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Episode 5: “The Brandwagon Interviews” Podcast with Lauren Fleshman of Picky Bars

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From tactics to taglines, Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, chats marketing with the brains behind successful brands on our new video series, Brandwagon. Last time, Chris sat down with Veronica Parker-Hahn, SVP of Growth & Innovation at Effie Worldwide, to learn why she believes strategic rigor is essential to building an effective brand. Today, we’re excited to share our extended interview with this week’s guest, Lauren Fleshman, Co-Founder and CMO of Picky Bars.

Check out the episode to hear how Lauren learned the power of identifying and marketing your values from her experience as a two-time US track and field champion, and a Nike-sponsored athlete.

Or listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

Watch the actual Brandwagon episode here!

Before becoming the co-founder and CMO of Picky Bars, a real-food company that makes energy bars, oatmeals, and granolas to fuel active lifestyles, Lauren Fleshman was a highly decorated professional runner. She’s a two-time US 5K champion (her fastest mile time is 4 minutes and 23 seconds!). When she signed on as a Nike-sponsored athlete, she soon realized she was Nike’s own brand marketing asset. From this experience, she learned how to be an exceptional storyteller and the importance of marketing her values to renew sponsorship deals.

Using this wisdom, Lauren started Picky Bars and grew the business in the energy bar market. On this episode, we hear all about building your brand for the long-run by paying attention to how you make your audience feel.

lauren fleshman

“I think you can make an interesting story out of anything. Because if you have a goal — no matter what the business is — there’s a journey involved in getting there. Everyone can relate to a journey.” On this episode of The Brandwagon Interviews, Lauren Fleshman highlights how knowing your values and telling your story will help your audience connect to your brand.

Here are some of the lessons learned throughout the episode:

  • Identify your story and decide it’s worthwhile to tell
  • Figure out why people like you and lean into that
  • Go narrow yet deep with your current audience and trust that your brand will grow from there

Short on time? Check out some of our favorite moments during this interview between Chris and Lauren.

1:22 – “I think it’s helpful sometimes to be a beginner at something”

After Chris runs the best mile of his life, Lauren and Chris sit down to talk about all things brand. Chris kicks off the conversation by asking Lauren about learning how to play the violin. Despite being a champion runner and a business owner, Lauren talks about how it’s important to be a beginner at something. It’s helped her in her coaching career and has pushed her to understand certain aspects of her business in new ways.

4:14 – On being a marketing asset

Not long after her highly successful collegiate career, Lauren signed on as a Nike-sponsored athlete. She quickly came to understand the world of running from an interesting perspective: she was another brand’s marketing asset. Fleshman talks about what it was like to pitch herself to companies in hopes of renewing sponsorship deals and how being an influencer helped her learn to tell her own story.

8:55 – Changing values at Nike

Even though she had a demanding training and race schedule, Lauren still found the time to tell her own story. Early on, she realized women athletes at Nike were treated differently than male athletes. Nike advertising for women featured models instead of professional athletes whereas ads for men’s shoes and clothing featured top male athletes at the time. Fired up, Lauren emailed Nike’s CEO on a whim and ended up changing the culture at one of the world’s largest brands. The company worked with Fleshman to make the first Nike catalog featuring female athletes and produced a commercial with her.

14:04 – “Everyone can relate to a journey”

When you’re a national champion and a Nike athlete, you’ve got a pretty cool story to tell, right? But what if you’re selling insurance or golden-toe socks?! Chris asks Lauren what companies should do if they feel like they don’t have a story, or that their business is “boring.” Lauren says if you just start telling your story, and if you accept that your story is worthwhile, you’ll be surprised by how people will be interested. If you have a business, you have goals. And if you have goals, there’s a journey involved in working toward those goals. Experiencing this in her running career and with Picky Bars, she believes everyone can relate to a journey, and they’ll be invested in your successes and failures along the way.

17:40 – Layering risks

What happened after Lauren missed competing at the Olympics due to injuries? She took the downtime and started four major projects, all of which she fully expected to fail. Fleshman describes how low-risk ventures can feel worthwhile in the face of failure because impacting even a few people in your community can have a great benefit.

