How to

How to Start a Podcast for Your Business

For business owners, podcasting can give any brand a considerable uplift in visibility. Here's our guide for starting a podcast for your business

Contents

Once an obscure audio format, podcasting has now become a disruptive medium that's found its place within the present-day global digital market. The spectrum is enormous, ranging from gentle storytelling to one-on-one interviews, branded sci-fi narratives, to in-the-field reporting - there are podcasts for everything and everyone. 

For business owners, podcasting can give any brand a considerable uplift in visibility and industry expertise while building networks and positioning yourself at the forefront of customers' minds. While there are some specific steps and technical necessities that you need to take care of before you begin, once you have the basics set in place, you can create a show that is a worthy addition to any digital marketing strategy.

Who Listens to Podcasts?

A few years ago, a wealth of "experts" seemed to be standing on their soap boxes and touting that 'podcasts are dead!' But maybe they didn't get the memo. Many who feel this way clearly haven't thought through the value that the whole podcast dynamic brings to a content marketing strategy- let alone see the undeniable stats behind who is tuning in.

  •  Today, there are an estimated 120M podcast listeners in the U.S. alone. Plus, projections see that number surpassing 160M listeners by 2023.

The potential to reach a broad audience through podcasting is HUGE and grows yearly. 

  • Most listeners listen at home or in the car/during their commute.

Wherever, whenever, most podcast audiences aren't just tuning in to podcasts for background noise. Instead, listeners are engaged and have a solid drive to learn, with 74% of podcast listeners saying they tune in to learn new things- even if they're multitasking.

  • Podcast audiences are amazingly balanced, with 51% male and 49% female.

No matter your target demographics, there is a strong possibility that you will reach exactly who you need to reach. 

More great statistics include:

  • The average listener listens to 6 different shows per week.
  • 94% of the podcast audience is active on at least one social network, which is 13% more when compared to the entire population.
  • Revenue from podcast ads has exploded up to $1.33 billion, which means that it has had a 3000% lift since 2015

So, now is the time to take advantage of this medium.


A Unique Marketing Avenue

Podcasts are ideal as a marketing channel, mainly because consumers increasingly want two things: something that is relevant to them and available on their schedules. You can reach a one-of-a-kind audience and target individuals based on their interests and preferences. As we mentioned, most people aren't just listening to podcasts for background noise. Instead, they are engaged, open to new conversations, and ready to learn. 

According to a Neilson survey, they found that 78% of podcast listeners don't mind sponsorship or ad messaging. However, podcasts appeal to a myriad of people with different educational backgrounds and household incomes.

For example, 68% of post-graduates and households that earn $250.000 per year are the majority. That means they are likely to have disposable income, giving them the capacity to spend money on your products and services. In addition, 38% of people who listen to podcasts state that they have purchased products or services mentioned on those podcasts.  


The Low Cost of Entry

Any business or brand looking to invest in a new marketing channel will most likely ask the glaring question, "So how much is it going to cost?"

The simple answer- what you put in is what you'll get out. Podcasts are an investment—an investment in time and an investment in resources. When you're cutting costs, you may end up skimping on quality. And while listeners will forgive poor audio for a short time, if you want to engage them for the long term, the production value needs to be good. However, setting up and publishing a podcast doesn't have to eat up your entire marketing budget. 


THE SIMPLE SETUP:

But, let's not be too glib. We have seen podcasters create great shows on a shoestring budget. For example, the simplest way to start a podcast is with just three assets: your smartphone, your time, and a hosting service.

That entails recording an interview on the phone, uploading the audio to a hosting service, and distributing it to all the top streaming platforms. While that is one of the simplest ways to go, it's not the best. As a brand, you want to create a product you can be proud of, so invest in a good microphone, headphones, editing software, and a hosting site. None of those elements have to be wildly expensive. For example, an entry-level (but perfectly fine) mic can cost anywhere from $50 upwards. 


