Are you having trouble attracting the right prospects to your business? Once you have a good lead, how do you keep them warm long term? On this episode Jessica Rhodes of Interview Connections dives deep into what is working right now in the podcast world. You’ll hear if this is a good medium for you to use and what strategies you should take to get on great shows.
Josh Fonger: [00:00:00] All right. Welcome to the Work the System podcast, where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less using systems. And I’m your host, Josh Fonger. And today we’ve got a special guest. We’ve got Jessica Rhodes. And Jessica is the founder and the equal co-owner of Interview Connections. The first and leading podcast booking agency Interview Connections team of booking agents are the podcast powerhouses behind many of the record breaking book launches you’ve seen today with clients such as Ali Brown, JJ Virgin, Perry Marshall, other authors, as you may know, and numerous PR agencies who hire them for their podcasting, savvy and booking skills. Jessica started podcasting 2014 with the launch of Rock the Podcast and also as co-host at several other shows, including the Podcast Producers and Womansplaining. She is the acclaimed author of Interview Connections, How to Hashtag Rock the Podcast, From Both Sides of The Mic and has been a feature speaker at Podcast Movement, Pod Fest, Multimedia Expo, and Dream Business Academy. OK, very good. I’m excited to just get into this to get into this and learn more about podcasting this new medium to get the message out first to give us the backstory. How did you get into this line of work?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:01:15] Hey, Josh, thank you so much for having me on. I’m super excited to be here. So I got into the podcasting industry back in 2013. So I come from the non-profit industry, actually. So before I started my business, I was running a non-profit canvassing team. So I was part of an organization and we did door to door canvassing and fundraising. So I came from a world where I was outside knocking on doors, doing like community organizing, and then I got pregnant with my first child. And that lifestyle, that job is no longer what I wanted to do. So I was talking to my dad, who’s an entrepreneur, and I said I would really like to be a stay at home mom. And he told me about being a virtual assistant, which was a totally new concept to me. I was not familiar at all with online entrepreneurship or anything like that. And he says, Trust me, I will teach you everything you need to know. I’ll even be your first client and I’ll show you how you can have a home based business. So that’s really how I got started as an entrepreneur. And then one of the first things that he asked me to do for him as a virtual assistant was to book him for interviews on podcasts. And so this was in 2013, which I know is it that long ago. But in podcasting, it’s a very long time. So this was really at the start of when business owners and entrepreneurs were really starting to leverage podcasting. So my dad was my first client. I was booking him for podcasts, interviews, getting guests booked on his show. And then I started taking out a couple other clients. And that’s really where I started to see a need for this service in the marketplace. And so I then lodged interview connections and moved away from being a general virtual assistant where this was one task, you know, one service I offered of many to. This is my core business.
Josh Fonger: [00:03:04] Wow. So you have been there from the very beginning. Then we’re podcast and just started. What what has what has changed. So two thousand thirteen to 2019. What, What’s changed over that time period.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:03:16] So so much has changed and evolved in the podcasting industry. So just looking at it from like a very bird’s eye view, like so many companies are investing in podcasting, it’s insane. Everywhere from the largest companies like Spotify acquiring podcasts companies, that’s obviously happening all the way down to small business owners and solopreneurs, entrepreneurs making this, a very serious part of their marketing strategy. I’m seeing entrepreneurs and authors specifically moving away from a traditional book tour until leveraging podcasts. Our client, Eric Brotman is a financial as he’s a certified financial planner and he is on local news all the time in his local market. But when he started doing podcast interviews, he actually saw that move the needle more than that traditional like TV. Those traditional TV interviews did that simply because podcast interviews put you in front of a national audience. And it also creates evergreen content that you can be sharing and leveraging more effectively than an interview that only airs one time live.
