Annemarie Cross, Personal Branding & Podcast Strategist and Business Coach

Dubbed ‘The Podcasting Queen,’ Annemarie Cross is an award-winning podcast host – recognized as a pioneer in the podcasting space having started her first co-hosted podcast in 2008. Her podcasts have been syndicated on National and International Radio and listed among top podcasts for Entrepreneurs and small business worldwide. Recognized as one of the Top 20 Business Coaches in Melbourne – Australia, Annemarie works with coaches helping them create distinguishable, uncopiable and irresistible brands so they’re seen not just as A choice – but THE choice with their dream clients.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Magazine, Ms. Cross shared her insights on the three podcasting trends to watch out for in the next 5 years, top tips for businesses who are looking to start a podcast, success mantra, career milestones, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

In your opinion, what are the top three podcasting trends to watch out for in the next 5 years?

Since 2008, when I started my first co-hosted podcast, we have seen a steady increase in podcast listeners, which I believe will continue as people become far more discerning in what and whom they listen to.

This provides a wonderful opportunity for businesses to create a podcast that becomes a must-listen, go-to platform for their prospective clients, collaboration partners, and other industry stakeholders.

With that said, here are three tips for businesses who want to start a podcast to tap into this expanding podcast audience so they can build their visibility, build an audience of their ideal clients, and begin to nurture listeners into leads:

1. Focus on building a niched audience vs a large audience.

Businesses often get fixated on downloads and subscribers. However, it’s important to focus on building a highly niched audience who are engaging and responding to the content and the community you’re building, rather than having tens of thousands of downloads by an audience who does nothing.

Hone your message to a specific niched audience and speak to that niche. When you speak into the challenges that he/she faces, as well as sharing invaluable insights on how they can begin to achieve their goals, you create a binge-worthy podcast that will fast become a go-to resource.

It starts with one, clear, highly niched message that speaks to a highly niched audience.

2. Don’t compare podcasting to mainstream radio.

When it comes to a business-related podcast, a podcast listener is unlike mainstream radio listeners who are there for entertainment vs education and/or empowerment. Because a podcast listener is interested in that specific topic, they have chosen to listen, so with business-focused podcasts, a listener will often be seeking to learn and be empowered.

There’s a saying I have which is, ‘People come for the topic and will return for the host – YOU.’ This can happen when you create a unique listener experience that resonates with your audience, enabling you to begin building a highly targeted, highly engaged audience of your ideal clients, which you can continue to nurture into leads.

3. Leverage Video & Livestreaming.

When I began podcasting, we only had the capability of producing audio content; however, fifteen years on, we now have video and livestreaming as well. All three offer an incredible opportunity to build and deepen the connection with your audience, so I would encourage any business who is looking to launch a podcast to leverage all three.

The audio and video micro-content you can create and share across your social platforms will enable you to gain exposure for your podcast, while also building visibility and your reputation as an influential Trusted Authority.

Ms. Cross, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest?

I began my career in a corporate setting involved in bookkeeping/accounting and office administration for various SMEs; however, I left the workforce in my early 20’s to start a family.

While raising a young family, I continued my education in the area of counselling – specializing in the area of careers and workplace relations and soon after began a career consulting business from home.

Further studies also included a Diploma in Business – Human Resources & Industrial Relations and numerous career coaching, resume development, and personal branding certifications, which enabled me to support my clients (who were graduates right through the C-Suite executives) with their career development and career marketing strategies.

Constantly looking to expand my skills, I added new coaching modalities and marketing strategies to my tool kit, and after 10 years, I expanded my career coaching practice to support consultants with their marketing and business building strategies, helping them go from invisible to influential trusted authorities in their industries, which is what I continue to do today.

What do you love about podcasting? And what do you think is the most important aspect of creating a successful podcast?

In all my years in business, I’ve tried many marketing strategies, and while I like writing (and am the author of two books and have contributed chapters and content to over a dozen books), speaking and interviewing guests on my podcast is, by far, my preferred method of building visibility and connections.

