I've always told people that one of the best ways to make your podcast stand out is by putting an emphasis on format, audio quality and running time. When you consider how many podcasters DON'T do that, it's easy to understand why it can help you make your mark. However, another way to shine is through creativity. In other words, you don't just revert to what everyone else does, and instead, you think outside the box.
If you think about it, This American Life could be a typical interview show. However, Ira Glass masterfully weaves it all into a three-part theme mixed with music and narrative. On the simpler side of things, Michael Stelzner's Social Media Marketing Podcast IS a pretty traditional interview format. However, it's presented via an Australian explorer who is helping you navigate the jungles of social media. That's a fantastic example of doing something a little different than most other shows.
When I decided to launch a geek culture talk show, I knew I was moving into a crowded space. You'll find plenty of geek discussion podcasts out there today, and I needed to offer a reason for people to check out my version of one. So, Assembly of Geeks was a part audio drama-like story that set-up the talking points. It was presented as if the hosts, listeners and guests converged on a fortress to discuss what's happening in the geek world. When life outside of podcasting made it difficult to continue producing, I had to transition it into a more traditional talk show format. However, The Geek Directive features a virtual host that infuses challenges and questions into the program. So, I still managed to give it something unique.
My very first spin-off show was a podcast that covered each episode of the Agent Carter TV series. Now, I could've just produced a simple open, had us come on and discuss the show and conclude it. Many TV show focused podcasts will do that.
However, I wanted to do more with the theme, and it made for a better program. In The Peggy Carter Podcast, I opened each show with an old school reporter who set the scene for that week's episode. Plus, we took two breaks and played actual 1940s radio commercials (consistent with the show's time period).
I was asked to develop a podcast concept for a healthcare company, but they didn't want it to just be a boring medical talk show. There needed to be elements that made it a little more engaging. Their blogs consisted of advice/education on back pain, neck pain, muscle aches, body care and migraines. So, I took inspiration from them and developed an idea -
A "radio program" that showcased scripted skits that featured some of that same educational insight, and include an in-depth interview with an expert as the centerpiece. So, I wrote and produced a Car Talk parody, a Johnny Carson/Tonight Show parody, a old school film-like skit series, a Muppet Lab inspired skit and much more. They all had health lessons and tips mixed into them.
The other creative challenge was a title for the program. Typical healthcare/health/body/mind terminology was commonly used in a lot of content titles. So, I needed to break out of those words and go in a more "out of the box" direction. The show was focused on the mind and body. So, I took body and mixed it with noggin and made BodNog Radio: Radio That's Good For Your Body and Your Noggin.
So, there's plenty of creative routes to take when attempting to put your stamp on a podcast. It could be as simple as the open/close/bumpers, or production elements that add to the presentation. It can also be how you choose to talk about a topic. It doesn't have to re-invent the wheel; it just needs to be something only you bring to the table.
If you are serious about gaining loyal blog readers or potential customers, you need to focus on consistency and content quality. Give people a reason to subscribe or keep coming back because they know you're constantly sharing posts that are engaging, informative and/or entertaining. Many times, people know they need to infuse both of these qualities into their blog strategy, but then there's that other challenge -
What is there to blog about?
Well, first off, let me just say that there are plenty of blogs out there that will answer such a question. However, the actual amount of practical and usable information can vary. So, here are a couple of books to help you get inspired and get started.
Born to Blog by Mark W. Schaffer & Stanford A. Smith
I've recommended this book on several occasions. It's 165 pages of easy to understand insights on how to blog. The authors share personal stories on their own blogging experiences. This includes dealing with the fears and challenges that are very common among bloggers. Read this, and let them tell you how to break through the roadblocks that come with launching and growing a blog. The blend of personal experiences, valuable research, practical advice and success stories will benefit the personal or business blogger. I like the way they tell readers how to develop content while keeping their expectations in check. Inevitably, they want doubting readers to understand that they can be bloggers
They ASK You ANSWER by Marcus Sheridan
At the very first Social Media Marketing World conference, I got to hear Marcus Sheridan's awesome story about how he exploded his swimming pool business through blogging. A key component of his strategy was simple: take common customer questions, and answer them in blogs. Businesses can really stump themselves with trying to come up with "brilliant" blog topics, when simplicity can be extremely beneficial. The fact is, people look for ANSWERS online, and if they find YOUR solutions...you become a trusted source. Since then, Marcus has been sharing his knowledge and strategies with other businesses. I'm so glad he put it all into a book!
