What is a Podcast?
Well, that’s actually quite a broad question as the answer really depends on who you ask. A podcast is a digital audio file that can be saved, downloaded, and streamed on various platforms (like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc). Some are geared towards entertainment while others provide informative, how-to content. They’re produced by anyone and everyone ranging from major studios with name talent to a couple of friends recording in a makeshift basement studio.
A recent survey from Statista shows that nearly 6 out of 10 US consumers above the age of 12 listen to podcasts, with 32% listening monthly. That’s a staggering number that makes a lot of sense, as there has been a 23% increase in consumption of podcasts since 2010.
So yes, podcasting is a hot commodity but now the question becomes:
“Does a podcast make sense for my business and if so – how do I get started?”
Podcasts for Business
It’s important to acknowledge the fact that a podcast may not make sense for your business. The broader general public seems to consume a lot of podcast content, but what about your ideal clients? Have you spoken to them to see what platforms they are on and what content they are actively searching for, let alone find interesting? A lot of that centers around who you are trying to reach and how to develop a proper B2B marketing strategy.
So how can you, as a business, utilize this new and emerging form of media distribution? Well, the simplest answer is to make one of your own! Launching a podcast to represent your company or brand can be a wonderful and effective marketing tool for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost - it’s robust.
Podcasts are considered “long-form content,” as episodes typically span from 20-45 minutes. This provides audio and graphic designers, copywriters, and social media managers the ability to create micro-content from the larger long-form asset:
- Article write-ups for SEO
- Audio snippets for social media
- Graphics / highlights for email campaigns
Instead of producing one-off graphics or videos that are individually informed and created, each podcast episode provides dozens of snippet-worthy bits of information. This cuts down on writing, planning, and creation costs as the original content is simply reformatted for several different platforms.
Turnaround times are lightning fast.
You can get an episode conceptualized, recorded, edited and out to your listener’s ears within a day if you have the proper procedures in place. Marketers love to hear this as most other sustained marketing initiatives can take weeks from concept to completion.
It lends personality.
Producing a podcast that your prospective customers are listening to also gives them a better sense of who you are and what you can offer before meeting in person. Furthermore, purchasing decisions are easier to make when the consumer is familiar with the brand in question, especially in the B2B service space.
It establishes you as the industry expert.
As long as the host of the podcast is personable and knows what they are talking about – it’s likely prospects will look to your brand as the “thought leader” in your space.
In all, podcasts are a great way to produce quality content at scale and are hard to beat when it comes to building rapport with prospects and clients alike.
Podcast Best Practices
So, if a podcast makes sense for your brand, here are a few things to consider in your pursuit of podcast success:
1. Make sure that you have something unique to offer
There are currently over 800,000 active podcasts in the world, a number that has grown massively in the last few years. So popularity is great, however, this wealth of information creates a poverty of attention – how are you going to stand out?Here are a few things to consider:
What will your ideal clients find value in? Are they looking for entertainment or insight? What types of information are they searching for but have difficulty finding? Once again, it’s best to ask them (either individually or via survey) to try and get a grasp of what content and format would work best.
A litmus test for determining this is asking a simple question:
“If I listen to this podcast, what does it make me?”
Does it make you a DIY-junkie? Does it make you a project manager with cutting edge ideas? Does it make you a marketer up to speed on all the latest trends?
Think about how it will empower them – that is first and foremost.
What is the competition not doing? Are they interviewing people within their organization or are all of their guests external? Does the host simply ask questions or is it more conversational? It’s worth analyzing five or so competitors in your space to see what they’re doing. Then ask yourself,“how can I create something that speaks to this audience even better?”
Ultimately you have to ask yourself, “if someone were to listen to my podcast, what would that make them?”
If you’re able to provide unique entertainment or provide helpful expertise to a receptive listener, then you’ve created a loyal listener.
2. Develop a consistent release schedule
Once you’ve nailed the premise of your show, you are going to want to determine a release schedule that works for you. Be it daily, weekly, or monthly – this is where you really want to be honest with yourself regarding your recording and editing schedule. The only thing as important as the quality of the work you’re producing is the consistency in which you release it. Nothing halts momentum in listener growth more than a gap in episodes.