21:26 – Starting Picky Bars

Chris asks Lauren about how she started Picky Bars, which are energy bars made with whole foods and balanced for sport. The story began when Lauren was on a break from running and wanted to help her husband and triathlete, Jesse Thomas, find an energy bar that wouldn’t mess with his digestive system (and fill the house with unwanted…gas). Lauren continues to tell the origin story of her business and how the brand grew organically.

26:47 – Growing a business in a crowded space

The energy bar market is saturated with products of all shapes, sizes, and claims. So, how did Lauren begin marketing Picky Bars and differentiate the brand in a crowded space? She first focused on her community and doubled down efforts on her personal blog. Then she drew on her experience as a sponsored influencer for other brands to market Picky Bars.

28:32 – Understanding your values

Lauren’s personal values have a ton of overlap with the brand values at Picky Bars. Chris wonders how you discover and define your values as a brand. Lauren explains how she began to define her own values and why she thinks it’s important for brands to lead with their values. Often, it’s about looking at what’s working and identifying why people like you in the first place, and then leaning into that.

32:14 – Finding a home at Oiselle

Amidst the discussion about values, Lauren mentions how she began to feel out of alignment with Nike due to their policies around athletes starting families. At that time she fell in love with Oiselle, a clothing company for female athletes, and left Nike to work with Oiselle, who helped her scale her values to affect more change and impact more people. Fleshman describes how she felt more motivated to work for Oiselle because their values aligned. This has fundamentally changed how she feels about sponsorship opportunities and how to inspire employees.

36:53 – Marketing your values

Chris asks how companies should market their values once they define them. Picky Bars and Oiselle both tell brand stories that reflect their brand values. In doing that, Lauren’s noticed that brands have the power to change the culture of the industries in which they operate.

40:15 – Creating brand affinity with Work, Play, Love

In 2018, Lauren and her husband started a podcast called Work, Play, Love. The podcast focuses on the intersection between sports, entrepreneurship, and relationships. On the podcast, the couple talks about their experience running Picky Bars — including all of their mess-ups and struggles — they offer advice on balancing life with goals in sport, and they talk about their relationship. Chris asks why they decided to be so open about their business and Lauren talks about how it gives their audience an opportunity to have a deeper connection with them and the Picky Bars brand. She describes how doing a show like Work, Play, Love has helped their business.

44:43 – CEO recaps

Lauren recommends that small businesses create a CEO recap for their fans, the same way a CEO would brief investors on the state of the business. She talks about the benefits of being open with your audience, both for your customers and for yourself.

47:24 – “Decide your story’s worthwhile”

What advice does Lauren have for marketers who are thinking about making shows and being their own spokespeople? She says that the first step is deciding that your story is worthwhile. Then? Go narrow and deep with your current audience and trust that your brand will build from there.

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How to Promote Your Podcast With Email

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When it comes to growing an audience for your brand’s new podcast, tapping into your email and marketing experience is the best place to start. If you’re building a new list from scratch, you can grow your email subscriber list by utilizing your existing marketing channels to spread the word.

On the other hand, if you already have an existing database of people who love the content you create, you can hit existing relevant lists while also growing a dedicated inventory for your show!

In this post, we’ll share how you can leverage your audiences differently and give you best practices for promoting your podcast via email. Let’s start getting your podcast in front of the right folks!

Your show’s subscribers are the folks you’ll email regularly about teasers, new episode releases, exclusive content, and more. These people are highly qualified because they have opted-in to receive news about your show! We’ll cover how you can grow this type of list where your podcast lives, on your actual podcast with a call to action, and across your social media channels.

Ask people to subscribe wherever your podcast lives

If your podcast is on streaming sites like Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Overcast, you should include extra information about your show to help build a direct relationship with listeners. Profiles about the show hosts and guests, show episode notes, and full episode transcripts are just the beginning!

Including information on your website about your podcast doesn’t hurt either. Get creative and think of different ways to provide value, like with a show “starter kit” for new listeners or by including other content formats, like related videos and blogs, on the same page.