Even in 2017, there are still plenty of businesses that haven't fully embraced social and content strategies that could help their bottom line. Many of the misconceptions include questions about how they benefit organizations and fear of time/resources needed to produce content. If you have concerns about launching a podcast for your business, let me provide some relief by wrecking some mental barriers.
BARRIER: Nobody is going to listen to our business podcast.
WRECKING BALL: Nobody is going to hear it you if you don't make one.
I remember when Amy Porterfield launched her podcast. Here's a woman who makes a living on the internet, and believe me - she has people who listen. Nonetheless, she felt inspired to launch her own show to the help her business and her brand. This was a new endeavor for her, so she shared her experience (obviously on Facebook) with her followers. One of the first things I remember her noticing was how it helped her reach NEW audiences. That's what podcasts can do - help you connect with people you might otherwise never reach.
Why do you think car companies are incorporating podcast listening into dashboards? Why do you think more online music hubs are trying to figure out ways to incorporate podcasts into their offerings? It is because people have smartphones and devices, and they love being able to play audio/video content right when they want it. If your business creates an engaging podcast, it has every opportunity to gain a valuable listener base.
One of the best things podcasting can do is personalize your brand and position it as a thought leader. Merge those two things together, and you can make a huge impression on a potential customer.
If your show features voices from within the organization, and they sound friendly, knowledgeable, credible, personable and/or ethical...a customer's comfort level with contacting or buying from you is going to go way up. Insightful interviews and conversations can also enhance your position as a trusted thought leader in your space.
BARRIER: We're not used to this type of sales/marketing strategy, and we just don't understand how a podcast will generate business.
WRECKING BALL: If other companies have made it work, why can't you? Do some research, and find out how it's worked for others. Develop a plan that fits your mission.
As far back as 2012, Entrepreneur launched their podcast. As with many businesses, they ask customers how they found them. Suddenly, seven out of ten said they discovered them through their podcast. Not to mention, they saw their web traffic grow by 46 percent in just two months - and this is a company that already has a pretty big audience. Yet again, podcasting brought them new people.
Here's a personal example. When I was got my first social media management job in 2012, I started listening to Social Media Examiner's podcast. It was great to hear so many amazing social media experts share their insights in one place. I was inspired to find their website and subscribe to their e-newsletter. Then, when they announced they were having a big social media conference, I told my company that I HAD to attend.
I was inspired to do this not because I was bombarded by sales pitches. Instead, it was because I valued the content, and therefore valued them as a resource. Your business could do the exact same thing. If people love what they can get from you for free (like content), they'll be very interested in the quality of something they can purchase from you.
BARRIER: It's very expensive and way too time consuming.
WRECKING BALL: No, it isn't. (So, take that!)
Okay, maybe it can be a little time consuming, but it doesn't have to be. It also doesn't have to be expensive.
You can purchase an inexpensive quality microphone like this or this to plug into your computer. You can get a free program like Audacity to record and edit the show. That's enough to get you started. There is nothing wrong with producing a podcast that's 20 minutes or less. You could even conduct a good interview in that amount of time.
I actually had someone tell me that you could not go in-depth in 30 minutes. Clearly this same person had never listened to Mike Rowe's podcast. He features interviews in podcast episodes that average about 10 minutes per show.
Look, I'm not suggesting that it's never challenging to develop a podcast for a certain industry. I've talked to ad agencies, healthcare companies, real estate companies and training organizations about podcast concepts. What I am saying is not to deny yourself the opportunity to get yourself in front of a new audience because you think it might not be possible.
Yes, the podcast realm can be a crowded space. However, let me ask you this:
How many podcast shows are there in YOUR industry?
If the number is pretty low...that's not an indicator of level of interest. It's a path to opportunity. Plus, several podcasts do not put an emphasis on format, editing, audio quality and creativity. Do that, and you'll already be a step up from several other programs.
If I can help you develop a podcast for you business, feel free to email me anytime.
When I launched my first entertainment podcast in 2011, I knew I wanted guest interviews. I figured booking celebrities would be difficult since I was just starting out. Plus, people weren't going to know me or my little show. However, I took steps to make myself look professional and it paid off. Next thing, I knew...I was getting people on every episode. Here are some of my strategies that can help you book guests (whether they're celebrities or not).
Know where to look
If you're booking an author on your show, check their Amazon listing. You'll see the name of the book publisher, and you can reach out to them. It's also possible that an author (or any guest) will have their own website with posted contact information. If you're trying to find the agent/publicist/manager for a celebrity, services like WhoRepresents can be helpful. Just know that sometimes the listed information might be outdated, and you might have to do a little extra research. Sometimes it's possible to reach out to a guest via Twitter or Facebook message as well.
