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Marketing Showrunners

Helping you make your podcast more central to your brand and to your audience's life. Make a show that makes a difference.

By: Molly Donovan on November 20th, 2019

Securing Different Stakeholders: Pitching Podcasts & Video Shows to Multiple Execs

November is Make the Case Month at MSR. Every week, we’ll load you up with the big-picture ideas and tactical tips you need to sell your  branded show concept to the “powers that be” within your organization. We know that shows are the best vehicle to help grow brand affinity among your customers; this month, we’re helping ensure everyone else at your company understands that, too. If you’re as pumped as we are, catch up on the content we’ve already published and subscribe for exclusive bonus content and conversations here.

As we established last week, making the case for a branded show doesn’t just happen once. Once you’ve made the case (and made your show), you need to keep selling it, both internally and externally. You need to keep reinventing that ol’ wheel, listening to audience feedback so you can nurture closer relationships with your customers, and feeding a steady stream of quantitative and qualitative data that keeps the powers that be confident that making a show was the right move for your brand.  

But before you ever get to that point, you need to make the case…the first time. And if you work at an organization that’s like practically every organization ever, you probably need to make the case to multiple stakeholders. And these stakeholders probably have slightly different priorities when it comes to your show and your business more generally. 

Isn’t marketing fun?

Here’s the thing: the case you make — like your show itself — is not one-size-fits-all. It will appeal to different constituents for different reasons. If you depend on more than one party for final sign-off to start rolling, then you need to prepare multiple versions of your pitch. What matters most to a CMO may not align with what matters most to a CFO, and both of these parties may have entirely different priorities than your CEO. You should have data points and responses ready for each of these stakeholders to shorten the time from pitch to production.

We’re here to help (duh). 

Via Giphy

We’ve compiled the insights you need to understand the three execs you’re most likely to pitch — what they care most about, their most common strengths, and yes, even a weakness or two. Plus, we’ve armed you with the stats that will really get them going, and other resources you can refer to as you craft your case.

(And stay tuned for a surprise fourth stakeholder that might not have crossed your mind.)

Stakeholder #1: The CMO

They care most about:

  • Building and promoting the brand in order to increase brand affinity
  • Applying creative solutions to longstanding problems
  • Lowering the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) and increasing each customer’s lifetime value (LTV)
  • Increasing brand affinity
  • Their personal brand

Common strength: Creativity

Common weakness: A penchant for vanity metrics

Ah, the CMO: your best candidate for an all-in champion. CMOs face ever-mounting pressures: to architect an air-tight brand strategy, build both awareness of and affinity for that brand, deliver a targeted and exceptional user experience that engenders goodwill with customers, support sales, and constantly feed a growing pipeline of customers (without breaking the bank to acquire them). Today’s CMOs are hungry for solutions to the multi-faceted obstacles they face.

Lucky you: your proposed show will not only increase brand affinity, but will lower CAC while increasing LTV. 

The best CMOs are often those who blend creativity and good taste with solid strategic thinking. When you make the case to these individuals, play up the creative opportunities inherent in showrunning, as well as the benefits to the brand and to your company’s relationship with its customers. If your CMO is like many execs, they will embrace bold new ideas that solve their biggest problems. The best CMOs actually want to be challenged and encouraged to rethink the status quo. You (and your show) can help them do that.

A word of warning: set expectations early on about the types of metrics you plan to analyze in order to determine the success of your show. In your pitch, explain to your CMO that traditional vanity metrics just won’t cut it when it comes to analyzing podcasts or video series. Stress the importance of analyzing engagement — how do people interact with the show? Do those fans end up becoming customers? Do fans who have become customers spend more than customers who are not fans? Etc. — and qualitative feedback. 

Most salient stats and insights to share (among many, many more you can find here): 

  • Customer acquisition costs (CAC) are up >50% over the last 5 years across every marketing channel, and few if any new channels are emerging due to Big Tech acquiring or stifling innovation. Finally, paid and outbound acquisition now cost 30% more than content marketing CAC. (Source.)
  • According to a study from the BBC, branded podcasts help drive brand metrics across the board, generating lifts in awareness (+89%), brand consideration (+57%), brand favorability (+24%), and purchase intent (+14%).

