Everyone loves a business success story. Getting a business from Place A to Place B financially always includes twists and turns, being blindsided by the unexpected, and sometimes involves intriguing interpersonal issues. But if your listener is a businessperson with big aspirations, you’ll need to anchor key elements of the podcast story line with “the numbers.” In other words, quantifiable podcast business data. Use of this data will ground the listeners to key parts of the story, enable them to envision their success and thus keep them on the lookout for key learnings that will get them to their desired outcomes.
What kind of “podcast business data” are we talking about?
It’s really the basic numerical information that any CEO acquires and tracks over time as indicators and enablers of business success. Certainly, revenue and profit are the first items that come to mind, but any business journey involves the following three components:
- Financial data: Again, revenue and profit generally, but also expense run rate, key capital expenditures, contribution/operating margins, churn rate, etc.
- Market data: Addressable market size, projected market and segment growth, number/size/positioning of competitors, etc.
- Funding data: Equity and/or debt investment, return on investment (ROI), business valuation, etc.
So…how do you choose the right data to employ within your podcast? And just as important, how do you work with your podcast guests to effectively (and practically) weave this data into the storyline in a way that benefits and holds the attention of the listener? Here are three guiding principles to follow:
Match the data to the listener's needs and the podcast episode storyline
Numeric information for its own sake is not useful or memorable; it must be relevant to the storyline and motivating for the listener. So, start with the listener’s needs and motivations, and look for key points within the storyline.
Here’s an example: Saying that product growth for a new security software offering is 20%, or that the market for it is $10 billion a year, in and by itself doesn’t tell a story. But if you say that we invested $250,000 for a prototype and the sales and marketing resources to get the first 100 customers, achieved a 60% win rate vs our top competitor in the first 6 months after launch, and generated $2 million in sales in the first year…now you’ve got the listener’s attention. Add vignettes about how you did it, what financial and human challenges you overcame, and how you laughed and cried along the way…that’s a story!
Make sure the host and interviewer determine the right data in advance
This requires some preparation work, and the extent with which a given podcast guest has the time and motivation to identify this data will vary. Either way, the guest will appreciate a proactive approach. If as host you have some proximity to some of this data, either through a working relationship you have with the guest or external/public sources, it is always good to suggest specific data as a starting point, as well as how it might be used in an episode. This affords you the opportunity to bring structure to the interaction, and perhaps get some of your points across.
On the other hand, the guest is the star of the podcast, and is likely in the best (and oftentimes only) position to identify business data that powerfully supports an aspect of the story. As the host, you may think a 20% overall growth rate for a new replacement material for cement is interesting, but it might remind the guest that the gold is in a specific use case where there is not competition and for which the growth rate is 40%. So ideally this is a two-way process, but either way, it should be proactive and pursued with intent.
Be balanced and judicious with the data
Be careful not to overload your Episode with too much podcast business data. There are three stakeholders to be considered here: the host, the guest, and the listener. Depending on the podcasting experience of both the host and the guest, there is a limit to what either party can remember while in the actual recording session, and trying to wedge too many numbers into a story can compromise the flow of the interaction. And you’ll want the listener to take away 2 or 3 memorable (and hopefully actionable) insights from the Episode, which is best served by homing in on the critical few data points. I would encourage both the podcast host and the podcast guest to have a very short “cheat sheet” on hand with the limited number of data bullets as a visual reminder.
Also, financial and market data should be balanced and integrated with other stats as well as other elements of the story. This could include, but are not limited to:
- Size of organization at various stages
- Key target market demographics
- Go to market strategies
- Team/interpersonal challenge and dynamics and how they were addressed
This last bullet is worth emphasizing. At the end of the day, it’s the overall story that will hold the attention of the listener and keep her/him coming back for future Episodes. The human element should be the primary focus, but for an ambitious listener, business data provides the grounding and the motivation. See our Turn Podcast Guests into Storytellers blog post for how to work with all podcast participants to make that happen.
If you are contemplating a new podcast for business people, or are looking for ideas on how to improve an existing one, we’re happy to brainstorm with you. Feel free to schedule a free, no obligation consultation or reach out to us at email@example.com with any details on where you are in your podcast journey, and we’ll be in touch!