Write a professional and concise request
When you send an email to make your pitch, get to the details quickly. Tell the recipient what you want to talk about, how long it will be and how it will be conducted (phone or Skype). Be sure to give them a time frame in which to schedule the interview. You might also add that you will let them promote anything else they'd like to mention on the show.
Do some research on your guest
A little extra research on a guest can go a long way, and it could be an important key to getting them on your show. Maybe you are reaching out to an actor, but you find out they just launched a music CD. You might be wanting someone who wrote a popular book, but you also find out their extremely passionate about a specific charity. When you find out details like these, you can offer to mention or promote them on your program. You can also offer links on the show notes. Knowing a little more about a guest can be very impressive. It shows that you cared enough to learn more.
Research can also be a key factor in the quality of your interview. If you take time to watch other interviews they've done or read articles about them, it can help you develop unique and insightful questions. By watching previous interviews, you might be able to avoid questions your guest has already answered several times.
Develop a track record
Before I really started to reach out to publicists, I wanted to be able to show them other interviews that I conducted. Fortunately, I am friends with two actors who starred in Hollywood films. So, I had the advantage of calling them and asking them to be on the show. I then went to a small comic convention and conducted interviews there as well. That way, when I reached out to book someone else, I could list those people as guests.
This is a credibility strategy. A guest or their representative might wonder about associating their name with a show they don't know. However, seeing that other credible people have been guests can put them at ease.
No matter what type of podcast you produce, it's good to go for the more accessible/lesser known people and develop a track record. Then highlight that history as you go for the big names.
Make sure your website looks great and is easy to navigate
Another way someone will check you out is to take a look at your website. If it's disorganized, hard to navigate and loaded with grammatical errors, that can be a problem. Make sure your website is part of your professional pitch to a potential guest.
Have two phone numbers to offer
Sometimes you will call the guest, but other times they may want to call you. When this happens, it's good to be able to offer them a toll-fee number. You can link a toll-free number to your home/cell number easily with services like Kall8. When radio shows book guests, they not only offer a call-in number, but also a back-up. This can be your home or cell phone number in case they're not getting through or there's some other technical issue.
Marketers and content producers have been combating the short-attention span audience for years now. When it comes to an article, they need a catchy image or headline that forces the viewer to click without thinking. Television viewers tend to fast forward through commercials while watching a show. So, advertisers present an attention-getting device designed to instantaneous, or they will load up the ad with engaging visuals that MIGHT make a viewer stop forwarding and check out the spot. If you're producing a podcast, you should consider whether you're doing things that could cause a new listener to bail way too soon.
If said listener already has a player loaded with podcasts, you're going to have to convince them to add your show to their queue. If he/she is a picky podcast consumer, it might be even more challenging to keep them. Here are a few ways you can turn off a potentially new listener:
A REALLY LONG OR CONFUSING OPEN
Most seasoned podcast listeners have developed their own criteria in what draws them to a podcast. Couple that with a short attention span, and you have a very small window to prove to them that you're worthy of their time. So, it's best to have your introduction provide the listener with a short and clear show description.
If your podcast plays music for an extended period of time before anyone speaks, a new listener could bail before they hear a voice. If it's still a separate piece of audio that doesn't sound like a typical intro (like a string of clips), it can be confusing.
If you don't have an actual open to the show, get one made. You can use services like Fiverr and Pond5 for music and voices.
LOW QUALITY OR INCONSISTENT AUDIO
If you have a high-quality, professional sounding introduction followed by the sound of a voice that is low-quality, that creates an instant and jarring disconnect. If there are other people on the program, make sure their audio levels are consistent with one another. Don't make a new listener constantly adjust their volume in order to hear the quiet and the loud hosts. Take time to edit and normalize your audio.
NOT DISCUSSING YOUR TOPIC OR THEME
If you're interested in new listeners, then make a point to respect their time. If you tell them that your show is about comic books, don't spend the first 20 minutes talking about pizza or wrestling. Also, don't spend too much time trying to emulate a wacky morning radio crew where you're just chit-chatting about each other and laughing about random stuff. Get to the show topic at hand!
One way you can improve your chances of keeping new lsiteners is by taking time to listen to your shows. Pretend like you have nothing to do with your podcast, hit play and see if your mind wanders. If you find yourself getting anxious or zoning out...you clearly have things to work on.