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PC 102 | Simplify and Focus with Marc Gunn

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Profitcast FeedburnerThis week’s guest was particularly exciting for me because I’ve been listening to his show from the beginning. Marc Gunn of the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast joins the Real Brian to talk about the success he’s seen in the last 10+ years around his very popular fan-supported podcast.

I vividly remember the various transitions of the podcast Marc talks about, from the booming success upfront to the podcast stream switchover to the revival and patreon implementation, and it was increadibly cool for me to hear the details of what actually went on behind the scenes during that time. While I was confused, as a listener, during these various transitions (experiencing some of the download issues he mentioned), Marc did an excellent job of communicating what I needed to know in the midst of those issues without over-communicating the irrelevant details. His weekly show was not the place for the full story. But here, on Profitcast, this was the right place for these stories.

It may be the case that my rose-colored glasses remember only the good aspects to the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast, and I’m not recalling some tangent stories Marc gave back in the day, but this situation made me start thinking of the stories we often share with listeners that have very little to do with the current episode and more about the meta aspects of podcasting. If you’ve ever listened to a podcast where the hosts(s) go(es) on a tangent, only circling back to the main topic of discussion 10 minutes later, that is what I’m talking about.

In Marc’s case, where the problems encountered were unexpected, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that you need to communicate every little detail to your listener. But consider, for a moment, the fact that the listener is already frustrated by the problems they’ve encountered while trying to obtain your podcast; then they are listening to the podcast and you spend a great chunk of time relating the details of why it was so hard for them to obtain it. Some listeners will say, “Oh, that makes sense! Thank you!” Some listeners will say, “Aaaand you just wasted another ten minutes of my time.”

Where’s the balance?

Reveal relevant information that is pertinent to your listeners’ understanding the situation. Thirty seconds of their time, to say something like: “Thanks for listening! We’re so sorry about the issues many of you are having while trying to download the latest episodes of the podcast. Our new webhost isn’t efficiently handling the number of downloads in demand, so we’re working on finding the best solution to this problem.” Is worth more to the listener than ten minutes of a story that could be summed up in thirty seconds.

And then, if you’re like Marc and get invited onto Profitcast, you finally have an opportunity or an avenue to tell the whole story. That listener base will be empathetic and understanding. And even, perhaps, there will be listeners (like me) who remember the problems you had and find it fascinating to hear the other side of things.

Not every story needs to be told. Considering context and relevance should help gauge whether the story is necessary or useful, and when it is not, don’t worry about it! Put it on the back burner and save it for a time when an audience will receive the story well.

One thing a lot of Arrow Squad’s negative comments have in common is that we tangent a lot, or we don’t follow a structure when discussing an episode. Most people don’t care; listeners who are committed to the podcast do not care to any extent that matters enough for us to change this. But it quite likely is a point of dislike that prevents us from seeing growth. Podcast hosts that consistently talk about irrelevant topics, go off on tangents that explain things we don’t really care about, or spend too much time advertising for something instead of giving us what the podcast has promised us, these are the podcasts, most often, that see stagnation or limited growth.

Even in this observation, however, there is a balance that can be achieved. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that Marc’s primary deliverable on his podcast is exposing his listeners to Irish and Celtic music. Whether he’s found new bands or recycling already-heard ones, he delivers a lot of music every week. Supplementing this podcast, then, are three important things:

1) A thank-you to his Patreon supporters and shout-outs to the newest supporters, with details on how you can also support via Patreon
2) Short and sweet advertisements about Marc’s annual Irish and Celtic Music Invasion Vacation
3) A reminder to support the artists featured on the podcast, to reach out to them and thank them for providing the track to Marc AND to tell them that you heard their song on the podcast

By starting with the music, the primary deliverable, Marc makes it relevant to hear how the podcast is supported, other ways to get involved with the music, and gets you to reach out to the bands featured on the podcast in order to complete the proverbial back-scratching circle. Not only do I support Marc on Patreon, now, but I also reach out to bands that I hear on the podcast and thoroughly enjoy! I also enjoy hearing updates on his two daughters, on his music career, and on the Invasion Vacations he’s gone on, because he first cares about delivering what he’s promised and secondarily gives short updates that make me care about his life.

Balance.

The Magic Feedback Phrase

“What are you doing while listening to this podcast?”

Marc says he stole the magic feedback phrase and encourages you to do the same! If you don’t think your podcast is inspiring feedback, try asking this question and see if it inspires responses. After a few weeks, tell us (and Marc) your results!

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