Can you maintain creating one, 30-minute episode each week or three, 10-minute episodes each week? The optimal strategy for length and schedule of your episodes is likely the longest length you can maintain consistently. The more episodes you can upload while maintaining the same release schedule, the better the discovery rate and the higher the audience retention.
3. Obtain the right equipment
Once you have the plan in place, how do you record it? The bare essentials for any podcast are a microphone for each person speaking, recording software or a recording device to capture the audio, editing software to prepare the podcast for upload, and a reliable hosting platform that works for you. Audio is king in podcasting.
Even if your plans involve video or live broadcasting for your podcast, clear and clean voice recording is the foremost way to deliver your message and put your best foot forward.
You should purchase the best equipment that is within your budget and works with your space. For instance, some types of microphones pick up more environmental sound, which can be bad for voice clarity, but provide really rich vocals in the right set-up.
Alternatively, some microphones block out the surrounding sounds, which is good, but make the voice recording sound a bit more tinny or canned. It’s important when choosing a microphone to properly identify what your recording space will sound like during a regular session.
4. Create your recording plan
As far as the actual recording process goes – have a plan. Be sure to find a quiet place to record and soundproof the area as much as possible. Studios, individual offices, and smaller rooms are the ideal locations for podcast production, as the small space and noise dampening surfaces make for clear, echo-free voice recordings.
5. Develop your editing process
Recording an episode is half the battle when it comes to making your podcast. Once you’ve finished with that you’re on to the next phase. Editing your podcast is a relatively simple process once you’re familiar with it and will mostly consist of removing dead air, unwanted mouth noises, and filler words such as “um” and “ah”.
The programs you can use to edit your podcast come in all shapes and sizes and span the spectrum from free to expensive. I recommend additional research to determine which program will benefit your show most.
I’m partial to Adobe Audition for the audio and Adobe Premiere for any video components. Once you’ve finished up with editing your first episode you’ll want to export it as an mp3 to ensure compatibility across most podcast players.
6. Establish your publication process
Congratulations, you’ve created your first episode! This is a huge step but we’re not finished yet. Next you will need to choose a hosting platform where you’ll be uploading your episodes.
Much like editing software, there’s a large variety of hosting services at different price points and I recommend researching each one to ensure their data plan matches your needs. Your hosting platform is where you’ll be housing all of your episodes so make sure it’s correct for you; moving to another service once you’ve started uploading episodes can be a real hassle.
Now that you’ve got your episode ready and your hosting platform selected, you probably want to get that mp3 file uploaded. Not so fast! We still have to complete one of the most important parts of the process: selecting your cover art.
7. Design your cover art
You want to choose something that makes you stand out among other shows in your category. For instance, if all of the other business podcasts have blue cover art, your show is really going to pop if you have predominantly orange artwork. You’ll also want to ensure that anyone browsing through the Apple charts will be able to determine what your podcast is about at a glance.
Here are the art specifications that Apple requires and are pretty universal across all podcast aggregates:
-3000 x 3000 pixels
-72 dpi resolution
-PNG or JPEG file type
-Recommended file size of ~500 kb
The biggest things to avoid when choosing your artwork are headphones and microphones. The amount of podcasts featuring one of these two items is staggering and you’re sure to get lost in the shuffle. Keep words to a minimum as they can muddy the clarity of the image. Typically just the show name should be featured in your cover art.
8. Craft compelling copy
The last step before uploading your podcast is to write a show description. Make sure to be clear and concise, limiting yourself to one paragraph. Try as best as you can to boil down your show into something that will entice a complete stranger to spend their time listening to you talk.
Be sure you’re putting your best foot forward and ensure your show isn’t flagged as spam by avoiding any grammatical errors. Each episode should also include a unique, short description of the episode itself.
