If you want your podcast to have an authentic brand that gets cut-through in an increasingly saturated market, then this episode with podcasting expert and entrepreneur Mark Asquith is for you.
You will learn Mark’s unconventional audience attraction and growth strategy which he has honed over 10 years of podcasting himself and working with thousands of podcasters.
"A lot of people assume that Promotion is Marketing and it's not." - Mark Asquith
Mark Asquith is the CEO of Rebel Base Media and Co-founder of Captivate, a podcast hosting, analytics and monetization platform. A passionate podcaster and passionate advocate for podcasting, Mark has worked with thousands of podcasters to launch and grow their shows.
As a veteran in the podcasting space with a startup background, Mark is known as an innovative thinker and industry disruptor. In his role as a podcast mentor, (not podcast guru! 😅) Mark helps other podcasters with honest, pragmatic and strategic advice they can actually implement.
This includes taking off the rose-colored glasses when it comes to podcasting and accepting that podcasting is no better than any other audience growth mechanism and that it still requires effort and strategy to be successful.
Successful podcasters focus on marketing their show and recognizing that it is a marathon, not a sprint.
Mark takes us back to the fundamental principles of marketing that many of us skip in our podcast marketing and the importance of authenticity (noting that many podcasting gurus sell courses the easy part - launching your podcast - and skip the difficult part - growing your podcast).
In this episode, you will learn the following:
EXCLUSIVE BONUS CONTENT Want to know the exact way Mark defines audience growth? We recorded a bonus clip where Mark shares his definition (and it’s definitely not what you think!) Click here to unlock it
Related Grow My Podcast Show episodes you may enjoy:
In this episode you will learn about building an engaged community for your podcast.
You will learn how experts who podcast should be using it to further fuel their originality and cement their expertise!
Resources mentioned in this episode
💻 Try Capsho for free here
Capsho is an AI-powered podcast marketing copywriter that creates an episode title, description, show notes, social media captions, promotional email, LinkedIn article and YouTube description AND curates a selection of quotes from your episode. All in under 10 minutes with a simple upload of your episode audio file.
🤝 You can connect with Mark here
🎁 Unlock the bonus clip with Mark here
💬 Send me a message here
❤️ Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here
You know, I got into podcasting because I don't want to grow an audience. I don't think it's any more powerful than any other medium. I don't know about you, but when Mark Asquith from Captivate said that to me, I immediately got a little bit defensive. What did he mean, it's not more powerful than any other medium? Podcasting is the absolute best, right?
Yeah, I got a little bit defensive there. But when I took a moment and stepped back, I knew that he had a point. I personally absolutely think that podcasting is the most powerful way for you to not only build an audience, but to actually have them come to know, like, and trust you. So ultimately, investing in you becomes a no brainer for them. But that's just because it's one of the first mediums that I started when I launched my coaching business.
Any platform can work for you to grow your audience as long as you have a solid strategy and you put the love, attention and focus into actually growing it. And I believe that was Mark's point all along, and it made more and more sense the further that we delved into his particular strategy for growing a podcast. Because what this conversation became wasn't just a strategy to grow a podcast. It is really a strategy to grow anything which makes sense given Mark's background, starting and growing startups, the latest of which is Captivate. So if you are looking to not only grow a podcast, but are looking to grow your business, which everyone listening to this should be doing, then this episode with Mark Asquith is for you.
My name is DDRi Shen, the CEO and co founder of Capsho, the fastest way to Market and grow your podcast. And this is the Grow my podcast show.
I'm Mark Asquith, the cofounder of Captivate podcast hosting, analytics and monetization platform. Some of you may know Mark. In fact, some of you may be users of Captivate already. I've personally found it an incredibly simple and intuitive platform to use. In fact, I've had a lot of similar feedback from people using Captivate, especially from users of Capsho, too.
And so what I was really intrigued with is how it is that Captivate was able to cut through all the hosting noise and become a very dominant player in the industry. How did Captivate even come into being? Yeah, I mean, we built Captivate to scratch our own itch. Podcast hosting, when we got into it, really was very old school. There was a lot of incumbents, great people, great companies.
