Welcome back to our Sounder Coaching Series where we invite experts from around the audio industry to help you podcast smarter! Our coach Ana Xavier, CEO of The Podcast Space, works 1:1 with business owners to help them integrate lucrative podcasts into their marketing strategy. Today, she’s sharing everything there is to know about planning a podcast for business growth.

By: Ana Xavier

Podcasts are hip, intimate, and widely accessible. In sum, they’re the perfect way for a business owner, like yourself, to reach customers, whenever and wherever they are. Podcasts can serve multiple purposes for a business: marketing content, lead generation, networking, content creation, and sales. I know first hand from working with 30+ national and international entrepreneurs just how impactful podcasting can be. I’ve seen business owners establish year-long partnerships with a single episode or secure a deal that has enabled them to grow exponentially in that year! 

I also know first hand how confusing podcast marketing can be, especially for business owners who are not tech-savvy. Because of this, many companies still struggle to incorporate podcasting into their marketing strategy. So, in part one of this how-to series, we’re going to dig into how to concept and plan a podcast to help market your business’s brand (no matter your industry or niche). In part two, we’ll cover how to make podcast marketing work with your budget, tech-savviness, and time. 

1. Start With A Clear Goal 

Step one of starting a podcast to market your business? Ask yourself: “What do I want from this podcast?” Answering this will help you build an effective strategy for your unique business goal. For instance, you can use your podcast strategy to:

  • Grow your current client base/generate leads
  • Prospect investors 
  • Grow your business locally, nationally, or internationally
  • Showcase your expertise as a specialist working in your field
  • Expand your business’ online presence 

Write an achievable and realistic goal for your podcast. Most business owners want to grow by selling more products or services, but know that a podcast isn’t a place for a 50-minute commercial about how amazing your products are. In my work as a podcast strategist, I’ve found the sweet spot is to create a podcast that builds an emotional and trusting connection with your audience, so they then feel compelled to buy from you! (Spoiler alert, they will! Podcasts have the highest return on investment (ROI) in the industry of content creation.) 

Understanding your podcast’s role in your business will also help you assess the podcast’s success or need for redirection. Just like your business, you wouldn’t expect to make millions in the first week, month, or year of launching. The key to success is consistency, which can be easily achieved by a planned strategy. So start by setting a goal. If you don’t know what success looks like, how can you create a plan to get there? 

2. Find Your Topic and Angle 

What do you talk about if you’re not directly talking about your products or services? A successful podcast is all about creating content that inspires, educates, or entertains— something listeners will be motivated to share with a friend!

Motivational speaker Simon Sinek brilliantly puts it: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. People buy emotion. They want to connect with the feeling that something gives them. Hosting a show gives you an opportunity to position yourself as an expert, and most importantly, connect with your audience by expressing your brand’s personality! 

With that in mind, you want to choose a topic that aligns with your business’ ethos and practices. There are multiple ways to find your topic. To help, I have my podcast clients answer the following clarifying questions:

  • What is the one thing that my client or customer asks again and again on social media?
  • What comes up frequently on testimonials?
  • What is the area or industry I’m looking to have some influence in? 
  • What are the key pillars of my brand? (Ex. sustainability, philanthropy, education.)
  • How will topic X help me further my initial goal? 
  • Is this relevant to my ideal listener/client (more on this below)? 
  • Am I passionate/knowledgeable enough about this topic to record more than five episodes about it? 
  • Will this topic or idea be sustainable in the long term? 
  • For interview-based podcasts, will I have enough experts in the field to keep me going long term? 

Here are a couple examples of my podcasters who were able to achieve outstanding results by choosing a topic that aligns with their brand ethos.

Case Study A: I work with a corporate gifting company owner who hosts a podcast called The Good Office. It’s all about how to do good with your business. She used her brand’s ethos (giving back) and spun it into a “how-to” podcast that educates others to do the same, all while strengthening her leadership in the space of giving back. 

Case Study B: Another business I work with is a senior living consultant. She is passionate about quality of life at any age, so her show is about how to age in style. She is able to use her knowledge of an industry to help educate others while allowing people to get to know her as a consultant. 

These podcast topics may not seem like money-makers at first, but by being strategic about the type of content they produced and the guests they invited to the show every week, these two podcasters were able to register their busiest and most profitable period to date! Yes, even during a pandemic and an economic slowdown! What do they have in common? They know their industry inside-out and chose a topic that resonates with their clients/listeners. 

