You know well how tough it is to get data out of On-trade sales, so I've decided to share some of my stats from my first month of the podcast. The beauty of podcasts is that they give full transparency on data, and I decided to use them as an example of what I talk about when launching a drinks brand bottom up.
Going through my analytics realized it could be used as a good proxy for what happens when you launch a new brand in the market. There are differences between selling goods and spreading something over the internet, but let's dive in.
Disclaimer. I work 100% organic. I don't do any advertising on any platform. I am far from being a podcast expert, which is why I want to share my journey. I will learn "on the job" and apply my learnings about launching drinks brands; I will make mistakes and course correct. Podcasts are built bottom-up.
1. One case in one bar is better than six bottles in six bars.
In podcast terms, I'd say it's better if I get one person to listen to six episodes than six people listening to only one. Why? Because if people like it they will listen more often. The same applies to your drink brand. If someone orders once is ok, but if that person doesn't reorder, it means they do not like it. The most important indicator is not the number of plays (although it's alluring) but the Audience size, which is the number of single devices that listened to an episode in the last week. That's the one I want to grow. It means that people come back for more as it gives them added value. Focus on qualitative indicators. For example, I use private messages of people telling me how much what I write and talk about helps them overcome their issues. If someone takes the effort to write to you, it means a lot!
It's not about how many people listened to my podcast but how many people come back to listen every week.
The same applies to your drinks brand. If you only grow by distribution, you are not fixing the foundation of your brand. If you want to sell 1000 cases monthly, you could sell one to 1000 bars (if you have the muscles), and the job is done. But most likely, only a few will reorder next month. It's much better to aim at having 100 bars that buy 10 cases every month. It's the same number, but it makes a different story.
2. 80% good today is better than 100% perfect tomorrow. Start and then course-correct.
The first episodes I published are not original. I am repurposing other podcast episodes I recently recorded with industry friends I met through Linkedin or the WWD newsletters. I am doing most of the talking in these, but that will change. Why did I do it? I realized I was spending too much time deciding on the name and buying equipment. I was not living by my mantra that 80% good today is better than 100% perfect tomorrow. One day, I created a logo and launched it to force myself out of my comfort zone. In the next weeks, I will start publishing new episodes featuring drinks people from all around the world. The quality will improve over time. In the meantime, I am learning from it.
The episodes I launched have different lengths. Only part of the people were listening to the full episode the longer the episode. Analyzing the data, I decided to keep the episodes short. They will be a maximum of 25 mins to ensure people can listen to it every week. When I reduced the length, splitting an episode into two or three parts, retention improved, and 70% of people listened to the full episode.
What's the point of dropping some gold nuggets if nobody listens til the end of the episode? I find this journey similar to the one where a brand perfects its liquid. You may have an incredible liquid, but what's the point if people don't enjoy it and leave it in the glass? Your friends may love it, but they probably have the same taste or say so to please you. Testing it outside of your echo chamber is crucial. Start seeing how people react to it if you want to drive scale. Instead, it's a different story if you want to be only for a handful of people.
3. Set the trajectory, then only worry about the next step.
Some days are better than others, whether about sales or shipping the next episode. It's clear. When you get a good day, you expect more from the one after, but it's normal for the curve to go down and up again. It's important to focus on the trajectory and not get demotivated, although it's normal to be hard on yourself. Focus on the next step and ignore the noise and what you cannot influence.
Every time you launch a new episode, the older episodes also benefit. Usually, the new one gets a boost on launch day, but it continues to get listeners. If someone likes an episode, he is likely to listen to more. They may go backward in the list, looking for more. It also depends on what to do to spread the news. At the moment, I leave the first day to be fully organic; then, on the second and third days, I write a post on Instagram and Linkedin. It is still organic as I don't advertise. I may change my approach in the future, but I want to build solid foundations for MAFFEO DRINKS.
4. The top 4 countries make up 60% of your sales.
In the first month, 639 people from 39 countries listened to my podcast. Whether it is listeners, readers, or drinkers, Pareto rules. You will always have most of your sales coming from a handful of markets. It doesn't matter where you draw the line (e.g., top 2, top 4).
7.200 People from 100 countries have read my articles on WWD since August 2022, but the top 4 countries comprise 58% of the total readers (US, UK, CZ, FR). The only change is that US and UK are inverted. Instead of wasting time overanalyzing its reasons, my takeaway is that my base is among UK and US listeners and readers (45%). Why am I saying that? Because I've tried to look at "last month" vs. "last week" vs. "all time." While all the other countries go up and down in the chart and take number 3,4,5 positions, UK and US are always in the top 2. This makes sense as they are probably the most advanced markets in the drinks industry. They are also more advanced in the number of craft breweries and distilleries, hence the numbers.
5. The importance of finding the right distributor
86% of listeners use Spotify or Apple Podcasts as a tool to listen. This is not specific to The MAFFEO DRINKS Podcast; it's widespread. Curiously 75% of the people listened on an iPhone. Despite being available through all major platforms, listeners prefer Spotify and Apple. If I had not published it on those two, my listeners probably would be a fraction of those 639. Why? My podcast is not powerful enough (yet :)) to push someone to download a new app to listen to it.