October 19, 2020

Branding, The Virtual CMO Podcast

Creating a brand requires a dedicated focus and effort. Competition is everywhere, and it takes a lot of attention and skill to make your brand shine brighter than others in the business. Creating a brand does not happen overnight; everything you do can impact your brand's success or failure. What is the secret of famous brands? How are they creating a brand that resonates with the market? 

In this episode of The Virtual CMO podcast, The Five Echelon Group's Founder/CMO Eric Dickmann has an insightful conversation with entrepreneur and brand builder, Creating a Brand podcast host, and PodMatch Co-Founder Alex Sanfilippo, about creating a brand, starting a podcast or blog, and how to build a community around your vision.

Alex is a technical marketer and SEO specialist who is an enthusiastic entrepreneur who's mission is to help others reach their goals in life and business. Alex is a blogger and speaker at conferences nationwide. He built a community to help others find their passion and build their own brands. He encourages his community members to have mentors or coaches, and a tribe that can help them shape their vision and give them honest feedback and support. Having been an executive in the aerospace industry paved the way for him to discover his many passions in life and now he's putting that passion to work and sharing what he's learning along the way.

Finding an Audience

Understanding SEO was one of the major tools that allowed Alex to build content and increase his blog audience. People began to discover his website in search engines, and he started to get inquiries from other bloggers because they wanted to post content on his site. Currently, around 130 people are writing on the blog he started years ago. He has created a well-organized team to facilitate his website and while he takes a back seat to daily operations, he spends at least an hour every month checking in and making sure things are running smoothly. The blooming of Alex's blog allowed him to do things that he had never imagined doing before, for instance, talking on stage. His first presentation inspired his audience and paved the way for more guest appearances where he talked about the tips and tricks of SEO and what he learned blogging.

Drive Traffic to Website

Using SEO in Creating a Brand

Search Engine Optimization, or what is commonly known as SEO, is the main driver for the success of those creating a brand.  Being successful with SEO means following a clear set of rules and guidelines to help your blog or website gain a higher ranking in the search engine's organic results. Search engine optimization is all about understanding what people will find relevant by creating content that provides value or answers questions for specific terms someone might be using in a search query. By using the right keywords, you can develop content that will rank highly and drive organic traffic.

There are three types of SEO: 

  • On-Page SEO - deals with your website's content
  • Technical SEO - deals with your site's non-content features like site-speed, security, mobile-friendliness, and structured information
  • Out-Page SEO- deals with the relationship of your website to other reliable sources.

Ensuring consistency in these types of SEO can help improve your potential success creating your brand and having it found online.

It's Crowded But Keep At It!

For all of those bloggers and podcast hosts out there who feel lost and wondering if they've chosen the right path, DON'T DOUBT YOURSELF! It takes time to find and build an audience. Statistics show that there are approximately 31.7 million bloggers and 850,000 active podcasts in the United States alone. But, more than half of all US consumers above the age of 12 actively listen to podcasts. These numbers show the amount of competition but there's still room for growth. 

"Podfade" happens when content creators stop posting new content and by some estimates, as many as 50-75% of all podcasts are no longer in production. That significantly reduces the competition and provides an opportunity for new shows to find an audience. Alex has motivated a lot of people to create their own blog or podcast including myself! I would not have moved forward to create a brand and launch The Virtual CMO podcast without Alex's encouragement and support.

Podcast Listening Trends

Starting a Podcast

As for Alex's podcasting journey, he had begun giving full-time coaching services to people in his community. He realized that because of the number of people reaching out for coaching, he could not manage these interactions one-to-one the way he had been doing. Alex decided to launch Creating a Brand and build this community-driven brand concept that also helped him launch a podcast of the same name. The mission was to highlight the importance of being a person of value and not of profit. According to him, being a person of value directs your service to help people with their problems. The profits will come if you focus on delivering value and being in the service of others.

What Make Podcast Listeners Listen More

One of the hardest things for podcasters and bloggers is consistency. Having new episodes arrive on a regular schedule is important in developing an audience. Creating a Brand has an entire season done and ready to go so that they can release individual episodes on schedule. It's also important to develop supporting assets to promote your show on social media, blogs, and your website.

Building a network effect is also crucial in the growth of your podcast or blog. Making a strong connection with your audience can push your podcast growth because people will start giving feedback, engaging with your content, and promoting it others. Sanfilippo had the realization that the best businesses in the world were not built off of an idea but instead off of a solution to somebody else's problem. He adds that there are times that the only way for you to come up with a solution is to immerse yourself in the situation and get a first-hand understanding of the problem to be solved. This is one reason he felt so strongly about the need to develop a community. In fact, on every podcast episode, he invites listeners to join the Creating a Brand community and he does so without charging them anything to join.

Keep Your Podcast Interesting 

Now entering his podcast's fifth season, Alex looks back at his first episode as a podcast host. He believes he is evolving his approach and strategy from episode to episode. Over time, he has successfully pivoted his sytle to a much more interactive but focused one. Podcasting can be one-dimensional at times because you are not sure who is listening to your content. You also need to pick a format that fits your style and personality as well as is a suitable match for the kind of content your audience expects to hear.