I know them all well. I class them all as close friends. And that's what you get from being around for so long, is that you've seen a lot of things and they were all right as they were, but they weren't doing anything to me and the people around me, they were doing things just this is the way it is. And if you like it. And they were slow at releasing things and pretty straight talk and nothing's that hard.
And I don't think companies should be applauded for doing the basics. I think that's by virtue of turning up, you should be able to do the basics well. But that was all that existed. So we created Captivate because it was very straight talking, it was very open. The brand was really focused on serious podcasters.
Like, we don't have a freemium plan. One of the only companies, one of the few companies out there that don't have a freemium plan. I think it's a silly model. So I actually focus wholly on the series podcaster, and that's why it grew so quickly, is that you add. Kieran and I, we've been around the industry for ten years.
People know us. We were at the first and second Podcast Movement podcast. We've spoken at them for a decade. I remember Podcast Movement having a beer with Jared and Dan before it was a conference as such. So it's that kind of personal brand, couple of personal brands in the space, coupled with not really taking any BS from things like why should this be that difficult?
And why can't host move quicker and do better? And that's why it grew so quickly. And then the acquisition from Global came and it was a great process. We went from initial interest to money in the bank by within six weeks, and that's because we built a good business. It was predictable, you could model it because we didn't have a freemium plan.
All of our books were in order of our platform, our processes, our team is fantastic. We've just done everything. We've not done anything special in terms of the business, apart from just being really good at what we do and release a lot of features really quickly. We've done all it takes to be a good business. We didn't mess around with startup models, and I've been in the startup space for years and there's a lot of rubbish in that space.
We need hyper growth, so we're going to scrape our SS feed from email addresses and sorry, email addresses from RSS feeds and call email everyone. And that's why, bad news, we didn't want to do any of that stuff because it damages the brand and it's a bit embarrassing to do it. So we stayed away from all that stuff, all the things, things that give you a bad name, and we just built a good business. And so when it came around, it was just a logical fit, I think it was. The reason that we resonate so much with podcasters is because of this attitude that we've got.
Some people won't like that straight talking, they want to be told the podcasting is of the golden age of podcast and it's never been better time, and it's the most powerful way to ten X this and to 20 x that, and it's all hyperbolic rubbish. They want honesty. These days, a lot of people pedal authenticity online, especially your audience that are very much around being experts. But the experts that do well are not people that pedal authenticity, they are people that are genuinely authentic. And there's a big difference between that because authenticity has become a brand term.
So, yeah, that's why I think we just do obvious stuff for podcasters, things that sort of I remember the first year we started releasing features. We did a feature release every week for a year. We did 52 feature releases, and they often included more than one thing as well. So all of it was just obvious stuff like, why can't you set a default publish time for your episode so you don't have to change it from midnight to 09:00 a.m. Every time you put like the tiniest little details.
And podcasters were just blown away because that was the state of the industry. So it would just do nice work in an open and nice way. There's a really neat lesson in what Mark just said. Sometimes we try to make everything so complicated because we think that's what people want, when in reality they just want the simple things done right. Things like setting a default publishing time.
I certainly took a lot away from that, even for Capsho focus on doing the simple things right. Given that Mark's been in the startup space for a while and specifically created software for podcasters, I was curious to learn about how he viewed the role of podcasting in helping people grow their audience. I think there are two sides to podcasting. The fact that it is if I tap on this mic, you don't see it, you hear it, it goes in your ears. It's directly piped into the most intimate type of media that you can possibly imagine.
So that's a huge plus. You'll see it at podcast conferences, you'll have it with your show, I've got it with mine. And a lot of people have it with their shows where you'll meet someone and they will know you based on your voice because they've listened to your show. They might not know what you look like or whatever. A lot of people said to me, I did not realize you looked like that, or thought you were taller or smaller or whatever.
They recognize your voice. So that's really powerful. It is really powerful. It is. And that's possibly the only unique thing that podcasting has.
