Roger Nairn – JAR Radio

Jun 27, 2022 | Assembling The Band, Gathering Fans, Keeping the Hat Full, PodCast, Season 3

Season 3 / Episode #73 : Roger Nairn

by Work @ Home RockStar Podcast

The Back-Story

Roger is a lateral thinker, problem solver, strategist, and finder of new ways. He believes in the power of the happy customer and spent years managing client relationships and building brands for world-famous agencies like DDB and Cossette.

Throughout his career, he’s found himself working with a number of industry giants, including (but certainly not limited to) Netflix, Expedia, Walmart, Nordstrom, Lamborghini, Cineplex, Four Seasons Plus, and Vancouver’s own lululemon.

On top of all of this, he followed his passions to become a Board Member for TEDxVancouver and has recently become an expert-level toddler wrangler through the magic of parenthood. When he’s not at work, he likes to golf, read, and—no surprises here—binges on the occasional podcast.

Show Notes

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In This Episode:
[0:00] Intro
[0:30] Roger’s story of business success
[1:26] What’s something that didn’t go as planned in Roger’s journey?
[5:33] What is Roger’s team-building strategy?
[7:34] How does he approach keeping more money than he’s spending?
[10:48] How do they deal with getting fans?
[13:57] What’s exciting in JAR Audio right now?
[18:13] Outro


Read Transcript

Tim Melanson: hello, and welcome to today’s episode of the work at home rockstar podcast.

Very excited for today’s episode, we have the CEO co-founder of JRA audio. And what he does is he helps brands and organizations get into the podcast game. And, uh, he’s a do it all for you. Professional service agency who’s handles strategy, execution, marketing data analysis production, man, you do the whole thing, right? so we’re talking with Roger, Nan. Roger, are you ready to.

Roger Nairn: I’m ready to rock in. Thanks for having me.

Tim Melanson: No problem. So start off on a good note. Tell me a story of success in your business that we can be

inspired by. Well, I mean, we’re lucky enough to say that it, uh, during, during COVID we’ve increased our business 400%.

Um, we were already doing great. Um, but the, the last, uh, couple years have, um, have been very good to us, you know, despite what else is going on in the world. I think a lot of that though, is being a blend of the type of business we’ve created. The team we built, but also the, uh, the, the podcast world is, is, is, uh, exploding.

Yeah. It sure is. as you know, yeah,

yeah. It’s, uh, it, it kind of feels a little bit guilty in a way when you’re like, yeah, my business is exploded with this whole thing.

Roger Nairn: Right, exactly. Yeah.

Tim Melanson: But you know what I mean? That’s why working from home is, you know, the way to go nowadays. Right.

Roger Nairn: It absolutely is. And, and, um, Building a team, uh, from home is, is the way to go as.

Tim Melanson: Totally so now. Okay. With the good note, there’s, there’s some bad notes. We’re all gonna be hitting from time to time. So now, can you share something that didn’t go as planned, you know, on your journey?

Roger Nairn: Well, I think, you know, one of the misconceptions about growing like crazy is that, uh, there’s a lot of costs that go with it.

So, you know, despite all that growth, we still had our cash crunches. We still had our cash flow issues. We still had our, um, you know, massive expenses going out the door. And I think a lot of it came down to. Going so fast. We weren’t truly pausing enough to put the right, you know, sort of systems in place to make sure we weren’t, we weren’t doing that.

So we’ve had our, we’ve had our hairy moments here and there. Um, but overall it’s been, uh, it’s been pretty good.

Tim Melanson: I’m glad you mentioned that too, because the having this massive growth, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be . I mean, everybody sort of thinks this is gonna be great, you know, but when it starts to happen, it actually is quite stressful.

Roger Nairn: I have a sign on my desk right in front of me right now that says steady and it used to say grow. Um, I think the growth period for us was something that we needed and, and something that we needed to get ahead of our competition. And we needed to, you know, ride, ride the wave, you know, in the podcast world, but steady, it, it now has to be steady because it has to be sustainable growth.

You know, we had our, our, our, our blips of, you know, working our team a little bit too hard and, and, uh, you know, Frankly having enough hours in the day to accomplish a lot of things. So yeah, it is a, it’s a big misconception that, you know, you can’t just be growth for growth’s sake. It has to be sustain.

Tim Melanson: Yeah, and it has to be tempered too, cuz I mean, that’s another thing too, when things start to grow, you start to drop things as well. Right. Cause you, you’re probably not ready for, I mean, you know, who’s ready for a 400% growth, right?