And bookmark these articles:

A CMO’s Business Case for Branded Shows: Data and Ideas to Get Buy-In

3 Things Every CMO Needs to See to Invest in Branded Podcasts and Video Shows

Stakeholder #2: The CFO

They care most about:

  • ROI
  • Making budget

Common strength: A mind for numbers

Common weakness: They don’t really “get” marketing

Even if you have the thumbs-up from your CMO, the coast may not be clear until you get signoff from the keeper of the (bank) keys: the CFO. The CFO’s goals are pretty straightforward: keep costs low, and make investments that can actually result in revenue gains. When you pitch to your CFO, you’ll thus need to stress your belief that any upfront costs will be returned by tangible gains, in the form of greater awareness of your company via word of mouth and more engaged and connected consumers who are loyal to your products and services. I.e., more purchases, and more revenue. 

If your CFO balks upfront, thinking that a highly-produced show sounds expensive, tell them to fear not: you can get started and make something high-quality with a relatively small budget. Above all, urge your CFO to think of the ROI, not the ROP (Return on Purchase) of the show. Whatever you do, make this point clear: A show is an investment, not a one-time purchase. That can be hard to remember when you spend a lot upfront (both on equipment and in terms of your team’s time), then you release the first episode and…crickets. Set your CFO’s expectations early: your show won’t return the costs associated with it immediately. But over time, the value of the investment will appreciate significantly.

Most salient stats and insights to share:

  • Compounding ROI: Shows provide a back-log of binge-worthy content for audiences, plus endless internal efficiencies, as each episode can be used across channels in different repurposed forms.
  • Outline the number of internal stakeholders across marketing, sales, HR, product, etc. who are already on board with the idea of your show. If you can demonstrate how efficient the show will make the rest of the company’s efforts, you can make a logical case for increasing the show’s return.
  • In a survey MSR sent to showrunners, 60% of respondents noted that they spend under $500 per month producing their show. A full 80% spend under $3,000.
  • A 2016 study by Salesforce and LinkedIn found that “the average B2B company has a database of 50,000 individuals and spends an average of $150 to acquire a single email address.” This includes the time, resources, and execution to obtain 1 email address. Replacing a brand’s average audience as marketing and sales churn through those names would cost $7.5 million. (Source.)

And bookmark this article:

Purpose > Appearance: What to Consider When Budgeting for Your Show

Stakeholder #3: The CEO

They care most about:

  • Outshining competitors
  • Providing superior customer experiences
  • Growth
  • Their personal brand
  • Delighting their own set of stakeholders: investors, board, key partners and customers, and industry leaders

Common strength: Big-picture thinking

Common weakness: Lack of understanding of the medium (e.g., podcasting or video)

If you can get the top dog on board with the idea for your show, then you’re in a pretty stellar spot. When you make the case to your CEO, you may find that they support all your ideas, but they’re not exactly sold on (or even super familiar with) this whole podcast or online video thing. 

If that’s the case, then start by showing them all the other companies — including some of the best-known tech and media brands — that are creating podcasts and video series. As Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media says, “Execs are competitive. They’re freaked out by what the competition is doing. Play the FOMO card and show an example of a competitor who does it well.” 

Execs may be competitive, but they’re also laser-focused on growth and on providing superior customer experiences (often, of course, these two areas are intertwined). Frame your pitch around these points, and explain how shows can catalyze growth by providing customers with unique perspective, advice, and assistance. 

Oh, and if your exec is focused on building their own personal brand? Well, shows can help with that, too. 

Most salient stats and insights to share:

  • Subscription-Based Growth: An approach to marketing that looks at relationship or funnel “velocity,” instead of purely top- and bottom-of-funnel extremes. (Compare subscribers from the show to other sources and to non-subscribers, ideally via email subscription, tagging/segmenting, and audience surveys.)
  • 87% of people would like to see more video from brands in 2019. Source: Wyzowl. 6 out of 10 people would prefer to watch online videos than TV (Google). 54% of people want to see more video content from marketers (HubSpot).

