How This Consultant Helped Spartan Monetize Their Podcast - with Marion Abrams

Have you considered a B2B podcast to reach your business goals? oncoming fist: medium-light skin tone
A video podcast allows you to easily share your business story and value proposition with your audience. On top of that, the content can be repurposed in a near-endless number of ways.
Marion Abrams, host of Grounded Content podcast and podcast consultant, is our most recent guest on B2B Podcasting. Learn from Marion and her years of experience in content creation and crafting successful shows. studio microphone 
This episode will help you find your footing and jump in to the podcasting world fire
Main Takeaways:
hammer and wrench Learn how to craft a story for your business podcast
hammer and wrench Discover the significant ROI a video podcast can provide for your business
hammer and wrench Repurpose video and audio content to reach your target audience
hammer and wrench Find out how you can measure success with a podcast
alarm clock 00:00 - 09:49 | Harness the power of storytelling for your business growth
alarm clock 09:49 - 16:12 | Learn how to track ROI and the success of your video podcast
alarm clock 16:12  - 25:38 | How to improve as a podcast host and interview guide
alarm clock 25:38 - 48:48 | Repurpose the video/audio content of your show in creative ways
speech balloon β€œA conversation is different from a podcast interviewβ€”in a good interview there's the audience and I need to lead the conversation in the direction that's valuable to my audience.” - Marion Abrams
speech balloon β€œA primary piece of advice I would give to any podcaster right now is listen to your own show.” - Marion Abrams
speech balloon β€œDon't let whatever your business objective is trump what your audience needs.” - Marion Abrams
speech balloon β€œA podcast is a really great way to practice clarifying your message.” - Marion Abrams
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Kap Chatfield  00:20

Hey gang, welcome back to B2B Podcasting, the show to help B2B CEOs, brand leaders, sales leaders, and marketing leaders skip ads, and be the show. I'm your host, Kap Chatfield, the CEO of Rveal Media. Today we got Marion Abrams on the show. First of all, you got to check out her LinkedIn profile, we'll put her LinkedIn profile in the show notes of this episode. That's how I got connected with her. And I discovered someone who is truly not just a thought leader in any industry, but a thought leader in the world of podcasting, and audio slash video storytelling. Marion is a podcast coach slash consultant. She's helped people such as the Spartan group with the Spartan Up podcast, we'll talk more about, we'll talk more about that show and that case study a little bit. But I'm sure you're familiar with like Spartan Races, and just that whole brand, that whole world. Super excited that she's been able to help them. She's also got her own show, it's called, she's the host of Grounded Content, a podcast all about creating really meaningful content that actually helps you build a personal brand and grow your business. So Marion, we're just so, I'm so grateful to have you on the show today. And thanks for chatting with us.


Marion Abrams  01:28

Yeah, it's been great to connect with you. And we met on LinkedIn again, because I don't know if I found you first, or you found me first. But you know, you can tell when when people are sharing the right stuff, right? When they're good thinkers, the answers are the same, no matter like who they come from. And I think that's how we found each other.


Kap Chatfield  01:48

I think so. I forget, I really forget how I came across you. But I do remember, and I don't want to spoil it, because we will get to the Spartan Up podcast shortly, but I do remember seeing a video clip of the hosts slash producers of the Spartan Up podcast, just really, you know, you know, just really putting wind in your sails, so to speak, just really talking highly about you, and how you help take their show you really helped optimize and maximize their show. So let's I don't I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Stay tuned, you guys want to listen to this full episode, it's gonna be a really cool story. But let's start from the beginning, Marion, because I know you got a whole background in media production. It's like a pretty colorful career experience. So why don't you tell us a little bit about your background before podcasting, and how it shifted into this world of podcasting?


Marion Abrams  02:36

Yeah, sure. I mean, so I have a degree in film, I went to film school. And, you know, I've had the opportunity to have such a diverse background and experience, but all of it in content creation. And that's what I realized kind of looking back was what's the unifying thing that brings all the different experiences I've had? They're all content creation, message development, right? And all to serve a business goal, because I always had paying clients and there's always a business goal no matter what you're doing. And so whether I was, you know, shooting multi-cam sports on ski slopes or in South Africa, or whether I was a social media consultant for a gubernatorial campaign, or whether I'm developing a podcast, or producing a documentary or recording testimonials, doing commercials for Vermont lottery, editing, even a I edited a nationally syndicated birdwatching series for PBS. So I've gotten to do a lot of things. And what I think that does is it keeps your problem solving skills really awake and alert, because you're always solving new challenges. And it gives me kind of an ability to really look big picture at what content works and how do you really think that through.


Kap Chatfield  03:53

I really appreciate the the way that you're able to connect all these different mediums. I, I don't know if you knew this, I actually have a degree in film as well. I went to the University of Miami and I finished, I don't want to make this about me. But I just think it's a cool connection. I finished school and I realized Hollywood's not hitting me up to direct anything right now. So I got to figure out how to put this thing to work, the skill set that I have and monetize it. And so that took me down this journey of podcasting. Eventually, I was in social media as well marketing. I'm really curious what got you excited about podcasting specifically?