Roger Nairn: Yeah. Well, yeah. I mean we, we definitely weren’t um, you know, I’d rather it be 400% than not, uh, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also just a matter of, um, you know, you have a great service.

Clients seem to love, you know, word of mouth is going great. Business is coming our way. We’re saying no more than we are saying yes. Which is just a crazy feeling to, to have, um, you know, we always make sure that our projects are staffed properly to, you know, complete the services that we’ve just sold, but then there’s everything that goes around it.

You know, everything from, you know, bookkeepers to accountants to, uh, to, you know, to the HR side of things. You know, is, is just in the operations of the company that you have to kind of build as you go as this, you know, train is hurdling down the tracks. And so I, I, you know, it’s just been. Incredible experience.

I, I, I I’ve had an unbelievable amount of fun. Um, but it’s challenging. It’s for sure. Challenging.

Tim Melanson: Yeah. Well, I was gonna ask you for some, some tips on how to, you know, reign that in. And I think you kind of, when you, you have to say no, sometimes ,

Roger Nairn: you do have to say no sometimes. And, and I I’ll, I’ll give credit to our team very, very early when we started to really.

Busy. Um, our head of sales came to me and said, um, we need a criteria for this because right now we’re just kind of saying yes to everything and I get it because we need to grow. But if we’re gonna say no, which we had agreed at the time that we’re gonna say no, there needs to be some sort of a matrix or some sort of a criteria for, um, what we say no to, or actually in our case, it was, what do we say?

Yes. And then are there a few things that, you know, just certain categories that we weren’t feeling comfortable about working in or, um, you know, different things like we don’t do politics, uh, or we don’t do, you know, guns and guns and ammo, things like that. So, you know, it because the team ultimately looks to you for guidance on, on, on all that.

And so if you’re not ready with a solution to it, um, they’re gonna feel lost. And I think. Part of the culture at J audio is that we came to that solution together. I mean, ultimately it was my, you know, sort of final decision to sign off on what that criteria looked like, but our team really appreciated, you know, playing a role in what it was.

Tim Melanson: On.

Cool. Okay. So now you mentioned team a few times and, uh, you know, in this podcast we call it the band. I’m wondering, you know, how do you, I mean, I, I, I’m trying to ask this as broad as possible. Like, how do you approach bringing people into your band? Like how, you know, how do you find them? You know, who do you like to find?

You know, what’s, what’s your team building strategy. I.

Roger Nairn: Yeah, that’s a great question. So we, we have criteria for what we look for in, in certain roles. Um, and we also have sort of like, um, uh, subject leaders on like, like I have a, like my business partner, Jen MOS is our chief creative officer. So ultimately I lean on her to make those creative decisions.

You know, I’m our CEO. I ultimately make the decision when it comes to operational roles. And so. Each of us is responsible for defining what that role is. We have, you know, work, you know, uh, uh, Google docs, templates that we’ve, you know, created specifically when we look for a producer, these are, you know, the, uh, the attributes we’re looking for.

These are the, the must. These are the nice to haves. We we’ve even gone, gone as far as created like sort of a salary matrix of what we’re willing to do and not do. Cause you know, things fluctuate based on geography and the market and things like that. So it’s, it’s really come down to. You know, ultimately having somebody who’s leading the charge on, on those specific hires and then we’ve gone to market and just constant, like we kind of treat our, um, talent pool similar to our new business efforts.

You know, we’re never satisfied with. You know, the new business we have now, we always have to be thinking six months down the road. Well, similar to talent as well, you know, without leading them on, we are never guaranteeing anybody a position, but we’re, we are always looking down the road to strike up further conversations and create, you know, further relationships, um, with the, with the, you know, with, with no promise that anything’s gonna come of it.

We all, we just wanna meet who’s out there in the market and, and, uh, strike up a relationship. Love it love it right on.

Tim Melanson: So then now I, I know you also mentioned earlier when , you know, growing 400%. I, I was gonna talk about keeping the hat full. I mean, there’s probably lots of money coming in, but there’s probably lots of money going out too.

So I’m wondering how do you approach, you know, you know, keeping more money than you’re spending, I guess.

Roger Nairn: Yeah. And I’m, I’m, I’m also gonna start with a super vulnerable moment in that. there. Isn’t a lot of companies that do what we do there. Isn’t a lot of companies that produce podcasts exclusively for brands.

