If you listen to podcasts, you’re in good company: More than half of the U.S. population tuned in to podcasts last year. The popularity of podcasts creates a huge marketing opportunity. Rolling out your own audio broadcast can help you communicate your expertise, raise your visibility and find customers.
Careful planning will help you create a top-notch podcast that engages listeners and supports your business goals. Take these steps to create your own.
Focus Your Subject
A good podcast topic lies at the intersection of customer interests and your expertise. Start by creating a list of common customer questions to zero in on market priorities. Then, assess that list against what you’re comfortable talking about and your current company goals. For example, if your catering company specializes in healthy gourmet foods and your small-business objectives include booking more parties for the school graduation season, good topics would be “How to plan a menu to please all age groups” or “How to choose a caterer for a family event.”
Also, look for a provocative hook — something that goes against conventional wisdom or will pique a listener’s interest. For instance, if you run a tutoring company, you can attract listeners and showcase your company’s understanding of tutoring with topics such as “Why your ‘A’ student still needs a tutor,” or “Why SAT prep should start a lot earlier than you think.”
Create a Schedule
Podcasts are most powerful when they occur regularly, since this approach keeps you top of mind with prospects and customers. Research shows that podcast listeners will keep tuning in if you do a good job. The number of podcast listeners who describe themselves as “avid fans” of podcasts grew by three million in 2017.
Once you’ve established a topic list, map it to a schedule you think you can maintain. Plot your ideas on a calendar, looking for opportunities to match your content to seasonal events like shopping cycles, holidays or industry conferences.
Choose a Structure
Pick an episode format that fits your speaking style and content. A single-presenter setup, in which you do all the talking, lets you record on your schedule. It also means you’ll have to keep the podcast interesting and lively all on your own. You can also share the mic with someone, such as a coworker, expert or peer. This requires more coordination but potentially increases the energy and excitement of a podcast. Pick your co-host or guest carefully: A good contributor can provide succinct, valuable commentary and understands the give-and-take of a podcast conversation.
Develop Your Script
Whether you choose to present alone or with guests or a co-host, sketch talking points for each participant. High-level bullet points, like those you might create for a presentation, work better than a word-for-word script. Bullet points and notes about key examples or details you want to include will keep you on track and help your podcast sound natural. With a script, you may be tempted to read it verbatim, which will sound stilted. Practice your podcast until you’re comfortable with the material. Then, when you’re recording, try to bring a friendly, conversational tone to the presentation.
Craft a Template
Listeners will respond best to a consistent format for each episode of your podcast, so create a standard approach and stick with it. This will also streamline development. Typical elements include:
• Intro/Outro: Plan for an opening (intro) and closing (outro). These are good places to thank listeners and remind them about your business and your expertise.
• Content Segments: Add the content formats you plan to present each week. For example, you might start with a headline recap, conduct a guest interview and close with a recap or listener question.
• Music: License background music to use in your intro/outro and transitions. There are many affordable providers, including Melody Loops and AudioJungle. Use the same music in every episode so your audience associates it with your podcast and brand.
• Cross Promotion: Use breaks in your presentation to encourage listeners to take a next step. For example, ask them to enroll in a course, buy a product or download a white paper.
Gather Your Equipment
Find a quiet room for recording to reduce unwanted background noise. Some coworking spaces have recording studios with fully equipped recording rooms. You’ll also need:
• Microphone: If you’re starting a podcast on a budget, buy a microphone that plugs into your computer’s USB port. By spending a little more, you can get an analog microphone to produce better-quality sound.
• Editing Software: Use recording software to edit your content and apply effects. Audacity and GarageBand are popular free options, and paid tools include Hindenburg Journalist and Adobe Audition.
• Headphones: Headphones help you hear yourself while recording and make it easier to maintain a consistent sound level. They’ll also reveal any background noises your microphone is picking up.
• Pop Filter: This optional, inexpensive filter fits on your microphone and smooths the rough edges of speech.
Create a handful of episodes before your launch so you can stock your library and encourage listeners to subscribe. This will also help you get comfortable with recording. Use a service like Buzzsprout to upload and host your files. These providers make it easy to prep listener-ready tracks and post them to directories. Add a feedback form on your podcast page to encourage listeners to tell you what they think. Once you’re underway, the next step is to promote and earn revenue from your podcasts.