Podcasts are an exceptionally popular content medium today. Many companies have invested in one or more series to promote their thought leadership and gain name recognition for their brand.
So is it worth starting a podcast for your brand?
Here’s how you can gauge whether you have the right intent and resources to produce and promote a stellar podcast.
3 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Podcast
The pros and cons of starting a podcast aren’t black and white. The success or failure of your brand podcast depends on your answers to these questions.
Why Do You Want to Start a Podcast?
This is the most critical question to answer before investing your time and resources in developing a podcast. If you want to start a podcast just because it’s trending or to advance your brand, those reasons typically aren’t strong enough to draw out robust content.
But if your goal is to share ideas that you’re passionate about and that jive with your brand, you might have the germ of a great podcast. Flesh those ideas out to determine if they can generate enough content for a limited series.
Apply SEO research to your ideas to ensure that the content you produce answers questions your audience wants to hear.
Do You Have the Time and Resources to Do It Well?
Time and resources are absolutely essential to creating a great podcast. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to your podcast, it’s basically dead on arrival.
A quality podcast requires a significant time commitment to research, production, and promotion to succeed. Resources are important, too, since you may need to invest in audio equipment and software as well as human resources (whether as a part-time employee or a contractor).
Commit to starting a podcast only if you have the time and resources to ensure an excellent and useful final product.
Are You Passionate About the Topic?
The key ingredient to creating a successful podcast is your passion for the questions you’re answering or the stories you’re telling. Without that zest for sharing insights, stories and tips related to your core topic, you risk great ideas falling flat because they don’t feel genuine to your audience. Above all, your podcast has to be about something you’re genuinely interested in discussing.
“You need to be able to talk about your topic for an hour without running out of things to say,” says Megan Dougherty, co-founder at One Stone Creative. “The audience will be able to tell if you’re not really passionate about what you’re talking about: They want to hear your delight and wonder that you get to be sharing this with people.”
Your prospective audience wants to be pulled in and learn something from your podcast. But if there’s no passion or charisma behind the audio, your words can fall flat. That’s a problem that not even the greatest audio editor can fix.
3 Podcast Best Practices for High-Quality Production
Here’s a glimpse into some of the commitments you’ll have to make and best practices to implement to create a successful podcast.
Practice Your Interview Skills
Great podcasts are warm and inviting. Even the most business-oriented podcasts can bring the warmth of compelling, human storytelling to drive home a point. You have to be able to get those stories out of your guests.
“The best interviewing advice I’ve heard is from Barbara Walters,” Dougherty says. “She prepares 50 to 60 questions for an interview where she’s going to ask maybe 5 or 10. If she hears a trigger or a cue, she’s prepared to follow it and extract the story.”
Partner With a Quality Audio Editor
Your audio editor makes the magic happen behind the scenes. They’re responsible for assembling all of the pieces into a coherent whole.
Audio editors find solutions for problems like pervasive background noise or poor audio quality. They pay attention to the details you may not even know to look for. They’re the gatekeeper of your audio files and can become your trusted partner in the podcast production process.
Set a High Standard — And Stick to It
Don’t put your reputation at risk just to meet a deadline. If you produce a podcast episode and the quality isn’t there, don’t hesitate to scrap it and try again.
Sticking to a high standard can be difficult, especially if the QC issues are coming from your guest. Assess the situation to determine if it was a one-time occurrence of a bad interview and if it’s worth your time to try the interview again.
If your guest isn’t on-brand for your tone and voice, that’s okay. Producing a podcast is a continuous learning curve, but it’s better to scrap something terrible and try again than to promote lousy content.
To avoid these inevitable mistakes from derailing your production calendar, set a schedule where you record and edit episodes ahead of time. Bank several episodes before you begin publishing and promoting them.
“We…moved towards recording seasons rather than weekly shows,” says Michelle Gately, podcast mentor at The Unfinished Bookshelf. “When we have six shows in the bank, we’ll start releasing them while we record the rest of the season. It takes some of the pressure off.”
This approach gives you some room to address any problems before they affect your schedule.
3 Ways to Promote Your Podcast
It doesn’t matter how groundbreaking your podcast is. It won’t matter to anyone if no one listens to it. Here are some best practices for promoting your podcast.
Devote Equal Resources to Production and Promotion
Promotion is just as important as production when creating and distributing a great podcast.
For every hour you put into developing and producing content, put equal effort into promoting it across social media, your website or other channels. Set up a landing page for the podcast where anyone can access all of the show notes. Invite listeners to share their email addresses to be notified when you post new content.
Build your podcast into your editorial and design processes so you have written and visual assets to go along with it. “Podcasts alone don’t usually do well on social media,” says Laurie Ruettimann, host of Punk Rock HR. “It’s important to pair them with eye-catching, customized graphics — and tag any guests like crazy.”
Build your audience through organic means, too. Share with people you think would benefit from the content, and ask guests to share the podcast on their channels, too.
SEO is crucial for promoting your podcast. As you’re researching the topic and developing the content, spend time researching questions for your target audience and similar content already on the subject.
Tap Into FOMO to Incentivize Listeners
Tease content from your podcast in a call to action on your other channels, from social media to your latest blog post. Emphasize that the content is exclusive to your podcast.
The fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) promotional tactic is not without precedent in the podcast world. For example, many podcasters use websites like Patreon to further incentivize interaction with their brand by teasing additional content and other extras available only to paid subscribers.
Make sure your podcast content is easy to access. While consumers used to listening to podcasts will have their favorite channels for streaming audio, consumers who are new to the format may struggle with finding your content. Consider embedding the content directly in your web pages, so new listeners don’t have to hunt down the content you’re teasing.
Learn How to Be a Great Podcast Guest
Becoming a guest on someone else’s podcast is a great way to get exposure for your own. But to make a significant impact, you need to be a good guest. Brigitte Lyons, founder and CEO of Podcast Ally, shared some of her favorite tips with us:
- Start with some homework: Listen to an episode of the program that tackled similar topics to what you expect to discuss. Get a sense of the host’s style, the types of questions they may ask, and how to bring the most value to the podcast’s target audience.
- Plan some stories to tell. Storytelling is what really makes a podcast engaging. We tend to overlook stories because the host may frame the question just asking for advice, and we sometimes forget that we can overdeliver. Stories bring your advice home and make it memorable for the audience.
These tips are helpful for being a great podcast host, too!
So, Is It Worth Starting a Podcast?
A quality podcast can do wonders for your reach and brand recognition. But not everyone has the motivation, resources and passion to succeed. Whether or not a podcast is worth it to you depends on, well, you.
Before diving into audio equipment and booking guests, take some time to reflect on whether podcasting is the right channel for you and your brand. To reap the benefits of a marketing medium that fosters intimacy with your audience, you need to be genuine and real.
Are you ready to commit to this journey?