And so there’s not a lot of, you know, Examples out there you can point to, or do some research on and say, this is how much we should be charging. So we very much built this business based on test and learn, test and learn, trying out new things. And so we made some mistakes when it came to pricing. So, you know, all this new business was coming in, but we weren’t necessarily charging the right price for it.

And we learned, you know, in a few cases that we. Underpriced ourselves and, and took a bit of a hit for that. And so, um, it’s, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s always been sort of like a, an iterative exercise and sort of pricing and, and, and whatnot. But yeah, so all this, you know, all this, um, you know, this, these opportunities come in and we’re having to kind of test as we test as we go.

I dunno if I just answered your question or not? Sorry.

Tim Melanson: Yeah, definitely. Now. Um, so. When you talk about, uh, you know, undercharging, I think that’s really good next world. Like, uh, especially in home business. I think, I think a lot of people sort of undercharge what they, what they should be charging. So I guess the question is, how did you know you were undercharging?

Like, what was the metric that you found that you were like, okay, we’re we’re, we’re not, we’re not doing this right. Mm-hmm

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Roger Nairn: Yeah, I mean it wasn’t until actually we, we hired our head of operations, um, who came in and. Like we kind of, we kind of, um, I mentioned we were, you know, doing all these things while the train was hurtling down the tracks.

Well, we kind of got to a point where that head of operations came in and said, She essentially said, okay, you guys keep hurtling down the tracks, but I’m gonna isolate some of those projects that you just completed. And I’m gonna tell you whether they’re profitable or not. And she did all the, you know, ins and outs and research and figured out sort of all where all the costs were involved and, you know, and came back to us and said, these ones, you were these ones you weren’t, and it was a big eye opener for us because in the moment you’re just sort of in the fog of, of, of operations and just trying.

A get it done, but B get it done well. Um, and so you’re, you know, you’re constantly under that pressure and I’ve always been one of those sort of, you know, under promise and over deliver guys. I, I came from the advertising world. I was in client service in the advertising world. And so, you know, when, when, when these big brands come on board, I just wanna wow.

Them and just produce something awesome. And, you know, uh, have, you know, have some great creative in the world and, and. She took a beat and showed us where we were wrong in some places. And so we were able to, to, uh, correct from there.

Tim Melanson: Awesome. Now what about getting fans? What about, you know, getting eyeballs on your work?

what do you, what’s your, uh, approach to that?

Roger Nairn: I think the biggest piece of advice that’s worked for us is to be more of a giving organization than a, than a taking organization. And what, and what I mean by that is. Educating the market providing as much content to the market that is going to be of value.

And I truly believe that, you know, if, if, and when they’re ready to start working with you, they’ll, they’ll find a way to, to get in touch. And so we’ve really prided ourself in putting out, you know, blog posts and social posts and webinars, and just trying to. Get as much content out there with our, you know, with our face and, and sort of our point of view on it.

And that has always turned into more inbound. And so there’s other tactics that we’ve used, like, you know, doing some outbound cold calling, you know, just contacting some of these big brands, literally like, you know, at the Amazons and the Expedia and Lou lemons of the world and saying. What do we gotta do to work with you?

Because we’re really excited about the podcast world right now. We think that you have a great place in it. Here’s some initial ideas on what that could be. Let’s jump on a call and jam on some, some ideas. And just being like that open and honest about it has actually worked really, really well for us. I think not enough.

Companies do that, to be honest, I think they’re a bit shy when it comes to that. Um, you have to find a, you know, a, a, you have to find a, you know, a, a, an authentic way of doing that, cuz I think, you know, can come across as a bit salesy, but. Yeah, we’re always looking sort of six months down the road where those opportunities are.

You know, what we do is B2B sales essentially. And that can take upwards from four to nine months for a deal to go through. So we always have to be filling the filling, the, you know, the pipeline, um, and then, and then when we do have those clients try to retain them for as long as possible, you know, over servicing them, giving them a great experience, keeping the emotions high.

Um, and, and when we’re getting closer to a season of, of one of our podcasts, um, really start having those conversations about renewal and what a, you know, what a second season could look like and finding other opportunities to work with them within, within their organizations as. Yeah, I think,

Tim Melanson: I think that the landscape has changed a bit over the last, you know, 50 years.

I think, I think back then you just had to really put up a billboard and say, here I am, come hire me. But now the competition is everywhere. So, you know, you come into two categories, either you’re competing with everybody, you know, there’s a competition everywhere. Or like you said earlier, there’s nobody doing what you’re doing.