Josh Fonger: [00:04:27] So what? Because obviously, most people don’t have a podcast, you and I both do, but most owners of companies don’t. How would they decide if it’s good for them? Maybe an author is good, but let’s say you own a solar panel company. You do a podcast or not?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:04:44] That is a great question. You know, there are. There are business types that podcasting is a no brainer for. And then there are kinds of businesses where it wouldn’t be my first recommendation. But I think regardless of what business you are in, you can see a benefit from it. So, number one, if you are like any business at your end, you can get a search engine optimization benefit from podcasting. So that’s just purely if you’re going out and getting interviewed on podcasts, you’re getting it back. Link to your website on the podcast host show notes page. And so that’s just good for your SEO and rather your a local business or an online business. People are going to you want people to find you on Google. So there’s s the value there. The types of businesses that I recommend leverage podcasting are businesses where you can work with clients virtually. So, you know, marketing agency as coaches and consultants, financial planners can work with people all over the country. Accountants can typically work with people outside their local area. So service businesses work with people virtually and also businesses where your average lifetime value of a client is pretty high. Because with podcasting, the number of people you’re reaching is a lot smaller. It’s a lot lower than the number of people you would reach. For example, if you got a guest post on Forbes or you would probably be viewed by, you know, could be millions of people or high thousands of people. But those are just like views or maybe they kind of like glance at the article, skim it for two seconds with a podcast interview; Let’s just say a hundred people listened to the episode. Small number of people in the grand scheme of things, but those are one hundred people that are actually listening to you talk for 30 minutes. And that’s a really, really powerful way to connect with your prospective clients.
Josh Fonger: [00:06:28] Yeah, I think that’s that’s a great way to put it in sometimes. For me, one of the biggest number possible. But imagine if you gave an hour long presentation at your local Chamber of Commerce meeting and you had 30 people in the room, you’d be ecstatic that you had 30 people there.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:06:42] Exactly.
Josh Fonger: [00:06:42] A podcast, and that’s powerful.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:06:46] Yeah, completely.
Josh Fonger: [00:06:47] So what are the pros and cons of podcast? You’ve been in this world for a while. There are certain things that really make it powerful, things that really detract from doing it.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:06:56] Yeah. I mean, the pros are obviously I mean, a lot of the stuff that I already talked about with search engine optimization and ability to really connect with your target audience in a more intimate way, in a way that you can’t do through written content. People can’t hear your voice, they can’t hear your story. They can’t hear you connecting with somebody else that they also know like and trust that feeling to eavesdrop on a conversations, a really powerful way. So some of the biggest pros are you are able to build social proof, credibility, build a relationship with your prospective clients. I will tell you and I have a sales call with a prospective client who heard me on a podcast. It’s the easiest sales call in the world because I already did the work of the sale on the podcast. I don’t have to go through my whole spiel. They’re like, oh, yeah, you know, I heard your interview. Let’s just kind of get down to it like how we can work together. So it really shortens your sales cycle and it brings you leads that are super qualified and ready to buy. So those are some huge pros. Also, I want to talk a little bit about the social proof aspect of podcasting. We had a client. We have a client, AJ Wilcox, who is the founder of one of the best linked and advertising agencies called B2Linked. And he has been working with us for several years. And he told us that, you know, when he gets clients come to him leads who come to him and they Google for what he does. Not only do they see his company website, but they see interview with AJ Wilcox on this podcast, interview on this podcast. They’re seeing a whole page of Google search results featuring podcasts, interviews with him. So what does that tell the lead? It tells them that the founder of this agency is the most in demand expert and linked in advertising, which is a no brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to work with the agency that’s getting the most press coverage on podcasts? So by getting interviewed on a lot of podcasts, big or small, you’re showing your perspective audience that you are the in demand expert. So they naturally would want to work with you more than the agencies that aren’t getting any interviews.
