Diary Of A CEO: The art of the perfect trailer

DOAC’s head of trailers explains how to hook your audience in less than two minutes

For podcasters, discoverability and audience retention is a constant battle. Even once a listener is subscribed to your podcast, there’s no guarantee they’re going to listen to every episode - so it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to draw them in to each new episode. 

For smash-hit business and lifestyle podcast The Diary Of A CEO, that task falls to head of trailers Ant Smith, who is responsible for creating short audio and video teasers designed to entice audiences into listening to the full episode. In this week’s episode, he talks to Rhianna Dhillon and Adam Shepherd about what makes an effective trailer, how long they take to create, and what the world of podcasts can learn about promotional strategies from Hollywood blockbusters.

Key takeaways

Borrow from cinema

“For me,” explains Smith, “creating a trailer, it all goes back to what we've seen for years and years and years for films in Hollywood. It may seem new to podcasting, especially the way that we've done it. This is something that we're really proud of. We took a concept of promotion and we enhanced it in a way that feels completely new to this industry.”

“But the actual concept with creating trailers is nothing new. We've just taken it from a different industry that's worked so well for so many years and brought it here. And so part of my job was to almost to analyse, what is it about movie trailers, documentary trailers, TV shows? What are those elements that we see there that make us want to go and watch something?”

Recycle your old clips

“Everything we do, we want it to go towards the episode. The clips have different goals,” Smith says. “The trailer’s main goal - which is why it's released at the same time as the episode - is ‘go and watch this now’. The clips are what we can use time and time again for guests that have been on, like, a year ago, for example.” 

“And part of it is to get them back onto the episode if they've watched a clip that they liked about Jimmy Carr, which was released almost two years ago now; we'll release a clip from that and then if they liked it, they're more likely to go onto YouTube or Spotify to find the episode. But it's also self-contained lessons in those clips, so you can hear that and it might relate to something to you in that moment in time.”

Respect your audience’s time

“When I was brought on, the brief was that we want to take someone who potentially has never heard of DOAC before,” says Smith, “to watch something on Instagram or on LinkedIn or on Twitter, take them from that social platform onto Spotify or onto YouTube. That's the biggest goal with every trailer, and so for me, it's all about creating something that is well worth the investment that an audience has to put in these days.” 

“You need to hook them in three seconds. Not only that, we're asking them to stay with us for potentially another hour and a half to two hours. That's a big investment in today's society, the way things are, and so, we need to offer them a promise that if they listen to this episode from start to finish, when they get to the end, that they're gonna have to learn something that's gonna impact them in some way. Their life is gonna have the opportunity to change for the better.”


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