Cofruition creates and runs podcasts for clients who want a high-impact way to demonstrate thought leadership, speak with industry influencers they would never normally have access to, and have a system for consistent high-quality content.
As a growing company, we also would like all of these things.
And so at the end of 2022 we decided it was time to use our own service on ourself to help with the next phase of the company’s growth.
In doing so we got to see, and feel, what it was like to be in our client’s position which has been invaluable for making improvements to our onboarding process.
Below is how it went.
Cofruition began 3 years ago and so an obvious question is why have we not done this earlier?
The first 18 months were spent validating that companies would pay for a fully-managed podcast and then refining our systems and building our team for doing so. Most of our surplus energy went into creating What The Denmark and The Carbon Removal Show.
When I found out I was to become a Dad, the prospect of trying to fit in interviews in the fray of becoming a new parent felt less of a priority than focusing on other strategies that could happen even with a little one crying in the background…
When I returned from 3 months’ paternity leave we decided to kick things off in January.
We decided to treat it like I was a completely new client.
In the first meeting our project manager for the show, Anna, introduced herself and we did a “meet and greet”. I explained the motivation behind doing the show and answered the questions that Anna had for me that came from our onboarding process.
At the end of the meeting we agreed on next steps, and put the next call in the calendar.
I then switched roles and chatted about how it was for both of us.
In the first meeting I wanted to talk about ideas for the show but we spent most of it discussing logistics of how the project will play out.
We realised that a lot of these logistics (key decisions we need to make together; what we’ll be doing; modes of communication) can be introduced as and when, or at least lightly touched upon in the first meeting.
What’s more important is to build up the excitement for the project. Our project managers (who all have experience as podcast producers) will begin the ideation process from the get-go and then assign a suitable producer based on the client’s needs.
Client Sam and Cofruition then met every 1-2 weeks for a 30-45 min call.
I was introduced to Alice (the show’s producer) and we spent our time on calls discussing things that benefited from a hivemind. After each call we had our actions that we’d complete before the next meeting.
In the background, Anna and team were building up the systems to reflect our working style, and kicking off various processes such as developing visuals, identifying music options and honing in on the concept.
There’s a finite amount of energy for multi-stage project like launching (and running) a high-quality podcast.
Having tasks split out was really helpful in making it feel manageable. I could come to meetings and just braindump a bunch of ideas, and by the time we next met (or were discussing async via Slack) they had been taken forward and we were several steps closer.
Booking guests (even friendly ones) takes time: even when you get a yes, it can be a couple of weeks for calendars to align.
When we looked at our onboarding process it said to kick off the guest booking process once we had nailed down the podcast name and description.
The (wrong) logic we applied was: you can’t invite someone onto a podcast that doesn’t have a name, right?
In fact, you can.
A concept we had spoken about, but not fully defined, was how there are different tiers of guests you can ask to appear on your podcast. In our heads, it’s roughly as follows:
We realised that all we needed was a sentence to roughly convey what the podcast was about to book our first guests. If they had a relationship with me already then they would trust that I wouldn’t waste their time and, so long as I could convey that it would be a nice thing to do, they wouldn’t mind if the podcast didn’t have a title.
This initial outreach was best done by Client Sam. We knew the podcast was going to be about talking with interesting people about something they know that not enough people know about and so I went on LinkedIn through my list of connections.
I did the New Entrepreneurs Foundation + program and so having a large alumni network of people doing interesting businesses meant I could populate the guest outreach spreadsheet (later Airtable) provided for me with people I was connecting with.
As soon as you can describe in a sentence what your show is going to be about then begin reaching out to people who know you already to see if they’re up for speaking.
In doing so, see how you naturally find yourself explaining the concept which will help with the creative decisions (see below).
We knew from the beginning that we wanted a podcast that would allow us to speak with people in leadership positions at B2B companies about smart ways to grow businesses.
Beyond that, it was fairly open. Personally, I find myself gravitating to questions around the practices/ trends/ frameworks/ experience of growing a business than I am in the personal story of the guests, and so we decided a show that was more in that direction.