I’m an introvert at heart, so attending networking events is something I try to avoid. However, get me in front of a microphone where I’m able to spend quality time with a person, and therefore, ask deeper questions and develop a deeper relationship with them by discovering who they are, along with the valuable insights we can learn through the lessons they’ve learned – that is what I love.

As to the most important aspect, along with the three points I shared in the first question, here are two more tips for businesses who are looking to start a podcast:

1. Start with the end in mind.

The objectives of your business and what you hope to achieve from your podcast will determine the best strategy for your podcast, including the topics and stories you share, along with how and where you’ll continue to share it.

  • Is your main objective to build visibility, awareness, and a relationship with a cold audience? If so, you’ll need to spend time validating your expertise, along with why you and why now.
  • Or perhaps you’ll be using a podcast to strengthen your relationship with existing clients by showcasing case studies and the value of additional services, therefore increasing client retention and minimizing the likelihood of your client being poached by a competitor.

Will you publish an ongoing podcast? If so, with what frequency? Or, perhaps an ‘evergreen’ series that your marketing department can continue to leverage into micro-content best suits your goals. These are just a few of the things you’ll want to consider ensuring the best strategy and outcome for your podcast.

2. Create a unique and uncopiable listener experience.

One of the most important things I share with a client when they ask: “How can I make sure my podcast stands out from the millions of other podcasts so my ideal client can find it?” is this: “Create a unique and uncopiable listener experience that your dream client resonates with.”

Don’t be discouraged by what other people are doing with their podcasts and the audience they are building. And don’t be tempted to copy their style, their mannerisms, or anything else for that matter.

Rather, focus on getting totally clear on what makes YOU unique, including your style, your approach, your mannerisms, along with your quirky characteristics. Then bring that forward consistently in EVERY episode. When you do, that’s what’s going to elevate your podcasts from other podcasts sharing a similar topic and will enable you to capture the attention of your ideal client, who will resonate not only with your message but the way you deliver your message. That’s your unique and uncopyable listener experience.

What inspired you to start ‘The Ambitious Entrepreneur Podcast Network’? What makes it unique?

Prior to starting ‘The Ambitious Entrepreneur Podcast Network,’ I hired a mentor, and as part of their mentorship program, my podcast was hosted on their podcast platform. This podcast network had diverse topics ranging from education to health and education to UFOs, so the majority of the audience of the podcast network were not my ideal clients, nor were they interested in learning more about leadership and business development.

After leaving that podcast network, I saw the value of creating a highly niched platform for businesses – ambitious entrepreneurs who wanted to learn more about leadership, business development, and how they could grow a successful business. There wasn’t anything around at that time – so I built my own.

Tell us about ‘Podcasting with Purpose’. What is its mission and vision?

To me, purpose means intention: A cause. A reason. A mission.

The name also perfectly encapsulates our overall company’s mission, which is ‘to impact the world ONE message at a time, ONE podcast at a time.’

A podcast provides a wonderful way to further your cause and impact the world with your message, which is something I know is the desired outcome of many of my ideal clients. It is both an honor and pri`vilege being able to do that through Podcasting with Purpose.

You are also the Founder of ‘The Influence Alliance’. How is this platform helping changemakers to inspire real change with their message, while building a sustainable and scalable business?

The Influence Alliance is a membership program for coaches and consultants who want to build a successful business, while they launch and grow their podcast so they can make a much bigger impact in the world with their message.

I founded the Alliance after seeing many coaches and consultants making the same mistakes I did when trying to grow my business. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience. They love coaching and working with clients; however, marketing and creating a compelling message that’s unique and uncopiable to attract new clients is something they struggle with. They try various ways to market their business, adopting new technologies or tactics, which they’re told is the next best thing to grow their business, but sadly it has little impact in growing their business. So, they end up exhausted and frustrated and unable to build the momentum they need to grow a successful business.

That’s where The Influence Alliance comes in, with the training and support they need from building their core business foundations, creating a succinct and compelling message that positions them as an influential trusted authority, THE choice vs just A choice for their dream client, right through to launching a must-listen-to, binge-worthy podcast, right through to lead generation and how to continue nurturing listeners into leads from their very first episode.

What has been the driving force to get you where you are today?

