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How a CMO became a podcast hostess during the pandemic with Jen Kern

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Episode Summary

How do you go from not being interested in podcasts to becoming a hostess of a successful and exciting new show? The truth is, anything is possible, as long you set your mind to it and listen to your gut feeling.

As someone who wasn’t particularly keen on even listening to podcasts prior to the pandemic, it’s safe to say Jen Kern has come a long way since. She now hosts her own podcast and says that podcasts became her lifeline both professionally and personally during the pandemic.

Jen Kern is the CMO at Qu, a restaurant tech company transforming restaurant POS beyond its current fragmented state into a manageable unified experience for enterprise operators and guests alike. Her podcast, Restaurants Reinvented, hosts some of the industry’s leading figures including marketers at Dunkin Donuts and Chipotle.

Starting her own podcast was a smart business move for Qu, especially due to the limited resources during the hardest months of lockdown. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast too, Jen shares some key insights into how to do it as effectively as possible.

“I think the most important thing is that it’s genuine, it’s authentic, and that you as the podcast host or hostess are comfortable doing it. If you’re not comfortable, then it’s not the right thing to do.”

Guest Profile

Name: Jen Kern

What she does: Jen is the CMO at Qu, a restaurant tech company focused on disrupting the legacy POS mindset by providing the industry’s first truly connected and modern multi-channel ordering platform.

Company: Qu POS Inc

Noteworthy: Jen hosts the Restaurants Reinvented podcast, a powerful podcast providing insight for marketers.

Key Insights

  • Why did a B2B podcast become an essential medium during the pandemic? When the COVID outbreak hit last year, it became quite clear that marketers needed to become more caring towards their audiences. Instead of calling customers on the phone and trying to sell, businesses were obliged to change their approach. Podcasting became like a very soft way and a very genuine and authentic and just lovely way for me to be able to reach out to the people that not only are in our target audience but also just to say, “How are you doing? Come talk, let’s talk, let’s get on the air. Let’s talk about what’s going on at this really difficult time in your business.”
  • Authenticity is the key component to a successful podcast. Starting a podcast just for the sake of it won’t get you far. If you want your listeners to engage and connect with you, you need to go all in. Jen stresses out the importance of the podcast host being genuine. “I think the most important thing is that it’s genuine, it’s authentic, and that you as the podcast host or hostess are comfortable doing it. If you’re not comfortable, then it’s not the right thing to do.”
  • Marketing is often overlooked and we need to elevate it. As a long-time CMO, Jen knows the ins and outs of the restaurant industry. She says that some of the largest brands don’t even have a CMO but a marketing director. “That really paints a picture. The value of marketing has lagged behind in this industry. And so my mission and my passion became to elevate marketers in the industry, to elevate them from a tactical to a strategic level and help the industry understand the value that marketing can contribute.”
  • Podcasting was my lifeline professionally and personally during the pandemic. It became the only strategy at a time when it was frowned upon to be doing outbound sales and marketing.

Episode Highlights

Podcasting allows you to build genuine relationships with your customers and partners

Christopher Lochhead talked about how we’ve lost authentic dialogue in media and conversation. And there’s a beautiful art craft that is in podcasting that’s genuine conversation. And we all need it. We all want it, but we’ve lost it particularly as marketers. The early thing I struggled with and still struggle with honestly is marketers are taught to be perfectionists. We don’t say that out loud but we have it in our DNA.

It’s like make everything look good. Make sure there are no edits in your copy. Get the best design out there. You’ve got a limited amount of time to grab attention. How are you going to do that? So podcasting doesn’t come across as the first thing when that’s how you’re looking at your audience. But it’s having those genuine conversations with people and caring. This medium allows you to care and it shows that you care. If you come to it and you’re coming to it with a sales and marketing mentality, you’re doing it wrong. You got to come to it with authenticity and care and compassion.

Podcasting is about the guests and the value they bring to the show’s audience

I try to keep it to about 75% target market brands, so restaurant brands. Then the other 25% I reserve for like you just said, the influencers in the space, people that are running marketing agencies, media companies and have a great message and great information for the marketers.

I had a woman that works for a data company and she was to your point giving real-time data out to my audience. So thinking about my audience in a pretty niche aspect, these are senior marketers, maybe heads of marketing or very senior marketers working for large restaurant brands. What do they want to know right now?

The importance of partnering with companies that lift you up

It’s no secret that you’re the agency that we work with and you guys do a phenomenal job of helping me punch way above my weight. My whole budget pretty much went out the window during the pandemic. I had 80% of my budget in conferences and trade shows, so there were none. And we reused a very small portion of that and invested it in you guys. And having an agency helped me professionally do a podcast. We did not want to do one that was me editing the video. That would not have been good.

You guys have been my mentors, my pilots, my copilots, everything and you’ve taught me everything. So working with you guys I feel has brought me along so much faster than I would’ve on my own.

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