Be sure to focus on the value your show will provide your audience, and include an email collector for listeners to subscribe to stay in the loop about future releases, show news, and exclusive content.

Include a CTA on your show

Another great place to remind listeners to subscribe to your podcast? During your actual show! If you include a call to action at the end of your podcast, you’ll catch listeners who made it all the way to the end of your show — folks who are already super engaged and the most likely to want more. For listeners who found you on streaming sites instead of your website, suggesting the next step during your show might be the only opportunity you have to get them to subscribe directly.

For example, at the end of our new original podcast, Talking Too Loud, we say, “Listen to Talking Too Loud wherever you listen to podcasts. And hey, rate and review us wherever you listen. And check out more content from Wistia Studios at Wistia.com.”

Another example of a podcast including CTAs on their show includes How I Built This with Guy Raz. At the end of his show Guy says, “To see our full interview you can go to facebook.com/howibuiltthis. And if you want to see all of our past live interviews you can find them there or at youtube.com/npr.”

To sum it up, your CTA could be any next steps you’d like your listeners to take. Both of these examples don’t outright tell folks to subscribe, but lead people to places where they can discover more about your brand (and where they can take the leap to subscribe for more content).

Spread the word on social media

You should also use your existing social media channels to promote your podcast and find listeners who could lead to new subscribers. Use clips and content teasers to give people a taste of what your podcast is about — pique their interest! Social media is a great way to drive people to where your podcast lives and entice them to subscribe to your show.

Here’s an example of a Twitter post on Wistia’s account promoting Talking Too Loud:

Some social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn, even offer direct integrations with email marketing and CRM providers. These connections make it easy to build and nurture your lists without manually exporting and uploading contacts across platforms.

What should you send these folks?

Remember, email subscribers for your show are different from folks you include in your general marketing sends — it’s important to differentiate these sends and be hyper-targeted about your content. For the podcast email subscribers, focus primarily on promoting your show. To sweeten the pot, include exclusive content like behind-the-scenes clips and additional show content to this show subscriber list.


While you’re building a dedicated list of raving show fans, keeping your existing database informed is also important. Whether these marketing lists exist for product updates or blog content, folks in these audiences might also be interested in your podcast’s unique content.

Your marketing automation and onboarding sequences can be a great place to start plugging your podcast — just make sure you’re not promoting your show right off the bat. Showcasing your podcast too early or too often in your email campaign could distract and take away from someone’s learning experience with your product.

Here’s an example of a callout we used in one of our blog content email newsletters for The Brandwagon Interviews podcast. Since this was a more broad list, we kept this section short and sweet and allowed the creative to steal the spotlight and drive traffic to our podcast page.


So, now you’ve got a solid plan in place to promote your podcast via email. But what does a great podcast email look like? And what types of emails should you be sending for your show? Check out a few examples of emails we’ve sent to support our very own shows!

New Show Announcement

Build excitement and anticipation for your new podcast by sending out an announcement email. This is a great place to leverage your existing email lists — either by sending a dedicated email or by including the announcement in a newsletter-style send.

Alternatively, you could get ahead of the curve by collecting emails before launch and then send an announcement to your dedicated show list.

Here’s an example of an email we sent to announce Talking Too Loud:

New Episode Announcement

Keep your listeners in the loop on an ongoing basis by sending out emails for new episodes. These emails can be short and sweet. It’s also important to send these emails consistently to your audience. The email cadence for announcements should follow your show cadence. Showcase your show guest (if you have one), craft a compelling preview for the episode, and drive folks to listen.

Here’s an example of what we typically send for Talking Too Loud:


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5 Brand-Building Lessons from The First Audio Conference for Marketers, “Built to Last”

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What does it take to build a brand that stands the test of time? How do you make someone fall in love with your brand? Is it possible to build lifelong audiences and advocates for your business? There’s a good reason these questions still remain at the forefront of marketer’s minds today. And that’s because, in 2020, your brand has never mattered more.

That’s why we teamed up with Buffer to bring you Built to Last, the first-ever audio conference for brand builders. Throughout the event, attendees received exclusive access to a private podcast feed where we released six episodes over the two-day conference. Each episode featured lessons and key insights that can be applied when crafting memorable content and campaigns that build engaged audiences.

