“Alexa, start my car.” “Hey, Google, where’s the closest restaurant?” We are living in an audio-first world driven by the convenience of our voice. Voice is so dominant in 2020 that it not only creates competition for touch; it could threaten to make it virtually obsolete.
Today, we simply need to whisper a word to magically make things happen. And when I say “things,” I mean just about everything. Whether it’s your alarm clock, coffee maker or car, we can get much of the information we need by simply asking for it. We can even take things a step further and ask smart devices for marketplace suggestions, such as, “Where is the closest movie theater?” or “Find restaurants near me.”
It begs the question: How does a business position itself to become a suggestion in this new voice-controlled world? I believe one of the answers is podcasting. It’s a content format that has become incredibly popular over the past few years, and, considering our audio-first society, it comes as no surprise.
Podcasting accommodates individuals who prefer to passively consume information (meaning they choose what they want when they want it). Consider this: 70% of the U.S. population was familiar with the term “podcasting” in 2019, and, according to Statista, “There were an estimated 86 million podcast listeners in the U.S., a number which is forecast to grow to around 132 million by 2022.”
I’ve been building content strategies for clients for more than a decade at my social media agency. Our job is to know where consumers are spending the most time, study data and build solutions that help bring these consumers closer to making a purchasing decision. I’m also a podcaster myself. I host my own podcast for entrepreneurs, and I have trained more than 100 brands and businesses to launch their own podcasts. From my perspective, it is wise for businesses, brands and service providers to consider leveraging the podcasting format if they want to reach the ever-growing number of podcast listeners.
Here are 10 tips for businesses to launch a podcast in 2020:
1. Have a clear understanding of what you do and how it can benefit your audience.
2. Draft the top 10 pain points of your ideal customer/client. This can help give you an idea of which topics to focus on in your podcast. In other words, help listeners navigate and overcome those pain points to position yourself as a thought leader and trusted expert.
3. Be prepared, but don’t wait for perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t let it keep you from taking the leap and getting started.
4. Address your fears, but don’t let your fears prevent you from moving forward.
5. Determine what equipment you need. You don’t need expensive gear to launch a podcast, but having decent gear will definitely help you produce better quality. The internet is full of free information.
6. Sign up for a reliable podcast host. There are a bunch of great options to choose from. When considering a podcast host, you’ll want to research episode and bandwidth restrictions, marketing features, and reporting.
7. Record episodes in batches. For those who feel like they don’t have enough time, a great tip would be to record between four and six episodes in one session per month. You can then preschedule the episodes to go live over the course of four to six weeks. Ideally, it is recommended to upload one episode per week.
8. Interview guests, including clients, potential clients, experts, etc. You can invite them to record the interviews at your office, or record them remotely using videoconferencing tools.
9. Don’t try to talk about everything in one episode. Pick one topic, and be concise. Think of the listener when outlining your episode.
10. Develop what I call a “podcast outline formula,” which is a guide that helps you map out each episode. The formula follows this order: Opening, intro, segue, message, outro.
If you are thinking, “Podcasting might work for some, but my business isn’t the type of business that could do a podcast,” think again. I’ve observed podcasts from a variety of industries, including acupuncture, martial arts, insurance, teaching, construction, paintball, marketing, sports, medicine — the list goes on.
Most people think the common challenges for starting a podcast are related to gear, marketing and/or monetization. However, with the right tools and guidance, I believe you’ll realize those are relatively easy to overcome.
The biggest challenge I’ve found all new podcasters struggle with is fear. They don’t think people will want to listen. They dislike the sound of their voice. They are afraid of the work. Realizing you are valuable and have an important message to share helps you to become comfortable and confident — and ultimately overcome your biggest challenge: fear.
If you still are having some doubts, think about this: Your customers are listening to and being influenced every day by what they hear on podcasts. So ensure you’re one of the voices they’re hearing.