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Marion Abrams  04:26

Yeah, so first of all, I I, I could tell you're a film school grad because you started the podcast saying "321 action", right? 


Kap Chatfield  04:34

Yep. You got it. Yep. 


Marion Abrams  04:36

I expected the slate to close. So what got me excited about podcasting really, initially was my relationship and friendship business relationship with Joe De Sena, who's the founder and CEO of Spartan. We actually lived a half a mile away from each other, our families did in a tiny town in Vermont of 500 people. And my background was in television and creating stories and he was created these incredible events. And so we had started to work together organically, really before Spartan was even a thing. And you know, his wife and I were friends, our kids grew up together. And a few years into that process, he was promoting his first book called Spartan Up. And I was helping him with some of the promotion. And we were getting him appearances on all these podcasts. And he found that that was converting better than anything else for his business. He would travel around the world, and people would come up to him and they would say, "Are you Joe De Sena"? Because they recognize his voice and they recognize it from his appearances as a guest on a podcast. And so when we saw how well it was working, he looked at me and said, like, "we should do this, let's start a podcast". And it really was that simple and that complicated. That was in 2014. And I had a background in production and social media. So I thought it would be easy, because I thought it was all about, like, I know how to operate the camera. We've been on YouTube from day one, as well as podcast, but I knew the tech, I knew the microphones, you know, I knew how to produce a show. And so that part was easy for us. And then that eight-year journey has really been understanding what's unique about the power of podcasts, and what's unique about the challenges of podcasts, and how to really understand what they can do for the company and for the business and for Joe's personal brand.


Kap Chatfield  06:26

That's awesome. And you clearly have this really strong starting place. As far as a really interesting client to work with for a show. I know that you've worked with a handful of other people, you're still doing I know, we just talked about your you successfully onboarded some new clients from this workshop that you did. Congratulations on that. So I'm curious, though, who would you say is your ideal person to work with that's starting a show? Is it going to be someone that's like a hobbyist that wants to do a show? Or is it like, you know, fortune 500 company that wants to add it to their marketing repertoire?


Marion Abrams  07:00

Right. So first, I would just want to say like a lot of people give the hobbyist crap. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing it as a hobby, just like you can be a hobby, you know, watercolor painter, or, you know, hobby crochet-er, that's, like really valuable and we should respect those people. I do prefer to work with the people who are doing it for business, because I think it's really fun to solve that puzzle, and say, "what are your business goals? How can we craft something that's really uniquely designed to serve those goals, and really start there?" And so the ideal client, for me is someone who either has their own in-house team and is ready to launch a podcast, but really wants to understand the podcasting ecosystem and how to how to really structure their own voice in a way that's going to be effective. And by effective, I mean, it has to be really interesting to the listener, that's an important part, right? Or somebody who's further along their journey, and they're self taught or they're ready to reassess. And, you know, we're not going to learn and focus on your launch plan, or what mic you're using, or, you know, your RSS feed, we're going to focus on how do we really craft content that's effective? Right? How do we make the show even better? That's where I really like to jump in.

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Kap Chatfield  08:22

Yeah, I could tell you really, the storytelling component is probably where you really come alive is not the technical stuff, not just getting the things started. But how do we make this an interesting, episodic content machine that is drawing an audience and ultimately, like you'd said, leading people towards a business development objective, which I think is super, super important. Question, when you're working with these, these customers, these ideal clients, I should say, what do you typically see is the biggest problem that they face when either beginning a show or maybe they're, they have begun a show but they kind of hit this plateau?


Marion Abrams  09:00

Frankly, I think most of them get it wrong. They feel stuck, right? They feel frustrated, because they're not getting traction. They're not getting the numbers they want. They're not seeing the results they want. And so one of the first things that we do is really get clarity on what are the results you want? Because a lot of the time they're measuring the wrong things and getting frustrated, and they're actually doing better than they think. So a lot of the time somebody is measuring their success on how many downloads they have, when really their goal is, you know, to grow their email list. And they should be measuring the success on how many people are converting to the email list, right? So that's the first piece is really getting clear on what is the show doing for you, so that we can measure against that and oftentimes we find them more successful than they think. And then we really double down on that.


Kap Chatfield  09:49

That's awesome. So you're getting like clear from the jump, "Hey, how are we going to measure success?" And there could probably be dozens of ways that they could measure success, but sounds like you're saying, "let's get laser focused. Let's get clear. Let's make it simple. And let's not overthink it. And and then double down on what we see is working".


