Episode 8: "The Brandwagon Interviews" Podcast with Rand Fishkin of SparkToro

Lisa Marinelli


From tactics to taglines, Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, chats marketing with the brains behind successful brands on our new video series, Brandwagon. Last week, Chris sat down with Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, to talk about why the B2B SaaS company shifted its content strategy to create binge-worthy shows that build an engaged audience for their brand. Today, we’re excited to share our extended interview with this week’s guest, Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-Founder of SparkToro.

Check out the episode to hear Rand talk about content creation and his advice for today’s marketers who are trying to get started with building brand affinity.


Or listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

Before sitting down to chat, Savage and Fishkin went head-to-head in a push-up competition for charity — whoever guessed closer to how many push-ups the other person could do would get to decide which charity they would give money to. Initially, we thought this was a great way to support a cause (Savage and Fishkin both ended up donating $300 to givedirectly.org).

However, as we were filming, we also quickly realized that a push-up competition was pretty off brand for Wistia. And while we were well-intentioned from the start, it ended up being too misaligned with our brand to feature in the episode in full, so the segment was left on the cutting room floor.

Watch the actual Brandwagon episode to hear the valuable lessons we learned from this failed face-off!


Rand Fishkin is the CEO and Co-Founder of SparkToro, a new software company that makes it easier for you to connect with your audience in a less expensive and more effective way. Previously, he was a co-founder at Moz where he built an iconic brand around their “White Board Fridays” video series. In addition to knowing the power of video, Fishkin is simply one of the world’s foremost SEO experts, and he says Google isn’t just a search engine anymore — it’s one of your competitors.

On this episode, Rand explains why it’s more important than ever to make deep connections with your audience and shares his thoughts on successful launch events, convincing your boss to improve your content strategy, and investing in one marketing tactic over the long term.

Key takeaways

“I think that a ton of early stage folks get overwhelmed by the number of channels they think they have to invest in — and they don’t. You can really kick butt with one! Literally, just one.” On this episode of The Brandwagon Interviews, Rand Fishkin shares his advice for marketers who are just getting started with building brand affinity in this challenging landscape.

Here are some of the lessons learned throughout the episode:

  • Practice, practice, and more practice will help you get comfortable on camera
  • Effective launch events generally tie into a bigger idea than just the release you’re working on
  • Convince c-suite staff to invest in brand by showing value early and showing how competition is winning
  • Don’t underestimate the power of investing in one channel

Notable moments

Short on time? Check out some of our favorite moments during this interview between Chris and Rand.

3:23 - Getting comfortable on camera

Chris kicks off the conversation by pointing out how Rand seems really relaxed on camera — he’s a natural! He asks Rand how he gained the confidence to speak naturally on camera. Fishkin opens up about being an introvert and explains it took a ton of practice to become “good on camera.” Here are some tips Rand offers for folks looking to up their on-camera look and feel:

  • Even if it’s uncomfortable, watch yourself on video! Take notes on what you felt you did and did not do well.
  • Consider your delivery — are you happy with the cadence of your speech? How might you improve how you deliver information on camera?
  • Consider getting a speech coach to help with your presentation skills.
  • Take a look at your wardrobe — does it look good on camera? What can you build on and what needs to change?
  • Make sure you’re talking about something you already feel comfortable — or even better, passionate — talking about.
  • Practice, practice, practice. A surefire way to not get better at being on camera is avoiding shoots. Get out there. Make videos. Review them. Make better videos.

9:07 - Advice for launch events

Here at Wistia, we just launched some new product updates we’re really excited about. What advice does Rand have for launch events? He suggests that effective launches generally tie into a bigger idea than just the release you’re working on. If a launch can tie to a bigger idea or a broader conversation already taking place in the market, your release will feel like a natural part of that conversation. Additionally, it can be very effective to take a controversial stance with your release. By creating some polarity in your space, you have a greater chance of amplifying your message and starting new conversations in your industry.

11:07 - White Board Fridays

When it comes to Brand Affinity Marketing, Rand has a serious knack for creating content that helps build his brands. Rand’s White Board Fridays created a ton of brand affinity for Moz. Chris asks Rand how he decided to create the video series and why he decided to invest in a show-like format for the long term. The secret? It was a way for Fishkin to quickly make content that would give him a day off from his daily blog. Instead of writing the night before, he’d just take a half-hour to make a video. While White Board Friday posts were originally the worst performing content on the Moz blog, it became the company’s most important and most-viewed content after years of consistent posts.

16:32 - Advice for today’s marketers: Don’t bid on keywords. Be the search term.

In a world where competition is fierce, and it’s harder than ever to get noticed, many marketers tend to look for hacks and quick fixes to see results fast. Savage notes this method of marketing is risky. One way to overcome market trends and create a lasting business is to build a great brand. What advice does Rand have for marketers in today’s challenging environment? He offers some great advice for marketers who need to convince their managers and c-suite staff to invest in brand:

  • Show value early — make one small investment you think will serve as a proof point you can use to justify another small investment. Taking small wins and showing value quickly can convince your directors building your brand is important.
  • Show how your competition is winning — if your competitors are already ahead of the game when it comes to brand affinity, put together research and present it to your superiors to show how your brand is at a competitive disadvantage. Then make suggestions for the next steps to level the playing field.

Savage and Fishkin also explain how building your brand affinity can help your business have much more impactful launches. When you build up demand for your brand, you become the search term. Instead of bidding on keywords, your aim should be to influence the market’s preference for your brand so that your company becomes the search term.

22:45 - The problem with Google

As one of the world’s foremost SEO experts, Rand is pretty interested in Google. And, he’s got some pretty strong opinions about how Google operates. Fishkin talks about problematic ways Google has changed their product(s) to favor their own businesses. Digging into the current Google investigations, he says you’re no longer just competing with your traditional competitors, you’re competing with Google. What can brands do in a world where Google owns most of the search traffic and clicks? Rand suggests that brands continue to build up their email lists as much as possible. Businesses should also bring their audience to their own properties as often as possible. When you put your content on “rented land,” your brand can suffer when the landlord changes the rules.

36:09 - The transparency of Rand Fishkin

Savage is consistently impressed by the level of transparency Rand offers his audience. From his “painfully honest” book, Lost and Founder, to his blog posts, Rand shares a shocking amount with his readers and viewers. Rand talks openly about the reason for being so transparent, and he and Savage discuss the benefits of putting it all out there. Plus, Savage offers up something he’s scared to admit: he’s not that into sports.

51:19 - Get to know SparkToro

Chris asks Rand about his latest venture, SparkToro. SparkToro is a “search engine for audience intelligence.” Speaking about how the company got started and what they hope to achieve, Rand wants to help you get in touch with your audience without needing to pay for expensive, saturated, and questionably effective advertising space on Google and Facebook. With SparkToro you can discover podcasts, influencers, and other outlets that may be more effective in spreading your brand’s message organically.

57:46 - The power of one channel

The one piece of advice Rand offers for folks who are just getting started is not underestimating the power of a single channel. With so many platforms to build on today — from LinkedIn to Instagram, Google AdWords, Facebook, YouTube, your company blog, and so many more — it’s easy to get overwhelmed by trying to market effectively on every channel. So, Rand suggests investing in just one channel and putting your absolute best work into it. Giving some examples of how that’s working for him at SparkToro, he encourages new business owners to find the channel that will work best for them.

Lisa Marinelli


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