Hey, family! This week I’m joined by Tara McMullin, the founder and CEO of What Works, a top business podcast and community centered on the number one question business owners want answered. Tara is here to talk about her pivot from 1:1 consulting to facilitating honest conversations about what’s working in small businesses and discovering the real key: what works for you. Instead of thinking of podcasts as purely a marketing asset, think of it as part of your business model. One thing that works for Tara is podcasting. She has interviewed over 180 small business owners about systems for marketing, management, operations, product and personal development, sales, and productivity. I’m so excited to welcome Tara for her second appearance on the show. Tune in and hear how she’s making What Works work and her tips for course creators looking to add podcasting to their business model. Episode Quotes "Peer-to-peer learning was really, really important to me." "During the pivot we did our very best to communicate the change, walk clients through it, and allow them to feel really supported." "The very first step is demystifying the process because podcasting is not difficult at all, it is just opaque." "It is a mistake to create content for your podcast and just insert your pitch as an ad." "I believe in the power of small business owners to reshape our economy and our culture in positive ways." Listen to Learn 02:00 - Rapid 5 Questions 05:09 - Pivoting to a community-oriented business 13:23 - How Tara started podcasting 15:29 - Podcasting tips for beginners 20:50 - The 3 different types of podcasts 23:51 - Benefits of podcasting for businesses 28:26 - Developing a content strategy 33:40 - DOs and DON’Ts of pitching in podcasts 37:48 - Importance of value propositions for podcasts 41:25 - Exciting things coming up from Tara Connect with Tara Join the What Works Network Listen to the What Works podcast TaraGentile.com Follow Tara on Twitter! Looking for the Transcript? Episode 126
Hey, family! This week I’m joined by Tara McMullin, the founder and CEO of What Works, a top business podcast and community centered on the number one question business owners want answered. Tara is here to talk about her pivot from 1:1 consulting to facilitating honest conversations about what’s working in small businesses and discovering the real key: what works for you.
Instead of thinking of podcasts as purely a marketing asset, think of it as part of your business model.
One thing that works for Tara is podcasting. She has interviewed over 180 small business owners about systems for marketing, management, operations, product and personal development, sales, and productivity. I’m so excited to welcome Tara for her second appearance on the show. Tune in and hear how she’s making What Works work and her tips for course creators looking to add podcasting to their business model.
"Peer-to-peer learning was really, really important to me."
"During the pivot we did our very best to communicate the change, walk clients through it, and allow them to feel really supported."
"The very first step is demystifying the process because podcasting is not difficult at all, it is just opaque."
"It is a mistake to create content for your podcast and just insert your pitch as an ad."
"I believe in the power of small business owners to reshape our economy and our culture in positive ways."
Listen to Learn
02:00 - Rapid 5 Questions
05:09 - Pivoting to a community-oriented business
13:23 - How Tara started podcasting
15:29 - Podcasting tips for beginners
20:50 - The 3 different types of podcasts
23:51 - Benefits of podcasting for businesses
28:26 - Developing a content strategy
33:40 - DOs and DON’Ts of pitching in podcasts
37:48 - Importance of value propositions for podcasts
41:25 - Exciting things coming up from Tara
Connect with Tara
Join the What Works Network
Listen to the What Works podcast
Follow Tara on Twitter!
Looking for the Transcript?
Tara McMullin: Most people assume that all other forms of sort of content marketing, that podcasting sits at the very top of your sales funnel. It's how you build an audience. It's how you attract new people. It's how you then get people interested in offers that fall later down in your sales funnel, most specifically getting people on your email list, right? So they discover your podcast, they're super excited about it, and then you get them excited to sign up for your email list and get some free goodie, and then eventually you end up selling to them. And that's what I tried to do for years, and it was super disappointing. And I'm not saying that other people haven't made it work, but what I see working better is thinking of your podcast instead of at the top of the funnel, much closer to the bottom of your funnel. And instead of thinking of it as a purely marketing asset, thinking of it as part of your business model.