Establish Authority in Your Industry

Have you heard of E-A-T? This marketing acronym stands for expertise, authority, and trust. One way of doing this is to establish a branded podcast. 

Podcasting gives brands a platform to speak about their expertise in their field. Consistently talking about a topic or topics with confidence and authority will help establish the brand as an expert in your market. 

Hearing someone's voice provides a much deeper connection than, say, a written blog or social media post. A voice- an authentic voice- humanizes a brand and deepens that consumer-business connection that is often really hard to obtain. Podcasting creates a space where listeners are invited into your inner circle.


Speak to Your Audience

Content marketing can be challenging, especially when you're up against a sea of competition and dwindling attention spans. But here's where podcasts cut through all the noise. First, podcasts speak directly to your target audience. Not only that, but statistics show that audiences tune in and listen for extended periods, with 58% of U.S. listeners consuming up to 76-100% of a podcast episode.

That's the beauty of the format. 

However, when going into branded podcasting, you should consider your podcast as a top-of-level funnel to your brand and business. You should consider your podcast another avenue for people to find your business. Aim to build trust and authority within your industry rather than focusing solely on gathering leads from your listeners.


Decide on Your Theme

A first step in starting a podcast for a business is to establish the overall theme and type of content you will deliver. For most branded podcasts, this theme and content could follow the rest of your marketing program and strategy. 

As a starting point, you should aim to teach. Similar to how your blogs, ebooks, and webinars teach your consumers and provide value to your audience. Financial institution- teach money management concepts. 

What is your niche? Something must differentiate you from others working in a similar industry. So yes, you could create a podcast generally about your industry. For example, a law-centric podcast focuses on U.S. divorce law and how people can navigate different legal scenarios. Niching down is often far more effective than going for the blanket approach where you try to reach all audiences, everywhere. 

Your podcast theme and what you essentially teach will depend on your industry.


Decide on a Format

Anyone who has been listening to podcasts for any length will know that podcasts come in all formats. Entering the podcasting world can mean that you have to make many microdecisions. Regarding your podcast format, this is an essential task that needs some careful thought.

While there is no "right" way to structure a podcast, there are a few things to consider. The most common formats for business podcasts:

  • Solo monologue: A single speaker sharing tips, ideas, or stories.
  • Interview show: At least one host interviewing guests and experts within your industry.
  • Multiple hosts: at least two hosts discussing topics
  • Narrative style: Usually, guest interviews are broken up with host voiceovers. This format highly focuses on storytelling and requires a higher production value.

Most podcasters in the B2B space tend to lean towards interviews or roundtable discussions with thought-leaders and industry experts. Others are usually led by a single host talking about a given topic. 

Our advice is to find a podcast format that is both repeatable and engaging for your audience. Going from one format to another regularly can make you seem inconsistent and unreliable. Plus, messing with your publishing process reduces your chances of building a loyal following. 

When deciding on a format for your podcast, research podcasts outside your industry. Story-driven podcasts like Serial and How I Built This can offer a lot of inspiration to businesses new to podcasting.  


What You Need to Record A Podcast

You don't need to spend a fortune to start podcasting. However, you will need a few basic things, some of which you may already have and some of which are free:

  • A good quality microphone (for example, Shure or equivalent USB).
  • A laptop or P.C.
  • Audio editing software. The best in my experience is Audacity, and it is free.
  • MP3 encoding software (used to convert audio into a computer file) such as the LAME download.
  • A web publishing service such as Google's Blogger.


A solid recording space (preferably soundproof): You can record a podcast anywhere. Some podcasters have created mobile setups in train cars, hotel rooms, and even music festivals! But, if you want quality audio, secluded space with some soundproofing is the ultimate way to go.

The beauty of the medium is that you don't need a huge space. You only need somewhere quiet where you can fit a microphone and a laptop. To ensure a quiet space, consider investing in some soundproofing material, like foam panels that can be easily affixed to a wall. 


