A podcast strategy for lead generation vs. content marketing

December 31, 2023

I always considered having a podcast for your business as firmly in the “content marketing” zone. Like your blog or social media, a podcast is something you create content for to nurture your audience, publish thought leadership, highlight your expertise…. blah blah blah. 


Perhaps not. 

There might be a way more strategic way to think about having a business podcast. 

A method that’s faster and more effective at driving new business to your door. 

The key? A mindset that’s more “sales” than “content marketing.”

I chatted with Chase Clymer, the co-founder of Electric Eye, a Shopify development agency, about how he shapes his podcast, Honest Ecommerce, to return BIG on his time and equipment investment. 

Here’s our conversation, edited and condensed for clarity — link at the end to listen to the full, raw interview that’s more like a podcast!


How do you use the podcast for business development, beyond just being a content tool?

Initially, the podcast was just a content tool, born out of my dislike for writing. Andrew, my colleague, suggested leveraging my speaking skills instead. We got assistance from a podcast agency to kickstart it. Over time, we began to look at how the podcast was influencing client acquisition and business relationships. It’s now a strategic tool, different from our initial ‘spray and pray’ approach for exposure.

What’s your approach now?

Our focus is less about our listenership and more on interviewing potential guests who are within our ICP. So what that means to us is: they’re a direct-to-consumer brand utilizing Shopify as their eCommerce platform and their biggest revenue comes from their direct-to-consumer side of the business. 

I don’t want to have a hour and a half interview with someone for the podcast and  build a relationship with someone whose business model is that all their money is made on Amazon, so they’d never become a client of ours. Even if they have an interesting story I won’t have them on, because that doesn’t help my business, right?

This approach seems beneficial not just for business development but also in making the podcast content more relevant and stronger — so everyone who’s listening is probably also going to be your ICP or aspiring to be your ICP. 

Absolutely. And the transition from free-form interviews to a more structured narrative has been key, too, when it comes to the actual podcast quality. The story arc usually covers ideation, validation, building the product, acquiring customers, and their growth journey. This format is effective for the types of businesses we feature and resonates well with our audience, so it’s doubly beneficial.

How do you navigate the vast e-commerce landscape to identify potential guests for your podcast?

It’s a bit of a process. Specifically, our ideal customer is typically a founder or a leader in a direct-to-consumer brand. So, I access databases that contain this information. I could even hire a virtual assistant to assist in this process, which is essentially prospecting. This is a traditional sales strategy where you identify your Ideal Client Profile (ICP), understand the types of businesses out there, and then use various tools and resources, like LinkedIn, to find either the right company or the right person. 

Another tactic I use is to look out for direct-to-consumer brands that I come across in my daily life (like Instagram ads), taking notes or screenshots to follow up on later. Essentially, it involves building a list and then doing cold outreach.

My outreach strategies work really good because I’ve been doing it for 5 years. I’ve gotten household names on the podcast. And I’m a top 5 percent podcast. I’m featured on Shopify.com. There are reasons that people will talk to me.

It sounds like having that built-in trust is a significant part of this process?

Yeah, trust is crucial. In the beginning, if I had been this specific in my guest selection, I might not have gained the momentum I have now. This approach could be viewed as more aspirational and something to pivot towards. Initially, it’s tough because you’re not just learning how to conduct interviews effectively, but also building trust. My outreach now is successful because of the reputation built over five years. This might not be the case for someone just starting out, and it could be a little harder to attract guests.

So for someone starting a new podcast, is building up listenership essential before pitching to their ICP?

Well, not necessarily. You can approach it differently, like creating a themed season or capsule on specific industry problems. It’s more about how you frame the invitation. Even without a large audience, focusing on content for the community and putting the guest in the spotlight is key. Narrowing down your focus to specific problems or verticals could lead to more success. In general, manufacture a real reason for your ICP to come on your podcast. 

How has your approach to pitching guests evolved over time?

The pitch has become shorter and more focused. Alway shorter. These days, I mostly use LinkedIn for outreach. The podcast essentially functions as a sales tool, so I apply various sales tactics. 

For instance, the pitch is direct: I offer guests a chance to share their story on our podcast, providing them value and exposure to our audience. I keep the initial outreach brief, basically just inviting them to express interest in learning more. 

So you basically are asking them to give you permission to then start telling them all about your show, right? So I’m like, “Hey, does this sound interesting to you?” That’s it. I send that off with a couple of follow-ups automated in there as well because things get lost in the inbox sometimes.

What do your follow-ups say?

For follow-ups, I try to be creative rather than just saying, “I’m putting this back in your inbox.” That doesn’t work. I typically use a four-by-four approach — four messages sent four days apart. I usually will say something that gives them more info like, “Here’s a link to the latest episode if you want to check it out.” 