Janelle Allen: Welcome to Level Up Your Course, where we pull back the curtain on what it takes to create learning that transforms lives. You will hear stories from business owners like you who share their success and their struggles. This is not where you come to hear passive income hints, friends. This is where you learn the truth about building a profitable learning platform. I am your host, Janelle Allen, and this is today's episode.
What's up, everyone? Today I am speaking with Tara McMullin, founder of What Works and also a podcaster. We are going to get deep into talking about podcasting for course creators, but before we get too excited and ahead of ourselves, Tara, welcome to the show.
TM: Well, I am thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
JA: Yeah, so this is for a long time listeners. They're going to remember this is the second time you've been on the show, one of the rare repeats. We had such a great conversation last time, and since then, you have made a pivot, so I want to dig into that and talk about podcasting, but we also have a tradition on the show called the rapid five. Five quick questions to help listeners get to know you. Are you ready?
TM: I am ready.
JA: Number one. What did you have for breakfast?
TM: I had muesli with strawberries.
JA: Love it. Number two, what is the last rule that you broke?
TM: The last rule that I broke, too many links in one email. That's the first thing that came to me.
JA: Spoken like a true marketer. I love it. Number three, fill in the blank. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a blank.
TM: I wanted to be a professor. I'm so weird.
JA: That's okay; you're still teaching.
TM: I am.
JA: Number four. What's the last book that you read?
TM: Oh, you know, that is a very good question. I have been in such a book drought. It was probably something by Octavia Butler. I went through like her whole catalog and then she broke me because I'm like, what do I read after this? So it was something by Octavia Butler, but I couldn't tell you what the last one was that I read.
JA: Okay, this is not going to be rapid now because I'm currently rereading Octavia. She's one of my favorites. And you know we talked about this on Twitter actually. I was like, okay, I think I need to reread Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. And Oh my gosh, it's so timely. And some people are freaking out, like they're reading her and they're like, it's too much. I can't. I can't. But for me, it feels like research.
TM: So eerie. I think those two, I read about 18 months ago, maybe two years ago, and it was just so close to after the election, and it was just so real. And it was like I kept having to look at the copyright date on it, like when was this published? How does she do this? What is going on here? But yeah, it is a lot to take in. I think at the same time, anything like that right now I'm finding very cathartic. Just let's get into it. Like, if it helps me feel my feelings, which work like that does, then it's something that I want to engage with.
JA: Absolutely. So definitely a recommendation for anyone out there listening who is not up on Octavia Butler, check out her catalog. Amazing. Amazing talent. All right, let's get back to it. The last one of the rapid five, what three things are you most grateful for today?
TM: Well, first and foremost, my health. Second, the rail trail that I can hop on and about three-quarters of a mile toward my house. It is keeping me sane right now and my husband.
JA: All right, let's get into it. I feel like I know you even more now, and I hope the listeners do too, but I want to take a step back because I mentioned this is the second time you've been on the show. That was about four years ago. How has your business changed since then?
TM: Yeah, my business has changed significantly since then. So four years ago, I was running a pretty typical online education training company type of model. I wouldn't call what we had created necessarily like a classic online course. It was an interactive group coaching program, and we had started training coaches and really scaling the program up that way so we could keep it pretty high touch. But it did have that education training component to it. So we were doing a lot of teaching and just also doing a lot of interacting and coaching throughout the program. But it was called Quiet Power Strategy, and it was very popular, very successful. It made a lot of money. But I just started to really take a look at the business and the relationships that I was building with our clients. I saw more and more, over the years, that they were really relying on me as an expert relying on me to tell them what to do.
And the whole, the basis of the program was helping people come up with their own answers to come up with their own plans to come up with their own ideas of what was going to work for them or what might not work for them and just how they wanted to build their own businesses. And then the other component of the program was really getting people to connect with each other. There was a reason that we worked in small groups, where people could hear what other folks in the program we're working on or what questions they were asking or what answers they were coming up for themselves. That sort of peer to peer learning was really, really important to me. And as the program started to scale and as the culture and the market shifted more and more into that expert oriented space, guru oriented space, the relationships started to break down, and I just didn't like where it was going.
It wasn't bad, but I didn't love the future that I saw for it, and it wasn't what I really wanted to be building. So at the end of 2016, I started to really ask myself some hard questions about what would this look like if we were really focused on peer to peer support, peer to peer learning? What would it look like to really empower people to make their own best decisions for their businesses? How would we need to structure things? What kind of support would we need to give? What kind of platform would we need to be interacting on? And so at the end of 2016, beginning of 2017, we took this very familiar education training model and shifted it completely into a community-oriented model. So we removed all of the training and education from what we were offering and instead put all of our focus on facilitating conversations between the small business owners that we were supporting.
And that's not to say that there's not obviously like a leadership component to it. We have a community, and myself and my team, along with lots of other people really are leaders within that community. But the relationship has really shifted to a place where I feel really good about it. I feel that as much as people look to me for leadership, they're not necessarily looking to me for the end-all, be-all answer to their small business problem. And you know what we've seen over the years and what we've learned how to do over the years too because it's just really been a learning process for us as well, is just watching people learn from each other and get creative and feel more confident and feel like, I can do this my way, and my way might not be the way that everyone else is doing it, but I know I can work this out. I know I can make smart decisions about this. It's been a really powerful change in how we think about how we're creating value, how we're delivering value, and how people are really receiving value from us. Like I said, it's been a real learning process. We totally mucked it up at the beginning. We didn't know what we were doing, but we had the right vision, I think, and we have the right mission and now coming full circle, you know, watching small business owners, rightfully so, scramble and ask big, hard questions about the future of their businesses. The next steps they're going to take, feeling overwhelmed. I am so grateful for all the work that we've put in over the last three years because now we have the capacity and we're showing up in a way that is so needed right now, and it's kind of proof of concept, unfortunately for what we've been building this whole time.
JA: Yeah, definitely. I've had some interesting conversations with Alex Hillman, who I think we both know, about just the power of community, and it's something that I shared with my audience last year, that is the X factor for your business. In my opinion, it is so critical, and building something without having that community, just don't.
TM: I would agree with that.
JA: But before we move on, I have to ask. I feel like I would be remiss not to. What did this look like logistically for you to say, okay, we're not doing training type, we're not doing courses anymore? How did you sunset that and make that pivot?
TM: Yeah, that's a really good question. A lot of it was communication and change management with our existing community and explaining why we were doing what we were doing, how it was in their best interest, how we were going to continue serving them, and then just being very generous with our time and our capacity as we were making that shift so that they felt supported along the way. That's not to say that we didn't lose people or that some people weren't upset or concerned or worried about kind of losing access to certain resources, but mostly we did our very best to little bit by little bit, communicate the change, walk them through it, allow them to feel really supported. So that's kind of the main thing that we did from a client support perspective. On the business side of things, we had already made one change to how we were delivering the program, which in hindsight, then allowed us to pivot faster into the community model.
So what we had done was taken the program out of a four-month timeframe where week by week we delivered a new module and shifted it into a virtual retreat model, where over two days, I would work with a small group of people to take them through the material and answer questions. And then we had built-in 12 months of ongoing support with that. So we had already had people in the sort of longterm payment plan supporting them in a group model through an online community platform. And we had done that about six, seven months before we decided to make the complete change into the community model. So that in retrospect actually allowed us to shift kind of business model wise in a more controlled manner because we had this level of revenue that was coming in that had already in one way or another been sold on longterm peer to peer community support for the work that they were doing. And so that allowed us to maintain a certain revenue level. It allowed us to invest in a team and software and all of the things that we needed to build out the community that we then we're sort of envisioning, and that allowed us to make the pivot revenue wise into the new model.
JA: I love it. And I know you're a fan of Mighty Networks, so we'll come back and talk about that. There's a lot not exposed to Mighty Networks yet, it feels like they've been around for a while, but it also feels very new for a lot of people. So we'll definitely come back and talk about that. But now I want to get into podcasting because you've been podcasting for about four and a half years, right?