A laptop or Desktop computer: You'll need something to record your podcasts onto and somewhere to house all your raw interviews and tracks. 


A reliable microphone and mic gear: The main pieces of equipment you'll want to get are a microphone (we recommend the Shure SM7B), a pop filter, a sturdy mic stand/arm, and an XLR cable



Recording software: You can download Garageband or Audacity and turn your laptop or tablet into your recording studio. Both offer free versions where you can record live audio, edit files, cut and splice, and output your podcast to a digital sound file. For the more tech-savvy, pro podcasters among us, you can try using  Pro Tools


Noise-canceling headphones: Your headphones matter. During a recording session, they allow you to hear how the recording is being translated into your recording software. If there are any strange noises (like someone breathing into the microphone), you'll be able to pick it up. The Sennheiser HD280PRO has a tighter seal around the ears, giving you an accurate recording sound. Don't use Bluetooth headphones, such as Apple AirPods, as they can interfere with your recording. 


A hosting service to broadcast your podcasts. A podcast hosting site is where you will upload your podcast episodes, such as Libsyn or Transistor. The hosting site then distributes your episodes via your RSS feed to all the directories you have signed up with (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, etc.). We suggest using a podcast host that provides the best analytics tools for you to help monitor your show's success.

Evaluating different platforms can be whittled down to the following criteria: 

  • Cost: Most podcast hosting sites charge a monthly or annual fee based on how many episodes you upload in a given timeframe.
  • Distribution: Some hosting sites allow you to personally set up your podcasts on listening platforms like Apple or Spotify. Others will do the distribution for you and get you on as many platforms as possible. 
  • Analytics: Certain platforms offer more robust analytics, including audience retention, demographics, downloads, followers, unique impressions, and subscriptions
  • Monetization: Platforms that offer monetization enable you to make money from ads run on your podcast.
  • Production: Some platforms have built-in production tools that enable you to record, edit and publish without third-party tools. 


Plan Your Episodes 

Planning is key for any podcaster looking to create a quality podcast that is chock full of value for listeners. While some podcasters may enjoy recording off the cuff, having a pre-prepared episode plan removes that stress and ensures things will run smoothly on recording day!

  • Plan the structure of your episode ahead of time 
  • Note down talking points and anything else you need to include or mention 
  • Make a note of your timings and the duration of your episode
  • If you're interviewing a guest, prepare questions and discussion points before ahead of time 


A podcast script doesn't need to be word-for-word (although that may be a great starting point for beginners). Instead, it's a creative free-for-all that can contain as much or as little as you need to voice your messaging and content in a way that suits your brand. 



Ideal Podcast Personas and Avatars

To create content that converts, you have to start with the who. Any marketer understands that you must always have your ideal consumers in mind for their communications to have an impact. It's no good trying to target the world as a whole, so you need to narrow your audience down. 

By putting yourself in your customer's shoes and visualizing their needs and pain points, you'll have a deeper understanding of the kind of content you should be producing. 

An "Ideal Listener," sometimes referred to as a persona or avatar, allows you to do just that. It's that one singular person you'd love to have to listen to your podcast. Having that person in mind makes it easier to structure your entire marketing process and plan your content.

To design your one dream consumer, write down their demographics; age, occupation, family situation, income, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. Again, be specific, even if that means creating more than one persona for a podcast.

Statistically, only 44% of marketers use ideal listener personas. So by building a persona for your podcast, you are one step ahead of over half of the podcasters!


How Long Should Your Podcast Episodes Be?

Regarding podcast episode length, the rule book gets firmly thrown out of the window. Instead, we suggest doing whatever feels suitable for your content and making it as long as it needs to be to communicate your message effectively.

Remember that you don't have to have the same length episode every single time.

A general rule of thumb is to keep your episodes similar in length. It helps keep listeners on board because there is that element of familiarity. On the other hand, if there is a lot of disparity between your episodes, for example, one is 30 minutes longer than previous episodes, it might not sit well with your regular listeners. 

