Ever since the seeds of Toronto Story Archive were planted at PodCamp Toronto what feels like so many moons ago, there has been a question at the forefront of my mind: that is, what is the value-add of Toronto Story Archive?
Considering this I went back to my professional roots, thinking about the value-add of a speech or presentation. Primarily in public speaking you give a talk to:
Of course, the verbiage changes and those reasons can be framed differently. “Instruct” for instance, can be “inspire” if viewed under the right light.
But this was how I began to consider the concept of Toronto Story Archive’s “value-add”. Sure, I intended to entertain the audience – but was that enough? There are a lot of podcasts out there. In fact, searching “Toronto” in Apple Podcasts alone I came up with nearly 100 options. So, as an (as another) interview show, entertainment probably wouldn’t be enough. The same could be applied to informing or instructing.
So I moved on from public speaking to think instead about a concept that, in many ways, is even more relevant to the world of podcasting: the customer experience.
Today, the challenge in building a strong customer experience is significant. Why? Because customers across industry expect a connected customer journey where they’re able to build a long-term relationship with a brand, interacting and exchanging value on multiple levels.
To apply this, I stopped looking at Toronto Story Archive as just a podcast, and started looking at it as a service. This is what gave rise to the YYZ Tour Guide, an advocacy-based guide to Toronto that consolidates the top Toronto recommendations of our guests all in one place.
Now, thus far the Guide has seen some success – even having only been a part of the Toronto Story Archive portfolio for a month or so it has begun to draw a consistent viewership. More importantly it’s added another dimension to a podcast that, without it, could far more easily get lost in the noise.
Although we are still in the measure, review, and improve stage of this process, the journey so far has led me to 4 suggestions for putting together your value-add:
Shoppers nowadays tend to connect with retail brands on multiple levels. For example, they look for products online, try them on in-store, and then return to the online platform to look for better deals and discounts. These same consumers also look for new and interesting ways to connect and build a relationship with their brands via social media that will continue even after purchase.
In a similar line, a podcast doesn’t end with the episode. We need to find ways to engage with our viewers and deliver value beyond the 12, 20, or 40-minutes of audio/video we release on iTunes or Google Play. Think ancillary services, ancillary needs. Your podcast itself fulfills the psychological and emotional need for (for example) entertainment, but what other need(s) does that give rise to?
People see value in a few different ways. There’s the value of information and the way it changes our perspectives. There’s the value of enjoyment or entertainment and its ability to better our day-to-day lives, and then there’s the value of things we can see and feel and touch.
Your podcast affects people psychologically and emotionally through the value of the information it gives and/or the stories it tells. But discovering the full scope of your value-add means going beyond that, means bringing your podcast into the “real world” to affect your audience in a way that they can interact with tangibly.
What that means will likely look different for every podcast. For Toronto Story Archive, that meant recognizing the volume of recommendations that would naturally arise through each episode of the podcast. Now, with 12 episodes launched and a total of 23 recorded, to date, the YYZ Tour Guide has the momentum to keep growing for the foreseeable future. For your podcast, I would suggest thinking about how the concepts in your episode relate to the daily lives of your listeners – then find an area within those lives that they might find challenging in which you are equipped to help. Thereby, your podcast can become not just a source of entertainment, but a service to your audience.
You release an episode once or, for some, twice a week. Presumably you at some point release a “coming soon” regarding the upcoming episode. But what happens the other four or five days of the week?
Part of what gave rise to the YYZ Tour Guide was a need to fill in the gaps. Releasing episodes originally on Fridays and now on Thursdays meant that there was a lot of blank space on my marketing calendar. Sure, I could do callbacks, throwbacks, and coming-soons, but those would get repetitive for my audience – and get repetitive fast. At the same time, radio silence would mean more time for my audience to refocus their attention on other content sources, meaning getting their focus back would become that much harder.
We never want to bore our audience, so when we fill in that blank space it has to be with something dynamic that continues to deepen our value-add. At the same time, we never want our audience to forget about us. It’s all about striking a balance. Although the addition the YYZ Tour Guide meant an extra post or two across Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, it also means that each time my social media audience sees that post – whether they are listeners or not – they gain value in the form of a new place to go or thing to do in the city.
Eventually your podcast will collect a dedicated audience waiting every week for your next episode. As they see your marketing begin to appear on their feed and their podcast app begins to send them alerts, a sense of anticipation will build in the days leading up to your next episode.
This is what we’re targeting, that loyal fan-base that will serve as the foundation of our podcast’s success. This same goal of anticipation needs to apply to the ancillary services we offer.
When it comes to events and entertainment, anticipation is a big part of what draws people in, it’s addictive. By doubling down on that emotion, we have an opportunity to augment the draw of our podcast significantly. What this means for your value-add is that, ideally, you want to find an ancillary service that not only augments the current offerings of your podcast, but creates a sense of anticipation in its own right.
Mo Waja is a professional speaker, marketer, entrepreneur, the author of presentIMPACT: The Speaker's Guide, and the Host of Toronto Story Archive. To date, Mo has spent tens of thousands of hours coaching business professionals, entrepreneurs, non-profits, campaign advocates, post-secondary students, politicians, motivational speakers, and medical practitioners in the art of professional speaking and communication.