With more than 800,000 podcasts spanning 54 million episodes hosted on numerous platforms, podcasting has established itself as a viable content platform for marketers. With industry topics ranging from business news to lessons learned to investing and entrepreneurship, podcasting has become mainstream media, and its popularity is still on the rise. In the United States alone, more than 60 million of us listen to podcasts to learn new things and feel inspired.
Why is podcasting so popular?
In an age where multitasking has become a bad word, podcasting’s appeal stems from the idea that listeners can do other things while listening to podcasts, like drive, cook, work out and tackle chores. Podcasts are portable, entertaining and enlightening, and they can pique our curiosity and keep us well-informed.
Business professionals use podcasts to reach new customers and retain existing ones in a personal way. It’s easy to convey your values and highlight your expertise in the format. And even though it’s a one-sided medium, you can build real relationships with your audience. After listening to a host’s voice for hours, listeners will naturally develop a sense of connection, making way for information exchanges that can lead to new customer insights.
What’s your story?
If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, ask yourself what story you want to tell. Do you want to teach, inspire, influence or sell something?
Stories are a powerful way to build connections between listeners and your ideas, and they naturally impart a lesson or invite listeners to reach a conclusion or spark their own new idea. Stories are memorable and immersive ways to give meaning to ideas and bring emotion into your business landscape.
What’s your why?
Ask yourself why you want to develop a podcast. What benefits will it provide to your listeners—both prospects and customers? Will it make them feel smarter or more confident in their decision-making? Will they feel empowered to move forward with decision, expand a project or explore an idea?
Think about why you want to tell your story, and write it down so you can revisit, revise and refine it as you go.
Who else is doing it?
Once you know what story you want to tell and why, think about your competition. See if they offer podcasts, and check their reviews, ratings and rankings on different platforms, such as Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud or Apple Podcasts. Then take a look at their metadata: their title, cover art, description text and content elements. You can also enter keyword search terms, and the platform will return related podcasts for you to explore.
Even if you do have true competitors out there, you can create a successful podcast. Think about what makes yours different and better than the others, and write down those differentiators. You can return to your description later to review and revise it as you progress.
Formats for Your Podcast
If you listen to business podcasts, you know there’s more than the tried-and-true interview-style format. Let’s take a look at a range of formats you can explore, whether it’s the go-to pre-recorded format or the rare live capture one.
Advice: Business advice from a Wharton dropout, awarded Best of iTunes in 2014: The $100 MBA Show, a no-fluff, business-training podcast with lessons, examples and insights galore.
Game Show: My favorite is Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, NPR’s weekly news quiz show. It’s not exactly business-oriented, but it’s news, it’s fun and I wanted you to know about it if you’re not already a fan.
Interview: It’s the most common because it’s the easiest to produce. A popular business interview podcast is from Tim Ferriss. Without Fail is another interview podcast full of candid conversations with smart people who have done hard things, from Gimlet Media.
How-To: NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz is a combination interview and profile, featuring innovators and entrepreneurs of well-known companies around the globe.
News: The Indicator from Planet Money presents quick insights into what’s happening in the news, with the economy and in business.
Nonfiction Storytelling: Best known is likely This American Life from NPR, a weekly show from Ira Glass and Chicago Public Media.
Your own new format: You can innovate something new and make it work, too. Have a hands-on brainstorming session with your most forward-thinking friends and colleagues. Talk about what kind of format you could invent based on what you’d like to say and hear, and use crafts or props to express ideas. It may sound silly, but exploring ideas in unexpected ways can uncover approaches that may seem outlandish, but just might work. If you do this, let us know in comments what you come up with.
No matter what format you’re considering or innovating, your audience will want consistency: consistent frequency, consistent themes and consistent topics. Content production will be easier once you have a template with a consistent format, too.
Next time, we’ll explore storytelling and how to get “good tape.”
Let us know in comments the podcasts you’re listening to these days.
Recommended Reading: So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer