053 | Why HealthTech Companies Should Start Podcasting | Peter Birch, MetaOptima Technology | Studio CMO
Is HealthTech Podcasting Worth The Investment?
Should your company start a podcast or not? If so, how much will it cost, how much time it will take, and what can you expect from it?
According to Podcast Industry Insights, there are 2.1 million podcasts, but only 36.5%—or 773,258—have released an episode in the last 90 days. Only about 423,000 have released more than ten episodes. Those numbers may seem daunting, but consider the number of blogs in existence—more than 800 million. Would you ever advise a company not to have a blog?
Peter Birch, Company Director (Asia Pacific) for MetaOptima Technology and the creator of the “Talking HealthTech” podcast and community, joins us to talk about his podcasting journey and how he’s advising HealthTech companies to investigate podcasting.
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Starting a podcast isn’t a matter of deciding you want to and hitting record.
There’s a lot to consider before you even nail down a topic for episode 01. Here’s everything you need to ask yourself:
How do you know if you’re ready to start a podcast?
If you’ve got something to share and questions to ask, you’re ready to start a podcast. If you’re looking to make a lot of money or expect an immediate stream of new leads, you’re only going to waste your time and money.
Who is your audience?
At the end of every episode of Studio CMO, we remind you to “understand your buyer’s problems, lead with an empathetic understanding, and make your buyer the hero.” Our three core tenets assume that you know who your audience is.
To carefully define your audience is more defining a persona in the way marketers have been instructed for years. A persona isn’t deep enough.
What’s your vision? What’s your message?
Starting a company podcast depends on a clear understanding of your vision and nailing down your messaging. What do you want to communicate to your listeners week after week? Who are your core listeners? Who are the perfect guests your listeners want to hear from?
Who’s on your podcast team?
Next, you need to consider the team who will produce your podcast. Who will host it? Who will edit and produce, book guests, promote new episodes? Will you rely on your internal team or hire an outside organization? What does the time commitment look like?
What are your time and resource commitments?
Plan on spending between 10 and 15 hours per episode. Remember there are expenses associated with the people involved, production, distribution, and promotion. There are many resources online about how to do a podcast as cheaply as possible, however, you will save time and frustration by setting aside a budget and spending strategically—microphone(s) and software first.
Mark Whitlock, our producer, wrote an informal memo about these issues to address a few questions from others. You can read his thoughts here.
Where will you host your podcast?
Podcasts Talked About on This Episode
- 99% Invisible
- David Runciman’s Talking Politics | History of Ideas
- Pirate Monk Podcast
“Collaboration starts with conversation” — Peter Birch
About Our Guest
Peter Birch serves as the Company Director (Asia Pacific) for MetaOptima Technology in Sydney, Australia. A career-long veteran of the healthcare industry in Australia, Peter’s voice will be instantly recognized by many of you as the host of “Talking HealthTech,” a podcast focused on technology companies, specifically in Australia, but listened to around the world. He hasn’t just built a podcast, but a community of technologists, practitioners, developers, and others in the HealthTech space.
Our theme is created by some of Nashville’s greatest musicians. Bigger Story Music is born out of a longtime friendship, a deep, talented community, and a real love for what they do. Whatever story you’re trying to tell, they have the perfect music to make it better.
John Farkas (00:00):
So we talk a lot about the importance of building the soul of a brand. Uh, having some texture, having some personality, having empathy in the context of how you engage your marketplace. And that isn’t just a one-way movement. It’s a conversation about how you engage, how you have the kind of conversations that let people in, that help them understand who you are, what you’re about, what’s your point of view is, and how you interact with the world outside of you. And there’s a number of ways that brands can do that. But one of the ways is I think that is emerged over the last decade that I think is really important is what we are doing right now. It’s a podcast. It’s the opportunity to have a conversation, to engage, to really look to mine the meaning of what it is that you are endeavoring to do. That’s what we’re going to take a look at today on Studio CMO.
Mark Whitlock (01:16):
Welcome to Studio CMO brought to you by Golden Spiral. You’re listening to the podcast that helps HealthTech companies understand their market position and build demand generation programs that not only change the lives of their patients, but transform their companies. My name’s Mark Whitlock. I’m here alongside John Farkas, the CEO and chief storyteller for Golden Spiral. And John, what are, off the top of your head, what are the couple of the podcasts that you love more than any others?
John Farkas (01:43):
“Freakonomics” leads the list for sure. I’m a big Stephen Dubner fan. Uh, and then “99% Invisible” when I’m not geeking out in the HealthTech world. Stephen Dubner and Roman Mars are my crushes for sure in podcast land.
Mark Whitlock (02:00):
Fantastic. Anna Grimes is one of our great account directors for Golden Spiral and my fellow co-host. Anna, how about you? What podcasts do you enjoy listening to when you have the time to actually listen?
Anna Grimes (02:10):
Oh, hands down. Kara Swisher—”Sway,” a New York Times podcast. And “Talking Politics | History of Ideas.” Uh, just have been listening to it again and again, it’s just, it’s great. It’s like going back to school, but I am glad to be here and glad to see everybody here and looking forward to talking about how we use podcasts to advance that, um, market position and really become a part of a customer’s client’s emotional life almost.
Mark Whitlock (02:48):
And in addition to my favorite podcast, which is the “Pirate Monk Podcast,” I have been listening to our guest, uh, here on our podcast today, by the way, this is episode 53 and our guests is had a whole lot more than that.
Anna Grimes (03:03):
We are delighted to welcome Peter Birch to today’s podcast. And Peter Birch joins us from Sydney where he is the company director for MetaOptima Technology, Asia Pacific. He’s a career long veteran of the healthcare industry in Australia, but his voice is probably going to be immediately recognized by many of you as the host of “Talking HealthTech,” a podcast focused on HealthTech, specifically in Australia, but listened to around the world. He hasn’t just built a podcast. He’s built a community of technologists, practitioners, developers, and others in the HealthTech space. And for that, we want to listen to what he has to say. So Peter, it is so great to have you here.
Peter Birch (03:52):
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Mark Whitlock (03:54):
Tell us about MetaOptima. What is it that MetaOptima’s involved in and how have they built their business?
