Harry Morton is the founder and CEO of Lower Street, a podcast production agency specializing in creating shows for agencies, startups, and enterprise clients. Harry and his team of producers, audio engineers, and marketers have launched more than 50 podcasts and produced thousands of episodes. Harry is also a happy father of 2, an avid mountain biker, and an occasional music producer.
- The story of how Harry grew his marketing agency.
- What does it take to create a B2B podcast that generates revenue?
- What’s the business case for creating a podcast?
- What are some unexpected challenges businesses face when launching a podcast?
- What are the best practices for driving audience growth?
- What should someone consider when pitching themselves as a guest?
- The smart tactics to use when repurposing podcast content.
Full Episode Transcript:
Kenny Soto 0:02
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the people of digital marketing with your host, Kenny Soto, and today’s guest, Harry Morton. Hi, Harry, how are you? I’m good. Thanks. So this is a very great episode, not only for myself but also for anyone who’s interested in podcasting, because podcasts aren’t necessarily a new, relatively new thing. But it’s difficult to start one and to grow. And so I just wanted to start off by asking you what got you into the podcasting space.
Harry Morton 0:40
Yeah, so my background is in audio, I went to school for music and sound design. And got my first gig in a post-production studio in London. And yeah, through various kinds of turns in my career, I also ended up kind of working in sales and business development for a couple of different companies.
And it was just through many years of, you know, during that period of listening to podcasts, to educate me on how to start a business, and you know, how to go about kind of developing my own career. And it became obvious to me that actually, there was a, there was a real kind of opportunity in podcasting, for me as someone that kind of understood that industry, and that that kind of had that skill set.
But that also kind of, had a bit of training in the sales and marketing department as well, and kind of brought all of those things together into starting low street. So. So yeah, that’s kind of what brought me here, I think.
Kenny Soto 1:44
Well, where, can you tell us the story of how you even came up with lower Street in the first place and some of the early challenges that you faced?
Harry Morton 1:52
Yeah, for sure. So I think what I saw around me was a lot of agencies producing podcasts for brands. So what we do for context, is we produce podcasts with brands, that’s exclusively what we do. So we have a very clear kind of approach that we’re taking to podcasting, we’re not kind of creating content and trying to monetize it, or we do not sort of working with creators to help make sort of their individual brands, we’re really focused on working with companies to tell stories in audio.
And I think when I sort of started out in kind of 2015 16, I could see a lot of other companies starting up in this space that were either coming at it from a very traditional background, they were coming from sort of, you know, big national radio stations, and bringing all of that kind of experience to bear on producing branded podcasts, or they were more sort of startup focused bootstrappers, and online entrepreneurs that were looking for an opportunity to create businesses.
And I saw a lot of those people, starting companies that didn’t necessarily get audio. So I suppose I sort of thought with my kind of, you know, the sort of whatever the naivety, the arrogance, the ego, whatever you want to call it when you sort of are just starting out, saw that there was a big kind of opportunity there to come in, and maybe not be the incredibly high priced sort of people coming from like the people coming from traditional radio backgrounds.
But also do better work than the folks that have had kind of just started up going on podcasting looks hot. Let’s start their start-up in that space. So yeah, that was kind of a bit of the reasoning.
Kenny Soto 3:33
And what do you think contributed to you getting about $1 million in revenue in less than six months when you started?
Harry Morton 3:43
Well, certainly wasn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t in less than six months, that’s for sure. It takes take five years to get to. So so it’s definitely been a slow growth. I mean, you know, I’ve literally started it in my bedroom in my underpants, by myself, five years ago, and now it’s me and my bedroom in my underpants and a team of 15 people helping me.
So it’s taken a long time to kind of grow. But I think the reason for that success is just firstly, I think real clarity on what we’re doing and who we’re serving. So we’re really keep focused on we just serve brands, we just provide podcasts, marketing expertise, and that’s all we do. And that clarity makes it very easy to pick when you’re a company looking for an agency to work with. It’s very obvious what we do and who was the right fit for us.
And the other thing is just like a complete kind of obsession with making the very best work that we possibly can. I think what we’ve really tried to do is, as I say, we kind of I observed those sort of opportunistic agencies, shall we say? And it’s a very, it’s a great industry, very collaborative.
I’m friends with lots of other agency owners, but it seems that there are lots of folks that sort of thought, hey, podcasting is hot. Let’s start a business there. The way I wanted to separate myself from those people was by producing better work. And so we’ve just kind of been absolutely obsessed with those two things. And I think that’s kind of, hopefully, what’s contributed to some success.
Kenny Soto 5:08
Now let’s put ourselves in the shoes of someone who’s working with a startup in this case, and they are trying to pitch the idea of a podcast to senior leadership. What is the business case for having a podcast in the first place?
Harry Morton 5:25
Yeah, it varies so much right company to company, it really depends on what kind of organization you’re in, and what their goals are. So a lot of the large kind of enterprise clients that you work with their goals oftentimes are around thought leadership and around brand and brand perception. And so they come to podcasting to really produce some content in a medium that is able to reach listeners at a time when you normally can’t reach them.
So they’re at the gym, they’re driving their car, or whatever, they’re not going to be watching your video content, I’m gonna be reading one of your white papers.
But also it’s we see such high engagement rates with audio, it’s really not uncommon for us to be producing a podcast that sees 8080 plus percent completion rates of that content, which when you compare that to, you know, social video, for example, you’d be lucky to get five or 10% of completion rates.
So we’re seeing a really high level of engagement. And we’re reaching our listeners at a time when they’re very hard to reach otherwise. So it then becomes a really compelling channel from kind of thought leadership and branding perspective, it’s another place to reach people, it’s another place to sort of just develop a relationship with your audience over time. So that’s, that’s one reason.
But at the other end of the spectrum, we might work with smaller organizations who, for example, agencies, and they want to just very, very directly drive revenue for their business, you know, they’re a smaller organization, they don’t have like a big branding budget, they just need to know, hey, when I’m doing a piece of marketing, we’re going to get some dollars off the back of that.
And that is where kind of podcasting as an audience development tool becomes hard to justify, because actually, as you, I’m sure have found Kenny, like, it takes a long time to grow an audience in podcasting, right, it doesn’t just happen overnight. So to grow that audience, and then monetize that audience, that’s a long, that’s a long cycle, and you’re gonna have to invest a lot of time and money into it to kind of see that return.
So instead, what we like to do with small, smaller agencies, and companies like that is focus on how we use podcasting as a platform to begin and develop and generate relationships with your ideal fit prospects. And then it kind of just builds an audience off the back almost like a like, that’s an added benefit of the podcast. So in that sense, what we do is use it as an Account Based Marketing Tool.
And so what we’re doing is we’re reaching out to ideal prospects and saying, Hey, instead of, Hey, can I shoot you over my deck? Or can I tell you about what we’re working on right? Now? You’re instead saying, Hey, will you be a guest on my podcast, speak to my audience of insert niche here? Because we’d really love to pick your brain about this.
And that topic, it’s a wonderful approach that we’re seeing huge success with smaller brands because you’re First, it’s like an ego stroke, right for that individual. Like, they’re much more likely to say yes to that, then oh, please send me over your sales material.
That sounds thrilling. Right. So that’s one point. And then the second one is that you then get an hour’s worth of time with them on a call just asking them questions about who they are, what they’re, you know, what they’re prioritizing right now, the topics that they’re interested in the work that their company is doing.
And that’s just a really wonderful way to build, build a relationship and start that sales process. So yeah, those are two, there are lots of other ways that we can approach podcasting in business. But those are two of the kind of extremes, I guess, of some of the ways that we think about it.
Kenny Soto 8:45
Yeah. And podcasts in general, if you go with that angle, help with customer discovery, to a large degree, you don’t necessarily need to just do focus groups or higher market research firms, you can go the route of discovering more about what your ideal customer persona is looking for, and create content at the same time. So it’s a win-win scenario.
Harry Morton 9:05
Exactly. And it’s, you know, similarly, it comes to, there’s like a meeting point with clients success as well, customer success, you know, like if we can help to educate our, our users through the podcast, those ones that are life being interviewed on the show, but then also like the audience that’s listening to it, then that’s a really great kind of customer retention tool as well.
So that becomes really good, but exactly in all of these cases, as I mentioned, your point is a really good one, the audience that we build as an as a product of creating this content is almost like a nice, it’s like an extra, you know, which I think is a really kind of good thing.
Kenny Soto 9:43
What are some common mistakes you see occur with either people in your network or in general, potential clients when they go about starting their own podcast, that are easily avoided or avoidable?
Harry Morton 10:01
Absolutely. I think the primary one is thinking of the audience first. So, you know, we’ve just mentioned that you know, hey, actually, the audience growth piece might be the secondary goal of our podcast efforts. Nevertheless, we still have to think about the audience that this is intended for otherwise, we don’t have a really clear pitch for why you should be a guest on that show in the first place, or why anybody should listen.
I think one of the biggest mistakes we see is that people come into podcasting a lot, we know what we want to talk about, they want to talk to these experts on these topics and talk about these things that we think are interesting. They then have to go out into the world and say, Hey, we’ve made this thing. Do you want to come and listen to it and try to convince people to listen to their podcast? Instead, the approach that we much prefer to take and that we think sees much greater success?
And is an easy thing to fix is instead go okay, who is the what the audience we’re looking to serve? What do they care about? What podcasts are they already listened to? And how do we provide something unique that they’re not already getting elsewhere?
Because if we, if we focus on what the audience wants, with, then we’re then creating something where they go, Oh, at last, the podcast I’ve been waiting for, rather than you kind of sort of RAM something down a throat of like, Hey, this is a great thing. It’s great for this reason, and for this reason, you should definitely check it out.
That’s just a harder sell if that makes sense. So I think that a big one is really thinking carefully about what is the strategy for the show. Who are we trying to reach? What do they care about? And how are we going to serve them best?
Kenny Soto 11:30
Are there any recurring challenges that come up when building a podcast audience?
Harry Morton 11:38
Yeah, I mean, you’ve hit on it by saying exactly that building the podcast audience. I think growth in podcasting is definitely a challenge. It’s not it podcasting is not inherently viral. It’s not like a TikTok campaign. And you could be reaching millions of people kind of overnight. It’s very much a word-of-mouth, mouth-based medium.
So people discover podcasts most commonly because their colleague, friend, or a family member has said, Hey, you should check out the show. So that’s awesome. Because it means when you get that recommendation, it’s really sticky, you pay attention to it, you listen to the show, and you’re likely to stick as we’ve said, the engagement rate with podcasting is super high. Once we’ve got a listener, we’re going to we’ve got a really good likelihood of keeping hold of them for a long period of time.
But it’s not, we can’t just overnight explode with growth. So I think that one of the main challenges is consistently sticking with the show so that it builds and grows over time. But then also, What channels do we use to grow it when we do want to see that growth? I think most people will lean into, let’s plaster it all over the social sent blasts, or email lists, and all that kind of stuff. These are all really important things. Of course, we need to be marketing on these channels.
And podcasting is a wonderful kind of seed for repurposing content and using it across a multitude of channels. But what we have seen time and time, again, is that it’s really hard to grow an audience based on your social media following and I guess the reason for that is if you’re scrolling through, like tick tock or Instagram or whatever you’re in, like bite-sized content mode, you want just like short, sweet, you wanna be in and out, you want to like, find something funny, and then send it to a friend or whatever, it’s really hard to get someone from that mode into, okay, now I’m going to invest the next 30 to 40 minutes of my day, listening to a really kind of deep, deep, you know, piece of content.
So instead, we want to use obviously, we want to use social, it’s a really important channel to use to kind of make sure that people are aware that the show exists, its brand, and brand awareness. It’s also kind of an opportunity to engage with the community and get feedback on your content. But it’s not necessarily where we’re going to see the greatest amount of growth. And so instead, what we want to do is focus on channels where podcast listeners are already hanging out, which is, of course on other podcasts.
So some of the major sort of marketing, sort of audience growth for podcasting that we recommend is how do you get in front of these other podcast audiences, whether that’s sponsoring other podcasts or being a guest on other podcasts or doing cross promotion partnerships with other podcasters there are lots of different channels that we can use.
But, that’s where we sort of recommend that people focus their efforts so yeah, in terms of some of the challenges definitely growing the audience is one of them.
Kenny Soto 14:19
Let’s dive a little deeper what are some ways that you try to stand out as a potential podcast guest?
Harry Morton 14:29
So I think firstly, understanding clearly the audience you’re speaking to, if you know what the audience is and what they care about, again, we talked about you know, when you’re developing a podcast in the first place, we want to know who our audience is what they care about.
Same as a guest you don’t want to just turn up and go great, I’ve got this amazing TED talk, and then just like but it’d be completely irrelevant like I could be like an I don’t know a rocket scientist and come on here and just like wow you with some rocket science, but like, that’s not what people sign up to your podcast to get so you know,
We want to be clearly focused on okay, this is an audience that is like this, and they’re looking for this kind of thing. So I think being a good podcast guest is all about really understanding the audience and making sure you tailor the things that you’re talking about to suit what they’re interested in.
Kenny Soto 15:15
And in terms of repurposing content, this is something that I’m learning in real time myself. What are some ways that a podcast host or a team that’s producing a podcast can repurpose the podcast audio for other means of content?
Harry Morton 15:31
Yeah, so the first and most obvious that we see most commonly is, is the audiogram, the audiogram for anyone that’s not familiar is just like a small snippet, like a video clip might be about 30 to 30 seconds to a minute long, typically has like an animated way for maybe a still image in the background. And then the transcript is kind of animated as well. This is the most obvious way to repurpose your audio into social media, and it’s fine.
But we see that they really don’t perform particularly well, they’re not very engaging pieces of content. So it’s an easy thing to do, but it’s not great. I mean, that’s generally the rule, right? If it’s easy to do, it’s probably not gonna be that effective for you.
So that’s one way, but I think what we’re seeing more and more is a real developing opportunity in YouTube. I think as the world’s second-largest search engine, a lot of content is discovered there.
And a lot of new podcast listeners, people listening to podcasts for the first time are actually finding the shows that they like on YouTube because that’s the search engine they go to to find content. So I think finding ways to repurpose your podcast into YouTube friendly format is really good.
So whether that’s just having two Talking Heads, like right now we’re recording on Zoom, can you reuse that video, and post the episode on YouTube? But also, I think, it’s really great to do the sort of Joe Rogan kind of strategy, which is where you’ll have the whole episode available in audio form, potentially the whole episode in video form on YouTube as well. But then smaller chunks of those videos on YouTube.
So they might be eight to 12-minute segments of your podcast that speak to a very specific topic. So like, you know, you’ll see Elon Musk, smoking marijuana or Elon Musk talking about the future of AI or whatever. Those are very kind of bite-size chunks that are easy to digest. They’re easy to be served by the algorithm to throw this content up in front of you. It’s easy to kind of pick up on more search terms from a keyword perspective.
So having those sort of shorter segments broken up from your podcast into video, I think is a really exciting area. I would say in terms of social video, we just said that audio grams aren’t particularly effective. I think it’s really great to think about what kind of social native content we can make easily while we’re shooting the podcast.
So for example, it could be that we record this episode, and then you kind of get off and immediately get your phone out. You’re like, Hey, guys, I just shot this great episode with Harry, he’s this idiot from England and he talks about podcasting, you’re gonna love it, check it out. That’s like, that’s just like a really easy short thing to do.
But it’s real, you know, it’s authentic. It’s like the real deal, much more engaging, and like users on Tik Tok or Instagram or whatever, that’s going to sit in that environment much more naturally. And I think that potentially be a better piece of promotional content than just the thing itself.
Week can move on, but just like to throw out some other things that are for repurposing, I think podcasts lend themselves really well to expanding those into blog posts. So written content is a really great thing to do. Yeah, there are just a million ways that we can repurpose content. But hopefully, there are a couple of ideas for you.
Kenny Soto 18:37
Yeah, and definitely, this is a clip in and of itself, because I see a lot of podcast hosts, and I’ve done it myself, leverage audio grams. And obviously, for my own metrics, there definitely are other things that I can be doing.
And I’m glad I asked you that question because now I have all these other things that I can try out, that are potentially more effective when it comes to tools. And I’m obsessed with marketing technology. What are some martech tools you use either for lower Street as an agency or for promoting podcasts that you’re producing for your clients?
Harry Morton 19:10
Sure. So a few spring to mind the first one from a production standpoint, and a really amazing tool that we leverage a lot called the script to script is like an audio transcription tool, but also an audio and video editor. So for someone that doesn’t have an audio background, you can actually edit audio and video by editing the text.
So it transcribes it into written form. You can edit that and move it around and allows you to do some really powerful things without necessarily having a degree in audio as I do.
So that’s one thing. Definitely, a really great platform that also allows you to create short snippets and clips and videos, all kinds of clever stuff. So really recommend descript for any kind of podcaster out there. I think that from the sort of audience development side and kind of market intelligence,
I think kind of knowing about What sort of where your podcast sits in the competitive landscape is a really important thing, and getting a sense of what other shows are out there. What shows are coming up for the related key terms, there are a few services that we use one is called phonic r e p h o n i c.
Pod chaser is another listen notes is another. These are all really great platforms that list a bunch of information about podcasts and are great research tools. So if you’re, for example, looking for other podcasts in your niche to advertise on or partner with, or to guest on, you can start to build up lists like that.
And also you get a place to sort of engage with your audience and understand kind of yet what the community is saying about podcast content in general. So I would recommend checking those out.
Kenny Soto 20:50
When it comes to, and this is in general. And it can be very straightforward when it comes to gear. How much gear is necessary to produce a quality podcast.
Harry Morton 21:00
All the gear you have to get everything fancy, it’s absolutely essential. No. So I think that there is a minimum threshold we want to hit though, I think that the sort of the General bar is, is at a certain level, there’s a lot of content out there. There are a lot of podcasts and competitions. You know, the kind of cliche that’s thrown around the last couple of years is everyone started a podcast, and there’s a lot of content out there that we’re competing with.
I will by the way, just as a side note, say that pales in comparison to what’s out there on YouTube pales in comparison to what’s out there in Blog World. So I would really say there is so much opportunity still in podcasting. So I would assuage any concerns. They’re like, hey, there’s a lot of competition. That means that we have to meet a certain level of quality, but it’s still a wild wild west compared to other spaces.
That said, there is yeah, there’s no shortage of content, especially digital marketing. So this show that we’re talking about right now, it’s in a very dense space, right, there’s a lot of content out there. So I do think that there’s a certain kind of level that we should hit in terms of production value that will really benefit us in terms of reaching a wider, wider audience.
So you don’t need the fancy gear that I have. Because I’m a nerd and I love it. But you know, a cheap USB microphone, so I would recommend a microphone called the ATR 2100.
Nice, excellent. So the ATR 2100 is a USB microphone, very easy to use, but consistently gets really really great results and will make a significant difference. Also, the microphone technique is a big one. So the space that you’re in, but also the way that you’re using it. So staying at this distance away from your microphone, making sure you’re always wearing headphones, trying as best you can to be in a sound-deadened space, I’m sitting here in a room surrounded by exposed brick, so it’s about the worst you could imagine. But that’s just what my office is.
So we are bound by our environment. But I would say that your environment, the recording, and kind of the microphone technique are almost more important than the microphone itself. And the final thing I would say is that if I had one recommendation for you, Kenny, it would be to switch up your recording platform from zoom to a kind of dedicated platform specific to an audio recording.
Great examples of that are Riverside squad, cast, and caster, clean feed, which is a, you know, shout out to my fellow Brits, that’s a British platform, that these are all really great, relatively affordable platforms, we’re talking kind of $20 a month for the basic plans there. But they are dedicated to recording high-fidelity audio. Zoom is a wonderful platform that makes it very straightforward. Everyone knows how to use it.
But zooms priority is making sure that the connection between us is super solid and never breaks. What that means is they’re going to crunch our audio down to the Smallest File Size they possibly can to make sure that this is a really kind of efficient connection. But we don’t care about efficiency and podcasting, we want the big juicy audio files that take up lots of space. So these platforms will allow us to record those.
And that will make a huge difference to the output of your show. So I would recommend those two things, pick up an ATR 2100, and try your best to control the space that you’re recording in. And then the platform that you use, make sure it is one of those kinds of dedicated audio platforms.
Kenny Soto 24:16
My last question for you is hypothetical because time machines don’t exist. But if they did, and you can go back in time, about 10 years into the past, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you accelerate the speed of your career?
Harry Morton 24:30
How would I accelerate the speed of my career? I think really the thing that I would tell myself and really anybody else that’s kind of in their mid-20s. striking out in marketing is just knowing that nobody else knows what the eff they’re doing. And I think, for me, not for everybody. There are lots of confident folks out there but a lot of the marketers I know suffer from a healthy dose of imposter syndrome, and I think that we probably wait too long or undervalue our expertise too little, or too I kind of lack enough confidence to kind of make those bold moves early.
I think what we need to understand is that no matter how senior the folks that we’re working with are, they don’t know what the heck they’re doing either. And so I think just kind of giving yourself the back yourself is what I would say back yourself.
Kenny Soto 25:21
Yeah, I can attest to that. Because today, and I literally just did it right before this recording, I hired a virtual assistant to help me with my podcast. So awesome. Yeah, it definitely kind of tested the fact that you got to just dive in.
And if you feel like you want to do something, why not do it, you’ll learn more from making mistakes than just constantly trying to do research, if you will, or something I suffer from, Harry, if there’s anything you want to promote, we’ll put in the show notes. Or if there’s just anything that you want to say on that last-minute note, you can feel free to share it now.
Harry Morton 25:57
Awesome. Well, thanks, this has been a real pleasure. And you’re doing great work. So that’s really cool. There I have nothing, in particular, to promote other than just the existence of my company. So I hang out on Twitter a lot. So if anyone’s on Twitter, you can follow me at podcast Harry, where I talk about rather unsurprisingly, podcasting and digital marketing.
And our website is lower st. co. I guess the final parting message I would say is that you know, I think you’re a great example of folks that are in the early to mid stages of their career looking to develop I think we’ve talked about some of the benefits of podcasting to businesses, but I think to individuals that career-focused people.
A podcast is a really wonderful tool to build a network, build a reputation, and build a brand for yourself, which makes those sorts of career progression. choices are so much more open. So it’s a thing, it’s a lot of work, as I’m sure you will attest like it’s not something that you just kind of like switch on, and it’s done.
But doing those extra things, I think really is something that helps your career in so many different ways. So all of what I’ve said is relevant to businesses, but I think also as individuals, young, you know, ambitious folks, in our careers, podcasting is a great channel as well. So definitely, definitely think about trying it out.
Kenny Soto 27:12
Yeah, I was, uh, I think back in 2015, I started off blogging because I thought that was the way for me to expand my personal brand. And one good thing did come from that, which is if you Google my name on the whole SERP like that search engine returns pages mine, right? But I realized that at the same time, you got to make content creation fun, especially if you’re doing it for your personal brand. Because if it’s not fun, you won’t consistently create output. And luckily enough, I decided to dive into podcasting. And here we are listening to.
Harry Morton 27:45
The most authentic, like, intimate like, so authenticity and intimacy are two terms that get thrown around podcasting a lot. It’s kind of a cliche, but it’s so true in the sense that if you want a new employer to know who you are, you can say, hey, check out my podcast where I talk to this expert and this expert, and this expert and look at my personal brand. I mean, they actually listen to it and get such a real sense of who you are.
Blogging is amazing. And I’m never gonna say that writing is not a good thing. But like actually hearing your voice, Kenny on a show, give someone such a great idea of who you are as an individual. So I think it’s, it’s a wonderful thing.
Kenny Soto 28:15
We’ll end there. Thank you, Harry, for your time today. And thank you so listeners for listening to another episode of the people with digital marketing. And as always, I hope you have a great day and rate us on Spotify and Apple. That way we can get more listeners like yourself, to join the community.