Video, video, video. Wherever you look on the internet, the message is the same. Video is where it’s at in 2019. And that’s true — to an extent. Though video may have killed the radio star, podcasting has brought audio-only content back with a vengeance.

A (Super) Brief History of Podcasting

In 2004, the first podcast show, The Daily Source Code launched. The program was hosted by former MTV VJ Adam Curry, who is widely considered the “Podfather” of podcasting. In 2005, podcasts became available to widespread audiences when Apple made podcasts accessible via iTunes. The rest is history. 

Podcasting has absolutely blown up in the past few years, a trend many credit to highly popular shows like This American Life’s Serial, which brought people who had never listened to podcasts into the medium.

Today, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts and more than 29 million podcast episodes. 

Podcasts aren’t just for news organizations or entertainment personalities though. Today, there are a wide variety of businesses (both large and small) that produce branded podcasts.

Is a Podcast Right For Your Business?

Think you need to have a sexy product to create a podcast? Not so! Successful branded podcasts have come from a wide variety of companies including McDonalds, eBay, ZipRecruiter, Basecamp and more.

Podcasts are a great way to inexpensively market your business or service. However, before you buy that microphone and start writing a script, you’ll want to ask yourself some important questions.

  • Why do you want to start a podcast? Of course building your business, increasing sales, getting visibility are the big picture reasons for most companies. However, why podcasting as opposed to other platforms? Before beginning you’ll want to be able to answer why this is a good fit for your business.
  • Who are you targeting? Are they a demographic interested in podcasts? Don’t make assumptions, look at the data. 
  • What value will you bring? Value can be provided in the form of education, entertainment or insight. There’s no one way of providing value, but you will have to figure out what that value will be and build your podcast around that.
  • What will your topic or theme be? Your podcast should not be an ad for your product or service. There should be some connection to your business, but it need not be overly apples-to-apples. (A computer company need not do a podcast on computers.)
    An example of an out-of-the-box idea is General Electric’s podcast. “The Message” is a science fiction podcast in a journalistic style. In the podcast, scientists work to decode extraterrestrial messages using real technology developed and sold by General Electric.
  • What is the competition like in that space? You may have a great idea for a podcast, but if the market is already overly saturated in that topic, you’re going to have a tough time breaking in as a newbie. Before investing too much time or money, research what’s out there. Find out whether there is a space for you, and how you will differentiate yourself from other podcasts on similar topics.
  • Do you have the bandwidth and resources? It is of critical importance that podcasts are produced on a frequent and regular basis. If your podcast is once a week it must be every week and on the same day. Make sure before you begin that you actually have the resources (time in particular) to stay committed. 

So you’ve decided to take the plunge into podcasting. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when developing your programs.

Tips for creating a great podcast

  • Identify your purpose, mission and vision. Make sure everything you do aligns with that.
  • Choose a topic you can commit to that is interesting, impactful, and will provide value to the demographic you are targeting.
  • Find the right host for your podcast. Maybe that’s you, maybe someone else. Either way he/she should be engaging, dynamic, personable and comfortable in the podcasting medium.
  • Make sure you have the right microphone and audio equipment, and a recording area free from distractions and background noise. 
  • Decide how often, and when, you will release your podcast. Make sure you set realistic expectations for what you are able to deliver. As mentioned before, consistency and frequency are both extremely important. 
  • Create a content calendar with topics and any guests lined up well in advance.
  • Write up a well-developed script. Whether you read the script word-for-word during the recording, or whether it is purely an outline to guide you, you will need to have a clearly defined and detailed plan.
  • It will likely take a while to really find your rhythm and build an audience. Commit to at least 6 months as a starting point. 

Unlike a certain magical baseball field in Iowa, “If you build it they will come” does not apply to the world of podcasts. In order to have a successful podcast, you’ll need to build an audience through effective marketing. Here are some good tips on how to do just that.

Tips for Marketing Your Podcast

  • Choose a unique and catchy title for your podcast, and have a logo designed. You’ll need both to be able to publish your podcast.
  • Publish your episodes to all major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, which will replace the soon to be retired iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and the Agora Podcast Network.
  • Ask your audience to rate and review the podcast on those platforms.
  • Promote the podcast heavily on your social media pages, and any guests’ pages.
  • Build relationships with other podcasters with complementary topics and similar audiences. Try to use these relationships to secure guest appearances or cross-promotion opportunities. 
  • Consider promoting your podcast with video that you post to YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. 

Podcasting offers great opportunities for businesses with a compelling, interesting and valuable message. With thoughtful planning, dynamic content and strategic execution, it just may be the right fit for your business!