Joe Klink joins the show to discuss how podcasting can help building material manufacturers create an emotional connection with their audience.
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The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
In this episode, Zach and Beth talk to Joe Klink, Director of Corporate Relations at ProVia. He shares successful tactics and common pitfalls to avoid when launching and growing a podcast.
Meet Joe Klink
Joe has worked at ProVia for 18 years and has seen the company grow from 265 employees when he started to over 900 employees today. Because of this growth, ProVia’s president, Brian Miller, tasked Joe with finding a way to maintain the company culture and demonstrate to employees that they’re valued by the executive team.
A weekly, internal podcast to engage internal employees and better communicate with them by sharing stories and inspiration from different departments and levels throughout ProVia. The first podcast has been so successful that Joe has also launched a second internal podcast specifically for the sales and customer service team. Their next initiative is to create an external podcast aimed at their direct distributors and customers.
ProVia’s Podcast Process
The original ProVia podcast is all about helping employees connect with the company. It’s impossible for any one person to get to know every employee in a company this large, especially when they are scattered across six different facilities, so they are sharing interesting stories and getting to know each other through the podcast.
When framing a podcast, Joe sticks to about eight minutes as an ideal length; however, it can go longer for a particularly interesting story. A new podcast is sent out each Monday morning before the workday starts since many people listen on their commute. It’s an inspiring way for employees to start their work week.
Most of the ProVia podcasts are about people’s stories, but Joe also uses it as a platform to teach people about a lesser known functionality in the company, such as the marketing team.
Because it’s intended for employees only, the current podcast is hosted internally and a link is sent to all employee email addresses. Joe has also created a way for people to sign up who don’t have a ProVia email address. They can simply text a code to a designated number to have their personal email added to the podcast subscription list.
How to Launch a Podcast
One of Joe’s first questions when starting ProVia’s podcast was a simple one: What equipment should he use? This led to one of his early mistakes when he used a lapel mic, connected to a voice recorder, in a conference room. The sound quality was terrible and Joe immediately sought to correct it.
To find the best equipment to buy, he consulted a sales rep at Sweetwater. Joe recommends the company as a great resource to get the right setup for what you’re working with. After explaining the project and the space he was using, his rep recommended the right mics to use.
With the addition of a mixer, mic stands and collapsible podiums, he was able to transform his office into “Studio J” for podcast recording sessions. His total setup time for each podcast is a mere three minutes.
One challenge to consider is not just what’s happening inside your recording space, but what’s going on outside as well. Joe notes he sometimes has to pause recording if it gets too loud in the neighboring offices or hallway.
Another early obstacle to overcome is the fear of not having enough content. Joe and Brian, ProVia’s President, came up with an initial list of interviewees to start with. Since then, it’s been a snowball of ideas. In fact, people often approach Joe with recommendations of who to interview. The best part? Once Joe extends an invitation to appear on the podcast, no one has ever said no.
Part of this is letting guests know that podcast recording is not linear. It’s completely edited so that guests can restate something if they don’t like how it sounds. They can also pause to think about a response since that dead air can easily be cut out. The end product is clean and makes everyone sound great.
Creating a podcast is an ongoing learning process, and while Joe says that getting started is the hardest part, he also says that it’s not insurmountable. His advice is to figure out the equipment, the location and the first few topics — then just get started.
Tracking Podcast Metrics
Joe’s primary metrics for the success of the podcast are email open rates and click-through rates. Using this information can help direct future show ideas based on how large of a spike is seen—if he sees a spike in both rates, he knows to look for more stories similar to that one.
On top of measurable responses, Joe also notes that there are things you can just feel the success of. People at ProVia are talking about the podcast and more and more employees are signing up for it.
One of the podcast episodes that resonated the most with Joe’s audience was an interview with one of the company’s shareholders. ProVia is second generation-owned among four siblings. While two of the siblings work in the business day to day, two of them don’t. One of these shareholder siblings, Sherry, appeared on the podcast and gave a candid and heartwarming interview that was extremely popular.
A lot of questions come up when a second generation takes over a company, particularly for employees who wonder if they’ll share the same vision and philosophy. Hearing Sherry’s gratitude for ProVia’s employees and her commitment to the company’s values first-hand served as an extremely heartwarming and reassuring experience for employees.
Podcasts can be extremely effective in providing companies with an authentic voice that instills trust and confidence among listeners.
Another successful example from the ProVia podcast was an interview with a new employee in his mid-50s who had worked at several other companies over the years. He shared several stories about the kindness he’d already experienced at ProVia, giving employees a look at the company from an outsider’s perspective. For many employees who have worked at the same place for years, this kind of story helped them remember why ProVia is such a special place.
Podcasting to customers and leads is another fantastic way to make real connections with people. ProVia’s next project is to focus on interviewing members of the company’s leadership team and discussing their individual subject matter expertise. Joe has realized that distributors would be interested in listening to them, so this is the natural next step in the company’s podcasting process.
The future of marketing is finding new ways to get relational with your customers. Not everything can be effectively communicated in a written format, and a podcast is an ideal way to create new connections with your product users.
Want to reach out to Joe? You can email him at [email protected].
If you’re interested in learning more about podcasting or how to take your company’s marketing to the next level, reach out to us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!