*Story as published on Entrepreneur Media
18 months ago when the world was still in lockdown, former business partners Robert Tuchman and Brett Sklar reconnected at a local park to chat about new trends and potential business opportunities. Tuchman and Sklar had been introduced by a mutual friend and first teamed up together shortly after graduating college to start TSE Sports & Entertainment, a sports experience and hospitality agency targeted at corporate clients. After selling TSE and spending several years helping their new partners acquire other companies in the space, Tuchman and Sklar got together again to start a second agency, Goviva, which focused on creating custom sports and lifestyle marketing programs. Although both enjoyed their time and learned a lot throughout the years, they wanted to move on and figure out their next new venture.
Tuchman had recently become a podcast host himself for How Success Happens, where he speaks with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world who share the stories of how they built their companies. Many of the guests who would come on How Success Happens asked Tuchman about creating custom podcast series for their companies, which provided the initial spark for their potential new venture. Tuchman and Sklar were sold on this path to get into the world of podcasts. In June of 2020, they reached back out to Stephen Master, who they had brought on 20 years ago at TSE Sports & Entertainment, to get his insights on the audio landscape and to see if he would join them as they thought about launching their new venture.
After the meeting, they decided to “get the band back together” and officially launched Amaze Media Labs in the summer of 2020.
One of the key trends the Amaze team identified was that with the ubiquity of social media platforms came the meteoric rise of the “creator economy.” With limited financial investment, anybody could create their own YouTube channel, monetize their Instagram following or buy a microphone and start their own podcast around anything they were passionate about. Athletes, bartenders, comedians, yoga teachers and influencers across just about every topic imaginable began launching their own podcasts. It quickly became evident that it wasn’t just individuals who wanted to become content creators, but there was an incredible demand from companies who viewed themselves as their own media properties and no longer wanted to just buy advertising on others podcasts but they wanted to engage more deeply with their consumers through creating and sharing their content.
“The enormous interest we have seen reminds me of the 1990s when every company knew they needed to build a website to share their information with the world. Now every business understands it needs a podcast to share its brand story with the world. But the best thing about podcasts is that actually audio allows for authentic conversation which captures the true ethos of a brand and its people because it can be incredibly empathetic and real unlike any other form of content.” said Tuchman.
Here are three lessons the company learned on its way to success:
1. Lean on market learnings.
While they learned the market certainly had a number of podcast production companies already out there, the leadership team at Amaze knew from their past experiential businesses that their future success was going to be driven by providing corporate brands with a “white glove” turnkey service and bringing on experienced talent in the industry.
With the leading production and client service team in place by January of 2021, Amaze quickly began building its corporate client roster and blue-chip brands across a wide range of industries including Ford, Unilever, MetLife, Facebook, HP and BetMGM.
“The first key to this amazing success story was our initial investment in building out the team and hiring the absolute best talent in the industry which we knew would translate into incredibly high client satisfaction. Robert and myself have always understood with all of our companies that there is absolutely nothing more important in business than a really happy client,” Sklar says.
2. Differentiate yourself.
Amaze Media Labs knew it needed to be more than a podcast production company. The team understood that there are millions of podcasts in the U.S. alone with thousands of new ones launching every month, so it is challenging for new podcasts to break through the clutter and attract listeners. To differentiate itself, Amaze developed proprietary digital technology that allows it to guarantee that it can deliver podcast downloads and subscribers of the specific target audience its client is trying to reach. Through targeted digital media and its one-click technology, Amaze can immediately turn readers of relevant content into podcast listeners, allowing it to quickly build an audience for its shows and guarantee the delivery of downloads for its clients.
3. Leverage strong relationships across the talent agency ecosystem.
Identifying the right talent for both hosts and guests for a corporate podcast series is critical to creating content that will resonate with a brand’s target audience. The team at Amaze says they spend an inordinate amount of time researching talent on behalf of every client. Additionally, Amaze works with its brand clients to create live podcast recordings and experiences at industry conferences, trade shows and corporate meetings. Companies wanting to create an experiential element for their branded podcast series has become a common request and the Amaze team believes it will quickly become one of their fastest-growing lines of business once the pandemic begins to fully recede.
“It’s definitely been somewhat strange to start and build a company during a pandemic. It’s crazy that we have achieved so much and only recently met everyone in person at our end-of-year meeting in Las Vegas. But it’s also been so rewarding that our team is from all over North America which allows for so many unique perspectives and interesting people to be part of the Amaze journey,” Sklar says.