Just as you began settling into Show 20 the rug was pulled from under your feet. That's right. The ruthless executive committee at Marketing Homebrew (that's myself and Mark) took the decision to half the length of our podcast. From 30+ minutes to a more digestible 'one for the road' 15 minutes.
Here's the thinking.
We're still relatively new at this podcasting lark. We set out with the idea of a 30 minute format. No particular rationale behind it. It just felt like a nice even number. Not too long. Not too short. Jussssst right.
20 shows in we decided to change strategy. To focus the topic of conversation on one single word. A conversation in marketing relating to a single topical word. When you limit the conversation you don't want to stretch the point.
You consider the impacting of labouring a point for the sake of adhering to a pre-determined podcast length. Then, you consider whether it's necessary to stick to a prescribed length of podcast.
My view? It's necessary. In the name of continuity. I'm one of those people that chooses a movie based on it's length. I'm not going to settle down at 9pm to watch a 3hr epic. Especially knowing one of my kids will wake us up at 5am the next morning. Not good.
As podcasters we're in the time trade. We want to make your time with us valuable. If it's not, you don't come back. We want you to know that you can listen to our latest show at the gym, in the car, at the desk, on the commute, walking the dog, cleaning the car, mowing the lawn. You get the idea. You know what time you have available. You know how the podcast fits into that time.
We've also decided to produce 2 shows a week. That means you still get the same quantity, we're doing our best to then up the quality. Hence my point earlier about the fear of labouring on particular topics of conversation.
15 minutes goes very very quick
It's been a big change for us. A mindset shift. We could get comfy in our chairs for 30 minutes of conversation. Now, we have to keep our points a little more succinct. This is good. It helps to train us to deliver a punchier show.
The first 15 minute show was an odd thing. 20 shows in and you get used to the podcast format. Now, you look at the timer at 12 minutes thinking 'bloody hell! time to wrap up!' There's still much you want to say.
That's the thing with all of these marketing platforms we have available to us. Just like blogging, with the podcast it's always at the back of your mind to ensure you stay on topic and get your point across quickly. I believe the 15 minute podcast format will only help us get better at our delivery.
Change is good
I guess we could have continued with the format. Things evolve. The freedom the internet provides us as a marketing tool allows us to evolve.
With podcasting it's pretty easy to sink into a tried and tested format. If it's not broke.... However. We're learning and sharing as we progress this adventure in podcasting. We're constantly talking (off air) about how we can make the podcast better. More valuable to our listener.
There was big hoo-ha a few years ago when the BBC changed their timeslot from 9pm to 10pm. In 2005 there was a bigger hoo-ha when they changed the format of the weather forecast from the static map to the 3d scroll. Seriously. A few days on, did anyone really still object?
If the BBC can shake things up. So can we.
We don't want to get comfortable. When you get comfortable things become easy. The podcast could be 'just one of those weekly tasks'. I didn't want this to happen.
We're using our own podcast as a tool to help others. We're planning changes to the way we publish, promote and distribute the podcast. Things happening behind the scenes to assist with optimisation on iTunes. Ideas to build our audience. We're learning in situ. A live lab on podcasting. To share ideas to inspire you to pick up the mic yourself.
For the time being we're sticking to the 15 minute format. There's a lot of ground we want to cover with the new single-word podcast topics. We're looking at the opportunity to add 'Marketing Homebrew Specials' to the mix where we invite smart marketers to join the conversation. Just like we did in Show 18. When we need to explore topics in more depth we can do. We're just reframe them.
We made a big change. We hope it's for the best. I have a feeling, 4 shows in, that it is. You don't know these things until you try them.
There's a fine line between continuity and continuity for the sake of continuity (if that makes sense?). Sometimes you just have to make big changes. You have to ensure those changes are made for the best of your product. We're still small fry in the podcasting game. It's easier to make those changes when your audience is less than 5,000. Maybe we have to be a little more considered when our audience approaches 100,000. We're leap that hurdle when we get to it. For now, 15 minutes will work. Our job is to make it work.