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How Your SME Can Start Producing Professional Podcasts

Podcasts, seen by some as the ‘easier’ version of webinars and video marketing, are growing in popularity.

As daunting as adopting a digital and multimedia approach to your content marketing may sound, it is an ideal time to do so...

“17% of marketers plan to add podcasting to their marketing efforts in the next 12 months.”

Source: HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2018

A growing number of businesspeople are opting to listen to podcasts or watch webinars, as opposed to reading classic blog posts and ebooks.

An Ofcom study in 2018 revealed...

“The number of weekly podcast listeners has almost doubled in five years – from 3.2m (7% of adults aged 15+) in 2013 to 5.9m (11%) in 2018.”

Source: Ofcom

Not that written content is dead, but simply we need to consider the formats we may promote our content to our audiences.

A great way of introducing podcasts into your marketing strategy is by adding podcast links on your blog posts, so those on the go can choose to listen to your latest post.

Conduct research

There is a lot to consider before you begin your podcast, including:

  • Is it right for your buyer personas?
  • Is podcasting successful in your industry?
  • What structure are similar businesses following?
  • Have you got the right team and equipment for a regular, professional podcast?

This isn’t something you just dive in to and “see what happens”. I mean, no type of content marketing should be produced on a whim, but podcasting is a huge undertaking, especially if you’ve never undertaken a multimedia approach with your promotion.  

Consider if your audience would really engage with this format:

  • Send surveys to trusted clients
  • Initiate your own research and consider others’ research efforts
  • Are others in the industry seeing success with podcasting?

Even if you only commit to six episodes in your first podcast season, ensure you complete this season - don’t do this half-heartedly. If you choose not to continue with podcasting, explain why to your audience in a blog post, or personalised email. Remember, most content marketing efforts don’t start churning results until six months later, if not longer, potentially up to 12 months.

Create a strategy

This is the biggie. Consider the research you’ve conducted and proactively make time to listen to similar podcasts, as well as general, successful podcasts, to try and identify the tone of your podcast, as well as how it will fit in with your brand voice.

There are so many things to consider, and you will need to build these into your overarching strategy, as well as proposal, if you’re asking for sign-off from MDs or the board:

  • What presenting styles do you like?
  • Which segments work best, and in which order?
  • Is the podcast focused on the personality of the presenter or the company?
  • How will you keep people engaged and get them to subscribe?
  • How are you going to fit this into your day-to-day workload?
  • Have you got enough in-house expertise? How will you bring in speakers from outside the company?
  • How will you promote your podcast and spread the word? Company blog, PR, social media, print/digital advertising, email campaigns?
  • What will your first “season” of episodes look like? Create a production calendar, similar to your blogging/PR calendar/s.
  • How long will your episodes be and how regular will they be published?
  • What will it be called and how will it be branded? Name, slogan, platform (Spotify, iTunes, etc…)

Consider your technical setup

Have you got the right “set up”?

  • Invest in a quality podcast-appropriate microphone
  • Create a strategy (read on for more information)
  • Build a pro-active, positive team - staff who aren’t comfortable with podcasting, won’t help translate your personality and energy effectively

In terms of technical set up you should be fine with a specific podcasting microphone, as well as a computer with internet access (or your smartphone), plus a set of headphones. You will also need to choose some editing software to give your podcast that professional finish, some options include Adobe Audition and Audacity. To host your podcast files, you will need to source a hosting service for audio files, there are many free and affordable options online, including Soundcloud, or you could host them on the same hosting as your website.

It is possible to produce your podcast using your just iPhone, with some specific options for this purpose, listed in this Podcast Insights blog post.

Start recording

The only thing left, once you’ve got your technical and editorial plan, is to actually record! Don’t worry about getting everything absolutely perfect and if you stumble over a word, don’t feel you need to start again - natural is often best.

This isn’t an ebook, it’s a conversational piece. It should be engaging, friendly, warm and interesting, so the slight “um” or trip over a word shouldn’t matter. Think of the approach of your local radio station’s morning programme, like Capital or Heart, in the North East, it’s likely upbeat and filled with personality - yours should be too!

However, it is important to get the right environment, nobody really wants to hear the door opening and shutting and background chatter, unless you’re quite a creative business and a small buzz of activity adds to your personality. For most businesses this won’t be the case.

If you completely mess up, give yourself a second or two, and start again. Make a note to edit this piece afterwards - it can be helpful having someone in the room with you who will make notes for how your voice is projecting, improvements you can make to your ‘performance’ and where edits will need to be made.

If you feel yourself getting bored with the content - a loose script or agenda is all you should prepare in advance - then your voice is likely reflecting this. Get up, re-energise and give it another go. There’s nothing worse than hearing someone drone on and on and on and on...

Keep going!

It’s “promote, review and repeat” time! Once you’ve created some PR buzz around your podcast and the first episode is “out there” review how it’s received, encourage critical feedback so you can improve - whether it’s editing pre-recorded future episodes or preparing for the next episodes with a different approach. If you do get feedback you should address it in your future episodes, ensure your audience feels valued.

Measure how far your promotions and actual episodes are reaching, as well as the feedback you’re getting. Bearing in mind, it can take anywhere from six to 12 months to see success with a new marketing activity, don’t be disheartened if your podcast doesn’t “blow up” immediately.

What next?

Of course, this is just a brief overview of podcasting and you should complete your own extensive research before getting started, including whether your buyer personas are engaging with podcasts.

As a great starting point for your own research we recommend this Shopify article for a wider overview of the podcasting process.

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