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On Your Mark, Get Set, Podcast
Your company has decided to join the podcasting bandwagon. Some might be excited about it and think it will be an easy endeavor. Others might find the idea daunting and a little scary. After all, so much can go wrong when dealing with mass media and technology. Well, it is not a marketing strategy that should be entered into lightly, but for companies that are motivated and committed, it is definitely doable. While getting started does take time and effort, it can be well worth it if the podcast is well-received and aligns with the company’s goals. After all, podcasting is a great way to reach the masses cost effectively, and allows the hosts to delve into rich, complex and sophisticated topics in a way that articles, tweets and social media posts don’t. So rather than dreading it, it should be considered a golden opportunity to take customer engagement to a whole other level and reach the masses in a personal way that no other marketing effort can deliver.
So let’s look at what it takes develop and prepare to produce a podcast.
1. Set Measurable, Attainable Goals
Like any other marketing strategy, it is important for a business to be clear on what is the purpose of the podcast. Answer these questions. What do we want this podcast to achieve? Why are we choosing to podcast instead of some other marketing medium? It should not be to achieve fame or make money through ad revenue. Most podcasts will never achieve the level of celebrity or popularity that will generate significant ad revenue. Instead, set measurable goals for the podcast that are connected to the company’s growth and brand recognition. Here are some possible goals:
- Increase brand awareness by enrolling 20% of the company’s customers to the podcast
- Attract 1,000 new listeners within the first year
- Build the brand’s reputation and clout with the target audience
- Increase conversion of podcast listeners to customers by 10%
- Enhance personal branding for the podcast hosts
- Educate customers on processes and products related to the industry
- Demonstrate thought leadership by interviewing at least 26 innovators and industry influencers
- Increase influence with key influencers and key targets
- Grow the company’s network
These are just some examples. Identify just a few (2-3) measurable goals so that later, the company can determine the ROI from the podcast. After all, it will take a lot of effort to launch the podcast so it will be important to measure the fruits of that labor.
However, it is important to keep the goals realistic. Podcasting is long form content. So, for instance, don’t compare podcast download numbers with things like YouTube plays or social media follower counts. Those are not apples-to-apples. And don’t compare one podcast’s downloads with that of another. Potential audience size is totally dependent on the show’s topic and possible audience size. There’s no one single podcast download number gauge. If the show’s focus is speaking to developers of commercial property, the potential audience can be enormous. But if the show is aimed at the CEOs of Public Shopping Center REITS (Real Estate Investment Trusts), then the target audience is much smaller. If both of those podcasts had 10 downloads, the first would be doing miserably and the second would be a huge success.
Statistically, though, if a podcast gets over 136 downloads for a new episode in the first month of its release, it is doing better than half of all existing podcasts. This is based on the number of downloads in the 30-day period following the release of a new episode from September 2019.
According to PodcastInsights.com, if a new episode gets, within 30 days of its release:
- more than 136 downloads, it is in the top 50% of podcasts.
- more than 1100 downloads, it is in the top 20% of podcasts.
- more than 3200 downloads, it is in the top 10% of podcasts.
- more than 7,700 downloads, it is in the top 5% of podcasts.
- more than 20,000 downloads, it is in the top 2% of podcasts.
- more than 36,000 downloads, it is in the top 1% of podcasts.
So set a specific but realistic download goal for the podcast.
2. Develop a Persuasive, Consistent Podcast Concept
Long-winded monologues. Interviews of industry insiders. Two colleagues chatting over coffee. These formats might seem charming, but they are a dime a dozen. When it comes to launching a podcast, deciding on the concept and content structure may very well be the most important part. The key is to create a show that is unique and compelling for the target audience. Determine who the target audience is and then choose a concept that will be easy for those listeners to understand but also intriguing enough to draw people in and delivering real value.
Once the concept is decided, determine the podcast’s frequency. Very few podcasters produce episodes daily. Most are either weekly, biweekly or monthly. It is important to be consistent so think about this decision carefully and don’t overcommit.
It may be that both the concept and frequency will need to be tweaked as the show gets off the ground. That’s fine. But it is better for both the podcast team and the listeners to get it right sooner rather than later.
3. Name the Podcast
This is a really important step in the process. What’s in a name? Everything. A great name is key to attracting new listeners. Obviously, a boring or predictable name is no good. And, while a descriptive name can benefit from search algorithms on Spotify, Google and Apple, those types of names tend to be dry and don’t have enough pizzazz to attract listeners. For example, a podcast titled “Online Marketing Made Easy” is the title of a podcast that certainly benefits from searches for online marketing, but the title is not nearly as intriguing as “Everyone Hates Marketers”, which is the title of another podcast also specifically catering to marketers. So naming the podcast become a branding effort much like naming a company or a new product.
Before settling on a name, do research to find out what other podcasts there are in the company’s space. For example, a company wanting to start a podcast for pharmacists should find out what other types of podcasts exist that speaks to pharmacists. Avoid anything that sounds similar to an existing one.
4. Plan Show Content Carefully and Collaboratively
Content for a podcast must be planned in advance, just as the content would be for any other type of radio or television show. Long form content cannot be thrown together on the day the episode is going to be recorded. Running around on show day frantically trying to pull together content and guests is a nightmare. Instead, plan (and record) all content in advance. To plan out the content and collaborate with production people, podcasters can use either Google Sheets, Smartsheet, Airtable or even Excel to manage the process.
5. Get the Right Podcasting Equipment
How much money does a company need to spend to get started podcasting? It depends, but the threshold of entry to podcasting is actually fairly low by U.S. standards. For $500 of audio gear, a new podcaster can get a solid result. But for $1,200, it is possible to buy equipment that delivers full broadcast-quality sound, with all the toys that radio producers have used for decades.
One piece of equipment that is needed is a USB Audio Interface. A USB audio interface allows the podcaster to convert the analog audio signals (i.e. the podcasters’ voices) into a digital signal for a computer. They can vary in quality, features, inputs & outputs, and more. They all have mic preamps built into the XLR inputs, and at least one output for monitoring speakers or headphones. Compared to a built-in sound card, there is almost always higher sound quality when using an external audio interface.
The “best” USB audio interface will really depend on your needs and potential uses, so we’ll highlight brands and models with a range of I/O (input/output). Some of the top ones include Rodecaster Pro, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Presonus AudioboxiTwo, Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD 89, and Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2. There are, of course, many more. It is important to try several to determine which is the best for the company’s needs.
6. Choose a DAW (digital audio workstation)
A DAW is a piece of software that allows a person to edit audio files. Unless the person is a fairly competent audio engineer, they will want something simple such as Audacity or Reaper. But for those who want something better, there are many including Image-Line FL Studio or Apple Logic Pro.
7. Set Up the Artwork and Jingle for the Show
Graphic design is eye candy. So a strong visual presentation of the show cover is very important for convincing people to give a podcast a try. Companies that have in-house graphic designers can let them having fun designing something cool and impactful. For those that don’t have an in-house design team, invest in hiring a top graphic designer to develop a cover for the show that draws attention and is powerfully inviting.
The same goes for the podcast’s jingle. Podcasting is the new radio. Imagine a radio show without a jingle. Impossible. So it’s time to create a jingle for the podcast. The easiest way to do this is to buy royalty-free music and get an audio technician to pull together a jingle. This adds instant credibility and professionalism.
Next week, we’ll look at how to produce and promote a podcast. Stay tuned.
Quote of the Week
“Your podcast content should not be about you, but about solving your prospects’ problems.” Steve Lubetkin
© 2020, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.