Deconstructing The Ringer’s Binge Mode
3 Clips is the official podcast of Marketing Showrunners. Every week, we deconstruct episodes of shows that inspire us, one clip at a time, so we can all learn to build our audience’s favorite show…and become their favorite brand.
In this series, MSR founder Jay Acunzo and managing editor Molly Donovan chat about the highlights of this week’s episode of 3 Clips.
What’s your tweet-long summary of the episode?
Molly: The best shows have a plan heading into each episode — and don’t need to break the bank to be successful.
Jay: Segmenting your episode and having a plan BEFORE you record anything can have more impact than any amount of editing done AFTER. A better podcast doesn’t require a bigger budget. It requires more planning.
What’s one thing someone in the episode said that marketers need written across their desks?
Molly: There were so, so many gems in this episode. But one that I really loved was: Who you are is your unfair advantage, so why not use that advantage to its fullest?
YES! This advice is so simple, yet so profound. Every marketer has the ability to create something novel, because everyone’s voice and perspective and sense of humor is different. Use yours. I think sometimes, if they’re not in a high-profile position at a well-known company or if they don’t have thousands upon thousands of followers on social, marketers can secretly feel like posers (are the kids still saying “posers” these days?) when they share their opinions or advice. They shouldn’t! Those opinions are their unique advantage — and in turn, a unique advantage for the company they represent.
Jay: I’d like to take a magic marker (as in, a marker which is literally magic, and can appear in every office, visiting every marketer’s desk) and write the following: HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR EPISODES.
What’s something this company/show does well that most marketers don’t?
Molly: It’s pretty clear from every minute of this episode: Binge Mode is exceptional at both templatizing their episodes (which creates consistency and a sense of community) AND remixing those templates (which counters stagnation and maintains high levels of excitement and engagement).
This skill allows the hosts of Binge Mode to talk at length about really granular topics, without needing to rely on interviews with external “experts” or gimmicky quirks. They lend a true authenticity to the segments they’ve devised, which has resulted in a massive following of truly passionate fans.
Jay: Clip #1 reveals to us what Binge Mode does better than almost every show out there: They turn some of the dullest content into irresistible moments — even inside jokes. It’s remarkable what they do on that show. I encourage everyone reading this to listen to the full episode.
What’s something new you learned?
Molly: I thought the idea that segments should have a purpose for the listener and need to be placed carefully in the right order was a really great one, and it made me think about why I like segments on other podcasts. When you’re trying to be creative, you can forget about some logistical details that enhance the experience for the listener. You can get pretty caught up in a fun new idea or segment, but if you randomly place it into your episode, you could alienate your listeners. I thought that was a great insight.
Jay: Agreed, this one was the big reveal for me. In studying Binge Mode, as with some other segmented shows I’m currently vetting for future episodes of 3 Clips, it’s clear that some podcasts use segments strategically and others haphazardly. Even Binge Mode’s mothership, The Ringer, features a few podcasts that use segments more like gimmicks to spice things up than a logical flow, but I think doing the latter achieves the former too. Binge Mode doesn’t just insert a few sections to break up the listening experience into shorter chunks — they have a plan for how to help you access a topic and fully understand it, and like a keynote speaker or a book author might, they lead us logically from where we’re at to where they want us to be by the end. Segments have a purpose and logical flow — as well as being fun. Genius!
Could another company replicate this show? Why or why not?
Molly: Yes and no. Another company could ABSOLUTELY learn from Binge Mode’s approach to podcasting. Another company could definitely record each episode with a well-defined plan and clear segments — whether announced explicitly or not — that structure the flow of the show. And more companies should, because finding creative approaches to showrunning is hard. It’s so hard, in fact, that many marketers bypass that process completely and up creating just another branded interview show. Yawn.
But another company can’t replicate this show’s specific quirks and inside jokes — and nor should it try to. Part of what works so well with this show is that it feels authentic and unforced. That feeling is something other companies should try to harness — however that might unfold on their own shows.
Jay: I don’t have much to add from your answer there, Molly, but I will say this: If someone listening to this episode of 3 Clips ends up trying to manufacture inside jokes, we’ve lost. We haven’t done our jobs. I haven’t done mine. The key is to find moments that you feel are fun, then reinvent and remix and keep using them until they gradually feel like inside jokes. Don’t arbitrarily pick out a bunch of things that you’d like to be jokes and force the issue. As with all comedy, if you have to explain it, it won’t work.
What goals does this show help the company achieve?
Molly: Binge Mode helps build community, which in turn breeds awareness, which in turn builds a deeper community. The show’s segmentation and consistency creates a cadre of passionate fans who dive DEEEP into a particular season’s episodes. These passionate fans are then more likely to organically promote a different season of the show (Binge Mode fans who listened to the Harry Potter episodes could eagerly devour the Game of Thrones ones, for example). Focusing on community-building yields compounding returns.
Jay: This show represents some serious “IP” for The Ringer, and it shows. They do live events. They sell merch. They have hoards of raving fans who adore this podcast. The unique way they break down a work of fiction is in and of itself a kind of IP for the broader media company, The Ringer. But once that episode flow is imbued with the personalities of Jason Concepcion and Mallory Rubin, it becomes something truly defensible. Binge Mode is an original series in every sense.
Listen to the full episode of 3 Clips:
A somewhat accidental marketer, I’m first and foremost a writer. I’ve spent a decade working with global brands to craft on-target content and streamline complex ideas into clear (and even…exciting?!) language. Now, I get to spend every day immersed in content and strategy here, as Managing Editor of Marketing Showrunners, at my company, Molly Donovan Content & Communications. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community of eager next-generation marketers and marketing showrunners.
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