Marion Abrams  10:08

Yeah, I mean, I think if you don't if you don't set a measure for success and there, like you said, there are so many measures, and some of them are less measurable. I mean, some of them are, you know, like the networking connections or the content generation, there are a lot of different reasons to do it. And those reasons can change over time. But if you don't get clear on what the reason is, that kind of pragmatic purpose, then it's kind of inevitable that you're going to fizzle out and get frustrated, because you have no way to kind of feel like you're moving forward.


Kap Chatfield  10:40

Okay, I can't wait any more, we got to talk about the Spartan Up podcast. So this case study specifically, you'd mentioned that this, this friend of yours came to you and said, "Hey, this is I've been featured on all these shows, it's working, it's building a brand, I want to do my own show". What tell us why don't you tell us the process of uncovering "hey, how are we going to measure success with this podcast?" Because being a guest on someone else's show is a completely different animal than crafting your own narrative that you're responsible for optimizing, maintaining and growing over time. So why don't you walk us through the process of how you guys began that development process.

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Marion Abrams  11:19

And this is where my clients now get the benefit of everything we did wrong there. Because we really just, you know, it to his, to his credit, or the the CEO of Spartan, and this was he was friend, but also client, you know, before this. He's like, his motto is Fire Ready, Aim. Right? So we started the show, without really a lot of idea what we were doing. And we learned as we went by making all these mistakes. So there were about 20 episodes that we recorded that we have never published, the first 20. Because they were, they were I don't want to say they were crap. But they were not, they weren't good. Right? That's the truth. And they didn't, they didn't move the conversation forward. They weren't working. It's sad, because we had some great guests. And we need to go back and revisit with those guests now that we know what we're doing. But I actually think that's important to share with podcasters that this is a skill. This is a learned skill, being a great host being a great interviewer, being a great not just conversationalist, but having the right directed conversation that are going to move the audience in the direction you want them to, that are gonna, you know, give them those benefits. Because, you know, here's my favorite thing to say is that listeners are narcissists, right? They listen for their own reason. So unless there's something in it for them, they're not going to keep listening. And what that is, it could be a lot of different things. It could be motivation, or camaraderie, it could be education, it could be friendship, or community, it could be entertainment, like, it doesn't have to be one specific thing. But if that's not there for them, they're not going to come back. So doing that practice, especially if you already have a, you know, a reputation out there. Doing that practice in private is is really valuable. And I think that's a step that a lot of people skip. And we didn't intend to do that step, but we did it because we looked at the work and we said, "this is not right. And let's go let's go find, you know, let's go figure out how to do this well."


Kap Chatfield  13:26

That's pretty impressive that you, you were able to look at the content you that your team was producing objectively, from the jump. Because what I've, you know, it's kind of like, when you get on camera for the first time, you could just have that sort of, what's the word? Just be self conscious, and, and not like seeing yourself on camera. But then there's other times where, you know, it's like, everyone loves to hear themselves sing. But then when someone else you hear someone else sing, you're like, "oh my gosh, it's like, is that what I sound like?" So to have that ability to look objectively at your original content and say, "Man, this isn't quite what we want. This is, like there's a gap between our expectation and where we are right now." I'm sure a lot of people who are starting their own shows, either they recognize that or they're about to recognize that if they look back on some other earlier episodes. I want to get very tactical with this. What are some of the what are some of the things that early podcasters tend to overlook when they're just beginning doing their their content?


Marion Abrams  14:27

I think the biggest thing is really being intentional. A lot of people start a podcast because either they just want to start a podcast or a lot of friends say like "you should do a podcast, you know so many people you love having conversations". But a conversation is different from a podcast interview, because a conversation is driven by like the two people engaged, right? And it should be as much what I want to talk about as what you want to talk about. That's what a good conversation is. But a good interview isn't that. A good interview, there's that third person and that's the audience. And I need to lead the conversation in the direction that's going to be valuable to my audience, whether that's like making it funny, or making it serious or on, you know, uncovering facts or emotions or whatever that is. And so I think most podcasters think that the hard thing is getting the right mic and getting the right lighting if it's a video, but they really give very little thought to how to build a conversation, or an interview to build that content of the podcast. And it makes me crazy. I saw a post by one of the big podcasting influencers the other day, and it was like, "so many podcasters are shocked to learn that interviewing is the hardest part". And I was like, "of course it is". It's like saying "writing the book is the hardest part". Right? That's, that's the part. That's what the whole thing is, you know?


Kap Chatfield  15:55

Yeah. I am really interested in uncovering that more. and I want to fire from the hip for a question for you. This isn't something that we talked about. But because you're an expert, I bet you can answer this. And we'll, 


Marion Abrams  16:11

Put me on the spot, I'm ready. 


