For Tristan Pelligrino, co-founder of B2B content agency Motion, podcasts are the solution to his clients’ content marketing problems. He and his team at Motion produce content on behalf of their clients, primarily large B2B service providers and consultancies like Qu, Tyfone, and COTA Healthcare.
Before Motion pivoted to podcasts, they focused on video. The up-front work involved in producing video, though, made it challenging for Motion to tap into the reserve of siloed knowledge — spread across developers, executives, sales and marketing, and beyond — that their clients had in spades. And because they often produced video on a project basis, it made it more difficult for Motion to transform one-off client work into ongoing relationships.
Podcasts were the solution: “The audio format is amazing, because we start with a conversation in an authentic way,” says Pelligrino, “and then we can massage that conversation into all different kinds of written and video formats.”
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Before Motion focused on podcasts, they were a video production company. Their clients would hire Motion to produce video content on a project basis — which often limited not just Motion, but the clients themselves.
“We found that when our clients would invest large budgets on a single video project, they might get only one use — it might land on their ‘About Us’ page and that was that. It wasn’t building a narrative to their story or a consistent theme,” says Pelligrino.
The video format itself required a great deal of up-front prep work, too. “We struggled for years with video scripts. When you have a script, people massage it, tweak it, and it becomes Frankenstein’s monster,” he says. “And that just doesn’t sound like a real person.”
Instead of writing and rewriting scripts and trying to corral executives and experts to make time to sit down for a video, Pelligrino decided to simply have conversations with them instead.
“We’ll develop an outline: ‘Here’s a topic we want to discuss,’ and then we just have a conversation,” he says. “When you create a podcast, you end up writing like you talk, because the content you pull from a podcast is a real conversation. It just doesn’t get any more real than that.”
In turn, the expertise shared in these conversations makes Motion’s written work more effective. “Our writers have these transcripts, these conversations, so they can listen to what this person said, learn from their expertise,” Pelligrino says. “They’re not just doing their own research and putting their own spin on it. That’s how you get a written piece that comes from the deep expertise of someone that’s internal to an organization.”
Pelligrino first works with his clients to develop a broad content strategy. They sketch out the podcast concept, identify guests, create brand assets, determine what sorts of supporting content the client needs, and make sure all their hardware and recording needs are met.
Motion calls that work the “strategic action plan,” and it provides the foundation to their clients’ podcast — plus the additional supporting content that Motion produces using the podcast as the source. “Once we have that in place, that’s the marching orders for the client’s show, and then it’s just a matter of clients scheduling guests, recording episodes, and sharing the recorded files with us,” says Pelligrino.
After receiving individual episode files from their client, “Descript comes into play,” he says. “We’ll pull the interviews onto a shared Descript drive and start collaborating. Our podcast editors will start working on the audio, cleaning up the transcript and making edits. At the same time, we can share the Project with our writers, so we’re able to start working on a written feature or a blog post before the podcast is even complete,” he says. “Descript allows everyone at Motion to work in parallel, and that really streamlines the production of our work.”
Depending on the client’s needs, they create additional content from each podcast. Juicy tidbits from the conversation become audiograms, which they spruce up with Adobe AfterEffects and Headliner. Text quotes paired with relevant images might become Canva templates or short videos for social media.
Here’s how Motion creates multiple video assets from a single podcast episode:
“At the end of the day, once an episode is recorded, we’re exploding that single conversation into 20 different assets sometimes, and it can happen in a matter of days,” says Pelligrino.
Descript enabled Motion to greatly increase the value they provide to their clients, allowing a steady stream of content and assets from a single conversation. Internally, Descript also allowed Motion to reduce the number of tools in their content production workflow, which makes their remotely distributed team work more efficiently and more simply.
“Before Descript, there were three or four different tools we were using at a minimum,” Pelligrino says, including Adobe Audition, Google Docs, and otter.ai. “The other thing to keep in mind is that Audition isn’t a collaborative editing tool. We’re a completely virtual team, so we always had to make sure that source material was pulled down locally as well as mirrored in the cloud,” he says.
Since shifting to Descript, Pelligrino and his team work on the same material in real time. Previously, if Pelligrino was checking a podcast for quality and found a necessary edit, he had to work with an editor on his team to find the right timestamp and make the edit in Audition. Now, “I can go in there, cross it out, re-export, and in 30 seconds we have the new version,” he says.
This collaborative way of working and parallel processing allows Motion to do more with less. “A lot of our work can now be done in tandem with editing a given podcast, and that just wasn’t possible before,” says Pelligrino. “Now that we’re able to work in parallel, we’ve shortened our production time by about 50% — cut in half,” he says.
Motion has found that since they shifted towards audio content, the work they help their clients produce shines in a way it didn’t before. “It’s so efficient to bring people in to record a conversation and then have our team do all the dirty work from there,” Pelligrino says. “Some of our clients really struggled to get their people involved in the content development process, and what you end up having are generic blog posts that don’t get deep in the weeds.”
Effective marketing content should reflect the way your users and partners are integrating your technology or product into their own work. “To get there, you have to talk to people, it has to come from the front lines,” Pelligrino says. “It really is audio that’s driving everything we produce for our clients. And it just makes the content real.”