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For episode 202 of The Search Engine Journal Show, I had the opportunity to chat with the hosts of Marketing O’Clock, a podcast produced by New York-based, full-service digital agency Cypress North under the SEJNetwork.

Every Friday, Greg Finn, Christine “Shep” Zirnheld, and Jess Budde provide listeners with insights, tips, and the latest news in digital marketing.

We’ll talk about the moving parts involved in producing a successful podcast, plus tips on how to keep your shows engaging and appealing to listeners.


What made you decide to do a podcast?

Greg Finn (GF): It really started where we were trying to have some social content and we’re trying to put out videos in general and we all would get down and basically shoot a video and cover something specifically and it took a lot of time to do so.



It was a really arduous process where we’d edit these videos and we’d cover these specific topics and we’d have it every single week, but there was a lot of editing that went into it.

Jess Budde (JB): We were doing it as a video and it was shot ahead of time and edited later and it was kind of like “Between Two Ferns” style, if you know that little skit out on YouTube.

But we were just like sitting in chairs and it was kind of super awkward and it felt unnatural because we were super nervous so it transitioned.

We said, “what if we just do this live?”

And we did a couple of live videos really, and for some reason, we screwed up less.

We actually did a better job that I think the pressure just helped us like really focus and have to do it.

To do it live, we started experimenting with different mics and better equipment.



One day Greg and I were just sitting at the table doing a mic check and we were just shooting the heck talking to each other and we’re like, “Oh, we have a really good vibe. Like this could just be a podcast.”

We don’t even need video and that’s kind of how the podcast was born.

We still do video, but we’re really just recording ourselves doing the podcast.

But the podcasting format is where we found the sweet spot because we can just banter a little bit more with video, especially on the more produced side.

It just feels like you have to be more rigid and newsy, whereas podcast is more conversational.

Why did you decide to do it live but then edit it and publish it later?

JB: It was [a live show] for a few episodes… and that was just to save time, not having to edit it and post.

But we found that, if we did it as live as we could and then just had the comfort of knowing we could edit something if we stuttered or screwed up a word, or heaven forbid say something that was inaccurate, we could go back and fix that.

We still kind of operate on the vibe like let’s get through this as much as we can but then we can say, “Sorry, Hope!” who’s our sound engineer and have her fix something…

GF: I just think there’s a little more safety net.

Where when you’re doing it live, you have to be just so meticulous about everything and one little mistake or something could really throw it for a loop.

You just have a little bit more confidence to go out there and if something happens, you can go back and fix it.

Shep Zirnheld (SZ): It gives us a little bit of flexibility.

When you’re doing it live, you have to tell your listeners, “We’re going to be on at this time.”

We actually do have other work that we do for our agency, as much work as the podcast takes.

It’s nice that we can push it back an hour if we have a client meeting or we don’t have our prep notes ready in time. That’s a little bit of a safety net too.



How did you approach creating the show outline and the structure and the process and what you wanted it to be?

GF: I think one of the things that we kind of realized soon when Jess and I were sitting there just cracking up the camera people, is that the entertainment value was really important.

And so that’s something that we were able to pull out as the show evolved.  I say all the time, nobody cares about the news.

Even though we do a fantastic job covering the news, we want people to laugh, have a good time, and enjoy the time spent.

The main goal is to get people to laugh, smile, and have a good time.

I think that that’s one of the big things, at least on my side, is that we get a lot of feedback from that.

People jump in and DMs all the time and say, here’s what our favorite parts of the show are.



They’re like well-known digital marketers… I think that’s one thing that’s very important for us.

Would you recommend people to share their personal experiences and be a little vulnerable? Do you feel like that really connects you well?

SZ: Yeah, I’d say both me and Greg are big podcast consumers. Everyone I listen to is pretty funny.

I just think it helps you connect with the show and the host and just being yourself and being authentic.

A big part of our humor is always self-deprecation and just being really honest with the listener.

We’re following the news and we’re doing our best, but if you’re coming here to get every single perfect detail right, we’re always going to correct ourselves.

