PODCASTS can be a great way to build your brand, and the booming popularity of this audio medium makes it a worthy addition to your marketing mix. A podcast lets you reach niche audiences and foster engaged followers who share their favorites. What’s more, search engines are investing heavily in audio search capabilities.
On the technical side, getting started is simple and inexpensive. “All you need is a USB headset, capable laptop, software, and you’d be ready to go,” says Chris Conner, content strategist and host of Life Science Marketing Radio, a podcast producer.
Many podcasters do eventually upgrade. “I did start off inexpensive, but very quickly moved up to a $1,000 mixer because it made my life easier,” says Jeff Halash, owner of TechNut Computer Repair and co-host of The Computer Repair Show.
Especially if you’re in the tech industry, don’t have bad-sounding audio, cautions Conner. With inexpensive desktop and web-based software such as Zencastr or SquadCast, even newbies can produce well-balanced audio. He suggests hiring an audio editor if you’re airing more than once a month to save time.
Time, in fact, is often the biggest investment. Halash spends five to 10 hours a week planning, preparing, uploading, editing, responding to listeners, and more. Allocate appropriate resources for such tasks before getting started.
Choosing a Format
Podcasting can work for any type of business, and no topic is too obscure. Conner says it’s more important that it falls into at least two of these three categories: entertaining, educational, or inspirational. Halash’s podcast arguably hits all three, wrapping jokes and helpful information around business ideas and vendor insights.
In terms of length, Conner says 20 to 40 minutes is a sweet spot; a 10- to 15-minute show can also work if aired more frequently. That said, Halash’s podcast runs well over an hour and still averages 2,000 weekly downloads.
Interview-style and co-hosted shows are more engaging than solo podcasts and make it easier to keep content fresh, says Conner. Don’t discuss your product or service, but instead choose related topics such as trends and industry back story. Invite knowledgeable guests too.
Even the perfect format won’t draw throngs of listeners and subscribers immediately, however. And forget podcasting as a direct revenue stream unless you have about 50,000 listeners. Relationships are the currency you can count on.
“It is the best networking tool you could possibly imagine,” says Conner. “It gives me a reason to call people to find out what’s going on. ... You’re helping each other out, so you build kind of a relationship.”
Some listeners might become customers, but podcasting is about community building and finding your voice—literally and figuratively. So explore and have fun with this popular marketing tool.
JENNIFER OLADIPO is an award-winning business journalist. She’s written for national and international publications focused on science and technology sectors and has held communications positions in multiple organizations, including a Fortune 200 technology company.