Testing, testing... Is this thing on? Let's talk podcasts.
Unless you’ve been hanging out under a rock for the last decade (in which case, we’re sorry to break it to you — Obama’s term finished and he took Joe Biden with him AND Arnott’s totally violated the Shapes recipes and ugh… look, I’m probably not ready to talk about it yet...) you’ve probably heard of podcasts by now.
But in case you need a refresher, they’re (mostly) ad-free audio shows, usually split into a series of episodes. They’re what you listen to when you’re cleaning your apartment and really want to feel like you’ve got your shit together, or when you’re trying to make your commute that tiny bit more bearable.
But these days, podcasts aren’t just good for ramping up your motivation or making you snort with laughter at Hamish and Andy’s latest antics (YES! Laughter without the National Tiles ad!). They can actually be an incredibly powerful and valuable marketing tool for your biz. A growing amount of companies— both big and small — are using podcasting as a way to spread awareness and build trust for their brand.
An example of someone who has done this extremely well is Sophia Amoruso, founder of US fashion retailer Nasty Gal. Sophia started up her podcast, Girlboss Radio (where she interviews a different talented and inspiring lady each episode) back in 2015. While she’s no longer CEO of Nasty Gal, the podcast did ah-mazing things for her personal brand. Her media company, Girlboss, announced last year they’d received $3.1 million in seed funding. Girlfriend even had a Netflix series made about her!
A little closer to home, Yellow Brick Road CEO Mark Bouris’ business podcast, The Mentor, has grown from 100,000 downloads in September 2015 to more than half a million today. Sure, you’re talking about someone who used to be on The Apprentice, but it’s a testament to the potential reach of podcasts.
The insane thing is — anyone can put a podcast on the iTunes or GooglePlay store. This means there’s potential for 3 BILLION people to listen to your podcast. ‘Yes, but anyone can make a website, too’ you may think. Yes, but podcasts are still a bit of an untapped market for business owners, which means there are less competition and less trying to bend over backwards to please the Google robots. According to Alana Mahony, Digital Content Manager from audioBoom: “Only 3% of marketers are using podcasts so there’s a wide-open field for it. The public are all switched on all of a sudden – people who never listened before are involved now and they’re looking for more.” This, though, is both a blessing and a curse. We’ll discuss this below.
The benefits of podcasts
So, basically, if you want to hop on the podcasting wagon, now is the time. But if you’re still not quite convinced of their business-boosting potential, here are some of the benefits:
Reach an audience: Don't underestimate your ability to reach a ginormous (technical term) audience with a podcast. How? It comes down to the accessibility of audio as a medium. What other activity truly allows you to multi-task the way that audio does? What other activity could you do while making dinner, doing the laundry, framing photos of the Hemsworth brothers for the living room, driving the car, exercising?
They can drive sales: High quality podcasts are a fantastic way to connect with new customers who wouldn’t otherwise come across your product or services and drive traffic to your website.
They show your customers you’re human: You can have the punchiest ‘about me’ section and the most professional-yet-warm headshot in the world — but when it comes to building a connection, nothing quite compares with letting your customers hear your lovely voice and infectious laugh. And if you’re someone who’s funny about being on camera, podcasts are the perfect way to do this! You can’t avoid being your authentic self here.
They’re a great way to demonstrate your expertise: You’re all about indoor plants (or vegan cooking, or eyelash extensions, or whatever your ‘thing’ may be). You love it, you know everything there is to know about it and you could talk about it all day. And now, you can — to an audience who actually wants to hear you talk about it, because they’ve subscribed to your podcast for that very reason.
They’re the perfect opportunity for collaboration: Is there a ladyboss you’ve been admiring from afar (cough: stalking on Instagram) for a while but you’ve been too shy to approach them? Invite them on to your podcast as a guest! Not only will you get to share their knowledge and expertise with your audience, it may even lead to new opportunities (or a new business bestie!)
They’re inexpensive to produce: Contrary to popular belief, after some initial outlays (to make sure you sound pro - more on this below) you don’t need a professional recording booth to create a podcast— all you need is a quiet room, an audio recorder and basic editing software. Unlike video content (where you kind of need the right gear or you’ll look like a noob), there’s really no need to splash out on exxy equipment.
They improve your public speaking skills: You may feel très awkward the first time you record your podcast and you’ll almost definitely cringe at the sound of your own voice when you hear the recording back. But podcasts are a great way to become more comfortable speaking off-the-cuff without having to be up on stage — which is bound to come in handy for future speaking opportunities, job interviews or pitch meetings.
They can earn you money: Of course, the point of your podcast is to engage with potential and current customers (plus all of the other reasons listed above). However, if yours happens to go gangbusters, it can be lucrative — According to the Podcasting Audit Study by Bridge Ratings, advertisers are expected to spend $500 million on podcast advertising in 2020.
Tips to get you started
There are plenty of comprehensive guides to creating your own podcast on the internet, so we won’t delve too far into that. However, we do have some tips to get you started:
Don’t be afraid to get niche: Don’t be afraid to get really specific with your podcast — the more you can narrow in on what your customers are interested in hearing about, the better. Plus, the quirkier podcasts are normally the ones that stand out the most. After all, ‘My Dad Wrote A Porno’ was in the top 10 most downloaded podcasts last year!
Find a buddy: The most engaging podcasts feature a conversation, not a monologue — so if possible, try to recruit a co-host or guest. This will make it less intimidating for you, too. Also a fantastic way to leverage knowledge and audience. Top tip? Make sure your audiences match. I don’t mean twinning - I mean, will their audience be interested in your message?
Quality matters: Ok, this is HUGE. Maybe even bigly.
While there’s minimal cost involved in creating a podcast, quality is still important. With a growing number of businesses turning to podcasting to get their business noticed, it’s important to ensure yours is of a top-notch standard in order to stand out. Remember one of the benefits we talked about? Everyone can do a podcast - and they are, because there are undeniable benefits. So how do you go pro? Make sure you sound pro. Gary Vee is a massive proponent of this. Audio Quality is crucial.
Here is what you need to NAIL to stand out from all the other DIY podcasts
Sound quality. Sounding like you’re walking around is a surefire way to seem like an amateur. Make sure you find a quiet space to record in, with plenty of space around you. It’s also a good idea to wear headphones when you record.
Planning. While you don’t want to stick to a script, it’s a good idea to have a loose plan for your podcast — including an intro and an outro.
INTRO/OUTRO/Segues. 3 seconds to make and impression - the sound of fabric on a mic or your best mate's beatboxing (unless your best mate is Tom Thumb) isn't the best one either. One of the best ways to make your podcast seem super profesh is with a clean and clear intro and outro to each episode - introduce who you are and what your podcast is all about and then remind them of exactly that and where they can find you. You can also add musical segues throughout the episode for some dynamics. But for the love of god, PLEASE don’t just try to pump Daryl Braithwaite’s Horses through the speakers in your makeshift recording studio. Make the investment and get a pro.