It's almost December, and you know what that means. It's time for businesses to have their annual discussion about how they can take things to a new level or continue to compete in the next year. Content marketing has to be part of that strategy. In this audio blog, I share some thoughts and insights on what can work in 2018.
I love working with businesses on their podcasts. A lot of times there's a ton of excitement and curiosity in our conversations. A lot of that curiosity comes from wondering if audio content can really help their organization. Sometimes, they've just read about other companies doing it, and they decide they want to try it out. As with any new initiative, the "What if we fail" worry tends to be present. It is then that I tell them why podcasting can be good for business.
You reach new audiences.
Businesses have to produce a variety of content because different people consume things in different ways. Podcasting gives you a chance to put yourself in front of an audience who likes to listen to content while driving, working out, relaxing, etc. This was the best way to reach them. I remember when Facebook marketing expert Amy Porterfield launched her podcast. One of the first things she said she noticed after launching her show was that she was reaching people she would've have never otherwise reached. And this was coming from someone who makes a living ONLINE.
It personalizes your brand
If your online presence consists of website text and social media posts, podcasting can add a personal element to it all. You can host the show and showcase some of your very knowledgeable employees, partners or colleagues. Suddenly, you're more than a website, Tweet or Facebook post...you're a human with a voice. In today's trust-driven consumer marketing place, that's something that adds a lot of value to your presence.
It's a great storytelling platform.
Audio is like movies for the mind. It always has been. When many people listen to the radio, they subconsciously visualize a look to go with a voice. When you hear commercials with music, dialogue and characters...they're trying to generate an image in your head. You can definitely create stories on a podcast using that formula. Or you can take a cue from shows like This American Life and merge interviews with music. These days, telling your story is more important than ever. Podcasts give you a way to tell it.
It's easier and less expensive than video.
Before I added audio to my production skills, I was a video producer. I did everything from camera, sound, locations, casting, editing, lighting and directing. Audio is recording and then editing. I liked the simplicity of that. So, with podcasts you don't have to worry about how you look or the scenery around you. You don't have to worry about lighting. You don't even have to buy a high def camera to produce the content. You can launch a podcast for under $100, and it's probably a little less time consuming.
If I can help you develop or produce a podcast for your business...let me know!
The decision to start a podcast is one thing, but developing the right concept is another. Obviously you want to talk about something you're naturally passionate about, because that passion will come through to the audience.
However, I tell people to think about a few other important aspects of the show. For one thing, you need to make sure your show can generate around 45 topics a year. This is true if you're planning to produce a weekly show. If you brainstorm and can't get past 20 topics in any way, shape or form...it might not be the right concept.
Make sure the concept lends itself to a good format (segments, interviews, round table discussion, etc) and figure out ways to showcase engaging content through it.
Finally, make sure you can easily explain what it's about and why people will want to listen every week.
Have you ever listened to a podcast and thought:
OMG! This is sooo long!
Are they ever going to get to the point?
Are they ever going to get to today's topic?
Sheesh! I may need to fast forward because this isn't interesting.
These are reactions that take place due to the podcaster forgetting about a very important element to their show - YOU. Instead, they got caught up in a conversation, concept or segment, and they forgot to consider how much value it brought to the listener.
The hosts should always think of a listener as the other person in the conversation. Otherwise, they might feel less like they are in the conversation and more like their eavesdropping on one. This is an important concept in podcasting that is similar to a qualifier the late Gene Siskel applied when watching a movie. He would ask himself:
"Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?"
When I was hired to improve the radio fundraising drives at the Dallas/Fort Worth Public Radio Station, I applied this principle to our live on-air breaks. Sometimes that would mean changing something as simple as saying, "Good morning". If two people open their live segment saying "good morning" to one another (which was common), without the acknowledgement of the listener, there is an immediate disconnect. It's another reason why pledge breaks can be so irritating to listeners. It sounds like two people interrupted your favorite show to beg for money. Instead, it should sound like two like-minded people that want to discuss the importance of giving with you.
It can happen on podcasts as well. The hosts are having so much fun talking, that they'll veer off topic and sound unfocused. They simply forget they're doing a show for a listener, and it becomes all about them and their fun.
The same can happen when you're forced to listen to a segment that sounds weird or unengaging. The problem is that the host thought it was brilliant, and that was enough for it to be on the podcast. They got so caught up in how great it was to them, and they forgot to determine why the listener would like it.
If you ask people why they love certain podcasts so much, you'll often hear them say it's because they love the hosts. Many times they'll go as far as to say they feel like they're hanging out with them as they laugh, learn and talk. That's how you want your listener to feel.
When you produce podcasts and remember your listener at all times, you'll find that it can improve the quality of your show.
Your audience knows when they're valued and ignored.
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.