Podcast Formats

Real presence is a huge problem we're facing in society right now. When you're on a video conference, it's not always clear if the audience is focused on you or just blankly staring at the screen and doing something else. As a podcaster, we need to pay attention to understand how the podcast host and guests connect with the audience by listening to feedback and reading reviews. If needed, podcasters should pivot or modify their show's style or subject matter to better meet the needs of the audience community they are building.

Creating a Brand's season 5 will be a little bit of a shift from really heavy business and marketing topics to how entrepreneurs can live improve businesses and lives to stay healthy. Alex believes that healthy entrepreneurs grow healthy businesses.

Getting Audience to Your Podcast 

One problem Alex Sanfilippo is trying to solve is helping podcast guests and hosts find each other. He had visited a podcast festival and identified the problem that many podcast hosts were having trouble finding new guests. Alex and his business partner, Jesse, came up with a solution to match the podcast guests with podcast hosts called PodMatch. It's patterned after how dating apps work: matching people with similar backgrounds and interests. Using the network and the community he built at Creating a Brand, PodMatch.com was able to launch with a hundred registrations and positive feedback. It was a solution to a real need within the podcasting community and showed how building a community of like-minded people can be a win-win for everyone involved.

  1. Create your free guest or host account and set up your profile.
  2. PodMatch's A.I. will work it's magic in the background.
  3. Within minutes you'll have ideal interview matches awaiting you.
  4. Use the built-in messaging to schedule and book interviews.

Alex shared a simple but proven and effective tip on how to launch your podcast powerfully. He remembers the day when he started the first episode of his podcast "So I had a handful of people join, but the problem was it was really small numbers." Alex admits that he didn't have much influence those days, and his platform wasn't familiar to anyone. Rather than immediately launching the community, he wishes he had previewed its release and built interest over time. It's the chicken and egg problem. You can't build engagement without people in the community but you can't draw people into the community without engagement.

Sharing your idea with a potential audience before launch can help you make a bigger splash and increase engagement early on. When building a community, the initial launch is focused on getting as many people to join as possible so having good content planned and ready is critical. That's what Alex did with PodMatch by talking it up within the community, offering members the opportunity to beta test the solution, and then finally launching it with momentum and interest.

Alex sanfilippo

Be a person of value; not a person of profit."

Having a Good Time Management 

With everything happening these days, time management had seemed to become non-existent for many of us. Alex Sanfilippo shares how he manages his time effectively. He firmly believes that a person should do things "intentionally" and have a healthy routine. Getting up early and being intentional in your daily routine will allow you to push your boundaries to the limit and beat deadlines. Alex urges us to own our time and keep it under control as much as possible. DO NOT let time take control of you!

Alex digs deeper and tells us that he loves taking inventory of his hours. Keeping in track with his hours allowed him to discard the unnecessary activities and allot more time on the activities that benefited him the most. He also points out that having a meaningful morning and evening is crucial to your success An hour before bed, Alex turns off all his tech equipment and settles his body and mind for a good night's sleep. The next morning, he wakes up at 5:30, and does what he has to do. Sanfilippo does not consider himself as a "fully-booked kind of guy"; he assures us that he has ample hours to spend quality time with his wife and make dinner reservations with friends or family. If you see a person doing anything extraordinary in this world, remember that you have the same 24 hours as him/her.

Getting Things Done Methodology

Alex Sanfilippo is a firm believer in taking notes the old-fashioned way, on paper. He mentions that he admires David Allen's GTD (Getting Things Done) Methodology. This is where you deposit all your mental notes so you can later engage with these to-dos at the right time and place. Sanfilippo has a little checklist on hand where he writes what he is going today, and what he will do for the upcoming days. Alex keeps a daily journal containing notes on this going on in his life, and new information, software, or technology that captures his interest. These lists allow Alex to learn from people he meets and use the newly gained information to strategize in developing his brand.

Getting Things Done

Capture - Recollect all the appointments, work-related papers, and deadlines you have to achieve and beat in an analog or digital inbox.

  • If you have other things piling up that require your attention and dedication, input it instantly on the notepad.
  • Update your to-dos now and then!

Clarify - Once everything is inputted, walk yourself through these three questions:

  • What kind of task is it? 
  • Is it actionable? 
  • What's the next action?

Organize - Assign all your listed activities to their necessary trays:

  • Calendar - only input appointments in your calendar
  • Project - tasks that require more than one action
  • Next Actions - activities which are not project-specific
  • Waiting For - a reminder list for all delegated tasks outside the project

Reflect - Regularly review your notes and check your to-do-lists at least once a day

Engage - Get the work done!

Live Stream Replay


  • Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, can be a significant driver when creating a brand.
  • Building strong work habits, daily routines, and good organizational skills can help entrepreneurs make the most of their valuable time.
  • Building a community can become a powerful tool to share your knowledge and gain the support of peers.

Episode and Guest Links

Eric Dickmann - Founder/CMO of the Five Echelon Group, can be found online on Twitter or his personal website

Alex Sanfilippo - Creating a Brand podcast host and PodMatch founder can be found online on LinkedIn and at his website Creating a Brand.

  • Understand SEO better, gain advice and helpful content on starting your blog or podcast, and maybe guest in Alex’s podcast at Creating a Brand.
  • If you are a podcast host searching for the right audience, visit PodMatch.

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