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Want 5 quick ways to improve as a podcast host or guest?

How Pat Flynn Turns Podcast Listeners Into Brand Superfans

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How are you doing in podcasting as a guest, host, or both?

In this keynote post, Pat Flynn shares how he’s been able to build the Smart Passive Income empire and beyond through one simple focus: Turn your podcast listeners into superfans. Join as Pat explains how to take listeners through the 4 phases of the Pyramid of Fandom. Take listeners (Whether they’re listening to your podcast or if you’re a podcast guest) from casual interactions all the way to superfans! Spoiler: Everything Pat Flynn shares in this episode starts from a place of serving others!

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Alex: Pat, thank you so much for being here today on Podcasting Made Simple and PodPros.

Pat: It’s my pleasure, Alex. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Alex: I am really looking forward to diving into the topic of building a tribe of superfans through podcasting. And how you can turn those superfans into a part of your business. That goes for both sides of the mic, podcast guests, and hosts. Let us start with what you call the “pyramid of fandom.” It goes from casual fans to active fans to connected podcast listeners into super fans. I want us to go through these four phases because so many podcast hosts and guests do not get past the casual fan stage. Most of them do not even know what to do. How do they recognize that their audience is in that stage, and how do they break out of it?

Pat: Let us first talk about the pyramid to understand where casuals fit in. If you think of a triangle, the biggest part is the bottom part. This is where most of your (casual) audience exists. These are people who’ve recently discovered you. This could be through a Google search, someone mentioning you, or they happen to be listeners of a podcast you were a guest on.

They do not even necessarily know who you are or what you have to offer. That’s where most of your audience lives. Your job is to convert them into active listeners. These are people who have subscribed to your show or your email list. Soon they will become customers for your product or service.

At this point, most people stop. But this is actually the beginning. Now you can bring people into what we call a “connected community” This is where the magic happens. As the creator, you do not even have to be present all the time. It is the people providing value to each other. At the top is the smallest but most powerful ones – the superfans.

That’s the thesis of my book: we are all so focused on search engine optimization and building a larger audience. But what happens when you spend more time and effort on the audience you already have, even if it’s a smaller audience? Your audience will grow from within because those superfans will become your word-of-mouth marketing team.

If you think about it, that’s what a brand is all about: how people talk about you when you are not around.
So we want people to speak highly of us and say, “Hey, you need to listen to Alex’s show.” Because of the friendship between these two people, the new person is not coming in casual. They’re already coming in active.

What about podcast guests? In the book, I talk about the idea of the small quick win. If you are on a show and you tell people something they can do in 5-10 minutes and actually see a result. Then they immediately want to see more. From that point on, they are already activated
Unfortunately, many of us podcasters want to go big and help our listeners in a grand way. But what if we started small?

If you want to change someone’s life, start by changing their day first.

Image of a person excited after learning something new and getting a quick win

Alex: I want us to go into a little bit more detail. In your book, Superfans, there’s something you call “Break the Ice.” It means getting comfortable sharing who you are. I find that this is a real challenge for a lot of people on both sides of the mic. We are sharing who we want people to think we are or what experience we are going to have. So not necessarily where we are today with our current struggles or successes. I think the more transparent we become, the more the audience will be drawn to us. Back to Quick Wins, can you give us an example that you think has worked very well?

Pat: Back when I was an architect, I used to follow all the personal finance blogs. There was one blog that I did not subscribe to because I was a little put off by its aggressiveness. It was Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” Yet what made me become a superfan was one particular article. I can not remember the exact title, but it was essentially, “Call your cable company, read this script, and save 15% on your cable bill.” I thought to myself, “It can not be that simple.”

Nevertheless, I took a 15-minute break during lunch and called my cable provider. I saved 20% on my cable bill! Compare that to all the other blogs I have read about 401ks and Roth IRAs.
With Ramit, I saw results right away. Then I thought, “Well if that was the free stuff, what about the paid stuff?” So I dived right into all of Ramit’s stuff and ended up becoming a customer with him
The great thing about podcasting is that you have your voice to tell the story yourself. For example, you can role-play the call and show your listeners how to get the same results.

Alex: Yeah, that’s smart. I really like that a lot. We really need to get those casual listeners to become active listeners. Now we want to create that connected community. How do we go about doing that?

Pat: A lot of people think, “I am going to start a Facebook group and just talk to my listeners. That’s a good start. But where community and the magic happen when people can find each other and not just talk to you? They are all talking to each other.
You do not have to be a celebrity or a musician to have a Taylor Swift-like fan base. Not necessarily in size, but in terms of dedication to what you do. The most important thing is to make people feel like they belong.