Now that you’ve navigated all the pitfalls of recording, editing, and uploading you should have an episode that everyone can listen to. It’s time to sit back and let those listeners roll in. But why isn’t anyone downloading your show?
9. Get Listed
Promotion is a wild beast and everyone is going to approach it differently. My goal here is to arm you with the basics that should apply to every show.
First off, you’re going to want to get listed by Apple podcasts. Apple podcasts, formerly iTunes, houses a directory of 800,000 podcasts and is the main space where people will be finding your show. Submitting a podcast to them is as simple as visiting Apple Connect and filling out a form.
The approval process can take up to 2 weeks so be sure to factor that into any roll out plans that you may have for your podcast. You’ll also want to get listed with Spotify and Google Podcasts, both of which have a very similar process to Apple.
10. Promote, Promote, Promote!
Now that you have your first episode scheduled for release, how are you building up excitement for it? There are a variety of ways to let the world know about your upcoming podcast and each business is going to have their own unique way. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started on your journey to your perfect promotion plan.
It’s a great idea to find some really great clips from your podcast that you believe work without context. These can be really funny or insightful moments that you think would convert someone just passing by online. You’ll then want to package those moments.
If you have video make clips, otherwise use your cover art as a background with a waveform of the audio placed over it. These clips can then be uploaded to your social media channel of choice. A really solid clip from your podcast packaged professionally provides a great snapshot of what listeners can expect from a full episode.
An email is a great way to remind someone that a new episode has been released. If you have an existing email list you can leverage that to let people know about your upcoming show and how it may benefit them as someone who is already receiving messages from your brand. This can be a great way to create a vocal and robust fan base at launch that will help your audience grow from the get-go.
Creating a social media account for your podcast can be an incredibly useful tool to help build a community. Your listeners will want to have a place where they can engage and let you know what they thought of the latest episode. This is also where you’ll want to post any micro content to get people excited in between uploading new content.
These are a few tried and true of options for promotion, but you’ll have to figure out what works best for your specific show. Not every show will necessarily benefit from all of the above. It’s a good idea to see what works best with your target audience and focus your energy there.
Once you have your show recorded, uploaded, and promoted – you’re going to start to see some of the amazing benefits that this format provides.
They’ll at you as the authority in your space
If you’ve created a show that truly speaks to people and provides them with entertainment or advice – then you are going to be right at the top of their list when they need a service that your company provides.
They’ll recommend you
If your podcast has offered something useful or valuable to someone – then they will forever associate you with that feeling. After all, as Marty Neumeier would say, a brand is a person’s gut feeling. Even if a listener has no need of your actual service, they’ll be happy to mention you to their friends.
In other words, podcasts are a winning strategy in securing the most elusive and effective tool of marketing: word of mouth.
They’ll understand what you have to offer
Another great benefit of podcasting is the additional time the platform provides you to properly explain and build awareness for what you have to offer.
I once worked for a carpet cleaning company that I won’t name here, but their cleaning method was very scientific and supremely effective which also meant it was more expensive. Customer service would spend hours on the phone daily trying to explain to customers why this cleaning service cost more than the competition.
Now imagine for a moment if some of those customers had tuned into a hypothetical podcast that this company could have made. This podcast could have focused on providing cleaning tips and advice, but certain episodes could have featured the science behind the service that the company offered.
Beyond this hypothetical podcast itself – blogs, micro content, and snippets to explain the differences of their process. All in an effort to educate and empower their customers – a robust strategy indeed!
The main takeaway that I’d like to leave you with is how much a podcast can set you apart from your competition. By starting a podcast you’re not only opening yourself up to a mostly untapped market, but you’re also building a sense of community around your brand. Future clientele and satisfied listeners alike will have something to speak on and engage with beyond the basics of your offerings.
Podcasting is a platform with a massively growing audience and as the world returns to working in the office they will once again need someone talking in their ear to fill their commute time. Podcasts are built into people’s daily routines and that audience is always looking for more shows to listen to. Now is the perfect time to get started with your show to position your brand and podcast into your listener’s daily lives. The barrier to entry is low and the payoffs can be massive.