Peter Birch (04:01):
MetaOptima. I am company director for MetaOptima, a company originally out of Vancouver. Whenever I say Vancouver, I say it with, uh, with my attempt at a Canadian accent. Um, and so the company started six, seven years ago from memory and it was all focused on creating technology to help doctors diagnose skin cancer, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. And if you’re creating a solution, that’s speaking to the problem of skin cancer, you better have a presence in Australia and New Zealand. So coming out of Vancouver, the company quickly built up connections and interests from skincare doctors and dermatologists in Australia and New Zealand. But, uh, with obviously with the time differences and everything between not too bad, but obviously geographically needing a presence in Australia, I was approached to lead the business unit, start up a presence here in Australia, run the business “first man on the ground” type stuff.
Peter Birch (04:58):
So I built up the team of 10 or 15 people, uh, here in Australia. And, uh, we run everything from sales, operations support, uh, for the clinicians that use DermEngine, which is made by MetaOptima. That’s a software platform that integrates with all the practice management systems. We call them here or like EMR that are used by the primary care physicians to help patients detect skin cancer earlier and more accurately using AI, which is a really cool kind of approach to the problem. And we’ve had good traction with the product across now, all the larger groups of primary care providers, GPs in Australia, and now using the platform for onboarding, which is been a really wild ride.
John Farkas (05:43):
Peter, in addition to that part of your world, you’ve built up quite a following in the context of the podcast realm. Tell us about what you’re doing in that universe.
Peter Birch (05:57):
Whilst at MetaOptima pretty early in the space. I was listening to a lot of podcasts. That’s how I consume media and came across what’s going on there weren’t many and there still aren’t too many, but at the time there wasn’t anything for anyone that’s wanting to find out more about the Australian HealthTech space in terms of podcasting at the time, even healthcare in Australia, podcasting and just was didn’t have a real kind of great presence. The only podcast I was consuming was was ones around the US and the UK focused on health technology. And those certainly an opportunity to have some coaching conversations. I’d built up a network over the past 15, 20 years of influential people and great minds to where I’ve had a lot of conversations with them. I thought, Hey, it’d be great to put this on a podcast and share that with the world.
Peter Birch (06:44):
Um, you know, I know that working within the space of HealthTech in Australia and probably elsewhere in the world too, it can feel remarkably isolating. And it feels like you’re operating by yourself without others, not the support when you’re doing similar things, there’s definitely a need for, um, community and a sense of networking that the silos are very real. So my background prior to no, not even prior. So, you know, when you don’t have kids, you’ve got these things that are called hobbies, which I’ve heard of, which I remember from many years ago. Um, and so, yeah, it’s pretty weird. And I’ve got this vague recollection of having a hobby of working in community radio back before podcasting was a really big thing. And so community radio, that was really cool where I was involved with, with my local community, where I lived and I’d hosted a few shows around like, like Swedish melodic death metal and all these other kind of really random things that you wouldn’t expect.
Peter Birch (07:36):
So, and that was really cool. So a lot of experience in doing the announcing stuff and I thought, Hey, put the two together. You know, I’m, I’m all grown up now with the kids and the mortgage and all of that, but you know, an opportunity to have these interesting conversations with people within the HealthTech space, got the capability to spin up a podcast. And I thought, Hey, you know what, I’ll do maybe 10 or 20 episodes. There’s probably not that much content to cover. Australia’s small. I thought, and my time I had my blinkers on of like, I’m primarily in the GP space, in the primary care space. So I can think of maybe seven or eight key providers and maybe three or four other people I could speak to. So maybe that would be the extent of the podcast we could do. I thought that’d be a finite life to it.
Peter Birch (08:18):
I quickly realized after 10 or 15 episodes and a lot of good traction and interest from those episodes that there was infinitely more opportunities. And like you say, we just recorded episode 140-something yesterday. And yeah, so we do three episodes a week. Now we used to do four episodes a week, but that’s insane. I wouldn’t recommend doing that. If you want to do any cost slapping, we’ve scaled down to three, which is two for the public and one for members. And yeah, it’s, it’s a show that we have conversations, I guess, similar to this 30 minute consumable kind of conversations with key players in the, the HealthTech space in Australia or those that would be interesting for those operating in Australia as well.
John Farkas (08:56):
Very cool. So how’s, you have watched that grow, you know, it started with your interest in, “Hey, there might be a few folks out there to talk to,” and then it grew into, okay, there’s some synergy here, there’s some stuff going on. How would you describe that evolution? How did it go from, maybe there’ll be a few folks to talk to, to a pretty strong organic
Peter Birch (09:21):
Yeah. Look. And when I started the podcast, I did it just knowing that there’d be some interesting conversations to have. I didn’t really think too hard about why they might be interesting. And I guess when it’s a side thing that you’re doing, it’s kind of like just getting in and doing it and see how it evolves is definitely my recommendation to people looking at, you know, doing podcasting is just get started and see how it goes. ‘Cause I listen back to the first couple of episodes and it’s kind of the same, but it’s definitely very, very rural compared to what we do now. It evolved in that. I didn’t actually think that like when a lot of people talk about “Talking HealthTech,” now the things they like about it is that they learn so much from it. And I didn’t really anticipate it to be a platform to learn a lot.
Peter Birch (10:01):
Like I almost took the approach of like, “Hey, it’s good for the guests because they get to get their word out.’ And, but then again, not many people want to listen to a 30-minute pitchfest or anything. So I’m always mindful of, you know, when we have a guest on that, we’re focusing on the problem, not on the, you know, always on the solution that they’ve gotten or the, you know, the, the features and benefits that they’ve got. But what I found is that the feedback was so like when I’d go to trade shows and everything back, obviously pre-COVID when we will meet during meetings and everything where people say, I really learned a lot from that episode with so-and-so and that’s continued on where I think just by, and you know, when you think about it more, you learn so much just from observing or listening in, or being a fly on a wall and hearing how someone’s approached a particular problem in a situation.
Peter Birch (10:43):
So I definitely in our conversations now on the podcast, we’d very much make it about the story behind someone or the problems that they’re solving. And hopefully then that if, even if it’s someone that’s not operating in the space of whatever the theme is, whether it’s AI or I don’t know, gamification or whatever it is, even if you’re not operating in that space, there’s similar themes and issues. So all the themes around innovation and entrepreneurship and change management, all those things are really relevant within the space. So I think after a bit of trial and error and running a few shows and seeing what lands and what doesn’t, that’s kind of how we’ve evolved to once a relatively good formula. Now,
Anna Grimes (11:18):
The old trial and error.
John Farkas (11:22):
So as you are looking at this advent and watching it grow and develop what kept it alive, what were some of the strains that kept feeding you that encouraged you that said, okay, there’s something going on here? What were some of those moments?
Peter Birch (11:37):
When you get feedback from somebody that you don’t know that that has heard the podcast that was been rewarding? I think for a while there, the way that we approach the podcast in the very early stage of doing it was, you know, hopefully the guests will tell a few people about podcast as well. And maybe a couple of those people they tell will then listen to it and it’s evolved from there. And that proved to be relatively successful because that start to get people connected and say, you know, on LinkedIn generally saying, Hey, you know, really appreciated this episode and I’ll listen to it regularly. And now that we’ve been around for a little bit getting, uh, and with the membership community, I see members joining from Spain and the UK and the US who join THT+ which that community for people wanting to get a bit more across the Australian HealthTech scene, I contacted a couple of these that came from overseas.
Peter Birch (12:27):
Cause I’m like, did you join by mistake? Or like, what’s the, what’s the go? Um, but no, they’ve listened to the show for a longer period of time and want a better understanding of the Australian HealthTech space. So now, you know, the show has become that kind of beacon for, if you want to learn more about the Australian health tech scene, then you should listen to talking health tech. Like that’s the one thing that I’ve, you know, in my own research in coming up with the show and thinking about how I listen to podcasts as well, I’ve made sure that we always do the episodes on not on the same days, as much as possible. We’ve sometimes shifted and gone from, you know, one episode a week to two to three or to four or whatever, but we’ve wherever possible, be consistent, always drop an episode.
Peter Birch (13:10):
If you’re going to have a break, make sure it’s communicated so people can know what you’re doing and you haven’t just disappeared into the ether. So I think this transition to communicating with a bunch of people that you don’t see, it kind of blows your mind when you start to hear back from people that they’re actually listening to the show, because when you’re at a presentation and doing something live, you can physically see people or at a webinar or whatever. You can see how many people are joining live a podcast, you kind of record it, you put it out and then you forget about it. Then you, all of a sudden you hear the feedback. It’s, that’s been pretty mind-blowing
Mark Whitlock (13:39):
You talked about this community that you’re building and a membership and subscription. And what led you other than the financial side of that, and being able to charge for that, what led you to create that and what has been the big benefits of this community that you’ve built? Cause I I’m, I really love what I’m seeing on the community side of it.
Peter Birch (14:00):
Yeah, sure. So I guess the progression for “Talking HealthTech,” how it’s gone from being a podcast to now being my full-time thing, which pays the mortgage and feeds three children who, for some reason only organic food, I don’t know why we made that decision, but it’s remarkably expensive anyway. So the reason like we’ve gone down the line of the community was originally went from the podcast and there was some sponsors on the show. When you think about monitor, like putting the monetization hat on for a second, but I’ll shift to the why for a second, but the monetization side originally thinking maybe put some sponsors on the show, that’d be a nice way to cover some costs. And, you know, I had no intentions of making it running a full-time thing and there’s a couple of sponsors and that was, that was okay. Then we shifted to this, you know, how can we use the podcast to then leverage other kind of income?
Peter Birch (14:45):
And that was where we’ve created the directory on the website, which was more focused to companies about lead generation and building a presence and an awareness on our website. So we’ve done a lot of SEO optimization for some glossary terms for HealthTech, which has been a great way to generate some new traffic into the website, to funnel people in and then companies can associate their directory listing with those key terminologies. So if you search for, you know, CDI in Australia, like what are the key CDI terms in Australia or companies in Australia then companies that have associated themselves with those terms will show up on the site, which is kind of nice, but that’s all very marketing and kind of, you know, lead gen and formulaic and all of that. That’s certainly interesting to me, but in terms of the, like what’s meaningful to me was yeah, the people aspect of it.
Peter Birch (15:29):
And that’s the part that I felt that was missing for a while, which is what really drove me to work at. How can we build connections with the individuals that are working within this space? So I’m not so much focused on the patients. I think obviously the patients are a remarkably important piece of the journey, but for Talking HealthTech” and what we’re trying to achieve, it’s around the people working within the space and how can we help build a community and resources and help them achieve what needs to be achieved. And when I think about my own experiences through working within HealthTech for the past 15, 20 years in MetaOptima and many records, and then more broadly within healthcare prior to that, like I said, it’s an isolated and siloed world. You feel like you’re operating by yourself, you know, in a country that is isolated from the rest of the world as well, in a sense physically.
Peter Birch (16:14):
So that island, yeah. Right. So having this sense of community and building things together and trying to break this concept, that when you’ve got an idea or an interesting solution, then you should hold it to yourself and never tell anyone about it, which for some reason had been the, the approach that I’d seen from others operating within the space here. So it’s very much an old world kind of mentality of if you’ve got a good idea, or if you think of something, don’t tell anyone just in case you want to make it one day yourself. Whereas my approach is you’ve got an idea, speak about it early, give it some air because others will then tell you what it needs and that’s the way you co-design. And that’s the way you kind of come up with solutions and someone’s probably already come across some hurdles that you’ve had before.
Peter Birch (16:56):
So building the community, we’ve got this, like, what is it? I’ve got a forum online where people can engage in, um, conversation, I guess, asynchronously. So it’s like a social platform, but the, our own platform. So it’s not like a Facebook group. It’s, it’s on our website and that’s been kind of a nice place to meet and share ideas, have a think tank kind of delve into ideas in a deeper way, but also, you know, connect in a, in a more kind of human way to, we do regular meetups on zoom. And that was all around the time of COVID as well. So it was nice having the connectivity with other people, um, outside of your own company and world. So that’s been neat, the people aspect and bringing people together that that’s the part that I felt that was missing both in the industry and our offering. And now that we’ve had that since about December, January, that’s been like the most interesting part of, of our offering from “Talking HealthTech,” the community aspect?
John Farkas (17:47):
Did you start with the vision of this or at what point did that expanded nature of the community kind of occur to you or avail itself? How would you describe that progression?