  • The average podcast length is 43 minutes and 24 seconds. The consensus is that most podcasts are between 20 - 40 minutes in length

Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve by publishing a podcast? Why are you creating a podcast in the first place? Knowing the "why" behind a show can help you choose the right episode length. 

Shorter podcasts leave you less time to deliver complex information or entertain at a deeply engaging level. However, short and snappy podcasts work well if you have a lot of valuable tips to touch on. Or if your show predominantly covers breaking news stories. 

  • FURTHER READING: Learn more about podcast length HERE


How Often Will You Publish Your Podcast?

As with most marketing channels, podcasters compete for visibility amongst thousands of other shows. One of the best things you can do to build trust around your podcast is to stick to a regular release schedule. But, "the best time" is highly subjective. For any publishing schedule to work, it largely depends on your chosen niche, target audience, and ability to publish consistently.

Megaphone's 2018 research. They reveal that podcasters tend to publish the newest episodes on Wednesday, Tuesday, and Thursday between 2 am and 5 am, with 5 am being the best time to gather the max amount of downloads.

Every podcast audience is different. Do listeners prefer to tune in on their commute to work or on their way home? Are they mid-afternoon listeners doing house chores? Would they choose to listen late at night once the kids are in bed?


Promoting Your Podcast Episodes

Once you have established your preferred publishing days, you will need to create a bit of hype around every single episode before you publish. Tease the newest episode 24 hours ahead of time and keep sharing this post multiple times throughout the week. Ideally, you want to produce 3x Twitter posts and share all three on the first day. Then, create and share 2x posts to Facebook within the first week. 

While some people steer clear of Instagram Lives, it can be a great tool. Often it gives listeners and followers a glimpse of who the host is and puts a face to the voice. 

Podcast marketing on social media is all about persistence. Keep talking about your show, and stay visible. So often, things get lost in the sea of posts on social media, so the more you keep posting, the higher the chance people will see it.

Pro Tip: People are curious about how things are made, so talk about anything behind-the-scenes in an Instagram or Facebook story. Try to include your guests in these Instagram posts where possible. 


Podcast Artwork

Branding is deathly important for getting your podcast found. While podcasts are very much an audio medium, there is an element of the visual that needs to go into your planning. 

Your podcast will also need a square image representing your show. It will be uploaded to your hosting site and be used across all your integrated podcast directories, such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

This cover art it's what people will see before listening to a single spoken word, so it needs to make an impression.

The Apple Podcast image specifications change periodically. This is from the most recent update:

  • Your cover art should be a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72 dpi, in JPEG or PNG format with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png) and the RGB colorspace. To optimize images for mobile devices, Apple recommends compressing your image files.

Try to keep the cover art in line with your brand- and use similar fonts and colors should it feel right.


Know Your Audience 

Your podcast will never appeal to everyone- that's just the sad fact of podcasting. So, for example, a technology podcast focused on A.I. probably won't appeal to flower arranging, cottagecore millennials. 

You need to find your people—the ones who will love your podcast and its content. 

Instead of casting the broadest net possible, you need to focus on fishing out the people you want to tune in. If you think about it, the wrong kinds of listeners aren't going to subscribe, review your podcast favorably, or ever consider sharing it. So, your job is to target the people who will.


SUMMARY

Pitching a podcast to your boss may seem like a tough mountain to climb. But think of it this way- starting a podcast for your business is a great way to provide value-based content for your audience and customers. Podcasts provide content that targets and meets your ideal consumers where they are, builds trust with audiences, expands a brand's network, and establishes reputation. From a business leader's perspective, podcasts genuinely set the foundation for building your personal brand. 

To create a successful podcast, there's a certain amount of prep work and planning, but once you hit your stride it will become an easy part of your marketing to-do list. 



Author

Claire Gould