Ramit Sethi had been writing about personal finance since the early 2000s.
He’d published thousands of articles to his blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
He’d written a NYT bestselling book of the same name.
And he’d built up an audience of hundreds of thousands of readers along the way.
But in 2021, as he was looking to start a podcast, Ramit faced a choice.
To that point, the secret to his success had been his ability to distill complex financial topics down into highly tactical, actionable content.
He was a master of the “How to…” and “Why you should…” informational-style blog post.
And so, as he was developing his podcast, the obvious choice was to continue with the format that had proven successful so far.
But there was a problem.
By 2021, podcasting was getting crowded.
The personal finance niche was particularly competitive.
So what to do?
In the blogging world, Ramit had started early, giving him a significant early-mover advantage.
But as we’ve seen time and time again, audiences built elsewhere don’t always transfer over to podcast listeners.
Plus, part of the goal of the show was to attract new listeners to the brand. Listeners who weren’t already aware of him, his brand, or his philosophy.
To attract these listeners, then, Ramit needed a way to clearly differentiate his show from the dozens (if not hundreds) of information-driven personal finance podcasts that already existed—many of them with massive (and often fanatic) existing audiences.
In short: If he wanted to compete, he needed a fresh way to explore the topic of personal finance that no one was already doing.
He needed a compelling, original show concept.
As a reminder, your show’s concept is the combination of your show’s topic and the way you present or explore it.
And when it comes to the success of your show, nothing will have a greater impact on your potential for growth than the strength and originality of your concept.
Get it right and marketing your show is like chasing a snowball down a hill.
Get it wrong and you’re stuck pushing a boulder uphill.
And while a great concept will elevate your show in any niche, it’s absolutely essential to standing out, gaining traction, and building a following in ultra-crowded markets.
Markets like personal finance, for instance.
In Ramit’s case, he stumbled upon his winning show concept in an unexpected place.
By borrowing the format from another highly successful podcast on a completely different topic.
The inspiration (as far as I can tell)?
Where Should We Begin by Esther Perel, where in every episode, Esther allows listeners to sit in on a raw, honest, intimate (and anonymized) couples therapy session.
For Ramit, the resulting concept he landed on could be described as:
I Will Teach You To Be Rich is a podcast where in every episode, you get to listen in on a behind-closed-doors conversation with a real couple sharing the raw, intimate, often uncomfortable details of a specific money-related problem that is affecting their lives and relationship.
Having listened to every episode of the podcast, I can tell you that there are many other things that make the show work.
But it all flows from the strength of the concept.
A concept that has not only led to a massive podcast and YouTube following, but a Netflix show with the same basic concept as the podcast.
I can tell you now, there’s no way that deal would have materialized if Ramit had instead opted for yet another podcast “interviewing personal finance experts to help you earn, save, and invest like a pro”.
Dialling in a unique and compelling premise isn’t easy.
In fact, it’s probably the single most difficult aspect of podcast marketing.
But it’s also the most crucial.
Which means if you’re struggling to grow your show, the answer almost certainly isn’t to work on your content repurposing, social media strategy, or cross-promotion strategy.
It’s to create a show concept where once people see it, they can’t look away.