JA: Why did you get started podcasting?
TM: Yeah, so I got started podcasting because it seemed like a great opportunity, and I was a public radio nerd. The idea of getting to put on a show where I got to Terry Gross all over a small business, seemed like a really great idea. And I will fully admit that I didn't necessarily know how podcasting was going to directly support my business, but I knew it couldn't be bad. And so that was basically the strategic approach. So because I didn't have that clear idea of how the show is going to support my business at the beginning, I actually started off the podcast partnering with a company called Creative Live, who I had been creating online training with for years already. And I said to them, hey guys; this seems like an opportunity for you. It's an opportunity for me. I'm already one of your top instructors. Why don't we develop a podcast together? I will host it; we'll both use it to promote our stuff. And they were thrilled. So they worked with me on the show initially. We did it together for about two years, and then I took the show over myself. At that point, I really started to see that I had an opportunity to drive the business with the podcast. I had started to come up with some ideas of this is how it's going to work. These are the things that I want to do. These are the changes that I wanted to make, and I just didn't want that extra layer of creative bureaucracy even though they were giving me immense amounts of support and like free editing and all of this. I just wanted it to be my own. So they very graciously allowed me to take it over, and that really started to change the game for us.
JA: I was listening to your interview on the Copyblogger podcast, and one of the things you said was it seemed overwhelming. It felt like the barrier to entry was so steep before you started. So that is something that resonated with me because I've heard that from a lot of my audience members. How would you recommend getting started in the simplest fashion for someone out there who is thinking about podcasting and just feels fear? So much fear?
TM: So I think the problem is that podcasting seems mysterious. With blogging, you know, you need a website, and then you write articles, and you post them. And I think the process, even if you don't know exactly how that works or exactly what a website looks like on the backend or exactly what platform you're going to use, the process seems pretty straight forward. It's the same thing with social media. You're already using Facebook for yourself. It's a hop, skip, and a jump to using Facebook for your business. The same thing goes with YouTube. You sign up for YouTube, you start uploading videos. You may not know the quote-unquote right way to do it, but the idea of making a video, uploading it, writing some description for it, and publishing it is pretty straight forward. With podcasting, we'll see a hundred apps out there that you can listen to podcasts on.
They hear like everything from NPR pros, public radio pros making these crazy high production shows to the average small business owner making a low production value interview show. You know, there's this huge span of like what is going on here? And so I think the very first step is actually demystifying the process for yourself because podcasting is not when it comes down to it actually a very difficult process at all. It's just very opaque. And so just to explain really briefly how podcasting actually works. Podcasts are very similar to blogs in that they are driven by RSS feeds and that all those podcasts apps are RSS readers. They happen to do it in audio with little graphics and little descriptions, and that's what a podcast is, just an RSS feed. That concept may be new to people too if you were o.g. internet marketers or bloggers, then we actually use RSS feeds.
But it really, at the heart of it, is a very simple process, and that process is enabled through a podcast host, and that podcast host makes it very easy. They'll walk you through it step by step, upload your cover art here, put your description here, upload your first episode here, boom; you're done. There's a little bit more to it than that. That's the basis of it. The technology exists today to make it very, very simple, very straight forward. But I do think the very first step of the process is just understanding what a podcast is and how it works on the most basic level. Because once you understand that, then the pieces really all start to fall together, and it doesn't feel so overwhelming.
JA: Yeah. It's interesting to hear you compare podcasting to YouTube. My experience, complete opposite. YouTube gave me so much trepidation for nearly a year I put off doing anything with YouTube because you have the camera element, you have all of these lights, microphones, oh my gosh. But with the podcast, for anyone listening, I think that a podcast, once you get past the technical aspect, which you just introduced us to very succinctly, once you get past that aspect, it really comes down to recording audio. So deciding what you're going to do, which we're going to talk about in a second, recording some episodes, and then figuring out what hosts am I going to use to get this up? Hop in Canva, create some art, and you can, in my opinion, get started much easier. I don't know what it is about video; video just freaks me out. I'm dating YouTube, but we are not committed, and it just freaks me out.