Kap Chatfield  16:12

Yeah, I got to put you on the spot. We got to we got to see if you got the chops? I bet you do. So the question I want to ask is, when you're doing a live interview, you have a live audience. One of the things, because I'll do like speaking engagements from the stage, I have a live audience. One thing that's been really helpful for me in my live engagements, is being able to read the room. You know, when a bad joke just doesn't land. And then you have to kind of pivot and like not make it a joke or not bring too much attention to it and keep the thing rolling. And there's that's the benefit of having a live audience that you get that feedback with. But when you're doing a show, even as we're doing this right now, you don't have that audience there. It's like the audience is going to be is going to exist in the future. It's like a time capsule sort of experience. What has been helpful for you as a as a host, that maybe you're teaching some of your clients to help them be cognizant of that third person, even when they're not there actually, in the recording?


Marion Abrams  17:13

Yeah, there's two things I'm going to say to that. The first is the the primary piece of advice I would give to any podcaster right now listening is listen to your own show. And most of them are going to say like, "oh, I listened to it when I edit or I listened to it when I'm working on it". No, I don't mean that. I mean, after it's published, on your run, when you're going to the grocery store, when you're doing dishes, folding laundry, listen to your show the way other people listen to it. And that will allow you to really hear it in a new way. And I guarantee you to this day, after eight years still, I produce the show, I'll edit the episode, I'll listen to it on my run. And I'll say, oh shit, like this connection wasn't clear. Or this, you know, this transition didn't make sense. Or we missed this question. Right? So that's number one, listen to your show. And then the other piece is, it is different from a room. Because in a room, that room is the audience you have. In a podcast, it's okay if some people walk in the room, listen for a few minutes turn around and leave because they're not in the right place. So you do need to let them know right at the beginning, is this the right place for them? And should they stay there, right? But it's a little different than a room because you're kind of building your audience.


Kap Chatfield  18:33

I, I love it. I love it, we're taking that you're gonna see that as either a quote graphic or micro video guarantee, that is some valuable practical content. And it's so true because you can get so caught up in "we did that episode, we recorded, I don't need to listen again." But one thing that I've talked to other speakers that do public speaking and they're like, "I don't want to listen to myself, I don't want to watch myself". The challenge is the challenge to them or to us as speakers is well everybody else has to, everybody that you want to listen to you has to listen to it so for you not to sit down and and be your own critique in that way or critic it's you're really missing out on some major opportunity for growth. I'd love to circle back to the start the excuse me the Spartan Up podcast, that case study. So when you you're helping this team out in crafting the narrative and building these these business objectives. First of all, what what were the main business objectives that they were trying to hit with their show?


Marion Abrams  19:32

So here's the thing, first of all this show, I love the way you're talking about building the team and all that. Spartan in the early days was super scrappy, right? So there was no massive team, right? It was me carrying a bunch of camera equipment, running around with Joe and like finding people. It was very seat of the pants in the early days. We had a bunch of co-hosts and in some ways we had huge opportunities, right? We like flew to Richard Branson's Island and interviewed him there and came back and you know recut it with new host intros and all that. But the initial objective was very clear, the initial objective was sell books. The initial objective was there's a book Spartan Up coming out, how do we sell more books? And over the period of years, the business objectives have changed. And oftentimes, they change kind of gradually and organically, because when your host is the CEO of the company, sometimes they don't even verbalize the changes in their business objectives. But they're there front of mind. So in the beginning, it was sell books, right? Then there was a period where we really needed some, some deals, some sponsors for the company. And there were some interviews that were really driven by, you know, the opportunity to open doors to meet some new people. They still had to be audience centered conversations, but sometimes that goal was more than that department, right? And then for a long time, the goal was really about content generation. And when we talk about repurposing content, I think one of the ways that people overlook, people think about repurposing content and they think about, you know, I need to re-edit it and make a micro clap and make a quote graphic. But the other thing, especially if the host of the show is a speaker, or a CEO, or some kind of thought leader, is it's talking points. You're learning and you're getting new ideas, or new backup for your ideas, every time you do that interview, and that becomes your talking points. So then when you're interviewed on another show, you suddenly aren't just, you know, spouting your ideas, you're suddenly saying, like, "Well, when I spoke to this scientist about this on my show", or, you know, "this expert or this athlete had this experience", you suddenly have this huge pool to draw on. 


Kap Chatfield  21:52

You're, you're opening up a can of worms everywhere, I don't even know which way to go. So we're gonna, I'm gonna I'm taking down notes. I'm like, I want to hit all these different conversations off of what we're talking about. I want to start just to recap what you said, because I don't want people to miss this. You're saying that with the Spartan Up podcast, you guys, have you allowed the target of what your business objective was to shift over time. And if I'm reading this correctly, that actually affected the content of the show and and the experience of the show and you guys were okay with that. Am I hearing that correctly?