The final message usually says something like, “I’m going to archive this thread, but let me know if you’re ever interested.” This gives them an out but also signals that I won’t be following up further. Surprisingly, this last message often gets a response, especially from those who were interested but hadn’t gotten around to it. They usually apologize for the delay and suggest a future time to reconnect.

Do you have an intentional approach to convert guests into clients after the interview?

Yes, there’s a specific approach. The pre-interview call, which I made a standard practice, not only improves the podcast but also ensures the guests align with our Ideal Client Profile (ICP); that’s step one.

After the interview, I usually offer something in return, like a free half-hour session to discuss their business, emphasizing that I’m not trying to sell them anything. This non-sales approach often piques their interest because it shifts their mindset. They might start considering what services they could use from us.

The key here is to provide something valuable as a thank you. In the digital creative space, this could be an audit, a strategy session, or part of a discovery process. After the podcast conversation, I’ll mention that they’ll receive an email from me offering a strategy session to discuss potential improvements for their business. This offer is also sent automatically by email.

It’s important to recognize that this is an outbound sales strategy, not inbound. Not everyone is looking for your services right then. We’ve had guests who reach out months later, often when they’re changing agencies or considering a website rebuild. This strategy is about planting seeds and waiting for them to grow into opportunities. It’s normal for a lower percentage of people to accept the offer initially and an even smaller percentage to move forward with your services. But it’s about creating more opportunities to showcase what you’re good at to potential clients. 8-10% of our podcast guests have become clients.

8 to 10 percent is great when you consider that they’re all people who would never have entered your orbit without that ask to be on your podcast.

Exactly. And another point is that if someone is already reaching out to you with interest to become a client right away, don’t gum up the works by inviting them onto your podcast. Just have the sales conversation.

But if the initial sales conversation doesn’t lead to a commitment or it’s not the right time, maybe a few months down the line, you invite them to be a guest on your podcast. This can be a way to re-engage them and potentially bring them back into the sales cycle, reigniting their interest.

Could you elaborate on the post-interview offer/call you mentioned? What exactly does that entail for your agency?

We offer what we call a Shopify Diagnostic. It’s a service we provide to brands, typically priced at $2,500. However, for our podcast guests, I offer this as a complimentary service. It’s a way of saying thank you to them. 

If they show interest in discussing strategy with us, I suggest two options: a casual phone call to talk about their business or this more in-depth Shopify Diagnostic. I explain that although it’s usually a paid service, I can offer it for free considering their potential as a client. We ask for access to certain aspects of their business, take about a week to analyze, and then reconvene for a discussion. This approach allows us to provide far more tailored and impactful advice, as we have a deeper understanding of their business compared to just answering questions on the fly.

So, when they accept the offer for the diagnostic, it seems like you’re explicitly indicating interest in them as a potential client, right?

Exactly. Offering the diagnostic for free, which has a significant value attached, is a strategic move. It’s a mix of appealing to their vanity by featuring their story and then providing them with a substantial service. 

However, it’s crucial to understand that not everyone will move forward with you. This approach requires being okay with investing effort without guaranteed returns. The key is to make the delivered product impressive enough to leave them thinking about what more you could do if they became a paying client. It’s about balancing what you offer for free and guiding them towards a paid engagement.

It’s interesting because offering a $2,500 service for free is a lot to risk, but it’s targeted at highly qualified individuals, so I’m guessing the risk is worth it?

The idea of ‘strategically free’ is to show them the value we can provide. For younger brands or smaller entrepreneurs, I’d say it’s about deciding what you can afford to give away to attract potential business. 

Sometimes, taking bigger swings with something like the diagnostic can put you in the running for substantial projects. It’s about not missing out on a major opportunity just because you’re too rigid about always charging for services.

Do you have a follow-up process for those who don’t respond or decline the post-interview pitch about the diagnostic session?

There’s no set process or automation for follow-ups in that scenario. I haven’t received outright negative responses, but being ghosted happens all the time. When that happens, I don’t dwell on it. I move on to the next opportunity. In sales, it’s important to focus on those who are engaged and responsive, rather than chasing after those who aren’t showing interest.


🎧 Listen to the full, unedited 30-minute interview with Chase, like an exclusive podcast ➡️ Click here to listen.


About Chase: Chase Clymer is the Co-founder at Electric Eye where he and his team create Shopify-powered sales machines from strategic design and development decisions. He is also the host of Honest Ecommerce, a weekly podcast where we provide online store owners with honest, actionable advice to increase their sales and grow their business.

Learn more about Chase:

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