You'll get your purists and people that love podcasting just as much as I do, but love it for a different reason. I love it because you can share your voice. A lot of people love it because it's this amazing open ecosystem. And it's podcasting is unique because it's delivered via RSS, literally. That's not yeah, it's unique, but is it really?
Is it actually unique because I could get blog posts like that. And is it really unique because of that? It's not. It's that one to one relationship. Now, podcasting, in my view, is no better than any other audience growth mechanism because it still requires work.
A lot of people are going to see so many gurus selling these crappy courses, so much so that I built a course that's completely free, doesn't even need an email address because I was that annoyed by it. I just thought, I'm just going to give something away that's better than this rubbish. Because people are cashing in on the fact that people want to start these podcasts and what they're doing is there was one guy who was on Facebook the other day, a Facebook ad, it said, I will get you a top 100 podcast in eight weeks. It's about ten grand and you get your money back. If it's not a top 100, I was like, I could launch a top 100 podcast in 20 minutes, literally.
Because it's not hard and that's not the difficult thing. It's actually building an audience. There's a reason that certain Christmas number one pop songs go to number one, but then you never hear from the artist again. Because doing the one thing is not the hardest thing, it's maintaining it. And that's why I think there's a lot of hyperbole around podcasting, is that you get a real buzz from sharing your voice, doing this, talking on microphone, chatting to people, and people saying, I like what you've got to say.
We like that. All right. So that's why people enjoy podcasting. And that's the reason that particularly as creators, we find it a better medium than perhaps YouTube to start with, because we don't have to put our face on camera. There's less things for people to pick on this.
Mike Cuz you put a bit of weight on this year? I have. That's cool. Like, I'm all out on video getting hammered for that. That's cool.
But a lot of people aren't. So podcasting gives you a bit of safety. So that's amazing. That's why a lot of people gravitate towards that launch. But it's no better than any other medium when you get past that, because it still requires the same tactic, a lot of people will say to me, look, I've not seen any audience growth, all right, what are you doing?
I publish my episodes and I put them on social media and I repurposed them. I do TikToks and I make little short clips, clips and audiograms. That's well done, but that's terrible. What's that going to do? That's not going to do anything pointless.
It will get a little bit of quick awareness and a bit of eyes on, and it's a little bit of touchpoint Marketing, but it's actually I equate that to being like, okay, I'm going to go and I'm going to open a shop down a back alley that's got no foot traffic and that no one can see from the main road. And I'm just going to put a sign up in the door that no one can see. And every now and again, I'm just going to nip out to the main street and I'm just going to go, there's a shop back here and I'm going to do that twice a day. How many customers are going to get at the might not be anyone walking by when you go out and do that. And that's the problem, is it's the old we cannot build it and expect people to come.
So that's why it's no better than anything else. Because if you want to grow a YouTube channel, all right, we've got to Market the YouTube channel. We've got to have a real deep content strategy, we've got to have a partnership strategy, a guesting strategy, we've got to have an actual, tangible, offline Marketing strategy, an old school strategy for getting people that we know to listen to the thing. And then we've got to have a bit of a growth strategy, actually. How do we flywheel this thing up?
How do we find out what's working and what's not? But because podcasting is going through this boom and all the gurus are selling rubbish for $97, the problem that you've got is that it's been painted as easy. Now, the launching is easy. Buying a microphone has never been cheaper. The software that we've got, the captivate and everything else has never been better.
It's never been cheaper, but the house has never been easier. It's a poor excuse for getting into podcasting when, realistically, the difficulty comes after that guru has disappeared because they've got you to launch. And that's the easy bit. And it's the Marketing. And guess what?
It is a frustrating thing, I think, for a lot of people. Not many people are saying that, and I'm lucky because I don't sell knowledge. I don't have courses that you can buy. I've got a big free course that just I create because I was that annoyed with gurus. I we don't sell education, we don't sell this sort of stuff.
