It seems like everyone has a podcast these days. Programs like "Serial" and "Lore" have become cultural phenomenons, reaching millions of people with every episode.
But does podcasting have a place for your business?
Absolutely! Yes, there are more podcasts now than ever before. But the audience is always looking for quality content – and that audience is also growing steadily. Also consider that podcast listeners aren't necessarily the same people connecting on social media or reading your blog posts. Audio content gives you access to a different audience than you reach already.
How to start a podcast
Getting started can feel overwhelming, though. So let's break it down step by step. By the end of this article you should have an understanding of everything you'll need to launch your business' first podcast.
Define Your Audience
Like every other type of B2B marketing content, successful podcasts start with the audience in mind. If you make it all about them instead of all about yourself, a podcast is a great platform to build your brand.
Start by sketching out a profile of your ideal listener. These questions can get you started:
- How old are they?
- What do they do for work?
- Are they married?
- What do they expect to get from your podcast?
We need to make sure this audience actually listens to podcasts. If there are popular podcasts in similar niches, that's a good sign that the market demand is there.
Select Podcast Topics Interesting to Your Audience
Once you've defined your audience, it's time to think about which topics you'd like to cover. These aren't always the same things your audience wants to hear!
The last thing you would want to do is drone on about topics you find fascinating but bore your audience to tears. Think of a web designer talking about the subtleties of the latest version of HTML. This would be perfect if you're trying to reach other designers to establish yourself as a thought leader, but if you're looking for clients, not so much.
Marketing Profs puts this nicely in a Venn diagram. Imagine three circles: 1) your goals, 2) what you care about, and 3) what your audience needs. Fertile grounds for podcast topics lie at the intersection between those three.
Podcasts offer a ton of flexibility with format. There are one-person shows, group panels, interviews, and even recreations of old radio dramas. It doesn't just have to be one person talking to a microphone alone.
What will work best for your business podcast?
Consider your target audience and the topics you plan to cover. Those factors will help guide you to the best decision. Long-form interviews work best for the The Tim Ferriss Show, for instance, because he focuses on in-depth tips from how successful people approach life.
Practical considerations matter as well. It's easier to produce podcasts by yourself than to find people to interview, schedule times, and make sure their audio equipment is up for the job. The same goes for formats with co-hosts. However, landing high-profile guests give your podcast instant credibility.
How to name a podcast
Naming a podcast is like naming a product or even a business. You don't just want to go with the first thing that comes to mind. Take some time to come up with something truly memorable.
Keep things simple if you can. Notice how some of the most popular podcasts have names with only one or two words. Think of Serial, Lore, The Daily (from the New York Times), and the HBR IdeaCast. These are easy to remember while hinting at the content within.
Some podcasts just borrow the name of the creator or brand. Some examples include Duct Tape Marketing, Smart Passive Income, and The GaryVee Audio Experience. This can work well if you've already developed strong brand recognition in your industry.
Brainstorm a list of title ideas, then run them by people within and outside of your company. Which ones resonate best?
Once you've checked to make sure there isn't another podcast with the same (or too similar) name on iTunes, run with it. The title of your podcast won't matter as much as the content you produce, so don't get paralyzed by this decision!
How to record a podcast
The technical side of podcasting makes a lot of would-be podcasters hesitant. While there are some things to learn and equipment to invest in, it's not as difficult as you might think.
The most important thing: ensuring high audio quality. Thankfully, equipment and tools are available now that make this possible without the hefty price tags.
Start with a microphone. Like most audio equipment, there are huge price variations between entry-level and pro level options. Check out this list for a great rundown. Once you have a mic (or mics), you'll need to decide how you want to record your podcast. A host of options are available, though your choice will depend on whether you're running a Mac or PC.
Navigating this learning curve is probably the toughest part of podcasting. But you can always start small and upgrade your equipment over time. Do yourself a favor by finding yourself a quiet room, turning off your phone, and eliminating all the distractions. This makes it that much easier to get a quality final product.
Podcast Hosting and Distribution
You'll want to spread your podcast far and wide to build a large audience. Most businesses use a two-pronged strategy of hosting and distribution.
Think of it like writing a blog post. You'll want to publish it on your own website of course (“hosting”), but it would also be great to get it syndicated on large websites like Forbes and Medium (“distribution”). Doing both of these things makes the most of your valuable content.
You can host your podcast with services like Libsyn, Podiant, or Blubrry. Most starter plans run between $10 and $15 a month. Here's a great list of podcast hosting services. Many of these services distribute your podcasts on platforms like iTunes and Stitcher. That said, you can always do this on your own. The biggest investment is the time it will take to create your accounts and figure out workflow.
You can even distribute your podcasts on video platforms like YouTube. Plenty of podcasts are uploaded there in audio-only form because it gives creators access to a huge traffic source.
Pre-Plan a Few Episodes in Advance
Before you start releasing podcasts, build up a bank of a few episodes, particularly if your topic isn't time sensitive (this will be harder if you are reacting to news). A little preparation now will save you from a lot of frustration later on.
It takes time to figure out hosting, distributing your podcast across various platforms, and promotion. At least at first, that can get in the way of consistent podcast production.
Having a few episodes ready frees up those first few weeks for you to figure everything out. Once your bank of episodes is almost all released, you can ease back into production.
Create a Podcast Promotion Strategy
Simply distributing your podcast to all the popular platforms might get some downloads, but to really have your audience take off, you'll need to use other forms of podcast promotion.
Consider the assets you have already. If you have an email list with a few thousand subscribers, you could link to your podcast and let them know whenever a new is released.
Pull intriguing quotes from your shows and tease them on social media. It's also a great idea to have your podcast transcribed. This gives people another way to consume the content, as well as your business an SEO boost because it's easier for search engines to find it.
Above all, track your results to see what works best. Your promotion strategy will likely evolve with time, and you should constantly be exploring new ways to get listeners to your podcast.
Don't Give Up – and Listen to Feedback
Even if you do everything exactly right, building a large audience takes time. Countless podcasts launch but never persevere long enough to get traction. Once motivation wanes, they give up.
Not you, though! Decide on a consistent schedule and commit to it for at least six months. One podcast a week, done consistently, is more effective than three or four one week, then months of nothing. Dial down the frequency if you have to, but don't sacrifice your consistency. If your audience knows when to expect your next episode, listening will become a habit.
Treat listener feedback is gold. Pay attention to which episodes get the most downloads; focus on those topics moving forward. If you get specific notes about audio quality or ideas for guests, take them into consideration. You aren't building your podcast all alone. Invite your audience to help shape the experience.
If you're looking for a new way to build your brand and connect with an audience, why not give podcasting a shot?
Don't let a lack of knowledge trip you up before you even start. By following the steps above, you can simplify the process into manageable chunks. You'll learn as you go – and continue to improve.
Your voice is uniquely valuable. It's time for your audience to hear it.