Published March 19, 2020
As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kent Lewis.
As President & Founder of Anvil Media, Lewis oversees strategic direction of the company, with a focus on sales and marketing. Under his leadership, Anvil has been recognized as a Fastest Growing, Most Philanthropic and Most Admired Company in Oregon. He speaks internationally, writes for industry publications like SmartBrief and Portland Business Journal and has been an adjunct professor at Portland State University since 2000. He’s founded or co-founded four agencies and two organizations since 1999, including pdxMindShare and SEMpdx in Portland. Lewis volunteers his time with SCORE, teaching a social media workshop the past five years and has been a board and marketing committee member and is currently volunteer reader for SMART. He’s been named a Top 40 Under 40, Marketer of the Year by AMA Oregon and a Top 100 Digital Marketing Influencer by BuzzSumo in 2019. Outside of work, Lewis enjoys consulting with startups and spending time with family.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?
I graduated with a business degree and marketing concentration. I had no idea I’d be able to use my degree as a business owner of a marketing agency ~5 years later. I kicked off my career as a PR intern at a full-service agency in Seattle, then moved to Portland (where I knew 1 person, my cousin, in 1995). By 1996, I moved into a marketing manager role at a web development firm and started my journey to thought leadership as a digital marketer. I started speaking and teaching a year or so later and haven’t slowed down. As of today, I’ve co-founded 2 agencies, founded 2 agencies and 2 trade organizations. I’ve worked with over 1,000 clients and enjoy writing, speaking and teaching as much as my Anvil team and clients will let me. I’ve outlined a few key milestones in my career in these articles:
Key inflection points that shaped my career as an entrepreneurial digital marketer (part 1)
Key inflection points that shaped my career as an entrepreneurial digital marketer (part 2)
Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?
A year into my DadsUnplugged podcast, I was contacted by an American Expat living in Singapore that realized I ran a digital agency and we ended up working with his startup for a few months, even though my podcast had nothing to do with marketing. An additional highlight working with DadsUnplugged was having Daniel Baldwin (Alec’s brother) as a guest and we developed a friendship of sorts (he played on my agency softball team!).
Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?
I’ve been fortunate to have two experienced co-hosts for Dads Unplugged and Podcast for Closers more recently. They do the editing and my team typically helped with marketing. As a result, I wasn’t able to make any big mistakes (at least any that couldn’t be edited out). I did learn it helps to vet guests well, as we had a few that were ill-prepared and couldn’t answer basic questions, speak clearly or hold themselves together.
How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?
As mentioned previously, my first podcast experience, Dads Unplugged, was a 30-minute weekly show I co-hosted for 5 years. Unfortunately, my co-host and his wife shut down their audio branding business (and thus studio), declared bankruptcy and removed all five years of the podcast off the Internet a few years ago. I’m still upset about it. My new podcast only has 4 episodes in the can and 1–2 more in production and we’re having trouble getting time on the calendar to record more episodes.
What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?
With Podcast for Closers, we want our listeners to think about why people make decisions and take action. Loosely tired to sales and marketing with a digital twist, or topics are as much about human behavior (we’re predictably irrational) and how to understand and harness those insights to improve marketing if not the human condition.
In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?
I’d like to think we’re bingeworthy, but it’s too early to tell. I think the chemistry with my co-host, Mike Chase, is fantastic and while we’ve only completed half a dozen shows or less, we’ve known each other for 25 years, and it shows, no pun intended. Mike brings a career in radio, acting and video production to the table and I bring a similar amount of experience with digital marketing and we both have tons of opinions and experience to share.
Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every work-day, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?
I recommend (but do not follow) the policy of booking out a recurring time to meet for taping (if not planning as well). Keep it fresh by changing locations (at least for planning) and test new formats and content ideas.
What resources do you get your inspiration for materials from?
Mostly topical. What’s going on in the news and our industries…
Ok fantastic. Let’s now shift to the main questions of our discussion. Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?
Serial and Joe Rogan are the best. Daily Show’s new parody podcast is brilliant as well.
What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?
Name and theme: set the tone
Branding: design and language describing the podcasts should be unique and memorable
Music for introduction, transitions and outtro for the same reason
Segments or another structure (please not too many interviews)
Smart value-added content like a blog post or content on a related website + bonus footage (even video)
Optimize and market through digital channels (search, social, etc.)
You are a very successful podcaster yourself. Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
It’s all in here: How to Extend Your Brand by Building a Podcast Strategy
Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to: 1) book great guests; 2) increase listeners; 3) produce it in a professional way; 4) encourage engagement; and 5) the best way to monetize it? (Please share a story or example for each, if you can.)
- Ask nicely and aim for the stars when booking guests. Leverage your network.
- Co-op, co-brand and leverage the network of your guests to maximize listener-base
- Pay for a good studio or team (we use Digital One in Portland when we can)
- Not sure what that means.
- Strategic, long-term sponsors… less work, greater return.
For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?
In my article above… basic condenser mic and mixer plus a sound box to get started, plus free editing software. Otherwise, $1,500 will get you good HW and SW.
Ok. We are almost done. :-) Because of your position and work, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I believe that children are our greatest resource and hope for the future. Ensuring they are fed, clothed and educated is the best way to get a return on our investment and save this planet.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing your time and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.