So I can afford to be a little bit more straight talking. I don't have to pretend that you need my course to launch, because you don't. And that's the beauty of it. So no one gets into podcasting, no one gets into YouTube, no one gets it being a shop owner, because they think to themselves, I know the quickest way to learn Marketing is to build something that needs Marketing. No one does that.
They want to do a podcast because they want a podcast. And that's why I think that podcasting, don't get me wrong, it's amazing and I love it. And I think if you make it, it is the best mechanism for you, if you choose it to be. But I don't think we can be under any illusion that you can just press record, upload it and off we go. Now, some people did do that back in the day, but I'm talking they built a niche audience around a niche podcast where no one was podcasting.
They are the exception. And it's like the early YouTube adopters, it's like all of the early software properties. They're the MySpace of podcasting. They got there first. Could they do it again now with the same resources?
No, of course they couldn't. So, yeah, it's a bit of a distorted again. Do you notice the similarities in what Mark saying here between starting a podcast and starting, well, anything? It is actually really simple to start anything. To start a business, to start a new course, to start a YouTube channel, to start a podcast.
The absolute key, though, the thing that we always forget is how we actually Market and grow. The thing this is when you realize the rubber is hitting the road and it's actually more of a marathon than a sprint. The Marketing is when you have to dig in and realize whether this thing is even for you. Because, not going to lie, it's actually quite a slog. And I'm saying that as someone who loves Marketing.
In fact, it's the whole reason Capsho came to be my love of Marketing and realizing that others just don't have that same kind of love for it, not blaming you, trust me. So if you've been feeling like that at all that while you love podcasting, you're a little bit lost as to how to actually Market and grow it, then hang with me. Because that's exactly what we're going to dive into after this short ad. I've been speaking to Mark Asquith from Captivate about his journey with Captivate and his journey with podcasting as well, which I've been finding absolutely fascinating, which is why I could not wait to get into his three tips to growing and Marketing a podcast. And right, knowing what they are, you're in for a treat.
So let's just get into them, shall we? What is his first tip? Don't be crap. That's it really is. I know that sounds really flippant and obvious, but a lot of people are putting rubbish out because they think that they can turn podcasting on and it's going to work.
But the problem is that, like I said, you could do that a little while ago, maybe eight years ago, but you can't now because people have got more choice. Podcasting has got bigger. You want to talk about Star Wars? You better be good, because I like my show, it's really enjoyable and other people like it too. So you got to compete with me and I got to compete with you.
And that's the thing. Yes, you can collaborate, yes, you can do guesting, yes, you can do cross promotion with other people in your niche. That's great. Podcasting is massively collaborative, but the ultimate thing to understand with this is that you will never grow. If you've got a bad product, you have to produce great content.
You've got to think about it. You said something at the beginning of the podcast, which no one said to me for a long time, which is I do a lot of on this. Good. It's going to sound much better because all the crap that I say, you're going to make it sound good and you're going to get rid of all the stuff that is a little bit rambling and you're going to tighten it up and it's going to make me sound better. And your audience will appreciate that because they want the best version of this episode.
They don't want everything. And I think for some reason, I don't know why this is, people think podcasting is just like, turn it on record and off you go. And you could do that. Like I said, don't get me wrong, ten years ago you could do that. You could.
But now you can because there's that much more choice. So that is the first thing. And you know what? The rambly bits are sometimes my favorite. Just don't tell Mark that I left some of his rambling bits in.
Seriously though, this is what gets me juiced about podcast Marketing. Because as we've heard time and time again on this episode, it always goes back to basics. Just like how a business with a crap product won't grow, so won't a podcast. That doesn't sound good. With my first podcast, I actually had no idea how to do any edits to the point where if I made a mistake in recording, I would actually just rerecord it all again because I had no idea how to actually edit the thing.
No wonder I struggled to grow it. But now, well, now we don't really have an excuse, do we? We have to ensure that our product is top notch. Ask yourself, are you proud of the content that you're putting out? Why or why not?