We heard from marketers and creatives behind some of the world’s most-loved brands and learned a ton of valuable lessons when it comes to building brands that thrive. In this post, we’re sharing our top five takeaways from the event. But we’re curious — what lessons did you learn? Be sure to share them with us in the comments!

Did you miss out on Built to Last but still want to hear what all the fuss is about? Good news: You can still sign up to access the podcast episodes on-demand right here.

Throughout Built to Last, one theme that consistently rang true for our speakers was the power of focus. From picking very specific target customers and understanding exactly how your business fits into their lives to prioritizing building a community and crafting super-specific content — when it comes to building lasting brands, focus is key.

Emily Heyward, Co-Founder of Red Antler and author of the book Obsessed — Building a Brand People Love from Day One, pointed out how important it is to consider the context of the world we live in today when it comes to getting people to care about your brand.

“Consumers have more choice, more information, and therefore more power than ever before. Think about how what we used to buy was controlled by gatekeepers. We were only able to buy whatever was available at the drugstore or the grocery store. We only learned about brands through national TV campaigns. Now we learn about brands through Instagram. We can Google exactly what we’re looking for and access niche brands that have millions of consumer reviews and are being written about on forums that contain people who are similar to us and have similar needs.”


Emily Heyward

Co-Founder, Red Antler

Emily recommended that brands come forward with a simple, clear offering right out the gate so they can spend more time focusing on what they stand for and what it matters, rather than getting bogged down by every detail of their product offering. This can help businesses more clearly articulate the value they bring to the table, rather than having to explain away a ton of complex features of variations of their product.

Ben Witte, Founder of Recess, a consumer wellness brand in the beverage industry, touched on a similar concept throughout his episode. He noted the importance of staying focused when it comes to attracting the right audience.

“I think you want to identify who you’re speaking to very early on. I think [Recess] is relevant to all age demographics and psychographics. But your content strategy has to be very specifically defined. And if you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to no one.”


Benjamin Witte

Founder and CEO, Recess

Another, perhaps, not-so-surprising thread that was woven throughout the conference? The marketing evolution from focusing on brand awareness to actually cultivating brand affinity. Businesses are doing this today by investing in high-quality, narrative-driven content like video series and podcasts (just like Built to Last).

Wistia’s very own CEO and Co-Founder, Chris Savage, spoke to this concept throughout his talk and explained how Wistia ended up on the journey towards creating this type of binge-worthy content with the goal of building brand affinity.

“We started to ask ourselves the question — we’ve been trying to go wider and get more awareness, but what if we go deeper? What if we go above and beyond for our customers and our audience members who are still engaging with us? What if we try to use the audience we have to grow an existing audience? How do we do that? And what we settled in on was we would go bigger on the scale of the content. We would try not just a blog post, we would try something much larger and more impactful and see how that would work.”


Chris Savage

Co-Founder and CEO, Wistia

As brands continue to build niche audiences of people who love their content and the experiences they provide, these people are more likely to recommend that business and share that content with the people they already know and trust. This creates an incredibly powerful organic growth for your brand, which Helena Hambrecht, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO of Haus, a modern aperitif brand, spoke to throughout her episode as well.

“Our theory was if we put 100% … 200%, everything we have into the product and the customer experience upfront, the customer will be delighted enough to share that experience and share it with their friends. Put everything that we can into the experience up front, and we will grow the word of mouth. Those were the bets that we made, and it worked. All of our growth — we grew a ton in the first six months — was 100% organic.”


Helena Hambrecht

Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Haus

“My biggest advice to our founders creating consumer brands is that your brand better have something to say.” Ben Witte shared some words of wisdom for brands during his talk that seemed to ring true for many other brand-builders throughout the conference as well, which doesn’t come as a huge surprise. After all, consumers these days are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on what a brand says, how it acts, and what it stands for.

Certainly, the pressure is on for brand-builders — why does your business even exist? What are its purpose and mission? Your values and what your brand cares about can play a huge role in shaping how your brand is perceived and the direction your business takes in the long run.

