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Showrunning for Marketers with Jay Acunzo of Marketing Showrunners

By Site Strategics
January 24, 2020

Our special guest for episode 339 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was Jay Acunzo, Founder of Marketing Showrunners. Host Erin Sparks spoke with Jay about how he helps marketers market themselves through high-quality podcasts and videos. Here’s what we learned: 


Jay Acunzo: His Background and Experience

As the founder of Marketing Showrunners, he helps marketers create their audience’s favorite show so they can become a favorite brand for that audience. At the core of what he does is help marketers find and share their voice and distribute that voice with the right audience to make a difference, to make an impact, and to shift the culture for the better. Simply put, right now the best vehicle to do that is a show. Marketing Showrunners helps marketers make great podcasts and videos. Two of Jay’s well-known podcasts include I Made It and his longstanding show called Unthinkable.


A Show About Shows: 3 Clips

Jay’s newest show is called 3 Clips, which is all about trying to understand what makes great shows great, a few little pieces at a time. The shows they analyze range from well-known shows to ones you’ve never heard of, including brands like REI, Trader Joe’s, HubSpot, Drift, Gimlet Media, and Jay’s all-time favorite podcast, Radiolab. Each episode of 3 clips plays back multiple clips (right now it’s three, as the name implies) from a show and deconstruct them to find out what works (or doesn’t work) and why. It’s a show for marketers who realize how creating better content is better marketing, who realize it’s about better-serving their audience, not just selling more stuff. But of course, it turns out that when you serve your audience better, you do sell more stuff.

In 3 Clips, Jay might isolate just the opening sequence of show and go deep into it and why it worked so well. And how can marketers who are resource-constrained mimic the kinds of things that make great shows great.


The Mandate for Marketers Has Changed

Jay’s take on how marketing has changed in recent years is quite eloquent and deserve to be quoted here:

“Our mandate as marketers, whether it was right or wrong, used to be grab attention, and now it’s hold attention. And so I don’t think great marketing is about who arrives, great marketing is about who stays. And if you just focus on that, everything gets better. The lifetime value of your audience gets higher – people stay, they trust you, they take actions with you, they race down the funnel – all this good stuff. Lifetime value goes up and cost of customer acquisition goes down because you have this hoard of passionate fans that can’t get enough of you telling other people and making it easier to bring people inbound, and also for your team to go outbound with confidence. Those are the benefits. It’s not brand awareness, it’s brand affinity. And that’s the moment we’re living in.”


What Jay Learned Researching and Writing a Book

Jay learned a valuable lesson through writing his most recent book, Break the Wheel. When you’re considering taking on something new like producing a podcast, people immediately want to know what the best practices are for various aspects of the podcast, such as what’s the ideal length? But you can rationalize any particular length. You can ask 69 different experts and get 69 different answers. Here’s how Jay explained his learning: “The simple thing to understand is that finding best practices is not the goal, finding the best approach for you is.” There is no single right answer, and yet we’re taught early on in school there are right answers and wrong answers, so the modern search for the right answer in marketing takes the form of best practices that are supposed to apply to everyone. It’s a fool’s errand. Best practices don’t account for all the variables that are unique to your situation and context. Best practices are based on averages, and marketers who follow them do average work and end up settling for average results. Figure out what’s best for your unique context and do that. Your work will be better and your results will be exceptional. But it has to all be based on a deep understanding of your audience and what they want.


Start with the Message, Not the Medium

When a brand is considering doing some kind of show, the starting point has to be developing the brand story apart from the medium. As you develop the brand story, you’ll gain insight into what medium should be used to tell that story – a podcast, a series of short videos, a feature-length documentary film, a blog, a newsletter, whatever it may be. Choose a medium to best delivery your unique story. You must first figure out if you have something meaningful to say. And if going on a journey of understanding with your audience is what needs to happen, then some kind of show is in order. 

And if a show is in order, then you start putting together your show bible, which has tons of components to it, but the three big things in it are 1) your concept: do you have something that is sufficiently different from everything else to not just be another generic show on generic marketing topics? Would somebody want to put the logo or slogan on a t-shirt because it’s that good and that impactful? 2) your format: is it on-the-fly interviewing or will it be something highly stylized with lots of post-production work and so on, and 3) your talent: who will host it and why? Different hosts? 

And you revisit these big three items and their sub-components on a regular basis because if you’ve got a serialized show, it can and will get stale. It needs to be revitalized regularly.


Some Creativity Costs Nothing

The holy grail for podcasts is getting people to listen all the way to the end. You want to lead with all your most delightful, tantalizing content as opposed to front-loading a lot CTAs and sponsor messages and housekeeping stuff. Then you find ways to vary your cadence, put in pauses that signal your listener to snap back to attention if their mind is wandering. How can you open in a way that will hook people into listening? How can you put a fresh twist on a familiar topic to make it more interesting? All these bits of creativity literally cost you nothing. As Jay puts it: “…the punchline here is we need to start viewing creativity as resourcefulness, not resources.”

Connect with Jay Acunzo and Marketing Showrunners (MSR)

Twitter: @jayacunzo (https://twitter.com/jayacunzo)

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jayacunzo

Instagram: @jacunzo (https://www.instagram.com/jacunzo)

MSR web: https://www.marketingshowrunners.com

MSR Twitter: @MShowrunners (https://twitter.com/mshowrunners)

MSR’s 3 Clips podcast: http://bit.ly/2NKwaPU

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