TM: But like I'm not on YouTube at all. Like that's just not a place that I want to be. Well, it's kind of a place that I want to be for marketing purposes, but it's just not a place I have chosen to go yet.
I think there's a certain straightforwardness to it from like it's almost just another social media platform, right? It just happens to be a social media platform where people look really good on camera. And where people leave weird comments, right? But podcasting has this sort of otherness to it that people don't really understand. But I do completely agree that once you get into the process of it, it is a hell of a lot easier to create a podcast than it is to create a high-quality YouTube channel.
JA: Yeah, definitely. So let's talk about the different styles of podcasts. You can have an interview-style podcast, but can you break it down for us? What are the options for having a show and how to structure it?
TM: So, I would say there are three basic categories that different shows fall into. And even within that, different episodes of shows fall into different categories. So there is an interview show like the one you're listening to right now where two or more people are talking about a particular topic. Well, maybe I'll pull in a third. There's kind of a sister category to the interview show, which is the panel discussion as well. I listened to Pod Save America quite a bit, and that's a panel of guys talking about politics. They have a sister show called Hysteria. That's a panel of women talking about politics. And so there's not really an interview component to it. Sometimes there is, but it's mostly guys kind of having a conversation on a peer to peer level. So that's interviews, panel discussions. Then there's sort of solo or kind of monologue style episodes where someone is explaining something or sharing their opinion or trying to entertain you and where it's just that one person talking for 10, 20, 30 minutes or an hour or more.
Then there's narrative style podcasting, which is what you tend to hear out of the big public radio studios and sort of the big podcast networks. And that narrative style is what shows like this American Life or Serial, or Reply All, Radio Lab have really made popular, and it's a style that is super fun to listen to but incredibly difficult to produce. I'm always interested, just to digress for a minute, I'm always interested in like with what we can learn from each style and how we can incorporate the best of each style in an efficient, effective way in the style that feels easiest to use. So whether that's monologuing or whether it's interviewing, how do we incorporate elements of narrative style podcasting, how do we incorporate elements of a panel discussion or sort of a more solo monologue style episode into an interview and really kind of creating hybrid formats from that? Like that really gets my creative juices flowing. I think those are the three big categories that most podcasts fall into at this point.
JA: Gotcha. So with regards to- I want to come back to seasons or series style shows. And the planning around that. But first for anyone listening who again is thinking about getting started or maybe have launched a podcast and it just feels a little unwieldy, which can happen. How do you determine the function, or what is the function of a podcast in your business?
TM: That's a great question because this is something I was very confused on for a long time. It's something that a lot of people I know are still confused on. And it's a myth that we often have to dispel with our podcasting clients. Most people assume that all other forms of sort of content marketing, that podcasting sits at the very top of your sales funnel. It's how you build an audience. It's how you attract new people. It's how you then get people interested in offers that fall later down in your sales funnel, most specifically getting people on your email list, right? So they discover your podcast, they're super excited about it, and then you get them excited to sign up for your email list and get some free goodie, and then eventually you end up selling to them. And that's what I tried to do for years, and it was super disappointing. And I'm not saying that other people haven't made it work, but what I see working better is thinking of your podcast instead of at the top of the funnel, much closer to the bottom of your funnel. And instead of thinking of it as a purely marketing asset, thinking of it as part of your business model. And the reason I say that is because podcasts are a huge investment for the listener.
The average listener is listening to maybe three shows a week. Super listeners are listening to seven to ten shows a week. That's actually a really small number of shows that we're investing our time in. And the reason for that is because we need to invest a lot of time in a podcast to keep up with it, right? Like I released five or six episodes per month, that's a lot of content. That's many hours worth of content per month because we're asking people to invest that amount of time and energy in the work. We need to assume that our listeners are actually people who are super engaged with what we're doing, who already understand the value that we're bringing to the table. And if they're super engaged and they already understand the value we're bringing to the table, well that makes them sound like a red hot lead that's ready to buy.
