Judging a Podcast by its Cover.

ROTOMA the book is out, and needs a playmate.

ROTOMA—The ROI of Social Media ‘Top of Mind’ is out and selling nicely (thank you very much), and we’re adding a lot of new members to the Tribe Called ROTOMA almost every day. But laurels are not for sitting on, and both Spencer X. Smith (my co-author) and I are way to antsy to just let things gather dust. So what are a couple of such dudes supposed to do now that the book is published? Start a companion podcast.


As a rabid podcast consumer (current fav: Gimlet Media’s StartUp), I love the medium for its ability to make commutes a lot shorter, waits outside swim practice a lot more productive, and even lawn-mowing something to look forward to. But as ROTOMA advises, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be one of the 99% who are passive podcast consumers when you’ve got a lot to say and share yourself. A lot of material didn’t make the book. Not because it wasn’t worthy, but because we wanted to keep it something a little more approachable than War and Peace.


So Spencer and I are recording away, creating a first tranche of episodes for our launch in mid-November—and I know I speak for both of us when I say we’re pretty excited and proud about how the episodes are turning out. But this blog post isn’t about the content of the episodes. It’s about the container each will come in.


Learn to love the Pod.


If you’re not a podcast aficionado, it’s worth taking a look at this growing phenomenon for a sec. Podcasts have been around since…the very first iPod. I remember seeing a copy of Wired magazine with a feature on former MTV V-Jay Adam Curry in 2005 talking about this exciting new medium. 2005. To say it took a while to catch on is an understatement.

From the Wired feature story ‘Adam Curry Wants to Make You an iPod Radio Star,’ 2005.  Photo: ANDREW HETHERINGTON; DIGITAL MANIPULATION BY MICHAEL ELINS

Then a little podcast called Serial came along, and everything changed.

Once a pain in the pod to find, download and listen to, podcasts today are just one click away via a growing variety of iOS and Android podcast players. My fav? Marco Arment’s Overcast on iOS.


And now with podcast apps coming out in just about every new car coming off the lot as a standard feature, this medium is set for EXPLOSIVE growth. If you don’t listen today, you will soon. After all, with radio stations delivering the same lowest common denominator crap 24/7, being able to choose exactly when and what you want to listen to is addictive in the very best way.


But again, this post isn’t going deep about the medium. It’s going deep into our marketing of podcast by looking at the most persistent visual aspect of it: it’s ‘cover’ image. As a species, we’ve been judging books by their cover since…the invention of books. The LP album cover used to be the state of the art in content and marketing. But now it’s been relegated to a thumbnail-sized image on a screen.

iTunes Podcast New & Noteworthy Page All podcasters have to capture folks is that little square image. Not a lot of real estate for a billboard for sure. Got to grab the viewer by the eyeballs and make your sale fast, all while in a very busy visual space. Think it calls for a few (or all) design tricks? Yes, it does.


We have a book cover. Now we need to podcastize it.


The challenge? How to make it fit. The ROTOMA book cover is a freight train of information—and next to none of it can fit in the measly little space available in square allotted to accompany the digital file. So where to start? Distillation.


I was fortunate to find the arresting photo we used for the cover at pexels.com, an outstanding free resource for content marketers seeking well above-average photographic imagery for their posts.

Those eyes are evocative, mysterious and provocative. I’d like to say I chose the photo for them, but I didn’t. I chose it for her vast tracts of forehead real estate.


The cover concept was pretty simple: to create a composite image that illustrated the concept of ‘top of mind.’ Tattooed on your forehead—a little to ‘on the nose/forehead?’ You decide. But the goal was to have a master image that would draw people from across the presentation room, the trade show aisle, or in this use case, the iTunes podcast page.


After creating a number of variations, I decided to take a page out of Neal Schaffer’s playbook and use social media as a focus group. Since ROTOMA is primarily a business book, I chose to post only to LinkedIn for input. Here’s a screenshot showing the four possible options:



The results were really interesting. Option D ‘won’ the vote by almost 6 to 1 over even the second highest vote getter. My intial favs were both c and D. I loved the clean contrast between the graphic black & white elements and the photo. But I also liked the ‘as big as we can get them’ eyes and ROTOMA tattoo seen in Option D.

Apparently, black is the new black.

My standard operating procedure in such a case is simple: put them in situ. And guess what: black is really popular. Looking back at the original screenshot above, of the 16 options shown, six+ had significant black elements, and one other was such a dark blue that it might as well have been black. Hmmm.


I knew we were on to something when I tried this in situ exercise. I took the A and D options, and just plugged them into the screenshot. It’s pretty clear to me that D was not only the winner of the LinkedIn popularity contest, it’s also a winner when compared to the other podcasts on the page. And so this is the one we’re going with.


I juiced the color saturation to take advantage of the RGB color space she lives in online and on mobile. The ‘Top of Mind’ title is literally top of the image. The ROTOMA tattoo and green eyes image is just about as big in the frame as we can possibly make it. And it has a great addition suggested by my friend John Kuehl, CEO of Hankr: “I like “A”, but with the mic replaced with your names. (Are most of the contexts in which the cover art appears contexts in which the consumer knows he or she is looking at a podcast? If so, is the mic necessary? Could that space be better used?)” Great idea, John. Done.


ROTOMA the Podcast goes live Monday, November 13th. Look for it wherever you download quality audio products (iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud). And please, let Spencer and I know what you think about the podcast by contacting me directly at dp@rotomathepodcast.com


– D.P. Knudten > Chief Collaborator > COLLABORATOR creative

©2017 D.P. Knudten / COLLABORATOR creative – all rights reserved



D.P. Knudten, the Chief Collaborator at COLLABORATOR creative, is a ~25-year veteran in advertising and marketing. Providing everything from highly personalized marketing consulting; custom copywriting; content marketing strategy, creation, execution; and his NonFiction Branding™ system, D.P. collaborates creatively to identify, craft, and communicate the true brand stories of complicated products, services, and companies, and shares his personal POV about all the above—and more—via speaking opportunities to groups throughout the U.S.


D.P. is also the co-author (with Spencer X Smith) of ROTOMA—The ROI of Social Media ‘Top of Mind’