Matt Williamson

Bello Collective

10 min read

*Podcasting is an untapped marketing resource, especially when it comes to business podcasts. Matthew Williamson explains why podcasting is important and how to create enlightening business podcasts:"

ACT ONE: WHY BOTHER

“Is it that thing you download from the internet?”

That’s an actual question I’ve been asked about podcasts.

If you’re reading this article, either you already know what a podcast is, or you accidentally clicked on the wrong link. In either case– welcome! Let’s talk about what you need to know about podcasts & how to get started making your own podcast.

THE MORE YOU KNOW:

If you don’t know how to listen to a podcast, here’s a good explanatory video from radio (and podcast) legend Ira Glass —>

If you’re trying to figure out whether or not a business podcast is worth the financial, emotional, and physical investment (or if you need statistics to add to your pitch deck to convince your investors that spinning up a podcast would be a good idea) here are some facts about the podcast industry:

  • Total number of podcasts in iTunes: 325,000
  • 35 million (13% of the US population 12+): how many people listen to at least 1 podcast on a weekly basis
  • 5: the average number of podcasts listeners subscribe to
  • 22%: percentage of listeners surveyed that make more than $100,000 per year
  • 70%: estimated percentage of listening that takes place via the Apple Podcasts app
  • 88%: percentage of listeners listen to most (if not all) of the episodes they subscribe to
  • 53%: percentage of podcast listening that takes place at home

Sources: Twitter, Hot Pod, Edison Research - The Podcast Consumer, Edison Research - The Infinite Dial, and Midroll.

THE BEST MARKETING ISN’T MARKETING.

What do you remember from 5 years ago?

Was it a blog you read about “18 Times Cats Looked Like Famous Actors”? Or was it a novel you read that told a story that radically changed your outlook on life? Or a movie that left you shaken to your core?

The medium doesn’t matter; I’ve read blogs that changed my life, read novels that were a waste of my time, and seen movies I can’t even remember.

So what does matter?

The message. Good content- good art- takes root in your soul and refracts and refines your perspective.

The best marketing isn’t marketing at all. It’s art. Even if it looks like it’s marketing, it’s rooted in a fundamental desire to produce good art.

Michelangelo’s statue of David? Art. That Top 40 hit that’s embarrassingly stuck in your head? Art (although, questionably bad art). Oreo’s improvised tweet during the power outage of Super Bowl XLVII that reminded you “you can still dunk in the dark”? Art.

You remember it. You can probably recall where you were when you first saw (or heard) it.

It’s the same with podcasts.

When Orson Welles performed H.G. Wells’ War of the World’s over the radio on October 30, 1938, he moved people to action— albeit, mass hysteria.

When radio broadcasted into regions fighting against Nazism, the Nazi movement ran into a brick wall of resistance, built by the radio waves of anti-Nazi broadcasts.

In “The Giant Pool of Money”, an episode of the radio show (and podcast) This American Life, Alex Blumberg reported on the housing crisis of 2008— a full 4 months before Lehman Brothers sunk.

In June 2016, the podcasts Serial & Undisclosed did such dogged reporting into a 1999 murder in Baltimore, MD that the convicted defendant was granted a retrial—despite having already exhausted all of his other resources.

Podcasts change lives. Yours can too. If you do it right.

ACT TWO: WHAT’S YOUR TYPE

Podcast Movement, one of the biggest conferences in the on-demand audio industry, recognized some of the best shows within each genre, but they pitted narrative-style shows against roundtable shows.

That’s a problem, because they stand completely different. Would you pit House of Cards against Morning Joe?

“Doing a podcast” connotes a verifiable cornucopia of meanings. And what kind of podcast you produce will depend on your audience, but it depends more on your personal preferences. If you want a recipe for disaster (and a short-lived podcast), hate your own show.

Think about these pros and cons. Listen to a few episodes of shows that pique your interest. Then start making.

1. NARRATIVE PODCASTS

Overview: Exactly what it sounds like: telling either the story of a person, idea, or object.

THE MORE YOU KNOW:

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a local story either—you can record an interview (and follow-ups) over Skype before cutting the tape down into a cohesive story just like with an in-person interview.

Pros:

  • Stories have power. They move people emotionally & can move them to action
  • Your listeners are already used to narrative-based entertainment. Just look at the current roster of TV listings and movie posters

Cons:

  • Hard to produce—and produce well
  • Incredibly amazing stories (like what you should be going for) are incredibly hard to find
  • The stories you want to tell might not have a nice, neat, clean ending

Narrative Podcast Starter Kit:

Narrative Podcasts In Action: A Few Ideas

Idea #1: Highlight your most interesting customers.

There are multiple angles you can explore. Maybe it’s a podcast about how they got started, what drives them, or a surprising side of them personally. Maybe you divide your podcast into multiple seasons and focus on one common team each season.

What would a “real life” episode look like? Common Desk podcast Season 1 would highlight hidden stories of members and produce an episode on MJ at Common Desk: Oak Cliff & her history of seizures

Inspiration:

Idea #2: Report the story behind the headline.

What would a “real life” episode look like? The host of the Common Desk podcast spends a week following someone who does both colliding & coworking.

Inspiration:

Idea #3: Document the life of your business

What would a “real life” episode look like? Common Desk documents the struggles of opening up a third coworking space—and it’s not in Dallas, but in South Carolina.

Inspiration:

Idea #4: Write a fiction podcast

What would a “real life” episode look like? What happens to Common Desk when everyone goes home? (a fictionalized version of this web series done in 2013).

Inspiration:

2. ROUNDTABLE PODCASTS

Overview: Roundtables are simple: sitting around a table, discussing a topic.

THE MORE YOU KNOW:

Your listeners are trusting you with a resource they can never get back: their time. Don’t waste it. Don’t chase rabbit trails or discuss anything else that doesn’t contribute to the episode (even if you did base jump off the Eiffel Tower last weekend).

The sooner you get to the point, the better. Have interesting guests (duh) and ask them to promote it on their platforms.

Pros:

  • Easier to produce an episode
  • No need to hunt for amazing stories or people to talk to (unless you want your roundtable to be more of an interview podcast)
  • Deciding the content that each should be about is easier, especially if it’s news-based

Cons:

  • You still need to edit each episode to remove uninteresting tangents and awkward pauses to keep your show interesting.
  • You’ll have to buy more equipment than a narrative podcast since you need multiple mics to record each person speaking.

Roundtable Podcast Starter Kit:

Roundtable Podcasts In Action: A Few Ideas

Idea #1: Live-action sports announcing

This is for business—incredibly humorous improvers commentate business events like sporting events.

What would a “real life” episode look like? Two people commentate Common Desk’s monthly happy hours, tours to prospective members, or what would otherwise be a typical staff meeting.

Inspiration:

Idea #2: Discuss industry-related news to become a thought leader in the industry

The only reason to do this is if you can provide thoughtful analysis in a clear, concise, well-spoken way.

What would a “real life” episode look like? A few of the Common Desk staff members discuss Dallas-specific news

Inspiration:

Idea #3: Interviews with people in your industry

What would a “real life” episode look like? Someone on the Common Desk staff interviews rising stars (and established players) in the Dallas entrepreneurial scene.

Inspiration:

Special Warnings:

P.S. : Want even more podcast ideas? Check out this slightly tongue-in-cheek article by Melody Joy Kramer for 200+ more.

Want to brag about your successes (or bemoan) your failures? Let’s talk. I’m always interested in writing about certifiably awesome podcasts → matt@bellocollective.com

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