3. Let Your Customers Define Your Content 

The beauty of launching a podcast for your business is that you probably already know something about your listeners. Because guess what? They are your clients and customers. You’ve already done all the market research when you started your business. And if you’ve gotten feedback, testimonials, or coverage in the media over the years, you know exactly who you are podcasting for. You’re already ten steps ahead.

Refresh your customer knowledge by revising your social media accounts in the insights section. That will tell you at least gender, location, age bracket, and interests. Also use the below questions to craft a profile for your ideal listener:

  • Where are they located?
  • Am I primarily talking to women, men, transgender, gender-neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, and/or third gender? 
  • What’s their age
  • What’s their education level? 
  • What are their interests or hobbies? 
  • What’s their household income? Do they have disposable income, or are they thrifty? 
  • Are they tech-savvy? What type of devices would they have access to?*
  • Is your audience generally commuters or do they work from home?

*Understand their technology literacy 

If your ideal listener is very tech-savvy, then you will probably be able to send them to your website to read show notes, download a worksheet, or subscribe to your newsletter. But if they’re the kind of person who only listens to your podcast on Facebook (and who doesn’t want to exit the platform), then they will need a more direct call to action like, “Drop us a message below, and we will contact you.” 

Every listener’s journey is different, and you should meet them where they are, not the other way around. Adapt your calls to action (CTAs) to your audience’s tech comfort. 

4. Decide On Your Show’s Reach

Deciding your podcast reach will impact how you plan your podcast, what you say on each episode, and what your calls to action will be. Does your business make local or global sales? Is your business e-commerce? Service-based? Start with what you know. Most of your customers are located where most of your business is from.

Start local

Here’s an example: Rachel, the local horticulturist, launched a podcast to build trust with her customer base. Her customers are generally local, so she plans episodes about available plants at her greenhouse store. Locals tune in to get details about the gardening season, local plant events, and more.

When someone visits her physical store and asks plant care questions, like watering or local climate, she takes a note to add that to her episode ideas spreadsheet! The same goes for her social media and website queries. She knows her customers’ world is local, so she keeps her educational content local.

Rachel is providing VALUE to her customers through her locally-based podcast. She’s keeping customers informed and in the loop of her business. Expanding from there, she could improve her relationship with local decision-makers to hire her for upcoming projects by inviting them on the show. Most business deals take an average of 7 interactions before they’re set, and podcasts can help you shorten those by 1 or 2.

Expand your reach

While you need a geographic area to start with, opportunities can arise, and your business can take off at a larger scale. Remember to always dream big! Podcasting can be used for local or global growth, depending on how it aligns with your business goals.

Now, let’s say Rachel took a look at her podcast analytics and noticed that her audience is tuning in from all over the country. Her content could expand to talking about different varieties of plants from all over the world.

She could consider adding an additional revenue stream by starting an e-commerce website where she sells products like plant fertilizer, virtual plant audits, and gardening tools. Podcast swag such as branded t-shirts, gardening gloves, or caps with her logo or plants could also become other great revenue stream! 

5. Make Listeners Feel Special 

Podcasting is an intimate experience, and that should be an integral part of the content you prepare for each episode. Your audience wants exclusive insight into you or your business. It’s your job (and benefit) to give it to them. 

Let’s pick up Rachel’s example again. When she’s podcasting, Rachel can go in-depth about the benefits of certain plans or the business’s early years. By being vulnerable and sharing her journey, or her passion and knowledge of the industry, Rachel is sharing her ‘why’, and humanizing her brand, which helps drive customer retention and sales.

People are more likely to buy or do business with you when they get insight into the mission or reason for its existence. I’ve found that listeners crave a deeper connection or exclusivity with a host. The more you share, the deeper they’ll connect with you and your business.

If sharing personal stories isn’t your cup of tea, you can make your community feel special by offering exclusive deals. I recommend my clients offer discounts, early access to products or services, or the opportunity to beta-test a product—anything to make listeners feel like an insider to your business’s world.

Podcasting can be a lucrative part of your business marketing strategy. It can do everything from generate leads to secure investors. In this article, we covered how to set a clear goal for your podcast, how to find your topic and angle, why your customers are key in leading content, and how to define your reach.

Using the questions I prompt my clients with, it’s time to sit down and get an action plan ready! If you’re looking for a more one-on-one strategy session to maximize your podcast’s impact, you can reach out to me via The Podcast Space. If not, stick around for part two of this article, which will be all about how to make podcast marketing work with your budget, tech-savviness, and time!

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