But the number one thing we’re here to do is just have a conversation about what’s happening in the news, be ourselves, and hopefully keep people engaged and I think that really helps the humor aspect.



How did you approach the format of the content?

JB: It’s obviously evolved over time to be where it is now.

But I think what we try to do at least as far as structuring is to break things out.

In the Lightning round, we cover all PPC news in one chunk, and then organic news in one chunk, and then social.

That is just so that people can follow along [depending on] what they’re interested in.

Then as far as how much to cover, I mean, we’re marketers first, right?

And then we do the podcast as something that we do, but we’re not professional podcasters, we’re professional marketers.

We think about it just from ourselves.

  • What about this story is important to us?
  • What is stupid to us that we can comment on?
  • What are the real-world implications of something?

And then we can kind of jive about that and if humor comes out of that, great.



If we have to pull in a story about our personal lives to make it funny, then great. But there’s no perfect formula.

I mean, the secret sauce is probably that we don’t have one.

It’s just about vibe and that comes obviously from doing it for a living as well as just reporting the news.

How do you approach being careful not to piss too many people off?

GF: We’re not careful. Honestly, we don’t pull any punches.

I mean, we’re not a vulgar show. We don’t swear or anything like that, but we tell it how it is.

Even a few weeks ago, where Google announced that the Ads and Search are going to be overseen by one person, we call them out, held their feet to the fire, and talked about an article that John Henshaw had.

That’s another thing that I think is really nice. Search Engine Journal is now the go-to for news, but there are also other things out there and we can bring these in and we’re not beholden to just one thing.



I’d say that Search Engine Journal probably makes up 75% of the articles, but we pull weird articles in and things from all over the place.

We don’t pull any punches and we don’t filter ourselves.

I think that that’s something that really helps the show.

SZ: If I was our client, the most important thing is just being honest. We want to give people real advice that we would follow as well.

The number one thing is just being honest with our listeners all the time and not giving them advice that we wouldn’t take ourselves.

What has worked in terms of promoting the podcast?

SZ: I guess before getting into our partnership with SEJ, which kind of really moved the needle for us promotion-wise, we do a lot on organic social media.

We haven’t really touched on this yet, but a lot of our content is really sourced from the digital marketing community, mostly Twitter. (We’re not really LinkedIn people.)



We have our news segments where we have articles from Search Engine Journal and different publications in the industry.

But then a lot of our content is just a tweet – and it’s a hot take from somebody in the industry about what’s going on.

We kind of picked that up and have that in the show. So then we have our organic tweets every week where we talk about the different sources we have for the show.

Hopefully, they’ll want to listen to the show and retweet our tweet and it’s just become like this nice cycle where our sources are our listeners and we’re this great community. That really helps.

GF: It’s like a real community and that’s something I think we’re really proud of – involving people, talking about people, and letting them be seen, letting their hard work and stories be seen hopefully goes a long way.

What’s the reason you don’t really bring guests on for your show?

GF: I think there are a few reasons.



We tried that for a little bit. We call it “Off the Clock,” and so we’d have two shows a week.

I think one of the things that immediately jumped out is like, you can tell the rapport that we all have.

It’s super fun, loving, great but then it changes based on who you’re talking to and it’s not as uniform.

The other thing that’s tough is just that booking nonstop.

Can you get somebody that fits that specific niche every time?

Or are you going to start talking about technical SEO and then Facebook Ads and then Data Studio?

Like how are you going to keep people on was one of the things that we looked at it and we’re like, this takes a lot of time actually to get a guest on.

You rely on how good they are and not everybody is great, which is a problem.

A lot of people are fantastic, but you’re really beholden to that and I think one of the negatives toward what we do on the news side is this is not evergreen.



There’s a lot of different pros and cons to everything.

But for us, we just thought that the combination of us all just couldn’t be beat.

That was our strength and why don’t we just play to it?

More Resources:

This podcast is brought to you by Ahrefs and Opteo.

To listen to this Search Engine Show Podcast with the Marketing O’Clock Team:



Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
In-Post Image: Cypress North

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