Josh Fonger: [00:08:45] So a big piece of it is the authority aspect to it now is that does that come from being on other people’s podcast? I mean, should a lot of folks trying to go to those podcasts? Does that come from having your own podcast?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:08:57] Yeah. So I’m kind of talking mostly about being on other people’s podcast because that’s where a lot of folks start. Right. If you don’t have your own podcast. My first recommendation is to start getting interviewed on other shows. He can practice talking into a microphone, which I realize I’ve been doing this for five years. But I can tell you that the first time I got on a microphone was interviewed like it can be a little nerve wracking. So do this as a guest on some other shows before you commit to producing your own podcast, because this kind of gets into the you asked about pros and cons podcast and can be a big investment of time and money. It’s a smaller investment of time and money when you’re a guest because you’re not committing to a production schedule, to a marketing plan, to, you know, editing and all that stuff. And the kind I would say is that it is a long term marketing strategy. You can’t get into podcasting and expect it to pay off within a month or even three months. It does take a little while and some people get lucky and they get a really amazing client. And after their first interview that they do or they launch their podcast, they get a client after the first episode goes live. But most of the time, it’s a strategy where you’re putting out content, you’re speaking into the microphone, you’re giving it your all and you’re like, I see that there’s people downloading it, but I haven’t heard from anyone. And like, am I going to make money of this? And you have to put a lot of time and energy into it. And a lot of care into the content, because it’s got to be high value content. There’s a lot of podcasts online now. And you’ve got competition for listening. So you want to put out quality content. And it does take a while to build that traction where people start hearing your podcasts and saying, OK, I want to work with you now. So I would say that the biggest con is that it just takes a lot longer than some other marketing strategies might.
Josh Fonger: [00:10:41] Ok. So obviously an ad directly to a sales page would be faster than getting on someone’s podcast in a way that you months for to get published and then hoping that someone shows up.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:10:51] Yeah, it’s it’s hard to even like, you know, kind of a simplify it down to that. Right, because I think that podcasting is perfect for businesses where it’s really difficult to summarize what you do in an ad. So for coaches and consultants, I would say this is so much better than running an ad because people need for someone to hire a coach or a consultant, especially a coach or consultant, where you’re, you know, your packages, like people are going to invest 5, 10, 20 thousand, maybe even fifty thousand. What ad is not going to do that? People really need to feel like they know like and trust you and you can do that through a podcast is hard to do that just through an ad.
Josh Fonger: [00:11:27] Yeah, definitely. So let’s say you’re an account and your new account is and you’re young. You specialize in so you specialize in accounting for online companies. Would you recommend that part of their marketing plan would be to go to a podcast or their own podcast or what would be becomes a rubbish thing?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:11:47] Yeah. So that I actually have a client in mind who fits that description. And he’s gotten amazing ROI by going and being a guest on other shows. So his name is Peter Lange, he’s the designer CPA. And so he really specializes in working with creative entrepreneurs, designers, graphic designers, interior designers were his clients. So we’re going to design company, but we’re like, we want to work with you. And by going and getting interviewed on podcasts, he’s gotten so much business, so many opportunities. He was we booked him on a well designed business is just the top interior design business podcast. And he was got an opportunity to co-author a book with the host of that show. And just so much so much has come, he’s like, you guys transform my business with these interviews. And he has been in the process of starting a podcast, but the guesting just transformed his business so much. I’m not sure if he’s launched his show yet.
Josh Fonger: [00:12:42] Wow. So what does a hook? Where’s the technique to get somebody on to get on a podcast? Like, do they have a interesting story? Because I’m assuming that these podcasters want to make sure they have good guests. How do you how do you that?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:12:56] Yes. So you want to be really clear about your message if you want to start getting interviewed on podcast, isn’t it? It’s important that you know who your target audience is because obviously to get that ROI to experience some of the results that I’ve shared stories about. You want to know you have to be speaking to the right audiences and be going on the correct shows. So if you think your ideal client is is this person that you’re actually should be talking this, you know, you have to know who your target audience is. You have to really get clear on your positioning and what your interview topics and questions are. So those are some things that you want to figure out before you start diving into this strategy. I feel any entrepreneur who’s been in business for more than a couple of years. They know who they work with. When people ask like, well, how do I know what my interview topics and questions are? Those are really come from, What do you teach your clients? What what are the biggest pain points that your clients come to you for and list those out and then create some suggested interview questions that position you to address those pain points? Because if your potential clients are in that audience and you’re speaking to their pain points and providing value on how they can solve those pain points, you then become a no brainer of somebody that they would want to hire to help that personally.
