problem: All founders know by now that content is important. But they also know finding the time to consistently create high-quality content is hard, especially in the early days.
How a Podcast Helps: Podcasting generates a steady supply of high-quality content that you can use to power your content marketing efforts. One single podcast episode can be transformed into blog posts, multiple snippets to share on social media, and videos.
A well-executed thought leadership podcast can help you break through the noise, open doors, build awareness, and establish trust and credibility with your target audience.
While thought leadership podcasting is just one tactic to deploy in your Thought Leadership Marketing Program, it’s one of the most effective tactics that exists today.