What changes can you make? How can you create something that is not crap? That's Mark's first tip. Don't be crap. And so what is his second?
And then it genuinely is about Marketing it. But you've got to start with a strategy. You got to have a Marketing strategy. A lot of people say, build an avatar. That's cool, that's brilliant.
2015 was an amazing time, let's keep doing that. But you got to know who you're talking to. But a lot of people go, right, I'm going to build an avatar avatar, and then I'm just going to go on social media. But it's cool because I wrote that avatar down, but I'm still going to do broadcast social media and not do anything to target this person, which is really freaking weird. I don't know why people do that.
So if you're going to do like an avatar and got to think strategically. Again, we are going back to basics. Who is your podcast actually for? Who are you actually speaking to? I realized the importance of this myself when we first launched Capsho.
For those of you who don't know this story. Capsho started off as a platform that would turn a user stories into a bank of captions and emails. Again, it was relatively easy. Emphasis on the word relatively. It was relatively easy to build.
The hard part was at Marketing it. And when our coach asked us who we were targeting with this product, my answer all entrepreneurs can use it. All of them, right? Are you kidding me? All entrepreneurs?
Where would I even start trying to find these entrepreneurs? Any entrepreneur. Wow. No wonder my coach absolutely laid into us, who made us really narrow it down and then narrow it down again until we got to where we are now, which is talking to you experts who podcast. And that is how we were able to build and start growing Capsho as you see it now, because we knew exactly who we were talking to.
So do you know exactly who you're talking to with your podcast? If so, then you're ready for step three. You've got to think to yourself, right? Okay, I'll give you my strategy for the Star Wars podcast, right? My Star Wars podcast strategy is middle aged people who are really busy and bloody love Star Wars.
All right? So that can be it doesn't matter where you're from, it doesn't matter your gender, it doesn't matter your life situation, all that other fancy stuff that people tell you about with your avatar. It's just are you a busy person that likes Star Wars? Actually, I'll probably relate to, and you relate to me more if we're roughly the same age, like, within ten years of each other, where does that person go? Yeah, sure, there's a little bit on Twitter, but actually they're reading a lot of books, they're in the movies, they're watching the same stuff as me on TV, they're in geek culture, random vintage toy stores up and down the country, and no one thinks of this stuff.
All they think is, I'm just going to automate the tweets. So I think if you've got to think what think about it from a Marketing director's perspective. And if you don't know how to do that, just literally buy a five pound book of Amazon on Basic Marketing 101. It always starts with strategy. Who are we trying to reach?
How are we trying to reach them? What are we going to say to them when we get there? And why should they even care if we can do that? And then you can come up with a strategy, which is honestly, I would get more listeners for my Star Wars podcast if I stopped doing any online Marketing and just spent all my time traveling to conferences, giving out stickers, I would. But I just can't because family.
So it's about being pragmatic, about what you're trying to achieve, how you want to achieve it, and why you want to achieve it. And that's called strategy. What doesn't work is how can I phrase this promotion in isolation? So a lot of people assume that promotion is Marketing and it's not. Marketing is building up enough of a relationship with the right people so that when the time is right for them, you become the obvious choice.
That's Marketing promotion is town crier. Promotion is going out and tweeting everything in because it's pretty cool to tweet everything and saying to people, I've got this thing, you better listen. I've got this thing, you better listen. I've got this thing, you better listen. Doesn't work like that.
It simply does not work like that. I always use a concept about four years ago that I use for all of my podcast Marketing. It's called the podcast discoverability triangle. You can Google that is something that I created a while ago. And it was a talk that I gave for a long time before lockdown, like podcast movement and so on.
And he posits that there are three types of listener that you can access. There are the people that know about podcasting but don't know about you. There are people that like the stuff that you're into but don't know that you exist and or in order to get podcasts. So the second part of that is there are people that love your subject matter but ain't got a clue what a podcast is. And then there are people that are ready to be influenced by people that are already listening to your podcast.
