Meet Farah Souhail, Global Marketing Manager at Morgan Philips Group in London. When the world went into lockdown, Souhail got busy and launched her new podcast series called The MENA CMO. Communicate spoke with Souhail to learn more about the podcast and how it came into fruition.
Can you give me an overview of the podcast? What are you planning to achieve?
With the introduction of digital and technology, Marketing has gone through a renaissance. The way marketing is done has completely changed and that has got a lot of people interested in it as well. The MENA CMO podcast focuses on topics [related to] marketing and communications from a MENA perspective.
My goal with the podcast is to create a platform for the region’s Marcom professionals to be able to share their knowledge and expertise with other professionals in the region. I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of great professionals who are shaping the region’s industry and through the podcast, I can dive deeper into their work and help navigate the challenges [maketers] are facing, and reveal the secrets of effective strategies that work for consumers in the region. My vision is to make the podcast a go-to place for marketers, brand owners, and everyone who’s interested in marketing and communication, to learn and get inspired.
When you round up the number of podcasts that focus on marketing in the region, there aren’t that many. [From what I know,] there are a few podcasts that cover marketing and some of them were launched by agencies. [Unlike agency podcasts,] the MENA CMO focuses 100% on marketing and has more freedom when it comes to selecting topics and guests. For instance, if an agency is not involved in influencer marketing, they won’t feel the need to discuss [topics] related to influencer marketing in the region. I’m not bound by [such limitations.]
How long have you been working on the podcast?
I’ve been pondering on the idea of launching a podcast for a while, but never really found the time to begin working on it. The lockdown [ was a blessing in disguise] and gave me ample time to work on the podcast. There are a number of things that you need to prepare before launching your podcast –
1. Content Strategy – A detailed strategy that covers the podcast – objective, content, target audience, and format. When it comes to branding, podcast hosts need to come up with a name, that is not only catchy but conveys everything about the podcast in one go. The strategy also needs to define whether the episodes are going to be sequential or independent. Having a clear cut strategy in place is important before deciding on the platform and tools to use.
2. Equipment and recording tools – Audio quality is everything on a podcast. During the early days of the lockdown, online deliveries for podcast equipment took a long time and I didn’t want to wait that long, so I figured out alternatives. With the help of high-quality headphones with an embedded mic and Zoom for video recording, I was ready to go.
3. Hosting platform – A hosting platform allows you to upload all of your episodes to one location, and then the platform distributes the episodes on all the major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple, and Google podcasts, etc. People are different and they consume media very differently. For instance, Anghami is huge in the Middle East but in Tunisia and Morocco, Deezer is the most popular platform. So you want to make yourself more available to the people. The hosting platform solves that for you.
4. Editing tool – An editing tool is utilized to put the entire podcast episode together. For me, I’ve been using Garage Band to edit my episodes because it’s highly intuitive and inbuilt in my Mac.
Within three weeks, I compiled a list of topics and potential guests to be invited on the podcast and launched the first episode on April 22nd.
How do you decide the guests to speak with?
The guests are selected on a variety of factors from; news developments about what’s happening in the region’s market, trending topics in the world of marketing, and professionals who have shaken the region’s industry, and can share their knowledge and experience.
Who are you targeting?
My target audience is the Marcom community in the region. That includes everyone, who’s interested in [all the variants] of the subject of marketing and communication. Whether it’s; the professionals who are aspiring to be CMO’s, up-and-coming professionals who are keen on learning and being inspired, students who want to enter the field of marketing and communications, etc. The podcast is by the Marcom community for the Marcom community, to learn and get inspired about everything related to marketing from a regional perspective.
How do you view the podcast market in the region?
The region is a bit behind when it comes to the listenership and popularity of podcasts. In the US, the no. of podcast listeners reached 75 million in 2018 and that number is predicted to double by 2024. But because of Covid-19, the podcast industry in the West has experienced a surge in listenership. I’m pretty sure that the number has already doubled.
In the region, the popularity is on the rise. One study by Markettiers said that there are 5 million regular podcast listeners in KSA and 1.5 million listeners in the UAE. These figures show promise, and I believe the pandemic has helped people to explore other types of content and engage with them. It’s an exciting time for podcast producers in the region, and I believe we’ll be seeing an increase in the number of podcasts launched along with an increase in listenership as well.
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