Are Podcasts a viable option for Business?
A question I get asked an awful lot is… Are podcasts viable for business?
One of the easiest ways to grow and build your company is with a podcast. Well, I would say that wouldn’t I. Maybe I would, but I only like to give advice if I can back it up with real statistics and research.
As well as comedy, culture and health. Business podcasts are one of the top five most listened to sectors. A sector classed as discussion and talk shows.
But why? A report by Ofcom in September 2019 found that 7.1 million people in the UK alone listen to podcasts every week. And these listeners are growing week-on-week. They are also loyal listeners who tell everybody about their favourite podcasts. This is because they build an emotional connection with the podcast hosts. And, in turn, they become like a little army of advocates for the cause. Hence why, the said podcast often becomes popular with a cult like following.
“Podcasts are transforming the ways people listen to audio content, just as on-demand video is changing how people watch television. It’s fantastic to see how UK radio broadcasters as well as newspapers and other media companies are embracing podcasting and offering more choice about what we listen to than we’ve ever had before”.
Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence
Podcasts are a very personal choice, whereby people shut off from the outside world and usually listen without any or minimal distractions.
As well as listening at home, more and more people listen when travelling. Be it in the car, on the train or even doing exercise.
The biggest benefit to a business is that this is the closest a listener gets to the host and guest of the said show, making the experience extremely personable.
According to market tracker Edison Research, from January 2020 the total number of podcast episodes just on iTunes alone, was 30 million.
Even search giants like Google are now adding search results for audio content, proving the sector is well and truly booming.
And all types of industry are starting podcasts, no sector is exempt, mainly because everybody has a great story to tell.
Why have podcasts become so popular?
Quite simply, choice.
Back in 2005 Apple provided around 3000 free podcasts on iTunes. At the time the offering was very limited in choice and access.
Now, in 2020 the choice in podcasts is almost limitless. Technological advancements have helped as well, but the platform has leap-frogged in recent years due to the fact that popular podcasts now make a lot of money for the people running them. The most popular podcasts have spin-off events, where the audience gets to meet the hosts and interact with guests at live shows. Yes, live shows in theatres and conference rooms.
In America alone, forbes released a news story in November 2019 that concluded 62 million people listen to podcasts each week.
But, just having a podcast doesn’t guarantee an audience.
You can’t just use a podcast as an opportunity to sell products. Podcasts are not long radio commercials. They are a unique opportunity to engage with a wider audience who are interested in your business and services, but not in a traditional sales way.
As the host of a business podcast, you become the expert in your field, offering advice, tips and knowledgeable information about your expert profession.
If done correctly and regularly, your current customers will build a closer relationship with you and your business. You may even invite your customers onto your podcast to talk about the service you provided them. But, if you’re lucky enough to build a global audience, your podcast could gain thousands of listeners, some who may even become new clients and advocates of your expertise. And, in this new world of digital credibilty, it’s more important than ever before to have a solid digital presence. Something which a podcast would enable.
Will a podcast conflict with current customers?
In truth, a podcast needs to be separate from the main business name and have its own unique voice. Mainly because the podcast is a slightly different offering to the main business.
For example. if your company was a solicitors with a name like Harold & James Solicitors, the more appropriate podcast name might be something like The Legal Eagles.
This is just a mock-up of how the podcast name stands out more. What is clear to see is that the podcast name The Legal Eagles tells potential listeners what to expect in a light hearted creative way.
Another benefit to choosing a podcast name, is that it also allows the company to be more impartial and separate itself from the main business. Obviously the podcast is still part of the main company, but having its own name makes it more specific to its remit. Plus, unless the name of your business has international significance, a podcast name will resonate more with a potential listener searching for a podcast like yours. The name should always tell the listener what the podcast is all about.
Still wondering why you should use podcasts for business?
Here’s 5 good reasons!
1). Education: We’re a society of learners. We love to learn things, however mundane the advice or information.
2). Entertainment: If you think your business is dull, then think again. Business owners and managers have some of the most interesting stories to tell.