And so that's why a podcast is so much further down in your funnel. But it's also why thinking of it in terms of your business model, so thinking of it as another offer that you have, we'll help you connect your offers to that podcast. So what I mean by that is like having a good idea of what the value proposition is of your podcast. In other words, why are people listening? What value are they getting out of it? What is it helping them to be able to do, to feel, to change, what is that? And then how does that value proposition relate to the other offers that you have and the value propositions of those offers? The closer you can make those things, the easier it is to move people from the podcast offer to another offer in your business model. It's almost like your podcast listeners have already bought in once because they're paying with their time so frequently.
And so when you make an offer to them, you can almost treat them more like a repeat buyer than a first-time buyer. And so they're more likely to buy. They're more likely to understand what you're trying to sell them, and they're more likely to see the value of it. But that does mean then that the way your podcast fits into your business is you've gotta be doing other things to support audience growth. So whether that's social media or it's blogging, or it's YouTube, or it's just word of mouth, you've got to be out there kind of building awareness, building a potential audience. Then you can funnel into your podcast so that then you're set up for success with selling your other offers.
JA: Yeah, it's so strategic. And you're absolutely right. Most of us, I mean, I started my podcast because I just wanted to interview people. It was nothing other than that. I just loved interviewing. I used to have a radio show when I was in college, and I just was always comfortable being on the microphone. And then later I realized, oh crap, I don't really have a strategy for this. It's just something that I'm doing, and I have fun with it, but it's not strategic. So as far as developing that content strategy, especially for anyone who's starting out, I mean you said that someone listening to your podcast is closer to the bottom of your funnel. However, can a podcast also function for top of funnel traffic?
TM: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it is absolutely true that the podcast apps that we listened to are discovery engines, they have discovery functions built into them. They're just not very good. So like YouTube, has amazing discovery functions, right? You learn how to create video that is designed to be the answer to a question or the first result in a search query. And you will get found by new people. That's how YouTube works. It's the same thing with article marketing too. You're playing the search engine optimization goal. I mean, there is search engine optimization to podcasting, and it is something that Google is actively working on right now, but the sophistication of the algorithms, the modes for discovery are so far behind all of these other platforms. That piece of it is really tricky. So where I find kind of the audience building happens with podcasts most often is when listeners are sharing your show. I think it's really valuable to think through why would someone share this show with a friend, and how can I help them do that? Can I share it on my social media so that it's easier for them to reshare it on their social media? Can I literally ask them, go into your podcast player right now and share this via a text message with someone who needs to hear it?
The process I think is really getting clear on asking your listeners for that audience growth and also providing really explicit instructions because the other challenge with podcasts is that for as ubiquitous as podcasts feel to us as people who have been listening to and making podcasts for years, it is still a very new medium for the vast majority of people. In fact, 2019, I think it was. Yeah, 2019 was the first year when more than half of the US adult population had listened to at least one podcast. When you think of the penetration of YouTube or Facebook or television or radio, the penetration is so much greater. If you tell someone to watch a show that you've just loved either on YouTube or on regular TV or some TV app, they know exactly how to do that. If you say to someone, I just started listening to this great new podcast; it's called Staying In. I really love it. You should listen to it. The vast majority of Americans do not know how to listen to that show.
JA: That's so true.
TM: There's a huge piece of audience growth that is actually educating people on what a podcast is, how you listen to podcasts, and why listening to podcasts is a good idea. And so yes, podcasts can absolutely serve to introduce you to new people, to help you grow your audience. They can do amazing top of funnel things, but you have to be super clear and direct and strategic about it to make it happen.
JA: That's so true. As you were talking, I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine, and she didn't know I had a podcast. And so I said, oh yeah, I shared it. We grew up together, and she's just not in that world. Right? And so I shared it with her and then she, she sends me all these messages on how, how do I listen, where do I go, what do I need to do? And I never reflected on that in the way that you're speaking about it until just now. There is that barrier. There are additional questions. If I had said, hey, I just put up a YouTube video or started a YouTube channel, she knows exactly where to go.