Peter Birch (18:00):
Sure. I would love to say that I had this strategic vision in mind of how this would all kind of go from when I built it, but I certainly wasn’t the case. I think that it just evolved out of need. You know, it’s kind of like driving with the headlights on, you only see so far ahead of you and you respond to those situations as they come into view. So the reason I did the podcast was to build connections within the industry and like it was personal branding really is where I came from it from the, in the first place. And hopefully to help a few kinds of leads and connections and partnerships for MetaOptima, then it grew into its own kind of presence as “Talking HealthTech.” And then the opportunity came to help other companies get their word out from a marketing point of view, with the directory and with the sponsorship on the website, but then the need evolved even further for people and then the build the community side.
Peter Birch (18:46):
But then there’s something that the people wanted as well as the more engagement and the ability to network directly with some of these people. So then we build these events and the summits, and now the summits, the quarterly summits that we do have become almost like the cornerstone pieces like these milestones within the year, we do them one for every season and they kind of now inform a lot of the content on the podcast. We’ll do a live like our next summit is on the 24th of June. It’s the winter summit, we’ve got 40 something speakers on a full day virtual event. Um, and it’s been a great way to bring multiple people together, to collaborate on, on ideas and, and build on things. And, uh, and then we have like follow on conversations on the podcast after. So I’m sure there are more initiatives that will flow off the back of it.
Peter Birch (19:28):
And there is a vision now in terms of where this goes and continues. But what has been consistent is from day one in the first episode, you’ll hear, you know, that the line of collaboration starts with a conversation and that’s been our kind of line from day one. And that’s been consistent for me because where I’m trying to build collaboration within the industry of HealthTech, you can’t get there right away. And there’s a lot of strategic visions and everything about how we’re going to get there. But in the end, having more conversations and learning from each other is the starting point. And that’s what we tried to build. And it’s very much grassroots getting it done and working out how people tick and how to get there. So that’s, that’s, what’s driven us from day one, Peter, I know that you
John Farkas (20:09):
Not only have this podcast, but you are working with some other HealthTech companies to help them establish theirs. And what I know is that there are a whole lot of good intentions and a lot of people that start this endeavor, but don’t see it through, or they get three or four episodes in and run out of gas or whatever they realize that that was interesting, but I’m not sure where and how to go as you’re working with an organization, because there is opportunity. If you are leading a conversation in the, if you have a corner of the healthcare ecosystem, where you have a point of view and you have some connectivity and you have some opportunity to bring some things, some ideas forward, there’s, uh, this is a great platform, but how do you build something that’s sticky? How do you get started frame it in a way that’s going to go with the distance? How would you, uh, counsel people in that regard?
Peter Birch (21:10):
I, I could get the stats really wrong, but aren’t, there’s something like 2 million podcasts around at the moment or something like that. There’s a lot of them, there’s a lot of, a lot of podcasts. And so people go, oh, well, how am I going to break through and, and, you know, have any meaning? Why would I even start if there’s so many podcasts already, I’m probably too late, but the stats, again, I’ll ruin the stats, but there’s something like only 20% of those podcasts have actually released anything in the past 90 days or something. That’s correct. So it’s, it’s such like to that point that you mentioned, John, is that so many people start and don’t see it through. And I think that comes from a place of just not having a strategy in mind or a why to, to what they’re doing and you don’t need to overcook it.
Peter Birch (21:52):
I like it. Yes. There is time and effort involved in, in establishing a podcast. But if you like, we’re doing, we’re “Talking HealthTech,” we’re helping a couple of companies with getting their podcast up and running and helping it tick along. So if you’ve got somebody to help you through that process, that’s always a good way, much like, you know, when you’ve got a personal trainer or any other coach to guide things along, it’s good to have that accountability. So, and someone that’s, you know, knows all of the hardware, software and hosting and other bits and pieces too. I think when like I’ve spoken to companies that go, ‘Hey, we’ve got all this content would be really good to put on a podcast. We’ve already done 20 webinars. We should just put them as a podcast’. I’m like, “Yeah, that’s probably like, that’s good that you’ve got that content.
Peter Birch (22:37):
And there’s certainly an opportunity to repurpose some of that. But, you know, thinking yourself as a listener, would you sit there and listen to 20 webinars like from this company?” So think about what those mean. Maybe there’s like some snippets from within those that you could provide context and meaning around, but think about the purpose of the podcast and what you would be doing if you’re listening to this and what you’re wanting to achieve. So putting the listener hat on is certainly, um, you know, the, the best approach, if you’re not totally familiar with podcasts and you know that like, yes, you, you need to have a podcast. I think everyone has to have a podcast strategy. Uh, when, you know, from a marketing point of view, there’s how you approach it, whether going on like guesting on other podcasts or, or having your own, I think both, um, uh, certainly play apart for many people. I think that companies get a lot of value in running their own thing, but it’s, if you don’t go into it with a strategy or something within mind on like what you’re trying to achieve, then it is bound to be one of those 70 something percent that, that never make it past episode 10 or whatever.
John Farkas (23:41):
If we were to look at the purpose of a podcast, you know, if you were to distill it, like this framework is best for something. So it’s not a place to replay your webinar’s greatest hits. That’s probably not the highest and best use of a podcast. If you’re a HealthTech company wanting to engage your market, how should you do that in the context of the podcast?
Peter Birch (24:09):
I think when you think about all of the, because you’ve already got a strategy in terms of marketing and the messaging that you’re putting out there, so you’ve got something to, to achieve. Um, it’s then putting that, giving that meaning. And so if you’re picturing, when you’ve got this marketing strategy, maybe it’s a white paper, maybe it’s something that’s communicating, whatever you’re trying to communicate. How would you explain that to somebody else? And that process of explaining it, which then gives it meaning and context and a human aspect to it, which then you probably have examples of why someone would be interested in that. Like that’s a podcast episode and having that conversation with someone who’s asking the question and can then clarify something it’s, you know, humans like to listen to other conversations. And I think as long as they’re, you know, tied it up and they don’t get rambling, I still get ramble-y sometimes, but that’s the, the magic of post-production. So, um, you know, you can, you can tidy some things up afterwards, but I think the purpose of adding the human aspect and the human element to a brand is I think something that can best be achieved through podcasting and it’s something that’s, uh, only going to continue and become more accessible. And it’s, you know, the best time to start podcasting was a few years ago and the second best time is now. So get on and get amongst it.
