A few years ago there was a debate over whether podcasting would last. Some said it was a passing fad. Today, podcasting is still one the most progressive trends in marketing – and a growing trend in B2B marketing.
Almost anyone can start their own audio-based podcast show and have it added to major podcasting platforms like Apple, Google and Spotify. A YouTube channel is the perfect place to launch your own video-based podcast, and it’s free.
Podcasting is now a proven B2B account-based marketing approach. In the B2C arena, Joe Rogan licensed his show to Spotify for 100 million in 2020. I too caught the podcasting bug and launched my own show in 2019. Then another in 2020. It’s been a thrilling ride.
When I first launched a podcast, I believed it would be a simple undertaking. After all, you’re just talking to people. My goal was to interview Marketing Directors and share their advice. And in the process, I hoped to learn what services they needed I could help them with.
But as I published more episodes, I realized there was a bit more to it than I thought. I hadn’t set goals and didn’t have a strategy for what I was trying to achieve.
In fact, before long, I was doing 8 different jobs. I could systematize some of the work, but other jobs required ongoing creative effort.
In this article I’ll share some of the lessons I learned along the way. In doing so, I hope to make your journey into podcasting a little more successful. Or, at least you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.
Interviewing is not as easy as it seems
One of the most time consuming tasks was finding guests. Not everyone wanted to be interviewed on my show. So, it took ongoing outreach to keep lining up the right guests.
As I did more interviews, I fully began to grasp the challenge of interviewing. As the interviewer, it’s your job to structure and lead the interview. Otherwise, the guest will go off on a tangent about whatever topic strikes them as interesting at the moment.
Questions were key, buy they depended on doing research in advance. So, interviewing was really a writing job. The research could take triple the time it took to do the writing, and you needed a topic idea to begin.
This all came together in the interview by asking the right questions in a logical order. Otherwise, the audience wouldn’t be able to follow along and my effort to communicate would fail. Just creating it doesn’t mean people will listen to it.
Finally, there needed to be a point, or a “lesson,” at the end of the interview. Otherwise, there was no value for the audience. My podcast would become what many others already were – a data dump with limited audience value.
Another realization was that the topic needed to resonate with the guest. Otherwise the interview would lack energy and passion. No doubt, interviewing was a tricky undertaking.
Costly lessons in podcast branding
Once my podcast was as few episodes along, I started wondering how to build an audience. My own interests had motivated me to start my show. But I wanted to connect with a larger audience and build a community. This got me thinking about my brand.
I knew I needed a better name for my show to help attract an audience. This brought up questions about what I was trying to achieve.
I realized that without a clear mission, I was guessing about what to call my show or even what content to include. I ended up changing the name and logo several times.
Other parts of my branding had to be guessed at, too. The color scheme and font style needed to be selected. The cover art and episode templates needed to be designed. Unfortunately, I had no direction for what they should be.
The technical stuff of podcasting
My first microphone was a basic Microsoft headset. I used this and Skype to record my shows. It soon became clear that my sound quality wasn’t good enough.
The upgrade I made to a USB microphone for a $150 was a big improvement. But my next challenge was learning how to use audio editing software – no small task. Editing software let me cut out the parts I didn’t want in each episode.
There were plenty of Ums, Ahs and other strange noises to remove. Video was more complex, but I wasn’t ready for that yet. There were other audio editing chores. These included noise reduction, sound levelling and mixing.
Finally, ID3 tags were added as was the intro and outro. One piece of advice here is that having good recording equipment and an interview plan will cut down on editing work. Editing won’t make a lousy podcast great, but it can make a great podcast a bit better.
Publishing your show
Once I completed each episode, I uploaded it to my podcast hosting platform. My platform then distributed it to Apple, Google and Spotify for wider exposure.
The platform I eventually went with provides detailed analytics and automatically transcribes each episode for SEO optimization.
Next, I setup a YouTube channel and started uploading each audio podcast as a video. My thought was I would eventually move from audio to video interviews.
I eventually realized that since my show was B2B, using YouTube was mostly a wasted effort. My audience was on Linkedin, not YouTube. While video is great for building a B2C audience, it was unnecessary for B2B.
Instead, I decided to create my own publishing platform with my own podcast microsite. Here I could create an email newsletter and build my own members list. The platform I used let me easily add paywalls to strengthen my business model.
My podcast platform let me embed each podcast into my microsite in seconds. I could grab the embed code and put it wherever I wanted.
Promoting your show
The best way to promote a B2C video podcast is on YouTube. If you interview well known guests, you can put their name in the title and your video will get found more often. SEO techniques can help.
Since my audience was on Linkedin, I could target a highly specific audience. My microsite let me showcase my guest’s point which made my show more credible to future guests.
I turned my podcasts Q&A articles and social media posts, too. Guests were likely to share these on Linkedin. And my outro mentioned my free offer at the end of each episode which helped me grow my business.
The reality of managing a podcast
When I was only producing a few episodes, I could do everything myself. I treated my first 10 episodes as unique projects. But after 20, I saw a long list of tasks ahead of me each time.
At one point I realized I was doing eight differ jobs – Outreach Manager, Show Host, Writer, Editor, Voice-over Specialist, Audio Engineer, Graphic Designer and Project Manager. The interview itself was the least of the work. Here are some (but not all) of the tasks involved:
Outreach Manager – Source and research guests.
Outreach Manager – Identify guest topic.
Outreach Manager – Book guests and into calendar.
Writer – Conduct research, prepare topic and interview questions.