Madison Uttendhal, Founder of Utendahl Creative, a branding, content, and social media storytelling agency, highlighted why she believes it’s so important for brands to take a stand.

“In order to have returning customers and ones that are loyal to you, that have genuine brand affinity, it means that they really have to believe in you because they stand with your values. For me personally, as an African-American woman, brands that have taken stances on Black Lives Matter, on supporting marginalized groups, I’m going to continue to purchase from them. And I’m going to go out of my way to make sure I am purchasing from them rather than purchasing from a brand that isn’t saying anything at all.”


Madison Utendahlt

Founder, Utendahl Creative

Joel Gascoigne, Buffer’s Co-Founder, and CEO, also shared his thoughts on the importance of authenticity when it comes to building brands that stand the test of time.

“I do believe that modern consumers expect more transparency and authenticity from brands. I would say, in a lot of ways, they’re even demanding it. I think that they’re demanding that companies take a stance and become an aim to be a net positive for society.”


Joel Gascoigne

Co-Founder and CEO, Buffer

And last but not least, Helena shared some pretty telling insights around her modern aperitif brand, Haus, and some of the data they’ve uncovered around purchasing behavior. “I encountered a treasure trove of Nielsen data and consumer trends around millennial and Gen Z consumers and how they’re looking for something that alcohol wasn’t providing. They’re concerned about their health and their image, and they care deeply about authenticity, transparency, convenience, and quality. And you see proof of that in other industries that have been disrupted by more millennial-leaning brands that represent their values.”

Another trend that came up across several episodes was the idea that content is one of the best ways to showcase your brand. We’re not just talking about any old content though — a one-off blog post or Instagram Story won’t do. For brands to last, they need to understand their audience to the core and then create entertaining content that speaks directly to them.

Ben Witte called out brands like Red Bull, Gatorade, and Monster Energy, commenting on the fact that they are effectively media companies that monetize through “selling cans.” He also noted that the era of being able to launch a brand through ads alone on Instagram is over, and that “You should use paid as an accelerant, not to establish yourself.”

Chris Savage also spoke to this idea of creating and promoting content like a media company, just like Red Bull does with their extreme(ly dangerous) looking content. “With Brand Affinity Marketing — making podcasts, making video shows, and longer-form content — you’re making content that you are marketing like a product and treating like a product. And so just like when you’re doing product development, someone goes and asks customers, ’What do you like about this and what don’t you like?’ You just have to do the same thing with your content.”

Other speakers commented on the importance of solidifying your story and the content you are going to use to share that story, rather than focusing all your energy on racking up empty impressions. In other words, getting your messaging down and establishing what your brand is and what it stands for before you start hunting down exponential growth.

Madison also puts a finer point on the age-old quality vs. quantity debate. “I believe that quality wins over quantity any day. It is more impactful to have three posts a week that are beautifully done — thoughtful, intentional, informative than it is to have seven posts in a week that look half-hazard and a mess. Taking the time to create beautiful content and letting that project marinate so that it can be the best it can be is really important.”

Finally, and this one is sneaky because it might seem super obvious, but businesses need to remember that their audiences are made up of real people, just like them. An endless sea of demographic information, tracking pixels, and retargeting campaigns have made marketers forget just how important each individual in their audience really is. For brands to make it for the long-haul, they need to get back to the basics and remember what businesses are built on — people.

“In order for brands to make it for the long-haul, they need to get back to the basics and remember what businesses are built on — people.”

“I think that people like to forget that humans work in businesses,” says Chris Savage. “I think it’s kind of that simple. We talk about people’s job titles and we’re like, ’I’m trying to market to the VP of Marketing, I’m trying to market to the Director of Customer Growth and Acquisition.’ As opposed to, ’I’m trying to market to Kelly, I’m trying to market to Chris, I’m trying to market to Kristen.’ And they’re a person, and they watch Netflix, and they watch YouTube, and they have all these interests and all this richness. And their job is part of their life, and their career is part of their life, but they’re a human being. It’s just that simple.”