John Farkas (25:29):
Earlier. You mentioned the importance of talking about the problem, not necessarily talking about the solution, which is just marketing one oh one in Golden Spiral land. We talk about that all the time. You know, people are very enamored with talking about their solution. Nobody wants to hear that necessarily. Let’s talk about the anatomy of the problem. Let’s unpack that a little bit. How do you see that working in the context of your podcast? How do you engage people and hold the focus on the problem, as opposed to here’s our three-step formula for addressing this part of the ecosystem?” So how do you look at that?
Peter Birch (26:06):
Picture it from a marketing point of view, picturing where the podcast fits on your funnel. It’s usually top of funnel awareness piece of, you know, this is the setting the scene. So having that in mind, I think so if I’m thinking from me hosting a podcast, I’ll prep a guest and, you know, get to understand a bit more from them about what the problem is that they’re, they’re trying to solve. I think in my questioning generally as a podcast host will then probably point back to that problem more and more. Yes, definitely. I think there’s opportunity to speak about how they go about solving that problem, but then normally when, when we go into the, how they solved the problem, that will, why did you choose to go down that route as opposed to like, tell me more about how, you know, all of the bells and whistles that you’ve got in your solution, it’d be more about like, well, why is that the best way to do that?
Peter Birch (26:54):
I think that that just the unpacking, the approach to things can easily be done through podcasts. I think that at the same time, you know, don’t get too worried about that whole approach in coming on the podcast too, in my 140 something episodes in speaking to guests where I’ve said to them, Hey, so this isn’t a 30-minute pitch fest. This is just an opportunity to talk about the problem. Not one of them have gone, oh, I didn’t know that like, so I think everyone kind of gets it and everyone knows that. And if they just put them in that mindset of like, well, what would people want to hear about them? And what problem are we solving? How, like, what does thought leadership mean? And then usually that can guide someone in having that conversation. So I think we, we know how to do it. It’s just a matter of getting in and getting it done.
John Farkas (27:34):
What does thought leadership mean, Peter?
Peter Birch (27:38):
I think thought leadership is being the host of that conversation, starting that conversation, like you said, and it may not necessarily be having the answers to everything. It could be asking the right questions and then planting the right seeds and having a vision in mind. I think that going beyond regurgitating what information is available to the public and having a think about like, from your perspective, what those elements mean in your world, and then framing that for somebody to then make it easily consumable. I think one of the hardest things to do within HealthTech in this space is take remarkably complex situations and interconnected issues and things that are really hard to understand if you don’t have a good kind of, if that’s not your world, but then take that and put it into really easily to understand consumable bits. So thought leadership within HealthTech space. I used to think that, you know, you needed to be a health informatician or a clinician or a whatever, to be able to do that. I am neither. I’m not a software developer or a doctor or a health informatician or whatever. Um, I’m technically an accountant, which is totally irrelevant to all of this, but that’s okay. Uh, it’s the approach of understanding what these complex issues mean to who you’re communicating to and doing that in a consumable way.
John Farkas (28:58):
There is definitely an important piece to catch there. Podcasting generally is top of funnel. If you’re looking at a podcast, we are not stage two stage three down the wellness, where at the top of the funnel, this is the beginning of a relationship. And what I think a lot of people are very determined to do is meet somebody and then plant a big sloppy kiss on them in the first 15 minutes of the relationship, which is just generally almost never going to work and realizing that having the understanding that this is a moment to be patient, this is a moment to set the context, show what you’re made of, give them a sense of emotionally, what they can expect from you in the context of who you are and how you approach the problem. Not jump headlong into a sales pitch, not jump headlong into the six reasons why they should do X, Y, Z, leading them right down into sign on the bottom line.
John Farkas (29:59):
The podcast is your opportunity to have a conversation and to host that in a way that is winsome, that helps them understand who you are and why they might even want to hang out with you on occasion because of what you bring. And I think that that’s just such an important thing. And so often missed in industry podcasts. If you’re really wanting to build audience, if you’re wanting to build your brand in the context of the market, be patient and talk about things that people want to talk about. I think that that’s really important and that was a great call out.
Peter Birch (30:38):
I totally agree with you at the amount of times I’ve heard, like there’s a good example. That was really early in the piece. It was like episode 20 or something. There was a guest that came on who contacted me a couple of months after I met them at a, at a conference or something. And they said that it was so bizarre. They got a phone call three or four weeks after their podcast episode. And it was a CTO from one of the private hospital groups here in Australia who said, Hey, I was listening to your episode on “Talking HealthTech” while I was washing my car with my daughter. And I found it really interesting, your approach to this. Did you want to catch up about X, Y, and Z? So, you know, how do you measure that kind of conversion rate from a podcast, right?
Peter Birch (31:17):
You’re like you, don’t like, it’s about that, getting the word out there, setting the scene and being, you know, the know like, and trust piece, right? It’s the people will, will want to deal with you once they’ve heard you as a human and that you’re not trying to sell to them the first 10 minutes, because if you’re trying to sell to them in a podcast episode, and you’ve not even met them before, then they’re highly unlikely to want to meet with you and talk with you further, because they’ve already feel like it’s a little bit getting dirty.
Anna Grimes (31:40):
Back to thought leadership for a little bit. What are some of the more provocative marketing thoughts that some of your guests have led with where, where they’ve sort of put the stake in the ground and said, Hmm, I started a new conversation.
Peter Birch (31:55):
The most meaningful conversations that I’ve had on the podcast are ones that then focus on the problem to be solved in the association of that company, with that particular problem and so happening right now within over the past 12, 18 months. And with COVID, I think that working out how to get through that noise and stand above all of that and still be tactful and meaningful. I think that trying to sell through COVID when you’re within health, that’s always a delicate thing. So having a genuine conversation around solving problems in those difficult times, having a guest that can speak confidently to all of those and not be highly scripted and, but know their content, that’s always in the best conversation. So I don’t have a particular example necessarily of, you know, one particular guest that has done that well, but I think generally about those guests that, um, do come on and have good conversations that are well received by the community or those that know their stuff and speak confidently about a, an issue that is meaningful right now, but can then tactfully approach it.
Mark Whitlock (33:02):
And you mentioned Peter that this is something that doesn’t only happen to be when you build your own podcast, it can happen by being a guest on podcasts.
Peter Birch (33:12):
Oh yeah. Yeah.
Mark Whitlock (33:14):
So, talk to us about how these are our marketing leader. Our listeners can become a, uh, a well-seasoned guest for podcasts. Sure.