TM: Yeah, I have a really good friend who is a huge podcast listener. She works as a bookkeeping for an accounting firm or book counting that too, and she listens to podcasts literally all day long. Like that's what she does, she loves podcasts, and I told her, oh, you should subscribe to my show. And she literally said, how do you subscribe to a podcast? And I was like, what do you mean? How do you subscribe to a podcast? How are you listening to your podcasts? And she said, well, I go to the website. I was like, you go to the website of the podcast? She says, no, I go to stitcher.com and listen to it here. I was like, but Stitcher is an app on your phone. And so like it blew my mind that somehow she had discovered podcasts and somehow the only way she knew how to listen to podcasts was through this website called Stitcher. Even people who are super into podcasts may need help finding a new show, subscribing to a new show, and so the education piece is absolutely huge.
JA: Speaking of education, I want to come back to something you said earlier, so because the listeners of this show are course creators and educators and trainers. You talked about a podcast really being situated at the bottom of your funnel and being able to drive customers who, because they're listening there, you've already been nurturing that relationship, so what does that look like logistically? Are there any best practices for pitching on your show? What should you do and what are some things that you should avoid?
TM: Yeah, so I think about podcast content strategy, very similar to the way I think about blogging or really any kind of content strategy, which is that I want to create content that sets up my pitch as the logical next step for the listener in this case, or the reader, or viewer in other cases for them to want the thing that I'm offering. It's a mistake I think to create content for your podcast and then just insert your pitch as an ad. Like all right, we're talking to so and so. It's completely unrelated to this next thing that I'm about to share with you. But the show is sponsored by my online course. Like that's not what we want to do. When I'm thinking about my content strategy or when we're working with our clients. The very first question we ask is, what are the offers that you have on the table, and when are you planning on promoting each offer?
We want to learn as much as we can about what that offers about, what the subject matter is, why people are buying it, and then we brainstorm content that's directly related to that. So if it's an online course, it could be sort of like a sample lesson from that online course. It could be a case study with someone who's gone through the course and actually worked the program and gotten results and kind of sharing that story. It could be a sort of prerequisite style lesson. Like you got to know this before you can do this other thing that you want to do. We're always looking for that kind of angle on the content of the program that's being sold. And then we're looking for episode ideas for that because the other piece of it is, one podcast episode is not going to sell your online course, right?
One podcast episode is not going to book you coaching clients, whatever it might be. It's a series of podcast episodes that are going to do that and that that happens for various reasons. But, and the same is true in other forms of content marketing as well. So we're looking at sort of a four to six episode campaign arc where we're doing some of that kind of prerequisite teaching. We're doing case studies; we're just kind of dancing around the subject of whatever the podcaster is selling. And with that then in those episodes, creating that logical next step into the pitch so that it's directly tied, like, Oh, you just listened to so and so talk about how they did this thing if you'd like to do this thing as well. And maybe get similar results. I have a program for that. I'd love for you to check it out and just making it a very natural transition from content to pitch. So again, it's not about just running ads on your own show, that's a mistake, but instead actually crafting content around the pitch that you want to make so that it feels like, well, of course I'm going to take the next step after I listened to this. This was great. I want more. And yes, I'm absolutely willing to pay for it. So that's kind of the broad strokes of how we think about it.
JA: Yeah, and I suppose just listening to you, a key element to even be able to do that is understanding the value proposition of your show, of your business, all of that, so that you're clear on what, what you're bringing, what you're giving, what you're promising. So before we get to the final few questions, just for anyone who might be listening and who's unclear on what that even means, what does it mean to have a value proposition for a podcast?