A lot of us podcasters invite people into our brand, but we never acknowledge them. Therefore, how are they supposed to feel like they belong if that never happens? A lot of the strategies I talk about in Superfans are aimed at making people feel like they belong. Here are a few of them.

Co-creation. How can your audience be involved in shaping the future of the brand? It does not have to be something big. For example, “Hey, I am launching a book. What do you think should be on the cover? Let me know.” Or, “Here are two different covers. Which one do you like better?” Now you are involving people and you’re also getting data at the same time. Do not forget that this is also a great way to let your customers know about the launch of a new product.

Big brands do this all the time. Lego is probably the best example of this. They have a website called ideas.lego.com. Anyone who likes Lego can create a Lego of any kind. If 10,000 people rate a particular creation, Lego will consider making it as a real Lego product. If you own a podcast, do not just think about having celebrities appear on your podcast all the time. What if you highlighted your own community members? Maybe you interview one because they did something amazing. Usually, two things happen when you do this. First, they will praise you highly without you asking for it.

Second, listeners will identify even more with that person because they are just like them. In fact, the most profitable podcast episode I ever recorded was with three different guests, each about 15 minutes long. I remember one of them said, without prompting, “Pat, I could not have done this without you. You helped me understand that even at 65 years old, I can still start a podcast.” That was worth more than any copywriter I could pay! Do not be afraid to put your audience in the spotlight.

Bring people behind the scenes. This is something we can all do. If you are a guest, maybe share a little bit about the behind-the-scenes stuff that the audience does not get to hear about anywhere else. People love to see behind the scenes. As humans, we are just very curious. You can tap into that to make people in your community feel like they have learned something that others who are just casual audience members aren’t going to know.

Image of podcast host talking directly to their top fans

Alex: I love the practical advice you have given here. I was recently at the Podcast Movement in Dallas speaking on stage, but I did not mention my mastermind, PodMatch Elite. Instead, I just brought members of it. Soon I had people were coming up to me and asking, “What’s is this PodMatch Elite thing?” I did not need to talk about it on stage. Instead, I just let them talk about how it’s already impacted them and their business. I think that’s a really valuable thing all of us can do. Now let us move on to the last point. Let us talk about how we can turn podcast listeners in our community into superfans.

Pat: First of all, not everyone who follows your brand or is even part of the community is going to be a superfan. A superfan is a person who going to wait eight hours at an event just so they can talk to you afterward and take a selfie. These are the people who will be the first beta testers for your new course or membership or mastermind program. When I launch my books, the superfans get first access to the book. They read it overnight and tell me what they like and do not like about it. They are brutally honest and want to help me support my business.
I have had superfans help me find the right person to contact or even help me fix my website because it got hacked. How do you get superfans? First of all, some of the community members naturally become superfans because they are passionate about what you do.

A good sign of a superfan is a person who wants to help other community members, even without you asking. It’s really important that you reach out to them and thank them, acknowledge them, and promote them to a moderator. Things like that go a long way. A little recognition is really all it takes for people to become super fans. Please remember that some things in business should not be scalable and are not. At the superfan level, it has to be something personal. You can not automate this.

Personally, every Friday when I walk my dog, I go through my latest Instagram posts. Then I reach out to a few of the people who have commented on my recent posts. I often send them a direct message with a video thanking them for being part of my community. These messages amaze people because they were not expecting it. Many of these people dive deeper into the brand. They notice because they do not get that kind of attention from anyone else.
It’s fun, and that’s the coolest part. You actually connect with real people as well

Alex: I am a systems guy through and through, but anyone who listens to my podcast has heard me say: Do things that do not scale. That way you keep the human element in what you do. I am a firm believer in sending videos. I use Loom to do that. We all want to serve the masses, but at the end of the day, we have to do for one what we would like to do for all. When we do that, I think it has a huge impact on one person’s life, which in turn can impact many other lives. I really appreciate you sharing all of this with us, Pat.

Pat: Thank you very much. This has been a lot of fun.

About Pat Flynn

Pat Flynn is a father, husband, and entrepreneur who lives and works in San Diego, CA. He owns several successful online businesses and is a professional blogger, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and host of the Smart Passive Income and AskPat podcasts, which have earned a combined total of over 80 million downloads, multiple awards, and features in publications such as The New York Times and Forbes. He is also an advisor to ConvertKit, Circle, and several other companies in the digital marketing arena.