Marketing is a creative industry, and as such, it relies on a steady stream of innovative young professionals bringing fresh ideas into the sector. Helping to fuel that pipeline is part of the reason Visha Kudhail set up her podcast Behind The Face of Success, in order to encourage more young people to consider marketing as a career and give them more examples of the possibilities it offers.
PodPod sat down with Kudhail to find out how she’s bringing her marketing expertise to bear on the world of podcasting, why the industry needs more role models, and how podcasting has made her a better listener.
How would you describe your podcast?
The podcast is a series of real, honest conversations with people that are role models within their field of work. It's real career and life journeys, not the version that you get on social media. Each episode talks through the highs and lows of decisions people have made, whether they're good or bad, and ultimately how it makes them the people they are today.
So there's plenty of story, there's plenty of tips and practical advice, and that's what I really wanted from this series - which is people walking away not only feeling entertained, but actually saying I really learned something from that, that podcast really helped me do that next thing or try that next thing. I'm speaking to a diverse set of people from all parts of the creative industry, not just advertising - film writers, actors ballet dancers, tech owners and makers, and entrepreneurs. They are very interesting, different types of roles. But they all have some sort of creative layer attached to them.
Why did you start your podcast?
I am a huge advocate for diversity. I really care about it; it’s one of my passions. I'm a marketer by day and I’m in this sort of interim period of my life. And during this time, I really wanted to do something good. I really wanted to invest in diversity and inclusion. I really wanted to make sure that I'm contributing towards it. And really, the idea came about when I was speaking at this school, I was doing a talk there around advertising, tech and being a marketer. And really, I was trying to talk to these students and say there's so much you can do, there's so many opportunities out there, but the problem is, you haven’t got access to them.
So I think that's where it started, was really trying to bring in these people that I know; luckily, I've had some brilliant people in my network that have actually said yes and want to be a part of it. If I'm completely honest with you, I wasn't really looking to start a podcast. A good friend of mine really encouraged me to do it and I think she encouraged me to do it because it's such a lovely way to express storytelling, and I'm a storyteller by heart. The way I think about being able to communicate to the industry is by creating powerful content - and that's what I think podcasting is, actually.
What advice do you wish you’d been given when you first started?
That it's a lot of bloody work, truthfully! So think carefully. The advice I wish I'd been given was just to make the right choices on the goal - and I think I have, actually. Because if you really want to create podcast content, you have to go all in if you want for it to be seen, for it to be successful, and for somebody else to love it.
I think there's a natural assumption that podcasting is easy because people sort of see it as it's just a lovely chat which it is to some degree but there is so much rigour that goes behind it, to create a story. It's a lot of work, but when you see it go live and people react well then it just feels so good. It's worth it in the end.
How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?
Well, I'd like to say it's just a few, but it actually has been quite a lot of people. So bearing in mind, the speakers put in the time and attention in reading the questions and thinking before they show up, then there's me trying to build the goals and the targeting and scripting and all of that stuff. But I also work with other people.
So I work with Lively Worldwide, and they are a creative innovation company that do brand experiences and they've got a platform that I do the recordings on. Luke Hughes and Rebecca Dash help with just making sure that it runs right from an audio and tech check perspective. I've got an amazing audio editor from Content Is Queen, Amber Miller, and then I've got the most incredible design director, Aman from AmanSan Creatives; he's built this beautiful look and feel with all of these speakers’ faces on it as well. If I didn't have them it wouldn't look and feel as slick as it does now.
Do you monetise your podcast?
I don't, no - not yet. And, well, who knows in the future? Maybe that's a ‘watch this space’ moment.
How do you promote your podcast?
So promotion I would say is always the trickiest part with podcasts. My audience has started with 15 to 20-year-olds that are starting to think about their careers, curious about the world and all making those decisions. And so I've stuck to channels that are the natural homes that they would go to. So TikTok, for example, but then, of course, Instagram as well has been a really amazing platform for people that are in that 20 to 25-year-old category, and even a little bit older. And so I've been very deliberate about not spreading myself too thin by going to too many areas of promotion.
And also that's just to manage it too, because there's so much content that you need to create from one episode. So you've got typical things that you can do with audiograms, which have been very helpful, but also creating video assets. Video assets, I feel like are the most powerful way to communicate a podcast and I think that combination of audio and visual has been the most powerful way to embrace it. So that is why I use those platforms.
Who listens to your podcast?
I've started this journey thinking about students and the younger generation, so a natural segue into that would be career advisors; I’ve been in touch with lots of career advisors in schools that I've been speaking to, who have been sharing it with their students more broadly. And, you know, the people that I have on the podcast, have got quite huge reach, so there's a natural halo effect with the speakers’ audience that I get.
And then, this was quite surprising to me, but it's been picked up outside of the UK, too. So, you know, There's a lot of people listening to it in the US and Canada, and even in Japan and places like that. And naturally, there are people within my own network, within the advertising industry that have been listening to it too. Oh, and hopefully my mum!
What have you learned about yourself since starting your podcast?
One of the loveliest things I think about being an interviewer on a podcast and being a host, is that you're the person taking a step back and letting the story unfold; your speaker is the most important person in the room, and it's taught me to be a great listener. I'm a team lead in my marketer role, and I've always had that ability to listen to my team so I can make things work better. But since this experience, I've taken a different approach with listening.
As a marketer, I'm applying the skill sets that I've known and learnt over the years to this medium and trying to see how I connect those two things together. So it's got me really pushing other parts of my brain where I don't have to just think about a 15-second or 30-second ad. I'm having to think about long-form content in a very different way. And I've never done that before, which is really exciting, actually.
What was the last podcast you listened to?
So the last podcast I listened to - and I actually promoted it recently for him - was Bruce Daisley's podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat, and there was one that he did with a woman called Zeynep Ton called making the case for good jobs. And honestly, it is so bloody brilliant. It was about how you invest in people so that they are able to show up well, and then in the long run, support the business.
I'm so invested in talent and so invested in D&I, and we can't do our jobs without great people around us, right? So I really love that podcast because it gave such a fabulous way of thinking about good jobs that all leaders need to embrace.