Josh Fonger: [00:14:11] Where do you see the future of podcasting going? And we talk a little bit about this off line. But to each of these media channels where there is a Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, they seem to start off as great channels and kind of as the Wild West. Everyone go in there, make money because it’s simple. Big players aren’t there yet and there are tactics to win. And it seems like the podcasting. It’s kind of going through the same thing we’re used to be you get there and get views. But now it’s getting more competitive. Where do you see you see more consolidation, more big, big money, what you see?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:14:46] Well, I definitely see a lot more big companies coming into podcasting. And if you just look at some of the biggest companies there, they get creative about their branding. I mean, I heard radio sounds like this boutique radio company. It’s a huge corporation that has a cool name to make you think it’s more indeed than it is. There are huge companies that are coming into this space, and I think that’s a good thing. I mean, I think there are a lot of, you know, independent podcasters that are like, we don’t want the professional radio people coming in. This is our space. Honestly, like it’s a good thing that these companies are coming in because they’re making things simpler. They’re making things they’re putting so much money into the industry that we’ve been working so hard to figure out cobbling together all these different technologies and all that stuff. So. And it’s also being bringing so much more credibility to this base when big companies get into it. I mean, we’re seeing like A-list celebrities doing a podcast. I’m telling you, five years ago, I remember I had a client and their wife is a very like leading expert on a lot of TV. And at the time, she wouldn’t even do a podcast because it was too small of a medium, you know, didn’t want to mess with her positioning. She has a podcast now. So I will literally see these like, you know, huge celebrities, experts, entrepreneurs that are taking this medium so seriously. And the more people that know about podcasting as the average, you know, we look at things like Edison Research and they tell us, OK, on average, how many what percentage of Americans. Listen to a podcast on a regular basis. That number has gone up consistently since 2013. So as an entrepreneur getting in now starting like if you haven’t started podcast yet, you haven’t started being guest on one start now because the popularity has continued to rise over the last five and six years. I don’t see it going down anytime soon.
Josh Fonger: [00:16:35] Ok, so the key thing is getting now while you still can because it’s harder down the road and I would say don’t overthink it too, because I see a lot of people get stuck in analysis paralysis and they’re just trying to come up with the most perfect show. And like, you just got to get in there. The beautiful thing about being a guest on podcasts hosting a show, too. It really comes down to conversations. You don’t have to be this polished keynote speaker. You don’t have to be the perfect late night talk show guest. And you have to know all your jokes. You get on and you have a conversation and you connect with the person you’re talking to. You listen and you deliver value. You talk about the thing that you know best, which is whatever you start your business around.
