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Today’s guest is Geoff Woods from the podcast The Mentee.

There is a change of direction in the podcasting world, ever since Serial, where narrative podcasting has become more popular. We are still at the very beginning of the bell curve of podcasting’s popularity because we’re still in the realm of the early adopter. Many people still don’t know what podcasting is.

There is going to be an increasing need for podcasts because it will become more popular and the professionals are realizing it. There are narrative journalists who did that as their profession who are bringing that talent and skill set to the podcasting world. With that, you’re starting to see podcasts coming out with incredibly high production quality and budgets for production as well. You don’t have to do that to compete moving forward, but recognize that the quality is going through the roof and if you want to stand out you have to do things differently.

Geoff’s approach

  • Geoff started recording the conversations with the incredible, high-level people he was spending time with as a way to document his journey from employee to entrepreneur. He got feedback from the listener that what they really wanted wasn’t necessarily just an interview but that they wanted to hear private conversations that were genuine, that actually led to results in his life.
  • His podcast is a mixture of the conversations he was having, interspersed with his own narration about it. As he documented his journey over the last year, there were times where he felt compelled to share his thoughts and document his journey and carrying a recorder everywhere enabled him to do that. He says he has only used perhaps 5% of those little moments in the podcast but it aids in the rawness and authenticity of his podcast. It shows the true emotion, including fear, that he’s going through but also when the lightbulb comes on in his head too.

 Advice for narrative podcasters

  • Recognize that you need to document every interaction not only for your own retention but also in case there is a snippet of gold that you can use for the podcast. Also of course ask for permission to use what snippets you choose in the podcast. You have to document it and form some system of marking the date you talked to them, what you talked about and moments of gold.
  • When you start a podcast or a blog, when you do anything that puts you in the position of being a reporter, you end up doing something that creates an immense amount of value for yourself. This is why Geoff started his podcast. Not only to add value to other people (which was his number 1 goal) but also to give a way to add value that was unique, and get in front of the people he wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
  • If you were to walk up to those people and ask to pick their brain, the chances are the answer will be no. However, when you put yourself in the position of reporter, all of a sudden you are giving value to them because you have a platform and are giving them exposure. Everyone wants exposure. It feeds the ego. Regardless of how big their podcast is, this is true. Some people will ask you how big your podcast is and how big your reach is, and that’s ok, but most people will just want the exposure.
  • Take Damon John from Shark Tank for example. The odds of getting him to have coffee with me, he’d likely say no. Geoff recognizes that if he wanted to get in touch with those kinds of people, he needed to step his game up even more. Using a brand like behind his name gives him even better access to those kinds of high-level people. Therefore, he set out with the aim of becoming a contributing writer for for the specific reason of being able to network.
  • When he found out that Damon John was coming out with a book, he recognized the opportunity, as a reporter for a major publication, to offer exposure to him for his book. It was an immediate yes, and he got to have the conversation with Damon that he wanted to have, turn it into a podcast episode and turn it into an article for which not only added tremendous value to him in promoting his book, but also adding tremendous value to Geoff from a credibility and traffic standpoint. It was a true win-win.
  • Geoff is always asking the question ‘How can I add value? How can I help you?’ He knows if somebody is coming out with a book then they will be looking for press, so it’s a no-brainer.

Hooks in the podcast to entice listeners

  • Geoff also realizes that recording private conversations with some really influential people can be taken out of context. So what he’s started to do is narrate at the beginning of each episode to provide the context and frame the conversation. It shows people the goal, the mission and the stage of the journey that he’s on so that they can understand why the conversation is worth listening to. Then he adds a take-away so the listeners can easily find out what they can apply in their own life, and also a call to action.
  • It’s a concept of opening loops and closing loops. At the beginning you can say something that sets up the topic. E.g. ‘the 5 things that are holding you back from quitting your day job’. This gives the listener a headline and something that grabs you attention and makes you want the answer. Then, however, they don’t get the answer straight away. They have to stick around to listen to the end of the episode so they will get the answer.
  • Then, throughout the episode, before you give them the answer to that question, before you close that loop, open another one. You can add something like ‘before we finish this episode I just want to let you know that next episode we will feature a conversation with xyz and the secrets he shared about abc.’ Then close the original loop so that the listener does get that sense of closure.
  • The basic formula: Open loop 1, open loop 2, close loop 1.
  • Then in the following episode you address the fact of that open loop 2, but also open loop 3 before you close loop 2. It’s putting a chain together so that listeners are drawn on and on. This idea comes from Ryan Dice at Digital Marketer. This is something, a very specific thing, that Geoff thinks about when he’s planning his podcasts now. He asks himself ‘how can I tie these episodes together?’ so that strategically he can keep people engaged.