Podcasting for business

A man and woman record a small business podcast

If the statistics are to be believed, you've probably listened to at least one podcast this year. You may even have subscribed to several already.

More and more businesses are getting on board and adding podcasting to their content marketing mix. There are several reasons for this:

One of the most telling things about any statistic related to podcasting is that the numbers keep on rising. Just like video marketing, it seems we're far from reaching a plateau when it comes to the public's increasing thirst for audio content.

So, should you be adding podcasting to your own marketing strategy? And if you do, where do you start?

Define your podcast goals

It's easy to set the wrong goals for your podcast.

For instance, you may want to:

  • gain as many subscribers as possible
  • achieve as many downloads as possible
  • make it into the Apple Podcasts Top 10 chart

There are lots of problems with these goals. For one, the only measurable goal above is the number of downloads you achieve (your podcasting platform will tell you this, but it can't tell you how many subscribers you have).

Similarly, making it into the top charts is more of a vanity metric than of any real value to your business.

Instead, it's important to focus on these two initial podcasting goals.

  1. Raise brand awareness. By using your podcast as a vehicle to get your brand in front of a wider audience, you'll also build trust and attract revenue-generating opportunities.
  2. Provide value. Your audience will only grow and learn to trust you if you deliver consistently great content which provides them with loads of value.

There's a misnomer with podcasting that you need to set specific goals for your business, but we'd argue that if you're completely new to this form of marketing, the above two goals should be your focus.

You can get more specific and ambitious with your goals once it feels like the train is picking up speed (which, if you focus on the two goals above, it absolutely will!).

Choose a podcast format

Podcasts are best compared to on-demand radio shows, and just like radio, they come in several different formats.

The right format for you will depend largely on your resources, the type of content you want to produce and how many people you can get involved.

There are five podcast formats worth considering for businesses.

  • Interview. An interview podcast will feature a different guest on each episode and will cover a specific topic, news story or trend. Good for: exploring new topics and gaining further reach from the interviewee's own audience.
  • Round table. This is a bit like an interview podcast but with multiple guests. A host still presides, but the conversation features wider opinion and debate. Good for: creating opinionated content which might go viral.
  • Monologue. This strips the podcast of any guests and leaves just the host to share information, knowledge and opinion on a subject. Good for: revealing your expertise on a specific topic.
  • Multi-host. If a monologue podcast doesn't sound like your kind of thing, a multi-host podcast will broaden the opinions and stories presented. Good for: expressing a broad range of opinion and building trust among the audience for the hosts.
  • Documentary. Podcasts in documentary format take longer to produce, but they're a great way to reveal the story behind-the-scenes of your business or dig deeply into a particular subject. Good for: highly structured, narrative-driven content marketing.

It's important to note that you don't need to stick to one format. Some of the most successful podcasts combine several of the formats above to create highly engaging episodes which attract large audiences.

How often should you podcast?

Make no mistake: podcasting takes time and effort to get right. While it's definitely worth making time for podcasting, it's important to remember that it'll never be an overnight success. It's sensible, therefore, to ease yourself in with a realistic publishing schedule.

Set a goal to reach a weekly podcast within six months. That's the most common schedule for successful podcasts. Start by producing just one or two episodes per month and it will give you time to get into the flow and nail down the processes involved.

How long should a podcast be?

There's no golden standard for the length of a podcast episode. Some run into hours, while others may only last five minutes.

The ideal length of a podcast for your business is however long it needs to be. The trick is to find what works and remain relatively consistent.

You'll probably find that your first few episodes vary wildly in length, but that will soon start to settle. Just don't get too hung up on it; providing the content is flowing nicely, each episode can last as long as it needs to. Statistics show that once you have attracted an engaged audience, 80% will listen to the whole episode.

What podcasting kit do you need?

There are two things you need to start producing a podcast: a mic and audio editing software.

When it comes to the mic, it pays to start simple and go with a USB mic which doesn't require anything other than your computer to get going.

Here are three options, depending on your budget:

All three mics above will deliver excellent audio quality, but make sure you record in a room with plenty of soft furnishings to avoid too much echo.

Many podcasts feature remote guests so you'll also need a way of recording audio via video conferencing software. The Donut team used SquadCast to record the Start Your Own Business podcast. But the good news is that Zoom and Skype have recording functionality built in so you can easily grab the audio from a session once you've finished.

As for editing software, you have several options:

If you have limited time to learn how to use software, Alitu probably offers one of the simplest methods for creating podcasts (although you'll pay a little extra for the privilege).

The importance of cover art

Your podcast will need a name, but that's an entirely subjective topic. Just make sure it's either relevant to your business or so 'out there' that people can't help but remember it.

On the other hand, the cover art is really important. It's the first thing potential listeners will see in their feed or when searching, so it needs to stand out.

If you can afford to get a professional designer to create this element, it's money well spent. If you'd rather have a go yourself, check out Canva's brilliant range of templates and assets.

The show outline: don't podcast without it!

Very few popular podcasts are created without some form of outline. This isn't a script - it's more of a structure for the show host and guests.

The host is responsible for keeping the podcast on track and giving everyone enough airtime, but they can only do that if the show outline is well structured.

The format of your outline could be as simple as a few bullet points, but to get yourself into the habit of creating a well-structured but free-flowing podcast, try and follow this format:

  • Teaser (what's exciting about this episode?)
  • Welcome (introduce yourself and the guests - if there are any)
  • Main interview/debate/discussion point (bullet point the key topics that need covering)
  • Call to action (what do you want the audience to do after listening?)

That's it! Over time, your show outline will become a well-oiled, finely honed machine.

How to distribute your podcast

To distribute your podcast you'll need somewhere to host it. There are lots of services available for this (Captivate, PodBean, Libsyn and Buzzsprout are three of the most common) and the good news is that they make life pretty easy for the first-time podcaster.

You'll pay a monthly fee for the hosting, but the platform you choose should provide easy, one-click tools to distribute your podcast to the major listening platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Once you've set up and configured your account, you simply upload each show, add your cover art, write a description and hit 'publish'!

Next steps

We hope you've found this guide useful. Here's a summary of what you need to do next:

  • don't worry about setting lofty goals - focus on delivering value to your audience
  • decide on your podcast format
  • decide how frequently you will release an episode (don't over commit)
  • purchase a mic (or multiple mics if required)
  • choose your editing software
  • set up an account with a podcasting hosting platform
  • create your show outline template

All that's left to do is hit 'record' and capture that first show!

Written by Mark Ellis.

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