And so now you have to like educate the client on why they would need you in the first place, or you need to stand yourself out against everybody else, which like you say, if you go out there and start giving, well, people are gonna, you know, if they get value from what you’re, you know, putting out there, well, then that’s gonna give them the confidence that you know, what you’re doing and possibly even create a relationship.

Roger Nairn: Right. Oh, you totally, you totally nailed it. Yeah, for sure.

Tim Melanson: Right on, well, you know what? Let’s get right to your solo. tell me what’s exciting in your business right now.

Roger Nairn: Yeah, I mean, jar audio is, is, um, is built to just produce amazing podcasts for, uh, you know, for brands and organizations. So we’re really excited about meeting, you know, new, uh, new and existing organizations that want to get into the podcast space.

You know, we. With them on everything from the strategy to production, finding the right hosts and guests and music and editing and, you know, producing just great, great content, uh, and then marketing it, finding the right, you know, making sure it’s getting into the right ears, uh, analyzing all that data rinsing and repeating and, and just producing and growing, uh, uh, you know, audiences.

So can always reach out for, you know, reach out to We’d love to have a conversation jam on some ideas and see, uh, see if there’s a way to work together.

Tim Melanson: So what would be like the. Ideal client for you or so like somebody, like who would I be if, if I would be perfect for, for you?

Roger Nairn: Yeah, for us, it’s a, or you know, organization that has interesting stories to tell.

And, and let’s be honest. We don’t wanna be telling stories about the organization necessarily. Nobody wants to listen to a 20 or 30 minute ad, but you know, if you’re an organization that has. Possibilities of telling great stories that just happen to be brought to you by the brand. Then let’s do that.

Let’s let’s do that. Let’s put it in audio format and make sure that it’s, uh, incredible and listenable and something that is gonna be of value to your listeners and keep in mind that value can be. Everything from helpful content to entertaining content. You know, let’s tell let’s, let’s tell some fictional stories, you know, just happens to be brought to you by Starbucks or home Depot, but like a really cool fictional story would be incredible.

Um, so we, we, you know, we really look for brands that are willing to take, you know, that have to have a little bit of creative bravery that are willing to take some chances and are willing to, um, really lean into the storytelling medium and, and, uh, produce a great.

Tim Melanson: And so like, if, if I’m one of these companies, like, am. Like from what you said earlier, like you’re, you’re, you’re gonna find a host for them as well. Like, like mm-hmm is this something that they are gonna be spending a boatload of time on? Or is this something that you are really taking a lot of that off of them?

Roger Nairn: Yeah. I mean, we are very much a do it for use service.

But generally the client has a liaison that we’re working with. It’s similar to when a, when a, when a company works with like a, a marketing agency or an ad agency, you know, typically somebody from the marketing team is, is the main point of contact. You’ll involve senior people when it comes to. Certain decisions like the concept of the show, maybe the name of the show who the host is, but then the day to day is, is very much handled by us.

You know, we’re doing everything from developing marketing materials for the show to, you know, obviously all the editing and distribution of the show as well. Um, Lazing with the guests, finding the guests, doing the research on the guests, you know, for podcast interviews, we’re doing like pre-interviews with some of the guests to make sure we can pull out the right nuggets and make sure that our host is asking the right questions.

It’s a lot of work, but we handle it all. Um, and so, yes, it’s very much taken off their hands, but we’re not precious enough that they can’t still be involved if they, you know, if they want to. We’re also incredibly collaborative.

Tim Melanson: Right. Okay. Well, so that, I mean, that sounds awesome. And, and I would think that just about any business that’s established, uh, could use this, cuz you mentioned earlier a marketing agency.

So really instead of hiring a marketing agency, this might be an option for them. Right. They might want to go down the podcast route because it’s, it’s different and it’s, it’s reaching, you know, a different audience and it isn’t as salesy as it is. Informing right,

Roger Nairn: for sure. And, and, and, and I’ll also say that if there are any marketing agency owners out there, we do also white label ourselves and insert ourselves into the agency as a product offering or sorry, service offering to their clients.

And so we can work together to, you know, essentially strap on podcasting as a service of, of your.

Tim Melanson: Love it. Well, this has been a lot of fun rocking out with you today. Roger.

Roger Nairn: Thanks Tim. This is great.

Tim Melanson: Cool to the listeners. Make sure you subscribe right and comment, and we’ll see you next time. When the work at home rockstar podcast.

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