Peter Birch (33:23):
Look, I, I get probably 10 or 15. No, maybe it makes me sound too popular. I’m not that popular. I was gonna say 10 or 15 requests to come on the show a day. No, I, I do get a lot of at “Talking HealthTech.” We get a lot of requests from PR companies and, uh, marketing people, third parties wanting to say, Hey, I really enjoyed your recent episode. Um, you know, great work in doing the “Talking HealthTech,” but like an obvious copy paste job. Um, we think this guest would be amazing on the podcast and they send you like this three page kind of thing on my, I I’ve, I don’t think I’ve read any of that. Right. So, um, but we
John Farkas (34:03):
Get the same thing. We get the same thing all day long.
Peter Birch (34:08):
Um, but it’s interesting. Most of them I get from outside in the U S I don’t really get too many of those from Australia where I think that, um, it says something about different approaches for, for each, but I have occasionally pulled out a couple of those, but they’ve normally been either directly from the guest or like something that is like an actual, genuine email that’s been sent where they’ve spent the time and thought about, is this, would this be a meaningful thing? So I don’t think a blast out to a hundred podcasts and seeing how many stick is a good approach, because then usually the ones that do stick probably aren’t the podcasts that you want to be on any way, or if it is, it’s not the best use of your time being strategic, finding out what conversations to have. Yeah. You need to present it to some of those guests and pitch it to them that coming on the show would be meaningful, but normally it can be a mutually beneficial approach to doing that.
Mark Whitlock (34:59):
And once the pitch has made, that’s one thing, but actually when a guest sits down at the mic and begins talking, how can a guest best present the problem or talk about the problem and weave what they’re doing into their answers?
Peter Birch (35:16):
Do some prep work with, with guests prior? We don’t overcook it though. Like we, we do a form where they fill out and they say like, these are the kind of talking points that we want to cover. And then we’ll prepare some questions back. And those questions that we’ve prepared back, uh, normally about setting the scene, first of who the person is, and then who the company is. And then we’ll take, you know, a specific context around those issues. Like we don’t have the same questions every time I know some podcasts just follow the same formula. We don’t do that. I know you guys don’t do that as well. And it’s about putting it in context with something that’s real. I think the guests that respond well to that are those that are prepared that have got a few kind of thoughts in mind. They might have a few dot points to help guide them, but I’ve had a few podcasts episodes where, especially in the virtual world where you can’t stop someone from reading from a script, or, you know, like, it’s like if they’re physically sitting in front of you, it’s a bit more conversational.
Peter Birch (36:08):
Whereas, you know, like this I’ve, I’ve come, I’ve been with interviews where all of a sudden I’ve realized the person’s just reading from a script that they’ve prepared prior. So normally what I’ll do in that instance, I’ve done once or twice is I’ve then just had a conversation with them afterwards, but kept it recording. And typically I’ve just asked them, Hey, like that thing that you mentioned before, like, I didn’t quite understand it. What was, what was that about? And then that explain it so much better in their own words. And yeah, there might be a few ums and ours and they’d go back on something and say something else, but it sounds genuine. And it sounds real. So I think those that are obviously, you know, subject matter experts, they know their stuff, even if they don’t know their stuff, they’re just confident in what they do know and what they don’t, they’re not making stuff up when they don’t know it. And they’re just likable because they’re just being them. I think that if you try and be someone else that you’ve heard on a podcast as well, it never works well either. I think when I, when I stopped trying to do that, it’s when I started seeing some success.
Anna Grimes (37:05):
There is something unique about podcasting. And that is as, as both of you all have said, this is in everybody’s ear, there you’re literally whispering in their ear, or maybe sometimes screaming in their ear, hopefully not, but it’s such an intimate experience. And so it makes that scripted person seem all the more plastic. It sort of amplifies anything that feels fake. And yet for a lot of these HealthTech folks, I would imagine that they are being prepped with scripted remarks because at the end of the day, they’re not professional podcasters and they’re nervous, you know, it’s, there’s a kind of a process of bringing them in to your world, making them feel comfortable, listening to them, give their spiel and spiel the spiel, but then unspooling that and letting them just be themselves.
Peter Birch (37:59):
Yeah, totally. And I also, I also know, and working with the larger companies, I know why guests come in and scripted because they need to, they need to be prepped by comms teams and legal teams and all of that. But the, the beauty of podcasting is it’s all prerecorded. And so the way we approach a lot of that is like, I take the view with comms teams and PR teams is I prefer to say it and record it and then take it out later rather than, you know, regret, not speaking about that particular point. So, you know, when we do episodes with larger organizations, with any organization, we then provide them with the recording to listen to before it goes out. Some of them don’t care and some of them will share it with literally, you know, many different departments and make sure it’s all fine, which is, which is totally understandable.
Peter Birch (38:42):
And that’s, um, and we can work with that process. So then they’ve got something really proud about sharing and that they can then promote on your behalf. So I think ensuring that guests are happy is really important from our side too. So, yeah, and there is an aspect of guests sometimes being nervous and, and wanting to make sure they cover everything. But, um, at the same time, you know, as long as they know their topic and you know, there’s always a con like an issue of self doubt and everything that, and the imposter syndrome and everything. But I think once you just get cracking and start exploring an issue, then usually then you’re, you’re totally comfortable after that.
John Farkas (39:21):
Quick list of factors. You know, you’re ready to do a podcast when this is true of you.
Peter Birch (39:28):
And you’ve got something to share when you, uh, have lots of questions to ask. And when you are interested to learn more about a particular topic, I think that those are some really important factors about starting a podcast and the cost.
John Farkas (39:44):
And the converse. Your listicle about why you should not do a podcast.
Peter Birch (39:51):
If you think you’re going to make a lot of money. And if you think it won’t take much time, and this is the thing it’s, I don’t say that to scare people off from doing a podcast. I just think going in with the right expectations and being prepared gives you the best opportunity for success. If you think you can just load up a few webinars and call it a podcast and hope that it will be wildly successful, then, um, that’s not the best way. So I think, you know, having the wrong expectations in terms of time investment, and also the return, like if you’re expecting that there’ll be 10 leads generated per episode, that you’ll be able to accurately measure to then justify the time and effort that you put into the podcast. Then that’s the wrong approach. If it’s about establishing thought leadership and being the voice of that particular issue or problem that you’re solving, then that’s definitely. Okay.