Host – Conduct the interview.
Editor – Edit the audio using editing software.
Audio Engineer – Mix and produce the episode.
Writer – Write the headline.
Writer – Write the show notes.
Graphic Designer – Create episode cover image.
Administrator – Post new episode to podcast platform.
Website Manager – Embed podcast in my website, add show notes.
Writer – Convert podcast into an article
Social Media Manager – Post guest content on social media
Why your podcast needs a strategy
The most useful lesson I learned from my journey into podcasting was the importance setting goals and having a written strategy.
“Begin with the end in mind.”
This great quote by Stephen Covey is a reminder to put more thought into planning your podcast. A lack of direction often left me guessing about branding decisions or what content to include. Here are a few things I suggest you consider…
Finding your purpose
It takes a lot of time and effort to create a podcast. At times I felt bogged down by all the work. Something had motivated me to create my show. What was it? Having more clarity on this will help you stay motivated.
Interviewing the right guests
I sometimes made the mistake of interviewing the wrong guests. These interviews became unnecessary work that didn’t serve my goals.
Creating compelling content
It was a challenge to figure out what to discuss in each show. What topics should I cover? What questions should I ask? I started without a clear topic because I didn’t have a clear mission. This made coming up with questions more difficult and more time consuming.
Building your audience
There’s no point in creating a podcast with no audience (or future audience). What audience was I trying to appeal to? What would they get out of listening to my show?
Managing your cash flow
A passion for interesting technology (and marketing) was why I started my podcast. But without revenue, I couldn’t afford to keep my show going. After all, you must publish a lot of episodes to get traction. I needed a business model to at least work towards.
The components of an effective podcast strategy
A podcast strategy will give you a plan for reaching your goals. Here are a few strategic considerations I suggest you think about…
Your podcast brand idea is the essence of what your show stands for. It’s the “why” behind your brand. It’s the guiding principle that people feel from your podcast as a whole. For example, the brand idea behind Starbucks is not coffee, but the idea of a third place as a social setting that’s separate from home and work.
So, “brand” has a different meaning than “brand-ing.” Branding is the embodiment of your brand through your communications such as your logo, color scheme, name, slogan, copy and content. You can talk about and write about your brand. But when it comes down to it, it’s just an idea.
Your business model is the practical dimension of a podcast. Creating a successful podcast is a big investment of time and effort. It can be far more successful if it pulls it’s own weight by generating revenue.
There are two (basic) types of business models in podcasting, B2B and B2C. The money in business-to-business (B2B) podcasting comes from generating awareness and leads. You don’t need a huge audience for that. But for business-to-consumer (B2C), the money comes from selling sponsorships. For that, you do need a large audience.
Once you are clear on the big picture for your business model, you can start articulating it with a business model canvas.
The idea of a mission as originally used for religious and military purposes. An Editorial Mission is like a mission for your content. It is not a prerequisite for launching a podcast. But it can certainly bring clarity and alignment for your content towards your strategic direction.
It is a few sentences that summarize the mission of your content. It should describe who your audience is, what you do for them and what they get from your show. This will this help you remember the purpose of your content prevent it from going off track.
You, your audience, and your guests are all stakeholders in your podcast. Your Content Strategy articulates your Editorial Mission by going deeper on who your target audience is and which guests you’ll interview.
Having a blueprint for a content strategy will then help you choose which guests, what topics to cover and where to get research. It can help you say “yes” or “no” to whether a certain topic or guest should be included or not.
Also. there is both an art and a science to content strategy. The growing use of shared social media means there’s a lot more to it than guessing at the intent of keyword research. But keywords can certainly provide added direction and optimization.
A shows’ format or medium is another key decision. Should it be audio or video? Video can be great for appealing to your audience’s emotions. And you can include slides, imagery and special effects. On the other hand, an audio only show can work for B2B listeners. They want practical, tactical information on improving their business. Not trendy cool stuff.
The 7 disciplines of podcast excellence
It seems easy to start a podcast. But there are lots of fatal assumptions that can lead you astray. My “7 Disciplines of Podcast Excellence” model helps you break down your podcast into component parts. Then you can think them through one at a time to increase your chances of success.
1. Leadership – Your podcast leadership strategy directs and informs all the other parts of your show. This includes your business model, brand idea, editorial mission, content strategy and show format.
2. Writing – Your writing for an interview includes the topic, research, questions and logical flow of the interview. A narrative storytelling episode would include the 8 stages of a story arc.
3. Brand – Your branding strategy includes the visual, written and audio communications that set your podcast apart from the rest.
4. Production – Best practices in audio or video Editing lets you turn your recorded interviews into works of audio or video art.
5. Publishing – The right podcast platform can connect you to other platforms like Apple, Google and Spotify. Your own Podcast Microsite gives you 100% mindshare and lets you build your podcast brand and your audience with an email newsletter.
6. Promotion – If your audience is B2B, you’ll want to use Linkedin to conduct target research and create a prospecting list for market outreach. If your audience is B2C, you’ll want to conduct keyword research then setup and optimize a Youtube Channel.
7. Management – Cloud-based project management software lets you create a turn-key process for systematizing, simplifying and scaling your podcast.
Start podcasting today – it’s the future
Based on my own experience, podcasting is a powerful way to build relationships. It’s not a quick advertising tactics, but proven way to build an audience over time.
Focus your show on something you’re passionate about and you’ll stick with it long enough to get results. If you have a good business model, your podcast can provide an excellent return-on-investment.