3). Personabilty: A podcast builds relationships and loyalty, not just from current customers, but potential new one’s as well. The people in the podcast become the listeners expert guides.
4). Advertising: Yes, talking about your products or services in a subtle but entertaining way, not only educates customers, but can often up-sell the customer to better products and services.
5). Brand Awareness: Because you’re taking your business to a much bigger social platform, you’re reaching a much more wider audience of potential customers.
Isn’t a podcast expensive?
The biggest investment you’ll make, is your time.
Plus, to extend your reach even further, you can also arrange to have your podcast filmed for YouTube distribution.
But, if you don’t like the idea of being filmed, then you can still turn your podcast into a YouTube programme. To do this, we create a thumbnail image for the duration of the podcast. Or, you can create a selection of images from both the interview and podcast discussions.
The other great advantage of filming your podcast is distribution on social media. Videos on social media are the most clicked and watched online media content.
Okay, I like the the idea of a podcast, but what can I talk about?
Unlike a traditional radio interview where you’re limited to what you can talk about, a podcast can be about anything and everything. Plus, it can be as long or short as you want it to be.
As a business you can offer advice, talk about your products, or even share your wisdom on how you manage your personal life. Maybe you have a great tip for saving for holidays or a unique idea that helps you gain more customers. Remember, this is how you’ll build your personailty into your podcast and how your listeners will get to know more about (you) the person. This builds trust, empathy and relatabilty. Brief interesting anecdotes are what will make your podcast stand out from the rest.
But obviously, there’s a few set guidelines to follow to keep your podcast interesting and on brand.
I’m worried that I’ll have to do the podcast on my own?
A podcast is usually a conversation between two individuals with shared knowledge and interests. So, if nobody in your team wishes to sit in on the podcast with you.
Then maybe somebody else at another company, a customer or an expert will agree to be on your show. The thing to remember is that the guest and yourself don’t always have to be in the studio either.
With today’s technology you can host and interview people from anywhere in the world. That said, a studio is a much more comfortable environment to record your podcast. Plus, it does have a more professional sound. But, it’s important to say that you don’t always have to be in the studio.
If I commit, I’m worried that I’ll need to do regular podcasts?
This really depends on your time and budget, but a trick that is often used is to record a block of interviews together in one or two hour slots. Then, you have a selection of pre-recorded interviews that you can put out over the coming months.
The beauty of pre-recording, is that you can then properly plan and prepare the social media promotion and free up your time to do other work.
Alternatively, you can record the podcasts as and when you require them, be it every week or every month.
Okay, so how do I promote the podcast?
If you use a professional studio like The Audio Café, the studio will take away all the heavy lifting and create your podcast feed and connect you to a podcast platform.
The feed is what is then distributed to all the podcasting platforms once the audio is created and ready for playback. On platforms like Apple, Google, Spotify etc.
That said, this is not a dark art and you can create your own feed and choose your own podcast platform, but it’s important that you get the right advice and create the correct channels for your podcast. Another important factor is whether you choose to host your own podcasts on your company website server, or a separate podcast server. If you do the latter this is obviously a small additional cost to consider.
If you create videos to accompany the podcasts, you can also upload the videos to your YouTube account. If you don’t have one, then you can easily create a new account just for podcast videos only.
The great thing about creating podcasts, is that you then have valuable content to share on social media or in press releases and newsletters. This helps push up your organic listings on search engines and significantly improve your digital footprint.
Conclusion: Podcast launch, to do list!
- Review your niche and topics of discussion.
- Choose a strong podcast name that relates to what you wish to talk about.
- Consider who will host and become guests, be it staff, experts, customers etc.
- Decide on a duration, the average is 20 minutes.
- Review subjects to discuss, maybe this relates to seasonal activities.
- Will your podcast include a voice-over and or music.
- Design cover art for new podcast name.
- Choose whether to host audio on your own server or a specific podcast server.
- Create feed and review podcast channels to add your podcast to.
- Launch and promote.