John Farkas (40:42):
Well, so let’s talk about starting a podcast. If we’re looking at doing it, let’s count the cost a little bit, help us into, what’s it gonna take to make this a reality? What should, how should we be framing that? What kind of things should we put in place? What kind of frequency should we be considering? How would you advise and direct people in that regard?
Peter Birch (41:05):
Yeah, sure. I mean, when I started, I did one episode, every fortnight in terms of frequency, like I said, now we do three episodes a week because we can say like that, that was a scale up to that in terms of the things that you need to set up, having a decent microphone, I think is important. Yes. You could record with your AirPods, I guess, but that won’t sound great. You can record with the phone and just record straight into, Hey, it’s a great thing too, in terms of, but you’ve got a good microphone in front of you there too. So the AirPods so yeah, the, the microphone in the AirPods, isn’t great. There’s so many resources online about choosing a hosting platform and all the different versions. Yes. There’s free ones and there’s paid ones. It depends what bells and whistles you want. If it’s just about hosting it and loading it up to things, then most of the free ones are okay to start. And then they have opportunity to then scale up. You can just do them on zoom. And that sounds okay. We do quite a lot of them on zoom to start with. And then there’s more kind of pro versions of online recording platforms that do better recording of audio, which you can also use and invest in. So I would get there in time.
Mark Whitlock (42:14):
In talking to people about starting podcasts. I’m always asked about the equipment questions, but then I’m asked about the internet questions, the hosting platform and how to distribute it. And then people rarely ask me the question they should be asking. And that is, what do we talk about? How do we talk about it? How do we host it? How do you know, how do I speak intelligently? How do we format it? Now, I know we’ve already talked about some of those, but I just wanted to say again, if you’re asking from my vantage point, if you’re talking about equipment and hosting and the internet side, and you haven’t settled the other issues, you’ve got the cart before the horse and, and get your horse, uh, squared away to, uh, but Peter John also asked about, and this is an important thing, the cost of a podcast, trying to get through some of that. What about time? How much time should folks put into a podcast starting?
Peter Birch (43:03):
Yeah, like starting out. I say, if you want to do the podcast all by yourself, you can get away with 10 hours a week, but then you’re really kind of scraping. I think, I think that allocating 15 to 20 hours a week for a really good podcast, if you’re serious about it, um, like I’m talking for a business to be able to do that, which can sound daunting at times. I think that going in with the right expectation of that, Hey, I can do this one afternoon a week and that’s kind of it. Um, then again, that said, like that sporadic over time as well too, that’s not allocating blocking out two full days of your, your week or anything like that. Just to manage a podcast. That’s not what many people do, but I think that there’s all these things that you don’t think about.
Peter Birch (43:48):
Like you think about all the prep work that you do beforehand of a podcast, and that if you don’t do any prep work for an interview, then it’s bound to be not that interesting. Then there’s the actual recording aspect of it. And then if you’re going to edit it all yourself, then that takes probably three times as long as however long the recording was in the first place. So to get that time down in terms of the time costs, where that like the, the editing pace is just costing your time, you can then outsource that. And there’s really cost-effective ways to do that too with, um, I wouldn’t recommend, especially if you don’t have the expertise to, to edit a podcast yourself, there are many freelance kind of platforms that enable people to do it, who are far more qualified and cost-effective to edit your podcast.
Peter Birch (44:32):
So that shaves a lot of time out of it. Yeah. There’s probably some tools and platforms and people to help you in organizing a guest. I still am very active, involved in the, the front end of the organizing and prepping for guests. I feel like that adds a lot of value to the conversation itself. I don’t like going into a podcast interview where I’m hosting it if I don’t know too much about the actual guests. So, but then again, having a VA or someone to help with some of that legwork could be useful and that could then shave off more of that time. So it’s just that trade off of what do you want to spend time or money. And then either way you can come up with a good kind of package to suit your needs.
John Farkas (45:10):
So 12 or 15 hours is more than the length of the interview times two, which is where I think a lot of people think it’s going to take, like, they’re just going to hit record. They’re going to do a few things to the, to post it, which isn’t going to take very long. And how hard can it be? Um,
Peter Birch (45:31):
I love that. That’s the famous last words, right? How hard can it be?
John Farkas (45:36):
Yeah. And, and the reality is if you want to have something that’s worth listening to, it takes some time. I mean, and you should be counting for that because part of the longevity and the opportunity is having the resources dedicated to it, to help it be successful. Because if you’re not willing to do that, you’re going to get what you pay for. That’s a challenging place to be totally a
Mark Whitlock (46:00):
Podcast is not a, if you build it, they will listen idea. You have to get it out and you have to let it brew for a while. If you’re talking to somebody to two sides of the coin, one, how long should they keep pushing out episodes before they get worried? And while they’re putting out those first series of episodes, what’s the minimum viable promotion they ought to be doing in order to say, they’re giving it their best shot.
Peter Birch (46:33):
Great question. I think that what I did when I was first thinking about monetization of a podcast, I then looked up, you know, how sponsors pay for podcast ads. And if you look up and you see, you know, it’s the cost per mille or what the cost per thousand listeners that you have, and you can make 10 or 15 bucks per thousand people that listen or something like that, I’d probably butchered that, but that’s totally irrelevant to, you know, to everybody in the space that, that, that certainly makes sense for the high volume podcast. But if you’re operating in a niche like HealthTech, or, you know, have a really specific market like podcasting is great. I remember doing an interview with someone recently, we’re talking about something similar. So like, if, if your niche was making pillows like knitting pillows with pictures of dogs on them, then you could spin up a podcast about knitting pillows with dogs on them.
Peter Birch (47:24):
And over time generate an audience of a couple of thousand people who be the absolute, as long as you’re respectful and kind of a passionate as, as you say, you are, then they will love that podcast and follow it for the rest of their lives. And you’ll have listeners in the U S and Ghana in all parts of the world. And so podcasting opens up this opportunity to take something that’s. So nation, normally you feel like you hold the one weed over that likes this thing to become, you know, a place to, to build a community like through. And you’re literally in the ear of these people. So, um, I think that having those, you know, having those expectations in mind that if you’re operating in a, in quite a niche space, then it could be a small market and that’s okay. We just hit 40,000 downloads of “Talking HealthTech” over two years.