And bookmark these articles:

The World’s Biggest List of Branded Podcasts and Video Shows

Give the People What They Want: How Top marketers Get Audience Intel to Launch Irresistible Shows

How Top Brands Create Differentiated Podcasts and Video Shows: Intro to Show Bibles

Surprise Stakeholder #4: Your own team

They care most about: 

  • Opportunities for personal growth
  • Hitting their goals
  • Division of labor

Common strength: Team unity, creativity, understanding of the medium

Common weakness: Low bandwidth

Congratulations — you’ve successfully made the case to every exec you’ve encountered! You’ve explained the value — both monetary and brand-wise — to all key stakeholders. Now you can get started, right? All you need to do is dish out some assignments to your team.

Ahh. Your team. 

While in many cases, your team will be just as pumped as you are to get started, you might need to make the case to a few concerned folks. While the C-suite might control the ultimate signoff (and ultimate budget) for the show, it’s your team that will be doing the heavy lifting. Particularly if you are planning to do everything in-house, how will creating a successful, differentiated, consistent show interfere with team members who already might feel spread too thin?

Or, you might have some colleagues who worry that despite the effort your team plans to pour into showrunning, your concept won’t be differentiated or compelling enough to make a real impact. They could worry that they’ll be frustrated by the groupthink they assume will descend upon creative meetings, and they’ll be stuck pouring time and effort into creating a show concept they don’t ultimately support. What do you tell them? 

As the showrunner, it’s your job to assuage these concerns. You need to delineate a plan for each person on your team — and take into account their existing responsibilities. You need to work with various leaders to cull together a priorities list, so no one feels like they’re drowning under unreasonable expectations for multiple projects. And you need to assure (and reassure) them that their creative and strategic ideas will be taken into account. 

Try to get your team excited. After all, showrunning will likely uniquely speak to them on a creative level. Entice your coworkers by outlining the possibilities for personal creative and strategic growth inherent in showrunning. 

Bookmark these articles: 

The Green Smoothie Problem: How to Properly Sell Ideas Internally to Get Buy-In

Frameworks Top Marketers Use to Minimize Groupthink and Maximize Creativity in Their Content

The World’s Biggest List of Branded Podcasts and Video Shows

Mastering Making the Case

As a marketer, your work is truly never done. When you make the case for a show, you don’t just make it once — you make it over, and over, and over again, both within and outside your organization. 

That’s a lot of work, but think of it as a blessing in disguise. If I’ve learned one thing over the course of my career, it’s that marketers wear So. Many. Hats. You can’t just be creative. You can’t just be inspiring. You can’t just be strategic. The best marketers need to blend all of these traits and continue to improve upon them as time goes on.

You might be most excited about actually making the show. (I get it — I’m in that camp, too.) But making the show will amount for less than half of the time, angst, and mental energy you devote to it. Because creating marketing content conjures that old question about a bear in the woods: if you make it and no one sees it, did you even make it at all?

Regardless of how good your idea for a piece of content — be it a show, a blog post, an ebook, or something else entirely — you will also need to sell it. Make the case for it. Explain why it matters before you make it. Explain why it will matter while you’re making it. Cogently point to why it did matter (“See that data?”) once you’ve put it out into the world. 

The better-versed you can be in why your show matters to multiple parties with multiple priorities, the better you will understand how to shape the creative element of your show. Understanding various stakeholders enables you to make a show that gives them what they want. And in the end, that’s what you really want: give your audience, whether internal or external, what they want. You want to capture and hold their attention. You want them to stick with you: episode by episode, show by show, because you’ve created something that matters.


Subscribing to our newsletter is a good idea any time, but particularly exciting during November 2019. During MSR’s Make the Case Month, subscribers will receive weekly newsletters with exclusive invitations to chat live with the MSR team. What are you waiting for? Subscribe now!


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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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