Marion Abrams  22:29

100% Yeah. 100%. And, because, essentially, why is a business have a podcast? The business has a podcast to serve its business objectives. If they weren't doing that, what would be the point? So if you have started a podcast, and your primary objective is to grow your audience and sell sponsorships, this is a different calculation, right? But if it's a business objective, then that's the primary goal, right? It's got to serve the business. Now, when you have a show that's hosted by the CEO, and in large part driven by their innate curiosity, the audience will usually follow. The audience will follow that journey, because they're curious about the same kinds of things. So that drive to build the business and all the things that that host has gone through over the years and the changes we've made, they've all been sort of driven by that same goal, right? How are you more resilient in mind and body? How do you take on challenges? How do you keep your your physical self and your mental self driving forward? Now, sometimes they're a little more businessy, sometimes they're a little more neuroscience-y, but we're always driven to that same goal.


Kap Chatfield  23:42

And I would, one thing you'd said too that I think, is really important for for our audience to understand, because again, the audience that we're talking to right now is either they're either doing their own show for a business objective, or they're at least entertaining the idea, trying to gather a lot of data together, how would they do that successfully? All those sorts of things. One thing that you said that's really important for people to understand, I want to double, you know, double emphasize it, is you don't let whatever your business objective is trump what your audience needs, right? So there's a way to marry those two, and you've got to find how they marry each other. Because otherwise, your audience will sniff it out a mile away. They will know when you're just bringing featured guests onto the show to to make some sponsorship money because all of a sudden, it's not providing the value to them, that they were looking for.


Marion Abrams  24:35

100%. And that's also where the magic comes in. That's where somebody like you or somebody like me, or somebody who really spends a lot of time thinking about this can really help a client say, here's the business objective, right? Here's the way we execute on that that's still valuable to the audience. I interviewed the guy who runs partnerships at a large organization for creative content for Vox, right? And one of the examples he told me about was KitchenAid, I think I hope it was KitchenAid. It was pretty sure it was KitchenAid. But basically, they ended up they found that the number of graduates from culinary institutes was maybe even women and men, but the number of top chefs or well paid chefs was all was primarily men. And so they did a series and they featured female top chefs, right? So KitchenAid wasn't saying, like, "we're gonna do recipes", right? It served their business objective, but they did it in a way that was super engaging and interesting for the audience.


Kap Chatfield  25:38

Right. So there was alignment, but they're not selling through their show. It's super cool. Through this process with Spartan Up podcast, you talked about you guys were really getting into repurposing content. And that's something that I, I just I try to communicate till the till the cows come home, to our customers. Is, we have some people that come to us say, "hey, I want to just do an audio only podcast", and I'm not against that. But I'm thinking "man, if you're gonna, if you really want to market this thing well, doesn't take too much extra work to turn on the camera as well". But now you have that much more content. So I want to ask you like, what do you say to people who are in that place of "I, you know, I want to repurpose this, I want to maximize this, but I don't want to show up on camera, I'd rather this be an audio only podcast".


Marion Abrams  26:30

For many years, the podcast was like the content factory for for Spartan, but, you know, I'm gonna push back a little bit on your idea here. And that is if I'm working with a CEO, or a host that really is not comfortable on camera, there are other ways, right? And so for example, the content in Spartan Up became several books, right? It informed books that were written and published. Again, it became talking points for the CEO when he appeared on podcasts, it became blog articles. So there are other ways to repurpose. If the video isn't, you know, if that CEO or that host, if they're not ready for that, if they're not comfortable with that, it's still super valuable. Now, it opens up a lot more doors, if you add video, that's for sure. But, you know, one of the other reasons I like to work with people one on one is, it's all about moving them in the right direction. And sometimes that's an inch at a time. And it depends on where they're starting, you know?


Kap Chatfield  27:41

I love that. And I love how I will receive that because I'm such a video guy. And I've come through this COVID phenomenon that we've all gone through. And I've discovered that we've all been kind of thrust in this place of you got to get comfortable on camera. Now you got to talk to your team on camera, you got to talk to your customers on camera. I don't see that going away anytime soon. But I do love the perspective that and I agree, with audio, there's still a lot of versatility about how you can expand that and and take it into some really deep content, particularly books. So totally open to that. Thank you for the challenge. I love that you're not a yes, yes, ma'am. And just saying whatever you think I want to hear. So I want to,


Marion Abrams  28:24

Can I follow up on that real quick? I'm just gonna keep taking you off track. The one thing I will say is, I think you're right, people do need to get comfortable being on camera. And I think one of the keys is to really understand that your content is not you. And I think that's such a key key lesson,


Kap Chatfield  28:40

What do you mean by that? Your content is not you. 


Marion Abrams  28:43

So you being on camera, that's a skill. It's like being a good baseball player, learning how to, you know, run a marathon. A lot of people somehow think that putting themselves out on camera, if they're not good at it, it means they just don't have charisma, or they don't have that thing or they're not good at it. They they take it as a judgment of themselves and their character and their value. When really, it's something you can learn how to do and you really need to separate your identity from the content. And that's kind of goes back to what we talked about, like why you listen to your show in a way that will let you remove yourself from it right? And how you can look at your content and judge it and say it's not where I want it to be because it's not about "I'm not what I want to be" it's about "I'm not I haven't learned the skill yet". You know? 