Thinking about your audience in this way can also help you unlock some of the core tenants of your brand. For Joel, Buffer’s brand evolved over time thanks to how they approached sharing the story of their journey as a business. “We always wanted to focus on sharing our journey, gaining insights by sharing a lot of the details of things we’re trying, things that are working, things that are not working. And so all of those things formed our approach and formed the brand.”

Madison spoke to the importance of building a strong community when growing a business and shaping a brand as well. She noted that businesses can’t lose sight of the fact that there are people behind every single dollar that goes into your bank accounts. “Ultimately, if a founder has the ability and balance to reach out directly to top purchasers, it’s a beautiful, incredible, and impactful way to build community and makes people feel that you see them and you value them for their loyal service.”

We heard from so many great speakers throughout Built to Last and took away a ton of learnings about everything from how to increase the lifetime value of a customer to unique tactics for creating thumb-stopping content on social media. But, believe it or not, there’s still so much we didn’t cover in this post.

If you missed this first-ever audio conference while the episodes were dropping live, don’t sweat it. You can still sign up to get access to all of this amazing content on-demand, right here.

And like we said before, we want to hear from you! Leave us a comment below and let us know what jumped out to you throughout Built to Last. What new strategies are you going to employ at your business so you can build a brand that stands the test of time? We can’t wait to see what you come up with.



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How a Former Lawyer Became the Head of Podcasting at MarketingProfs

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If you had to guess what the Head of Podcasting at MarketingProfs’ career path looked like, what would you imagine? A former blogger? Maybe even a former journalist?

What if we told you that she was a lawyer in another life?

We sat down with Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, host of Marketing Smarts, to learn how she jumped from a lucrative law career to a well-known marketing podcaster. Read on to learn her story and how anyone from any background can craft a unique and memorable show.

On paper, the beginning of Gorgone’s journey seems pretty in-line with her current career. As a Business Communications major that held several marketing internships during her time at Bentley University, Gorgone seemed destined for a career creating content.

But after she took a law class with Si Horvitz, her future mentor, her interest in law was officially sparked. She was recruited to join and eventually lead the Bentley Consumer Action Line, a service-learning program, where her interest evolved into a passion.

By the time Gorgone had to choose her post-graduate career, she realized her newfound interest in law and her top skills — research, public speaking, and psychology — were an ideal match for a legal career. She decided to enroll in law school at Suffolk University.

As a law clerk, Gorgone would sit in on hearings, do research, and then write opinions for judges. This might sound like your run-of-the-mill entry-level law job, but Gorgone absolutely loved it. “I loved clerking. It was all about finding the right answer,” she says.

“I loved clerking because it was all about finding the right answer.”

After two years of clerking, Gorgone decided to climb up a rung on the law ladder and work at a big law firm. At the ripe age of 24, Gorgone was an associate attorney and well on her way to becoming an established suit. But almost immediately after landing her new job, Gorgone started falling out of love with law. Big firm law didn’t seem to care much about justice for their clients. It was all about money.

“Big firm law was very billable-focused. I didn’t necessarily love that my boss would tell me, ’Oh, just hurry this one up because this person doesn’t have a lot of money,’ and then tell me ’Oh, this person’s got all kinds of money, so just take your time,’” says Gorgone. “I didn’t like that. It felt icky to me.”

“Big firm law was very billable-focused. I didn’t like that. It felt icky to me.”

A year-and-half later, Gorgone decided to move on from big firm law to work at a smaller law firm, where she dabbled in several new areas of law. She tried her hand at everything from municipal law and entertainment law to criminal law, family law, and more. But at the end of the day, none of these ventures really scratched her itch.

However, there was one thing that she did love about small firm life — she was reintroduced to creative work and quickly developed a craving for it. Gorgone couldn’t help but drift toward the creative side of things again, but she didn’t want to abandon law altogether. So, she decided to blend the two together.

“When I worked at the small law firm, I was always like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool that this firm actually does cool creative work, and I’m just over here making up a contract,” says Gorgone. “I just kind of gravitated more towards the creative again, and teaching is sort of a mix of the two.”