TM: Yeah. So the value proposition for a podcast really is essentially what you're promising when someone listens to the show, right? It's the change that someone's going to experience because they've listened. It's the thing that they're going to learn how to do. It's the feeling that they're going to have because they've listened. It's the result of listening. And by setting that up as a promise, you're giving people a reason to invest their time and listening because they want to get that result. So you're kind of setting up that equal exchange really with the show, to begin with. And so I kind of think about the value proposition of the show in general. And then it's not that I necessarily come up with a value proposition for each episode that I put out, but I definitely want to think about like, why is someone listening to this episode? What's the problem I'm solving here? What's the result that I'm promising them? Why is this something important that I am sharing with them right now? And I do that on an episode by episode basis. We actually do it on a monthly basis as well. So the way we organize our content on what works is we do monthly themes, and then we explore that monthly theme from different angles with different business owners. So, for instance, we just started a month on tools, so the tools that we use to run our businesses. The first episode is going to be me and my husband talking about the tools we use to run our podcast production agency. The next one is going to be tools for running a content-driven business. The next one is going to be tools for running an agency, and then the last one is tools for running an online fitness coaching program.
Different angles, different tools, but the promise essentially for the month is the same. We're going to give you a behind the scenes look at how these businesses actually work on a software level and on a systems level, and then that sets us up for talking about how what we offer helps you do that whenever you want. The thing that we're selling is our online community, and so we can say when you join the online community, you get to have these kinds of behind the scenes conversations every single day. If you're curious about a particular tool, all you ever need to do is ask, and so hopefully that's a more concrete example of what I'm talking about, but it's really like, how am I going to set up this pitch? How am I going to set up this other promise with a complimentary promise in my content?
JA: Listening to you, the three words that pop into my head just throughout this conversation, our intention, strategy, and alignment.
JA: Just so often, we jump into whether it's business or podcasting without thinking about the strategy without thinking about what is it that I'm offering? What's the value? What's the goal? What problem am I solving? And taking a step back, taking time to do that with your content, whether it's a podcast or whatever, it really helps you to gain that clarity as it also just simplifies everything. So many people feel overwhelmed. And if you take that step back and really think about those bigger questions, it can help you say this is the direction and this other stuff I can let go of. So thank you for bringing such clarity to this.
JA: All right. We are down to the final three questions, and the first one is an easy one. Tara, what's next for you? Anything exciting coming up?
TM: Oh, man. Yes. So there's so many exciting things. I mean, like everybody, I think we're trying to figure out what our next steps are going to be, but right now we're looking down the road at the next virtual conference that we're hosting at the What Works Network and we're eyeing up a way to make it bigger and better than ever. It's going to be a reprise of the first virtual conference we ever did on money and the new economy. So super excited about that. That was already in the works, but now it feels more relevant than ever. We're going to be running our first group coaching and consulting program on the Yellow House Media side of things, which is our podcast production agency that's called Standout Podcast Club. I'm super excited about that. And then I'm just really excited about the content that we have coming down the line. I feel like every single month I'm like, I can't wait to put these episodes out cause I work so far ahead, and then I get to revisit all of them and introduce people to the people that I love and to the people that I really respect and to new ideas. And so, I'm always excited about our content.
JA: I love it. Where can people find out more about you and this fabulous content you keep talking about?
TM: Yeah, so you can find everything What Works related at explorewhatworks.com. You're always welcome to connect with me on social media. You can find me anywhere if you search Tara McMullin and then the podcast side of things is all at yellowhouse.media.
JA: Love it. Alright, last question, Tara, and I'm especially excited because you're a repeat guest, so I want to hear what's your why? Why do you get up and do this work?
TM: I get up and do this work because I truly believe in the power of small business owners to reshape our economy and our culture in positive ways. And the privilege of being a leader for small business owners, for creating space, for community and conversation for small business owners is just what drives me every single day.
JA: I love it, and I can hear it. So thank you again for sharing so many insights, and we'll be sure to get all of the links to everything that you do out in the show notes. Thank you, Tara.
TM: Thank you.
JA: All right, my friends, that is my time. Remember, before you can level up your course, you must first level up your mind. As always, thank you for hanging out with me for another great episode. I do not take it for granted. I am Janelle Allen, and this has been Level up your Course. Peace.