And to me, that's the podcast discoverability triangle. If you can strategize Marketing that targets each of those three types of people, that's why guesting works. Because one prong of that is that if I go on other shows like this, then they already know to get podcasts. All they've got to do is find mine. So I'll just make that part ease and I'll give them my Captivate link and off we go.
And that's why the guesting element of that works. And cross promotion and so on and so forth. But if you can strategize about, okay, what is my Marketing strategy to target people who know about podcasts but don't know about me? Here's a strategy. I'm going to write that down.
What's the other strategy? To get people who love, for argument's sake, Star Wars to understand what the heck a podcast is. Because if I can teach people about podcasting and I'm the only podcast that they know about in their subject matter, so I do the math. It works and it really does. And then the other strategy is, how can I activate referrals?
You don't need software for that. You don't need any of that stuff. You just need your fans to know that they can tell other people that is it and you've got to hammer it. So yeah, they're the three sort of strategies. Probably don't have time to go deep into that, but they're the three strategies that I always advise every podcast to build and then tactically, that's when I'm talking tactics, as you all know, it's more about, okay, what does that look like day to day?
Well, if you've got these strategies in place, assume that it's. How do I activate people? How do I get people that know about Star Wars but don't know what a podcast is? I'm not going to go on Twitter for that. I'm going to go around the comic shops and I'm going to say, here are like a thousand stickers.
Any chance of putting these on your worktop, on your counter? Or I'm going to start to talk to I'm going to start to talk to the local places around me and say, actually, where are my Star Wars fans? Can we do a meetup locally? And can we do a town meetup or the one in the next city? And I'm going to run the meetup and that cost me nothing.
People just come to talk about Star Wars and guess what? It's sponsored by Ice Barker rebellion. There's a drink on the bar and it costs you like 30, $30. Yeah, it's just that's just Marketing, isn't it? But people forget that.
So start with a strategy. In fact, do a strategy. Okay, Mark's. Last tip. Once you know who you're talking to, then you can design a strategy that is specifically targeting them.
There is so much wisdom in this because, again, that's exactly how we were able to grow both Capsho and the Grow My Podcast Show. Instead of entrepreneurs, honestly, where would entrepreneurs be hanging out when we started targeting experts who podcast? We could go to events like Podfest and Podcast Movement, collaborate with people like Mark and others who are specifically in the podcast industry because we knew that this is where our people are. There is so much gold in everything Mark has shared with us because it goes back to the fundamentals of Marketing. And Marketing a podcast is honestly no different to Marketing a business.
It was such a great reminder for me to always go back to basics and talking about basics. If you want to hear exactly how Mark defines audience growth, then head over to the Show Notes for this episode and get that bonus clip. It's completely, 100% free and as you might expect, goes into Mark's very unfiltered thoughts about what audience growth actually is. And it's definitely not what you think. It actually gives some really great insight into why you need to also really think about your personal brand, for example, okay, I'm not going to give anything any more away.
Go and get that bonus clip in the Show Notes. And if you wanted to learn more. From Mark, probably the best thing that anyone can do is just follow me on Twitter. Here's a tip, a podcasting tip. Don't give too many calls to action.
Always have one thing that you promote. Literally just the one thing. So a lot of people, what they do is they'll be. Like, oh, yeah, you got family on Twitter. Get me where you get your podcasts.
Get Apple Spotify, get me on my email list, go get my ebook, get me on the gram, get me on Facebook. And my website is this. I was going to remember that. Just one call to action. All right, mine is Twitter, because I engage them more than anywhere else.
You can get to everywhere else from there, but I'm just at Mark Asquith on Twitter. But, yeah, think about that for podcasting as well. Just one. A call to action.
You just couldn't help himself. He was still teaching even in his call to action. Okay, that's it from us today. Thanks for joining us on the Grow My podcast show. And as always, stay awesome.
Mark Asquith is the CEO of Rebel Base Media and Co-founder of Captivate, a podcast hosting, analytics and monetization platform. A passionate podcaster and passionate advocate for podcasting, Mark has worked with thousands of podcasters to launch and grow their shows.