Josh Fonger: [00:17:19] Yeah. Oh, yeah. For us, as you probably can tell. We keep it very simple. Right. Must be authentic a to be helpful for those who are in the audience, which are small business owners. As long as you do that, then it goes quite well. Quite well. So what about this? Maybe a little more detail than most people care to know about. What about monetization? So let’s say you actually go through trouble, you build podcasts. What are the best ways to monetize it?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:17:42] So there’s a there’s a couple different ways you can monetize your own podcast. There’s obviously advertisements, which is probably what most people think of when they think about advertising as I want to get other companies to sponsor my show and run ads. That’s one way I’ve done that before. I’ve had podcasts where I’ve had advertisers on the show and it’s not that hard. You find a company whose target audience is your target audience. You create a consistently public show and you approach that company. I recommend I write about this in my book called Interview Connections. There’s a whole chapter and actually give the template of the email I sent to land my first sponsor, so get my book on Amazon for that. And this is another thing I think a lot of people overthink and they go to like advertising agencies, which can be helpful, but really go to people, you know, podcasts, movement that sponsored our show, the podcast producers a few years ago, because it was an obvious that our target audience was exactly who podcast movement that wanted to reach. So we reach out to them. We offer it. We at the time offered a flat rate. So we didn’t do like per thousand downloads because when you’re, you know, an independent podcast or you probably don’t have twenty thousand downloads an episode. So come up with a reasonable flat rate for a certain number of episodes and just hop on the phone and make the pitch if it’s a no brainer advertising strategy. I think you can land a sponsor pretty quick now. You can do that. I don’t think that’s the most profitable way. If you’re an entrepreneur, I think the smarter way to make money from your podcast is actually to keep everything focused on getting people into your business because you can probably get a five hundred dollar sponsorship. But if your average client is worth 10 grand, I would stay focused on getting that client over to work with you and your core business.
Josh Fonger: [00:19:22] Ok, so the sponsorships could be a distraction kind of take you off?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:19:26] Yeah, I think they’re a big distraction. If you have a podcast that’s promoting the brand, your brand and your business, I would keep people focused on what you do.
Josh Fonger: [00:19:37] Ok, interesting. So this is a much more personal question. So you had you’ve got a couple of kids now and you want to be a stay at home mom. What has it been like starting a company from scratch essentially to to where its now? It’s quite a large company. What kind of things have you learned? What kind of transitions did you have to go through to go from just being a virtual assistant to where you are now?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:19:59] Well, I failed at being a stay at home mom because I did not stay at home for long. But that’s OK. Yeah. So, I mean, just sort of the nutshell version and it’s been quite a journey over the last five and a half, six years as I wanted. I went into this wanting to be a stay at home mom with a lifestyle business so I can have an income. And then, you know, the babies, they grow up pretty fast, they start crawling, they nap a lot less and then you realize I really need to make a lot more money than what I can make during nap time. So. So we you know, so I ended up bringing in a nanny. At first she worked for us for a couple of years and then we shifted to sending the kids to preschool. I got an office. My husband is also very flexible with his work. He’s a self-employed lawyer, so he works remotely from a home office. So after about a year and a half, two years, I rented a small office. This was before I had employees and he worked from home. And then I went out to an office to work. And then in twenty seventeen I made the big shift. I hired my first employee, who is now my business partner, Margi, and we started hiring employees and kind of got rid of our virtual team of contractors and just took everything in house. I found a great office space where we can have all of our employees together with us, and then Margi became my business partner in 2018 and we’ve just continued to scale the business. Now a seven figure company in twenty nineteen here. So it’s been exciting. And I don’t know if that answered your question, but that’s sort of the the simplified version of what has happened in the company and kind of in my life over the last five years.
Josh Fonger: [00:21:44] Well that’s amazing. Well that shows that even with busy family duties and everything else going on that you can make it as an entrepreneur. And it’s only get a really smooth trajectory. I’m sure there are bumps along the way towards where you are now. Which is great to get that million dollar mark and beyond. And I think their thing needs to be aware of is that if you pick a market like like podcasting that is is growing, it really it really helps smooth the curve upwards, knowing that demand is continuing to increase. And so you continue to gain skills and you continue to ride a great wave, which I think is just awesome.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:22:19] Yeah.
Josh Fonger: [00:22:19] That was smart smart to do that and good for your dad. That kind of puts you in that direction and get you on the right path. Yeah, because there are some surpass that lead to I mean, plateaus or passively downwards. This is definitely one thing to keep going up, which is.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:22:33] Yeah.
