Either way, you know who loses? It’s whoever made the podcast you just listened to! They had your attention, and now — boom. They’ve lost it. You moved on.
I’d never thought about this until talking to my friend Jordan Harbinger, who hosts a big podcast. He told me a brilliant way he keeps listeners engaged, and I realized it has broader applications for us all.
Because this isn’t really about podcasting …
This is about building stronger connections, by always thinking about what’s next.
To start, let’s dig into what Jordan does.
Jordan hosts The Jordan Harbinger Show (which you can hear me on!). At the end of each episode, he runs a little trailer — like a well-produced advertisement — for an earlier, related episode of his show.
Did you just hear an interview with a CEO? He might direct you to a great business-related episode. Did you just hear him talk to a mobster? He might tell you about his last great crime-related episode.
Those cost money to make, but I figure over time what happens is — and what I hear from audience feedback — people just go down this rabbit hole where they’re like, “Then I listened to 20 episodes and I was like, ‘This is my favorite podcast. Oh my god, how did I not know about this before?”
That’s what you want, because you’re telling people what to listen to next. They don’t go, “Oh, that Jordan episode is over. Let me see what else I got saved on my phone.” They go, “I’m just going to go get episode 44 of the Jordan Harbinger Show because I already heard a trailer and it sounds cool.”
When Jordan told me this, I thought: He’s solving a problem where other people don’t even see a problem! Because when a podcast ends, a listener doesn’t know what to do next. That’s a problem in need of solving. And when Jordan makes their decision easier, he strengthens his bond with them.
I shared this tactic recently with my friend Jonathan Goodman, who tried it out on his podcast for fitness and health coaches. Almost immediately, he says, he saw results. It works!
Now, how can this apply beyond podcasting?
Oh, in so many ways. Let’s discuss.
1. Personal connections.
Have you ever done online dating? I did. I was always frustrated by people’s profiles, because their answers were so flat. OKCupid might offer a prompt of, say: “What’s your favorite movie?” And people would just… answer it. “Lost In Translation,” they’d write. Because they thought the objective was to share information about themselves.
But, no! The objective is NOT to share information! The objective is to create conversation starters! You’re trying to solve a problem: Someone wants to reach out to me, but they don’t know what to say, so I have to give them an easy way in. Flat answers don’t do that. That’s why, in my online dating profile, I told stories that begged a lot of follow-up questions, or opined on things I knew others would have thoughts on.
Like Jordan Harbinger does with his listeners, I was trying to think about what someone would do next… and then make it easy for them to do what I wanted.
This isn’t limited to online dating, of course. Want to further a personal connection with someone? Create and show curiosity. Tell them things that they can ask you questions about. Solve their problem of “what do I say next?” Every answer — every sentence! — can in some way prompt the next one. Give them reasons to keep going. To be thinking of you. To feel comfortable reaching back out.
My friend Wes Kao tweeted about my book, and a follower of hers named Jon Brosio replied:
Hooray! Someone’s interested! Now here’s where the experiment came in.
Every time I saw someone express interest in the book, I replied to thank them — and included a link to buy. Like this:
Why? Because I know there’s a gap between intention and action. Someone just said they’ll check out my book, but what will they actually do next? Could be anything! Look at email? Get coffee?? Take a nap??? Every action that is not buying my book reduces the chances that they will buy my book.
I worried that it’d be obnoxious to send them a link, but then I thought: “What if I’m actually solving a problem? I’m saving them the time of looking up my book, and making it easier for them to follow up on their intention.”
And you know what? That’s almost always how it was received. Like this:
Sold. Would he have bought the book without this link? Maybe. Or maybe not. But I increased my chances by thinking about what he’d do next. (As a thank-you to Jon for buying: Shoutout to his newsletter for creators!)
Obviously, this is the purpose behind ad retargeting and email automations. But I think we can be smarter and more personal about this stuff. It isn’t about hounding people for a sale. It’s about solving their problem.
From here, of course, the business and personal applications are endless. How do you turn a one-time customer into a repeat customer? How do you turn a casual fan into a passionate advocate? Turn a sales call into an ongoing conversation? Turn a social media follower into a newsletter subscriber?
The answer is: You start with incredible value. And then you think to yourself: What are they going to do next?
And then, before they go do it, you give them one thing better.
And speaking of anticipating what people do next: This newsletter is almost over, so — do you have thoughts on it? Ways I could make the newsletter more useful to you? Reply and me! That’s what you should do next!
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