I’ve often said your driving force (or what I like to call your ‘stand for’ and what some people refer to as your ‘purpose’) and what fires you up to stand up and speak up sits between what you are passionate about and what peeves you off.

For me, my passion is helping people discover their unique inner brilliance so they can bring that out into the world in the work they do. What peeves me off is when I see bullies trying to bring people down, either through their fear mongering, threats, or trying to cause self-doubt so people remain oppressed and stuck.

It’s one of the reasons I started Career Success Radio in 2008 following the global financial crisis and the doom and gloom on every MSM channel. My co-host at the time and I wanted to be the voice of hope and inspiration amongst the fear-mongering doom and gloom. We had no idea where to begin, but we did it anyway because it was that driving force that got us into action. And it’s been that same driving force that has led me down the path to where I am today.

Sadly, MSM hasn’t changed much even today, which means we ALL have an opportunity to share our message to inspire, to bring hope, to bring truth to our communities, which is the opposite of what people are constantly being bombarded with through every news channel.

I’ll finish my response to this question with a question I asked my newsletter subscribers: I wonder… what will it take for you to stand up and speak out and be an inspirational voice in your community? What will fire you up to get you to share your message of hope against the doom and gloom?

What are some of your proudest achievements in your career to date? What makes them special?

My proudest moments are the successes my clients and community have achieved, knowing in some small way, I’ve been able to positively impact their lives.

For example, someone who stumbled across one of my podcast episodes, becoming an avid listener, and later a client, and then being able to take his struggling business to now being recognized as a thought leader in their industry and securing lucrative corporate client contracts that previously seemed like an impossible dream.

Or another one of my amazing clients who went from hustling 80% of her working hours with marketing and putting out lots content and getting exhausted, leaving only 20% for everything else. However, now she is hustling 10% of the time and is spending 90% creating value and serving clients. She’s been able to secure higher level, longer-term projects and opportunities now because she no longer feels depleted and exhausted trying to get clients.

Why are these moments so special? Because it aligns with our mission and vision, and our mission and vision will continue on in the lives of our clients because I know these incredible coaches are going to continue to impact their clients with their message, their podcast, and expertise. There’s no better feeling than that.

What is something that you believe now that has never occurred to you previously?

I’m a firm believer there is a silver lining in every dark cloud if you’re willing to find it. Over the last 3 years, during our on-again/off-again lockdowns here in Melbourne, Australia, I began watercolor painting and drawing in charcoal. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it or that I could even draw, The biggest surprise was when someone asked if I would consider selling my artwork. I was gob smacked!

My biggest learning from this is: you are never too old (or too young) to learn a new skill if you put your mind to it. If you’ve been thinking about learning something – make time to do it today! Don’t wait, and like me, you may just surprise yourself with how enjoyable it is.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own podcast?

The #1 question I’m often asked by coaches looking to start a podcast is: “Where do I start?” Followed by “What equipment do I need?”

My response often surprises them because it has NOTHING to do with technology and EVERYTHING to do with their business goals – the END in MIND.

Also, if they’re looking to start a podcast because their current marketing isn’t working and they’ve heard a podcast can help them amplify their message – their podcast will only amplify a message that’s not working, to more people. Focus first on creating a unique and uncopiable message that your dream customer is looking for and will want to listen to and that continues to position your thought leadership. Then launch your podcast with a message you know will work.

Additionally, here are some questions I often get clients to consider:

  • When it comes to building your reach – who is the audience you want to attract? A niched audience who are your dream client and who are more likely to engage with you is much better than a large audience that isn’t niched and who do nothing.
  • When it comes to building your reputation, who and what do you want to become known for? Is your message unique and uncopiable? Are the topics and what you share bringing a unique angle to the conversation, or will it sound the same as many other businesses in your industry who have started a podcast?
  • And, when it comes to building relationships and nurturing listeners into leads, what strategy will you have in place to get people off your podcast and onto your list so you can continue to nurture your lead along the customer journey? Do you have an irresistible call to action and a client nurturing funnel in place to help you?

It matters – especially if you want your podcast to help you begin to nurture listeners into leads while building your reputation as an influential trusted authority – THE choice vs just a choice when your ideal client is ready to move forward.

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