Peter Birch (48:11):
So it’s not like we’re doing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of downloads. I hear other podcasts that are operating in the pure marketing space that have multiple hundreds of thousands of downloads. And like, occasionally I’m like, well, obviously, you know, you have that sense of doubt of like, well, we only had three or 400 downloads of this episode that went out. That’s really good. You know, when we first started in the first year or so, you might have only a hundred downloads of the podcast. And so it just depends. And the, the only one to compare it to is whatever your podcast was doing the previous month. Not some other podcast. I think, yeah. Being aware of what’s around is, is nice, but just compare with yourself. Otherwise, you’re just doing to let your thing go. So I think if you’re not enjoying doing it, then do something about it.
Peter Birch (48:55):
Don’t sit there and whinge about it. Like, you know, it’s either get help or, or yeah, like maybe you weren’t cut out to do it, or maybe this isn’t for you. I would strongly recommend getting help because I think that podcasting is definitely beneficial for so many different brands in so many areas, but, um, maybe your audience is small and, but, and you’re not going to be able to access all of them. And yeah, podcasting, it sucks sometimes that, you know, it’s not like YouTube where it’ll recommend videos and there’s a lot of organic things. Like the discoverability of podcasts is pretty low, so you need to know about it to search for it. And I think in terms of your question around the minimum viable product for promoting it, you know, pretty early on, I spun up a website to the, able to support the podcast because I had the whole challenge of, you know, if you’re going to promote it on social media, what link do you share?
Peter Birch (49:45):
The, a share the apple podcasts link, but then, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re offending those people that don’t like apple, those people are weirdos by the way. I’m very much an apple person, but the, sorry, I just lost, I just lost all the non-Apple people. Um, but the, but then also, you know, so there are, there are two of them. Yeah. Nice. Uh, so there are some yeah, links that you can share that then, you know, we’ll choose that. But I feel like for a number of reasons, having a basic website where you post a blog post and then have an embeddable player for your podcast is handy because then you can channel people back to your website. You can SEO optimize it. You, you don’t have to do transcripts. You could just do a quick summary of the episode and that might help with the Google side.
Peter Birch (50:28):
So it’s funneling stuff to your website, which I think from a marketing point of view, you’d probably want to be doing anyway. You know, and I, and I recommend this to people when we’re helping them spin up their podcasts, having, um, a section on their website, which focuses on the podcast. And then you can listen to the podcast there, people aren’t going to sit there and listen to the entire episode, sitting at their computer, or then again, maybe they will like people listen to podcasts in different ways, but the hopefully then they’ll then subscribe on their player and then, um, then you’ve got them from there.
John Farkas (50:54):
Mark. I feel affirmed. I think we, I think we could check all those boxes so we can good, good on us. That’s fine.
Mark Whitlock (51:03):
And we’ve learned from people like Peter, uh, along the way as well,
John Farkas (51:07):
Podcasting, you need to start, have a point of view, have a place that you’re coming from and then invite meaningful conversation. Conversation. That’s about the problems, not all about the solutions, but about the problems don’t underestimate, how much work it’s going to take to make it happen. Be willing on that front end. As you’re jumping into this endeavor to say, okay, I’m going to invest to make this happen. It’s going to take 12 hours. It’s going to take 15 hours to get it from A to Z. And don’t think it’s just going to happen on time of interview times two. It’s really important. So it’s important to commit and to be sincere in what you’re bringing. We talked about it at the front end. We are in a market that is very determined to shove solutions down people’s throat. Uh, we’re, we’re very quick to talk about how we solve for things.
John Farkas (51:55):
We’re very quick to say here’s all the great things we can do here. Look at this, look at this. Look at me, look at me. And that is not a top of funnel conversation, which is what a podcast is. It’s a place to begin to build a relationship. So be brave, be brave and trust that, that kind of attention, that work that you do to have that kind of relational approach is going to do great and seeding the top of your funnel and making things happen. Because if you do that, if you commit to it, if you build that brand and help people understand the texture of who you are and connect with you, emotionally buying decisions are emotional. You’re going to set hooks in that conversation that are going to pay great dividends down the road, but you gotta have faith and you gotta be committed and you gotta see it through. It’s really important.
Mark Whitlock (52:45):
So a few quick notes here. First of all, come over to studiocmo.com/053 that’s studiocmo.com/053. And here’s what you’re going to find there. First of all, if you’ve thought about being a podcast guest or refining how you talk about your HealthTech company and solution and the problem you’re solving, we’ve got a great article from John Farkas, our host, about building the soul of your brand. So the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to link out to that article. Second of all, if you’re thinking about starting a podcast, we’re going to link to several pieces of content on our website that we’ve been asked over time. “Tell us about your podcast. How did you get started, et cetera,” we’re going to link out and help you connect the dots on what it’ll take to start your podcast.
Mark Whitlock (53:36):
And then finally, we’re going to link out to Peter’s fantastic platform. You’ve got to take a look at what they’re doing. First of all, from a podcasting standpoint, second of all, from a community standpoint, and thirdly, from what they’re doing with the summits that happen, uh, around the calendar each year, it’s an amazing program that, that Peter and the folks that “Talking HealthTech” have put together. So subscribe to “Talking HealthTech” today, get on your favorite podcast app, listen to what they’re doing and become a part of the community, “Talking HealthTech”, and you know, while you’re on your favorite podcasting app, subscribe to us too, if you haven’t yet, we’d love to have you on board. So Peter, thank you so much for being on Studio CMO. Absolutely. Thank
Peter Birch (54:19):
You. Thanks so much for having me. It’s been great to explore all those different things. I really appreciate the time and unlock what you guys are doing as well. Thank you so much.
Mark Whitlock (54:26):
And as we’ve been talking about today, it’s about your customer. It’s about the person who will listen to you as a speaker or as a podcast guest or as a podcast faster. And that leads to the three core thoughts that we express on every episode of Studio CMO. First of all, you must understand your buyer’s problems
Anna Grimes (54:46):
Lead with an empathetic understanding
John Farkas (54:48):
And always work to make your buyer the hero.
Mark Whitlock (54:51):
We’ll see you next time on Studio CMO.
Studio CMO is produced by Golden Spiral: market positioning and demand generation for HealthTech. We are an agency dedicated to helping you realize your market potential. Our music is from Bigger Story Music, a BMG music library. Whatever story you’re trying to tell, Bigger Story has the perfect music to make it better. Really. Check them out at biggerstorymusic.com.