Josh Fonger: [00:22:33] Very cool. So what about applications. So you’ve learned a lot about growing companies. You learn about podcasts and PR and marketing. What what lessons have you learned you think can translate to people that aren’t going to do podcasts? Is there any any lessons or business they should be aware of?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:22:50] Well, yeah. I mean, I feel like the biggest business lesson that is really that business is all about relationships, you know, and providing value and and listening and just really focusing on your relationships like that’s really what it comes down to. Podcasting is not so much of a media or PR strategy as it is a way that you can be networking and building relationships with people in your industry, because really every success story that I can think of for my clients, like in a ROI it really comes down to them having a great relationship with the host or with the listener. That’s really what it comes down to. And that can be applied to anything in business,.
Josh Fonger: [00:23:32] Really. So I love that. So basically people like doing business people like and based on this call, you know, hopefully you can do business together in the future. I’m sure.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:23:40] Love to.
Josh Fonger: [00:23:40] Because I’m enjoying the conversation and I found that as well as that cold traffic, we done the stats on a cold traffic converts so much worse than warm traffic or people that have heard about us or someone else or people that have similar relationship with us. That it is not even close to the same thing, and so the more ways the podcast is great for us, the more ways people can warm up to who you are through digital mediums and scalable mediums, the more able you can touch. And having a handshake with every single person is way harder than having this kind of conversation where they can be a part of it. Yeah, absolutely. That’s cool. Hey, I know you’ve got a run to probably your next podcast. I know. I got one right after this. Let’s get to reduce some of the questions. It was something that I should have asked you, but I didn’t ask you. And you want to make sure that the audience will hear?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:24:29] So one little technical thing, because I’ve talked to people that say, well, I’ve done podcasts, but I didn’t really get a lot out of it. And there’s obviously a lot of different factors that go into having those successful results that I kind of shared about a little bit. Being having a good call to action, I think is one little thing that gets overlooked a lot. But it’s so important because when people hear a great interview with you and they’re like, I want to connect with this person, that call to action right at the end is so important. So my biggest tip there is to make sure it is easy to remember, easy to spell, because most people listen to a podcast on their mobile device. I know for me, I always listen a podcast on my phone. I’ve never playing a podcast on my computer. It’s on my phone while I’m around the house or in the car. And even today, I was preparing for a strategy call with a client next week. And his call to action is one thing I’m going to work with him on because I’m listening to one of his podcasts. He gives it and even a second later. Like 30 seconds later, I’m like rewinding. I was like, oh crap, I forget what it was again. So make it very easy to remember. Get a simple, simple domain that you can redirect to a landing page, which makes it very clear what people can get from you on that landing page. So.
Josh Fonger: [00:25:44] That’s great.
Jessica Rhodes: [00:25:46] That it, a Yeah.
Josh Fonger: [00:25:47] It’s perfect. What’s a great Segway to my last question, which is where can people find you or what is your call to action?
Jessica Rhodes: [00:25:53] So interview connections dot com. That is where I would love for you to go. Oh, you can learn about our company. Check out our blog and our podcast. But really, my home bases interview connections dot com.
Josh Fonger: [00:26:05] Well, very good. Well, we’re going to end with that. And again, thank you, Jessica, for making the time today and sharing your wisdom. And thanks. Thank you all you entrepreneurs, for joining us either whether you’re live here with us on Facebook or watching through another device. Thanks for being here, being part of the program. And stay tuned. Next week, we’re going to share with you a tip or trick for other experts like Jessica, or I’ll be interviewing my previous clients so you can learn how to make more and work less. Before we sign off today. Make sure to leave a comment. Leave a comment. And we’re a platform. You’re listening to this, whether it’s iTunes or Facebook, YouTube. Take a screenshot of that and send it to info at work the system dot.com. Once a week will be we will be drawing one person out of that list of comments and mailing you a copy of that book right behind me. Work the system and so if you want that physical book. Make sure to e-mail us at info at Work the system dot com. If you want the digital version and other business resources so you can learn to make more work, less go to info. Sorry, go to work the system dot com easy to remember. So work the system dot com and I will see you all next week.