We began filling out a few documents simultaneously based on the conversations we had:
This was led by Alice (the Producer) and Anna (Project Manager) who would give guidance. When I had thoughts I’d leave comments in the documents and we’d discuss on calls.
It took us ~4 weeks of back and forth to land on B2B Radar.
We had a long list of different ideas that we’d comment on in the creative brief, and Alice would ask prompt questions and come up with suggestions.
In the end, I noticed how I was describing the (still hypothetical) podcast when reaching out to people in my network and “things that should be on B2B leaders’ radar” was something that felt natural.
We double checked it was available and then decided to go for it.
Once we had the name we just gave our designer the Creative Brief and asked him to come up with some examples for the logo based on our company design guidelines.
Anna took care of the “menu” we needed (i.e. logo, templates for each of the reusable assets we’ll need for social media, Youtube) and then Client Sam and Alice gave our feedback until we got to something we liked.
During this timeframe I had begun doing some interviews and populating the list of guests who I’d like to appear and why I wanted to speak with them.
I realised that, actually, the B2B angle wasn’t particularly important. I was more interested in how people were building better businesses and so we changed it to Better Business Radar.
Thankfully we’d not spent too much energy on developing assets etc., and those that we had could easily be switched around.
The music for the show was something we waited a bit too long with.
Anna coordinated with one of our editors in Kenya (who’s also a music producer) to come up with some example tracks based on the Creative Brief and some initial thoughts I had for what it could sound like.
In honesty, I was a bit stuck other than using words like “upbeat”, “good energy” and generally “in keeping with the rest of the ‘feel’ of the show”.
We got v1 back, gave some comments and then thought v2 of the track was better and so decided to use that in the sample recording we had.
When we got to the week before the launch Anna made an example launch video where we heard the music in situ and… I didn’t really like it. It felt a bit “heavy”.
Anna went for some inspiration and needed a bit more input from me as to what direction I might want to go in, and headed to… ChatGPT(!). She asked it to come up with different examples of music style:
Reading through, I resonated most with 1 and 3.
She and Alice then spoke about it too, found some other tracks and decided on our final(?!) trailer music, which you can hear here:
Sometimes you’ll land on the ideal name (or similar) right away, other times you’ll have one which you quite like, but which might not feel quite right.
If you wait on it being perfect, then things will delay, you’ll lose momentum, and things begin to drag. You can always change things later - testing out different things in situ is part of the creative process and so don’t be hard on yourself if you change your mind.
On Day 30 I had my first interview.
It was with my friend Dawid (who also has a podcast) and so we knew things could be a bit messy if needs be.
We booked in for an hour but it took 1:45.
There were some technical things to get Dawid set up with his new microphone (that project manager Anna could help with) which caused some delay, and the conversation meandered a bit as I was still finding my feet in how to guide the conversation to stay on point with how we wanted the show to sound.
The fact we overran meant that I got kicked out of the meeting room I was in and had to jump into a call booth for the remaining of the interview 😑
In honesty, the recording was a bit all over the place, and whilst there were certainly good things, I felt it dragged a bit in places.
Thankfully Alice, our producer (in Barcelona), worked her magic to tidy things up, and then sent it to Cedric, our editor (in Kenya) to make it👌for the final episode.
From this experience, there were a few practical things to do (book the meeting room longer) but also conceptual things to work on.
Alice, the producer, reviewed the recording and identified which were the best parts of the interview and cut back on aspects that felt like they were dragging.
When I came away from the interview I felt that the best audio came from talking about a tangible example of Dawid/ Curvestone’s innovation work. There were other interesting (but not standout) things that we cut so as to ensure it would be engaging for listeners throughout.
We didn’t have to, but ideally the person you do the first recording with should be OK with doing a re-record if it turns out really bad for whatever reason. Once you have your audio, begin the process of tightening things up.
Also, don’t worry about recording intros/ outros (which are dependent on the final(!) name) until the week before launch.
Knowing that we wouldn’t have the luxury of an overrunning interview with future guests, the takeaways became: explicitly offer a technical set up as part of our guest coordination emails and base the discussion around a practical example.
E.g. with Claire we centred it on how she was able to get M&S as a customer (which served as a springboard for why reusable plastic packaging is important for the industry). With Holly we centred the conversation on the common objections that they get from companies unsure if hiring more diverse talent is for them.
Quite soon we got in rhythm of:
One of our other project managers, (Enna) spoke with us (mainly Anna) to understand how we were/ should be working and then modified our generic “episode workflow” into something that fit how we were to work. We then used that for each new episode.
For the first few I said I would give feedback on the recordings, but in honesty, I just reviewed the Dawid episode once, and based on our conversations, trusted that Anna/ Alice would have it covered to ensure the episodes were sounding good.
Alice sent me the trailer + intro/ outro scripts for me to record which were then slotted into the final episodes.
We ensured we had four episodes ready and four more in the works before going live.
There are lots of moving parts in preparing not just a podcast launch, but producing multiple episodes and assets simultaneously. Slack should not be your project management tool. Lay out the key steps and dependencies in a software designed for project management (better still: process management) and use that as your guide for what needs to be done and when.
An example of an automation we have is to have guest interviews booked via a dedicated Hubspot calendar which means this can trigger a bunch of follow up actions via Zapier e.g. to auto-invite Alice to the recording. It sounds minor, but these things cause friction and lots of additional (unnecessary) back-and-forth to keep everyone updated on when interviews are happening etc.
We didn’t want to rush things, but equally knew the value in having a date to work towards.
We initially said we’d aim to launch on 1st March, however owing to the last-minute change in the music, we decided on Wednesday 8th March which was neatly 60 days after our kick-off meeting.
Client Sam ensured that he wasn’t too busy during the final week so that he could be responsive to any bits of feedback the team needed from him. This was useful, as there were various bits to “sign off” on.
We have a more detailed approach to the launch, but the short version is:
And then ensuring that we have a good rhythm for future episodes. Thankfully Anna/ Enna are on top of this.
Whilst it’s not the be all and end all of a show, it’s really good to start the podcast off strong. As the Cofruition team have done this plenty of times Client Sam was able to rely on their advice to do this well, but in any case, leverage the audience you already have and give them a reason to want to listen rather than the messaging being “Hey - we made a podcast!”.
With the podcast launched, and a healthy number of interviews in place, Client Sam handed over guest booking to Cofruition and so “just” has catch up meetings to see how things are going, give ideas, and then turn up to interviews.
If I come across someone I’d like to get to know (they seem interesting + maybe they know someone interested in our podcasting services?) then I now reach out to them and ask them to appear on the show, rather than “pitching” Cofruition’s services.
I’ve found people to be way more receptive to this, and it’s also much… well… nicer getting to know people this way. From experience, when people know who you are and you stay on their radar - if they hear of someone who needs your help, they’ll think of you.
CEO Sam is now focusing on how to tighten up/ better systemise the “post-interview interactions” to ensure that Clients have an easy way to develop the relationships with their guests, as well as what else we can offer as part of our “content menu”.
As a company owner, I care about how we can grow in a sustainable way.
If you’re going to be playing a role in your company podcast (i.e. being the host or marketing manager) then, in my opinion, you want to get out of the weeds of content production and much more on company/ growth strategy.
So far, I (and most of Cofruition’s other clients) have found that having the podcast engine running and being maintained by the Cofruition team means that I can switch into “podcast mode” 1-2 times/ week and still see that I’m meeting new people + posting consistent content without too much effort.
An added benefit has been the new “superpower” of being able to ask almost anyone to have a conversation with me.
To wrap up, this is a brief overview of the timeline it took us to launch our podcast in 60 days.
It’s been really nice to get things up and running in a couple of months. By the end of the quarter, we’ll have a really solid machine for meeting new people and posting regular content without much ongoing effort which is a great outcome.
But also, having the tasks shared out means that we, as a team, have the energy to be excited about the podcast and what it can do for our company. No-one is fed up/ exhausted from chasing their tail - instead we have the headspace to think about how we can use it to grow our company, which is a real win.
If you’re thinking of starting a company podcast then I hope this has served as some inspiration for how you could do it! If you would like to chat with us about our services, then head over to www.cofruition.com or connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll be happy to chat :)