Podcasting: On Fire as a Promotional Medium
With a shoestring investment, businesses can ride the promotional wave offered by a rabidly popular new medium: podcasting.
Amid the wide array of highly sophisticated digital tools marketers are using to increase profits, a surprise (and decidedly low-tech) alternative is scoring big gains for businesses: the simple podcast. Essentially a spin-off of an old-timey radio show that features a host and maybe a guest or two talking into a microphone, podcasts are currently the “next big thing” on the web, drawing millions of listeners to tens of thousands of shows.
“It’s a great way to grow your business, connect with other leaders in your space, deepen your relationship with your audience and much more,” said Jamie Spencer, owner of makeawebsitehub.com, a web marketing specialist.
Marketers have all sorts of theories about why podcasts are so popular. They’re eminently portable: You can take them with you on a car ride, to the gym, on a walk or in an elevator. And podcasts are eminently personal: While you’re listening to a podcast, you can completely tune out the rest of the world. It’s just you and your favorite podcast playing inside your headphones.
No matter the reason, the fact remains that the medium is on fire. There are currently 86 million podcast listeners in the United States alone—a number that is expected to grow to 132 million by 2022, according to Statista (www.statista.com/topics/3170/podcasting). And most of those podcasts listeners are the kinds of audience advertisers pursue aggressively. According to the “2018 Podcast Trends Report”
(www.discoverpods.com/podcast-trends-report-2018), 41% of podcast listeners who tune in at least once a month make more than $75,000 annually.
Moreover, podcasts have a way of making advertising easy to remember. Nearly half of podcast listeners surveyed said that they remembered the ads they heard during the course of a show, according to Nielsen (www.nielsen.com/us/en).
But perhaps most telling is that the Big Money has moved in. Last year, Spotify announced that it had allocated $500 million for podcasting, which it would use to scoop up ownership of podcasts it believes show the most promise.
The good news for businesses—both big and small—is that virtually anyone has the ability to ride the wave. Granted, your company’s podcast may not become one of the Top 100 podcasts in the U.S. overnight (www.podcastinsights.com/top-us-podcasts), but any business that takes the time to put together a quality production that’s promoted professionally stands to benefit from the current rabid interest in podcasting.
Here’s a gameplan for getting started:
Take Advantage of Inexpensive Podcasting Tech: Fortunately, getting started in podcasting involves minimal investment. You can pick up a completely acceptable mic, filter and headset for recording your show on Amazon or a similar retailer for about $100 (www.amazon.com/s?k=podcast+kit&ref=nb_sb_noss_2). And you can use freeware such as Audacity (www.audacityteam.org) to record and edit your podcast. It’s extremely powerful, versatile and reliable.
Consider Using a Special Service to Host Your Podcast on the Web: While you may be able to get away with hosting your podcast on an everyday website, you’ll probably have better luck hosting your production with web hosts that specialize in podcast hosting. The reason is that podcast files are generally much larger than text and image files, and podcast hosts generally offer higher bandwidths, which your listeners will need to quickly download and listen to your shows.
Popular podcast hosting companies include Soundcloud, Podbean, Podomatic, Libsyn and Fireside.
Clearly Communicate the Focus of Your Podcast: There are already tens of thousands of popular podcasts out there, so you’ll want to take pains to clearly communicate your podcast’s focus—and how it will differ from competitors.
Get a Jump With Long-Term Guest Scheduling: Given that many podcasts rely on guest interviews to keep things fresh, you’ll want to get commitments from at least a dozen or more guests you’ll be interviewing for your show—even before your first show airs.
Establish a Deep Supply of “Rainy Day” Shows: Before you go live with your podcast, you’ll also want at least six fully produced shows in the hopper—just in case something goes wrong. Guests canceling at the last minute, technology that acts up, unexpected developments in your personal life—all of those and more can wreak havoc on your podcast scheduling if you’re not prepared.
Get Your Work Copyrighted: These days, stealing someone’s podcast ideas is as easy as highlighting a podcast file and clicking “copy.” Fortunately, Creative Commons offers a free, in-depth guide on how to copyright your show (www.tinyurl.com/wikipodcasting). It also offers detailed advice on how to sidestep copyright problems if you plan to quote, refer to or incorporate content in your podcast that’s not your own.
Promote by Publishing Your Podcast Transcripts on Your Podcast Website: Your podcasting site will appear higher up in Google search returns—and get more exposure for your podcast—by publishing your podcast word for word on your podcast site. The reason is that Google will zoom in on the keywords in your transcripts that mirror those used by people searching for your type of content and send some of those people your way.
You may even want to go a step further and repurpose your transcript as a blog post as well as multiple posts on social media.
“One solid means of promoting your podcast is to create multiple forms of media from each episode you produce,” said Makeawebsitehub’s Spencer. “For example, you could turn an episode into a blog post, a guest blog to publish on another website, a series of social-media updates, or even cool shareable images.”
Promote by Submitting Your Podcast to iTunes and Other Directories: By creating a store account on iTunes, you’ll be able to post your podcast on the iTunes service and enable it to be searchable by everyone who uses the service. In practice, you’ll need to publish at least one of your episodes in an iTunes-supported format—mp3, m4a, mov, mp4 or pdf. You’ll also find tools on iTunes to key in your podcast title, description, category and logo.
For more info, check out Apple’s help center on publishing podcasts (https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc1723472cb).
Consider Reading Ads for Your Sponsors: As your podcast grows more popular, you may be able to sell advertising time on your show. Some podcasters opt to read those ads themselves, given that they’ve established an audience that tunes in regularly and they have a natural bond with that audience, but others shy away from endorsing products, fearing that close association with sponsors might compromise their objectivity.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.