If you want to stand out in the world of business, a podcast can be an interesting point of difference.
This is like your own form of radio show and can be used to both educate your audience and promote what you do.
In contrast to a regular radio show, the amazing power of a podcast is you can reach anyone with it, anywhere in the world. All your audience needs is a device and an internet connection, and they can listen to what you have to say at any time.
I’ve been looking into the best practices of podcasting lately. Here’s what I have discovered:
What kind of businesses should start a podcast?
Generally, any business can delve into podcasting. You just have to be creative and think outside the box.
Let’s say, for example, you run a bakery. Hosting a monthly podcast can be a fun way to engage your audience and encourage people to visit your local area. Start off by sharing a few cupcake recipes then invite friends and contacts to appear as guests share their favourite baking tips. This type of podcast could quickly evolve into a partnership with the local tourism body. Your bakery podcast can be the umbrella for a range of other discussions, while still promoting your store.
Another example that comes to mind is an online flower delivery portal.
Imagine yourself as a florist and have a think about your customers. Who usually buys from you? What are these flowers for? Who’s apologising to who? Who’s celebrating what? This kind of business can talk about craziest reasons why someone has ordered flowers (without identifying them, of course). They can also do an episode explaining the meaning behind different blooms so people are more informed when they make a purchase.
As a national delivery service, a podcast has the potential to reach a lot of potential customers.
Just as you would in your blog posts, think of the struggles your target market faces and address them in different episodes.
[An IT business could create a podcast about cyber security]
The great thing about a podcast is it reaffirms your brand and its values. If you are a happy-go-lucky type of organisation, you can really have some fun. A business like a law office can improve their reputation for being professional and knowledgeable with a podcast that explains concepts in easy to understand terms.
The secret to podcasting is to avoid the hard sell. It is fine to occasionally mention what you have to offer but try not to sound like a broken record. Your customers will get the message from your content that you have a product or service worth discovering more about.
The benefits of having a podcast
There are so many advantages to creating a podcast!
For starters, it’s surprisingly simple and demands very little money and expertise. You can also produce as many or as few episodes as you like. Once they are out there, they can be accessed by a global audience at any time. This is particularly beneficial for border-less businesses which sell to a vast client base.
Another advantage of a podcast is it promotes you as a thought leader in your industry and your local area. When you share your expertise, you are instantly proving yourself to be a go-getter and self-starter. This can attract new opportunities such as articles in the media, invitations to appear on major radio stations, professional promotions and exciting new partnerships. If you’re lucky enough to have your podcast shared or mentioned by another influencer, you have opened the door to several thousand more potential buyers.
[Thought leader Tim Ferris promotes his publications with a podcast]
And, of course, a benefit of podcasting should be more sales. Having your own talk-show presents your brand in a positive light and sets you up as the expert. Who doesn’t want to buy from an expert? It is a very clever form of content marketing.
Finally, the podcasting space is a lot less crowded than you think. There are fewer than 300,000 podcasts out there and most are not business related.
Consider a specific topic like ‘Divorce Law’. When you search for this in your podcast app, there is not a lot of Australia-based content which comes up. Imagine if you were looking to grow this part of your legal business… it’s not a bad niche to break into!
[Look for a niche and fill it with your own podcast series]
How to get started with a podcast
Starting a podcast does require a small investment in terms of time and money but it should pay off for you.
Take these steps:
Buy or borrow your recording equipment. At the very least, you need a microphone, a recording device, some audio editing software, and a platform to upload your recordings to. Check out some online equipment reviews before you decide what to spend your money on.
Plan your content. Come up with a few episode content ideas at a time.
It’s best to prepare an entire season of podcasts before getting started as this will prevent you from doing a couple of episodes and running out of steam. With each episode, think of how you can address common customer concerns. Jot some notes down about what you will talk about ahead of time and make sure the content is relevant to your business.
Map out the broadcast schedule and the rundown format for your show. Questions to ask yourself include: How often will you release your content? How long will each episode be? How many topics will you cover per episode? What’s your title and your tagline? How will you introduce yourself? What audio will you use to start, finish and establish breaks in your show?
Practice your microphone technique and listen back to yourself. No matter how good your content is, your podcast will fall flat if you don’t sound confident and polished. Before you do your first official take, record yourself and get a feel for working with the microphone. Ask a friend for feedback – it is hard to judge yourself sometimes! Get them to let you know if you have too many ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and if you are relying on a crutch like ‘you know’, or ‘I mean’.
How to promote your podcast
The old adage of “If you build it, they will come” does not apply to podcasts! Once you have uploaded your broadcast, you need to make sure people know about it. Like anything, the success of a podcast is determined by how well it is advertised. Make sure your podcast is promoted on your business’s social media accounts and that you share the link in your regular newsletter and on your website.
A smart way to build an audience is to hold contests. During your podcast, ask a simple question and offer a prize for the first people who post an answer to your social media page. Better yet, think of a way to encourage your listeners to share your podcast with their network.
Inviting special guests is another way to widen your reach. Your guests can share your podcast with their network. You can also offer to be a guest on other podcasts or radio shows and give your broadcast a mention during your appearance.
Podcast dos and don’ts
Podcasting takes commitment and must be approached with professionalism
Firstly, there is no point in having a podcast if you do not have anything useful to share so make sure the content is relevant and engaging. It must also be entertaining! If you are droning on endlessly about the minutiae of your favourite topic you will quickly lose listeners.
Develop a consistent format with regular ‘stingers’ (tones which break up your segments) and a theme song or tune to establish the credibility of your podcast. Make sure you are not breaching copyright rules by searching for ‘free podcast audio’ and reading the fine print before you download.
It is also important to avoid talking over other people if you plan to co-host your podcast or invite a guest in to interview. Limit the ‘ah-ha’ and ‘uh-huhs’ and instead nod your head while they are speaking. Radio hosts and tv producers rely on a hand signal, spiralling their finger in a circle when it is time to ‘wind it up’.
Invite feedback to create a dialogue with your audience. Get them to post on social media or email you and respond in your next broadcast. This builds engagement and can help you generate new topic ideas.
Finally, spread your podcast far and wide. Forbes recommends listing it on: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, blubrry, Podbay, and Podtail for a start.
As you can see, a podcast is a clever content marketing technique to engage a potentially global audience. Like with anything in business, you must approach its creation professionally and ensure you have a clear purpose.
What’s most important is to have fun! You never know what opportunities your podcast experiment will lead to so get it up and running, and get it out there.