One of the most popular marketing topics in 2017 was video marketing. Every marketer was thinking about how to incorporate video into their strategies. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
With the growing popularity of smart speakers/personal assistants, it might be time to focus on a new tactic: podcasting.
Podcasting is the new blog – not
I saw the phrase “podcasting is the new blogging” on a news site, and it made me think of the effort we put into writing our blog. Some of us spend hours researching, describing and writing blogs and columns, working out the right words to say in the right way. Is it possible that we are wasting some of our time? Would we be smarter to develop our ideas and share them via a podcast, leaving aside the writing part (and the cursed “passive voice”)?
There’s no video involved, so we don’t have to look good, and we don’t have to invest in expensive hardware for video creation and editing. The podcast seems like the perfect way to share ideas.
It is not that simple. Podcasting is no substitute for good writing – blogs, white papers and ebooks. And it’s not a replacement for video. Nor is it necessarily cheaper or easier to do. But it could be a great addition to your marketing mix if you approach it with the right strategy and mindset.
Tips for getting started with a podcast
As part of a client’s marketing plan, we decided to develop a podcast. This is a dip in the waters to see if we can build an audience by delivering useful content to the market. There are a few other podcasts in this market, but none by one vendor and only one other focused on our particular niche. So there’s an opportunity, but there’s also the risk that people won’t want to hear from a supplier.
Why did we decide to try a podcast? The team has a wealth of ideas and information they want to share. They also have many connections with experts and customers who are willing to share their expertise – we know the content is there. It’s not about peddling products and solutions. The challenge now is to find the best way to implement it.
The Globe and Mail article mentioned above notes that podcasting is a labor-intensive process. You need to plan the podcast, record it, edit it, distribute it, and market it. The article said it could easily take 10-20 hours per episode. We hope to start small, but that time frame seems about right.
There is a lot of information available on how to run a podcast. Here are some of those suggestions:
Podcast theme planning
Before you start working on individual shows, you need to decide on an overall theme for your show. Who is the audience and do they listen to podcasts? Can you generate enough audience to make the effort worthwhile? What is your goal with the podcast? What kind of information do you want to share? What pains are you trying to resolve? Understand your goals and expected performance metrics before you begin. They can scale, but you need that starting line.
Where are you going to host the podcast? There are many hosting options available, including Blubrry and PodBean. Almost all hosting services include the ability to share your podcast show on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.
Perhaps you are considering hosting your podcast directly on your website. Think about the size of the files that you will not only store, but also broadcast to your audience. Bandwidth alone can kill your budget. Plus, you don’t get those automatic integrations with iTunes and Google Play — and they’re great for getting your podcast up and running quickly.
Development of a schedule
One very important thing you need to be is consistent. Decide on a schedule that you know you can stick to, then plan a few months of topics. This will give you time to gather the content and guest hosts you want. You can make the schedule available on your website and share it on social media to generate interest.
Podfly.net, a boutique podcasting company that helps businesses create podcasts, includes the show notes you need for each show:
- A compelling show title
- A subtitle
- A descriptive paragraph
- Time-stamped take-out keys
- Links and mentions
To script or not to script
There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not you should script your podcast — and what scripting actually means. You can write your script verbatim, making sure you cover everything you need. It works when you’re doing the show alone or with an in-house team, but if you’re interviewing or speaking with an expert or client, you can’t script the conversation verbatim. You need to think about how you’re going to sound when writing verbatim. Think about some of the webinars you’ve attended and how stuffy they sound – these people are reading from a script.
Reading a script doesn’t have to sound bad, but it will take practice to make the conversation sound natural. Another option is to write out a full plan, but let the actual discussion be natural. An outline ensures that you cover all your points and gives you a consistent structure for the show. The most conversational approach is a flexible, loose list of bullet points around a theme or topic.
You don’t have to stick to one approach, but it’s important to be aware of each style and what you need to do to prepare. (The podcast host provides lots of scripting tips, where I found this info)
Engage your listeners outside of the podcast
Don’t think of a podcast as the only way to engage with your listeners. To help you build audience loyalty, think about how you can leverage social media to create and continue the conversations you have on your podcast. Consider a Facebook group and create a Twitter hashtag or a specific account to expand the conversation.
Promotion and dissemination
Be sure to promote and talk about your podcast on your website – links on the homepage, blog post summaries of episodes with a link to the podcast, LinkedIn Company Page notifications and updates , LinkedIn posts from the host and guest hosts summarizing the conversation and a link to the full podcast are also helpful. Give your guest hosts a way to promote the podcast as well, and ask the audience to sign up for notifications of upcoming episodes so you can email them.
You might also consider setting up with Alexa Skills to get your podcast to appear on Amazon for the Echo or Show.
There are visual components
Although a podcast is audio only, you need certain artwork to make your podcast stand out. You can decide to bring it closer to your company’s brand or keep it completely separate. Make sure you know what you need and make it look professional.
The necessary hardware and software
You can’t make a podcast with an investment in software and equipment. I think you can start with inexpensive options and build from there. For recording and mixing, Audacity is a fairly easy-to-use free open-source tool (I’ve used it to add music to the opening of a podcast and to edit dead zones that don’t add value).
Clear sound is essential. If you’re recording a podcast where everyone isn’t in the same space, you want to make sure everyone’s audio and internet connection is strong. For regular hosts, you should have special microphones that improve your audio quality. Here is an article that gives you a range of microphone options.
Find the ROI of a podcast
Can you determine the ROI of a podcast? The answer depends on the purpose of your podcast. You can offer commercials in your podcast, have sponsors, and use other advertising tactics that will generate revenue for your podcast.
The IAB researched podcast revenue in 2016 and reported that US podcast ad revenue is expected to reach over $220 million in 2017. The latest statistics are not available to see if we are meeting this target. , but we know that it will increase by 119 million in 2016.
Advertisers need to know that they are getting their money’s worth. Analytics around listeners are becoming important, so make sure wherever you host and distribute your podcast, there’s a way to track audience engagement.
Of course, analytics are important whether or not you’re trying to determine ROI. You want to know the number of subscribers, how many listened to each podcast, how many podcasts they listened to, and other key stats.
I’m excited to start developing a podcast with my client. But I have no misconceptions about the work required to create a compelling story that our identified audience will want to listen to regularly. I also know that the budget is not high; we’re going to start small with the financial investment. Sound quality is critical, topics and conversations even more critical.
I will let you know how it goes and what lessons we learn from it after a few months of activity. Until then, share your experiences in the comments. Any advice you can give to someone starting a podcast or looking to grow one locally?
Editor’s Note: For more on the pros and cons of audio content on Alexa, check out Jon Reed’s How to get a halfway decent tech news Flash Briefing from Alexa – tips for business readers.