Kap Chatfield  29:31

Right. I love that. I want to I want to circle back on this these business development goals that you guys had for Spartan Up podcast and I just want to hear how those turned out. When you guys, when you guys had pivoted from, I guess you could say even season to season. Let's just say that, like kind of metaphorically for throughout the duration of the show. Have you, have you guys been able to see success towards those business development goals? And if so, please explain what that looked like.


Marion Abrams  29:59

This is a great question, and here's the truth, I'm going to be somebody who is not going to answer everything that I am not 100% confident in the answer of. So I take the initiative from, from our CEO or from the marketing department, and I try to build something that meets those results. But in the early days, like selling the book, I don't actually I mean, I know we sold a lot of books, but we tried everything. We did everything. And I can't really, genuinely tell you what impact the podcast had. But I do think about it like a virtuous cycle, right? It's the opposite of the vicious cycle. It's a virtuous cycle. And so you have all these pieces. And I have no question that they all feed each other, and they build this upward spiral, to sell the product or to meet that business goal. And so I honestly cannot tell you like, what percentage of book sales came from the podcast. But I can tell you that whole integrated effort that included the podcast and meeting those people and being on their shows, because they were on our show, and creating content, and having conversations and having new talking points, like all of that was incredibly valuable to the business goal. But yeah, I don't have a metric for it.


Kap Chatfield  31:14

That's fair. But I will I will ask this question, how long have you guys been doing that show for?


Marion Abrams  31:20

We have been doing the show first episode launched in January of 2015.


Kap Chatfield  31:26

Okay, so for the sake of everyone understanding, I'm gonna timestamp this. By the time of this recording, it is February 3rd, 2022. So that is almost seven years later, right? Five plus seven,


Marion Abrams  31:40

And we have had, you know, last I checked, which was probably six months ago, we had 35 million views and downloads. So we, you know, we've had a lot of people listen to the show.


Kap Chatfield  31:50

So that's those are some good metrics. But this is the point that I'm trying to make, was there was a shift that happened where your client said, "we are, we see the value of podcasting, in regards to me being on a featured a featured guest on someone else's show". I want to make the investment of time because this it's an investment of time, you're committing to a journey of going down this content creation, you know, path. But then not only that, this was I've heard like this statistic, I quite honestly don't know how real it is, I could imagine that it's 100% real, though, but most podcasts end up stopping after about the seventh or eighth episode. And so here you are seven years down the road with this thing. There's, you don't just commit down a journey for seven years, unless at some point, you think "you know what? This is working". So I'd love to hear your perspective on because we kind of got the idea of they wanted to start the show because the featured as being a featured guest, there was that brand recognition, there was the voice recognition. And you could see maybe not quantitatively, but at least qualitatively, "hey, we've gotten enough comments that are all the same comment that we know there's something about this". But I would love to hear your perspective of you know, what, what were these "aha moments" for them where they thought we we need to not just keep doing this, but we need to double down on this?


Marion Abrams  33:15

That's a great question. I have to think about that a little because I feel like every day I'm advocating for this show and I know the value. Where their "aha moments" are? I'm not sure. I think for the CEO, it's the emails, right? So he gets emails, and people say, "I heard this on the podcast, or I experienced that, I learned this". Those are powerful. I'm thinking about this. You've challenged with this one. 


Kap Chatfield  33:46

But well, it's, it's, it's something that I really maybe we can do like a follow up episode to discuss it deeper once you've had some time to really like get super meta about it. But the reason why I'm so interested in that is because you know my business model, Marion like we're here to serve B2B companies. And we're like a full service B2B video podcast agency, we do everything from helping strategize to production to distribution. But what we do requires a lot of work and it's an investment for these companies. And any company should rightfully ask the question, what's going to be the ROI of a project like this? Especially if it's not a one and done project, but you're essentially it's a retained service, right. And there's a lot of things that you can measure. I mean, I love how at the beginning of our show today, you talked about if your KPI is how many new emails you get on your email list, you can measure that and you can create systems to incentivize incentivize traffic from your show, to get them to getting on your email list and even purchases and things like that. There's ways to track that but there's something about, I've just seen personally, where even when the quantitative data isn't super sexy toward that business objective, right? There's something about those individual testimonies, those individual comments where it's like, as a business leader, it's it's like a priceless, and immeasurable amount of gas that just gets into your tank where you you go from saying, "you know what, I know that the numbers aren't quite where we want them and I know we had this expectation, and we thought that the buyers journey was going to look a little bit more linear than than what it seems to be. But I have gotten enough feedback from people, I've had enough conversations, I've had enough touch points with customers or with our audience members, to know that what we're doing actually matters, this thing matters impacting people". And there's something about that, that I think will propel people to continue to take that risk, because they know intuitively, this thing works, even though we can't measure it quantitatively right now,


Marion Abrams  35:54

And I'll tell you some, some measures, you know, now I had time to think about it, right?


Kap Chatfield  36:00

I gave you that time, by the way, I want you to appreciate I took the mic to give you a second. 


Marion Abrams  36:04

It was good. And and you know, but you actually shared some really good, good information. I think that's important to think about it that way. You know, one of the things is where we're looking now, we always look at what's kind of what's the overall business challenge. And again, in a way we have an advantage because we're so closely tied with the CEO, that sometimes those business challenges haven't even trickled through all the departments when they come to the podcast, because it's it's almost an intuitive thing. And so the podcast right now, we're really thinking about how is this a tool for retention? Right? So a customer comes and they do a race, then how do you keep them in the ecosystem? Right? You send them emails, you follow up? What's that post-purchase journey, like? And the podcast is great for that, right? You do one race and then how do you stay motivated? How do you keep yourself on track? Really, you need that partner, you need somebody that's with you a couple days a week to get you hyped up, to give you new ideas, to talk about your nutrition, your mindset and just kind of keep you on track, keep you reminded, keep you focused, right? So today, we're thinking about it that way. But here's something that cannot be questioned. And that is that we just landed our first title sponsor. So this show is benefiting Spartans brand, deeply, right? It's brand depth, its credibility, it's all those things beyond those specific targeted goals, and more now actually generating a profit.


Kap Chatfield  36:06

Come on, let's go.


Marion Abrams  36:22

So how can you question it? How can you question the value and here's another little kind of measure is for the CEO, right? We all know that your CEOs have to be out front more. A podcast is a really great way to practice clarifying your message. And, as a result, now, not only of the podcast, but of lots of efforts. The founder and CEO of Spartan, the host of our show, the primary host, he's got a CNBC show launching in next month, which is going to be an amazing show. It's called No Retreat, and businesses come up to his farm, and he tortures them and teaches them and all those things awesome. Not only has his, you know, years of performance doing the podcast, putting in the reps and practicing, set him up for that. But also, he's got this huge body of knowledge, from interviewing hundreds and hundreds of experts.


Kap Chatfield  38:36

That is awesome. I didn't know that show was coming out. I have to have to check that out. That's amazing. We're really almost running out of time. I wish we had more time today. And I do want to talk about your show a little bit. So why don't you tell us a little bit about a little bit about Grounded Content for a second?


Marion Abrams  38:53

Yeah, Grounded Content is really a place where I get to examine my side of the work right? I love Spartan, I love the motivation and the mindset, but Grounded Content is really for people like me, people who are content creators, or content strategist, but are doing it for a business goal. Whether they're building their own business, or they're working in a content department, or they're working their way up, you know, in content strategy. Those are the people I'm talking to. And so there's a lot of tactics and strategy. But the other thing is, I think it's really important that we ask ourselves all the time, where's the line between persuasion and manipulation? And how are we effective but also grounded in the content we create? And so I interview a lot of people who are, you know, tactical thinkers or strategic thinkers or philosophy, philosophical thinkers in the area of content creation, and I push back a lot I call bullshit a lot and just kind of dig deeper to say like, no, but is that really true? Does that really work? And you know, when is that too much? And we have good conversations where I think the audience will learn real strategies and tactics that are a mix of you know how to be a creative, but also how to be effective. But they'll also ask those questions of themselves, which are an important part of the equation is, where's that line?


Kap Chatfield  40:16

I really love that tagline that you just shared about the fine line between persuasion and manipulation. What inspired that, that that perspective, that point of view, and why do you care so much about content creators, content creators understanding that?


Marion Abrams  40:36

Well, I think there's a couple of things. And number one, of course, we're all aware of kind of the divisive climate, what's happening with social media and all that. But I think the awakening moment for me was I worked on a gubernatorial campaign, and I did their paid social media consulting. And so the short version is, when you're doing paid social media, if you're selling sunglasses or something, your goal is to look for this vein of gold, you know, you want a very identifiable, passionate audience that you can clearly identify and sell to, that's going to give you a high conversion rate. Right? When you bring that to the political space, it actually has a really negative impact. And we didn't know that. We were doing that, we were saying, "Okay, how do we get a high conversion rate for people coming to this candidates Facebook page?" Well, when we put these sort of, like, broad issues out, yeah, they're important to the candidate, but they don't convert like, it's, you know, it costs a lot for somebody to see the ad about some subtle, difficult issue and say, "Man, I want to follow that guy's page", when we put a, an issue out there that people are passionate and extreme and binary in terms of like, it's yes, or it's no about, it was very easy to convert them. And we were converting them super cheaply to become fans of that page. I hope I'm not getting too much in the weeds here. But what happend was, it was an eye opener for me, because I was the one guiding this candidates paid social strategy and I was using the tactics that worked for sunglasses. And what we did was we created a really difficult culture on that Facebook page. Because what happened was, we had really overweighted the community there with these people that were passionate about an extreme issue. And this was way before all the issues with Trump and all the cases that that came out and all the scandals, it was before all that, right? And so then when even the candidate would, you know, share kind of a personal discussion about a complicated issue, there would be just a pollution of comments saying, like, "I'm here for this, why aren't you talking about this, screw you", like, just ugliness. Wow. And the other thing that was really an eye opener for me is a lot of the people on the candidates team were not from a marketing space. And their first reaction was to be sort of anti marketing and say, you know, have those negative, like marketers are kind of scuzzy and whatever. But they hadn't had these conversations about where these lines are, and what the power of it is. And as soon as they saw the power, they kind of got blinded. And they pushed it too far. And so it's kind of like you talk to kids about drugs before they get exposed to drugs, so that they're thinking about it already. I feel like marketers need to have these conversations about what works and what doesn't, and what's beneficial for your community, before you actually face those things, so that you're just thinking about it, the lines are not clear. But you do need to think about it and be aware of it.