Gorgone returned to her stomping grounds, Bentley University, to launch her career as an adjunct law professor, specializing in marketing and media law. She also leveraged her prior marketing experience to become the Managing Editor of the school’s alumni magazine — a move that would later launch her full-time marketing career (she just didn’t know it yet).

After four years at Bentley, Gorgone moved to Florida to teach entertainment law at Full Sail University. And a year later, her experience at Bentley’s marketing department enabled her to level up as a Course Director of Internet Marketing.

As an instructor in charge of developing the university’s internet marketing courses, Gorgone wanted to stay on the cutting-edge of the marketing space and attend as many industry events as possible. However, Full Sail University wouldn’t pay for instructors to attend industry events.
The university would, however, grant her time off if she covered the expenses on her own. So Gorgone found a workaround — by writing for industry websites and publications, she could qualify for press passes to events.

As a result, she started writing articles for some marketing publications — one of them being MarketingProfs, the marketing education company made famous by Ann Handley, a Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

But even though Gorgone was technically writing for Handley, she still didn’t know her personally. That all changed when Gorgone’s old college friend posted something on Facebook.

While surfing Facebook one day, Gorgone saw that C.C. Chapman, one of her old friends from Bentley, had published a book called Content Rules with Ann Handley. She made a funny comment on her friend’s post, and Handley commented back. This digital interaction ended up sparking a friendship that has lasted more than ten years.

A few months later, MarketingProfs was hosting a happy hour in Miami. Gorgone decided to drive down to officially meet Handley. They immediately hit it off, and Gorgone left a lasting impression on Handley. While the encounter didn’t lead to an immediate job offer, Handley knew Gorgone had the chops for creating and running a show.

With that seed planted in Handley’s mind, she knew exactly who to offer a job to if their current podcast host left the company. Three months later, Gorgone became the new host of Marketing Smarts.

Marketing Smarts is an interview series where Gorgone chats with marketers from all walks of life about the one thing they do that would be helpful to other marketers. From nonprofit marketers to enterprise ones, she doesn’t discriminate. She’ll talk shop with anyone, including world-class mountain climbers, just to keep things interesting.

Gorgone took over the podcast at episode 79, and the show was already established as a serious business podcast. Naturally, you might assume MarketingProfs would want Gorgone to maintain its tone. But Gorgone knew if she was going to run a successful show, it had to be her own show. Fortunately, Ann Handley was all for it.

“I told Ann, ‘I’m not the old host. I don’t run that kind of show,” she says. “I’m more like USA Network than I am 60 Minutes’ And she said, ’No — you’ve got to make it your own.'”

With her vision for Marketing Smarts set, Gorgone could start building toward it. But there were a few more hurdles in her way — Gorgone had never run a podcast professionally before.

“We knew what the show was about and who it was for, but beyond that, everything else was up for grabs. For instance, how would I record the show? What would I use to record it? Who would I book? How would I do it?” says Gorgone. “And then I had to manage the podcast production calendar, an editorial calendar, and communication with the rest of the marketing team and sales team because they always needed to be in the loop about who was joining the show.”

To make sure she did all of these things before each episode, Gorgone made a checklist. It was about 15 steps long, but, eventually, she got to the point where they became ingrained in her head. Mastering podcasting on her own took her fair share of hard work. However, it was transformational for her career and completely worth it.

“Getting thrown into the craft has been transformational in launching my other shows like Punch Out and The Backpack,” says Gorgone. “Thinking about these things is second nature for me now, and I don’t know if they would be if I hadn’t had to figure it all out by myself. So, I think it’s a good thing to do if you have the stomach for it.”

“Mastering podcasting on her own took her fair share of hard work. However, it was transformational for her career and completely worth it.”

With over 300 episodes of Marketing Smarts under her belt now, Gorgone’s sharpened podcasting skills have enabled her to launch two other podcasts. Punch Out with Kerry and Katie is all about interesting people’s hobbies and has run for four seasons. The Backpack with Chris Brogan is all about achieving personal and professional success and is co-hosted with a New York Times best selling author.

Pretty good marketing resume for a former lawyer, wouldn’t you say?

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