Kap Chatfield  43:40

That is, man, what an episode. We went so, we covered like everything and yet there's so much to cover, because that just hit me in such a personal level. Because one thing you know, we've talked about at our company is talking about this early on in our, in our, like startup days was there's a difference between moving people and manipulating people. It's essentially the same thing of persuasion and manipulation. And, and I think as a filmmaker, I'll just share this kind of brief story since we're having such a great conversation. The moment when I realized I wanted to be a filmmaker was when I was in high school. I went to this this film program at Boston University over the summer, I was like in between junior and senior year of high school. And we were all one of our projects was to do this the short film and I made like the psychological thriller, short film of like, this person starting off their first day at work and they like the the person who comes in with the mail gives this new employee, this young lady an envelope. She takes the envelope, opens it up, it's a DVD and she puts the DVD in a DVD player. And it's like a video of her in her house like brushing her teeth or something. And so it's like, what the heck is going on? So it's like this whole psych thriller of like, kind of like the stalker sort of story. And, and so we're we premiere this film, this short film at the end of the whole program. It's like everyone's there, their parents are there. It's like a room of like 100 people. And I'm just sitting in the audience. This is the first time I've like shown a film to an audience. And I remember, like, at the last scene, we had this, like really kind of, like, make your heart drop sort of suspenseful scene. And I just heard the entire room gasp at the same time. And I just thought, "this is cool". Like this is, this is powerful. The fact that you can move people so powerfully with media. And that's what took me on this journey to become a filmmaker. But I will say, especially recently, over the past few years of, of the media, and I've even seen, you know, I've even seen media professionals, either get caught on camera or come out openly and say, "You know what, like, this is a show, like we're, we were rigging the system, we know what's gonna, what's gonna pull certain emotions out of people. Fear is a really powerful emotion. Anger is a really powerful emotion. And we know what's going to get us numbers and ratings". And so. So as a marketer, I say, that little vignette to share with you, I see it too. And I'm really impressed. And I'm, I'm grateful that you're, you're taking this God-given gift that you have to communicate stories in a way that can move people towards positive change, and you're trying to encourage other content creators to take that gift seriously, and to do some good with it. So thank you for what you're doing.


Marion Abrams  46:36

Yeah, I mean, thank you for giving me the chance to talk about it. And, and I'll just, like, bring it back to ground level and say, like, I'm not anti business, right? It's just that the way we build the business and the way we promote the business, there are lines between how far we push, right? We can be effective. And the biggest thing is your customer lifetime value will probably be better if you're not pulling those strings and manipulating, right? Because they're going to stay with you.


Kap Chatfield  47:07

Couldn't agree more. And it's probably refreshing for people to have something that's not you know, just this an emotionally charged thing and trying to rile people up so. Marion, we, man, we got to get you on for a part two. This is so much fun.


Marion Abrams  47:22

This is so fun. I like I know it's like I'm talking about myself the whole time, but I really enjoyed this conversation. 


Kap Chatfield  47:27

Well, that's the point. We want you, you you have an amazing story. I love how we were able to unpack really unpack not just your thought leadership perspective and philosophies and theories but to look at a case study so in depth that this the Spartan Up podcast, and look at how you have been able to take this gift that you have, and help turn a show not only into like a seven year success, but actually to monetize it with a title sponsorship, which is like the Holy Grail of, of I think success with the show is for it to basically fund itself. So thank you so much for joining us on B2B Podcasting today. I'm going to let the audience know that in the show notes of this episode, you're going to see Marions LinkedIn profile, go follow her and I would also recommend shoot her a direct message. Don't sell her, don't be one of those LinkedIn DMS that that's selling her right away. But tell her "Hey, I saw you on or I heard you on B2B Podcasting. I loved what you had to say." Just connect with her. You can also check out her website and I would recommend if you are interested in getting coached up she's a great person to go to so make sure you check out her website and schedule a consultation. Marion, thank you so much again for joining us on B2B Podcasting today.


Marion Abrams  48:33

Thank you. I really enjoyed it.

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