Many businesses have experimented with podcasts as a marketing channel but few manage to find a large enough audience to provide an ROI on their effort. Let me share with you a few tips I have learned over the last ten years of podcasting that have repeatedly worked for me. They have helped me produce podcasts that have attracted audiences of over one million listeners and to produce podcasts that regularly rank in the Top 100 podcasts in Australia, the USA, UK and Canada.
One of my current podcasts, Life Of Caesar, regularly ranks in the Top 30 in Australia and the Top 100 in the other markets.
Take a quick look at the rest of the shows in the Top 30 and you should notice that most of them have something in common – they are either a radio network show that is being podcast (so they have professional hosts, production staff, a marketing budget and a built-in audience), or are produced by a celebrity with an existing audience developed in another medium (Dr Karl, Joe Rogan, John Oliver, Tyler Oakley, Grace Helbig, Shane Dawson, etc).
The Life Of Caesar podcast, by comparison, is produced by two amateurs in our homes, with no budget, no production staff. How did we manage to get an audience of 200,000 listeners?
1. TELL A GREAT STORY
Humans love a story. For a couple of hundreds of thousands of years, telling stories is how we learned which berries to eat, how to catch a kangaroo and who our enemies were (and why our god is better than their god). Evolution made sure that the humans who were better at paying attention to those stories had a better chance of survival. Most podcasts are dull and boring. They lack a narrative. They focus too much on the “what” (i.e. what they want to tell the audience about, usually their own products and services) and too little on the “why” (i.e. why would anyone want to listen to your podcast).
You might be thinking “well that’s great, but my product has nothing to do with Julius Caesar”. Let me ask you – would you rather have a small audience that listened to you talk about your product or industry – or a large audience for a podcast that had nothing to do with your industry but that developed a positive association with your brand? What if you had 200,000 people each week who listened to a podcast that said “This podcast is proudly made possible by the nice folks at ACME CORPORATION – if you need ACME, check them out.”?
Try to think outside the box.
2. HAVE MORE THAN ONE HOST
There are some excellent hosts out there in podcastland, but personally I find listening to one voice pretty boring (unless your host is Orson Welles or someone of equivalent talent). I much prefer to hear a lively discussion – especially if the parties in the discussion don’t agree on everything. It stops my mind from wandering when I hear hosts bounce off of one another. It’s also important to make sure the hosts have a natural chemistry. If their dialogue sounds forced or too formal, it’s not going to be as entertaining as listening to two people who obviously enjoy each other’s company. Enthusiasm is infectious.
3. MAKE ‘EM LAUGH
One of the secrets to the success of our Caesar podcast is that we try to make it entertaining. History, as we all remember from high school, can be pretty dry and boring. Maybe that’s why most of us didn’t pay attention. But it’s amazing how much people enjoy learning if you can make it fun. On the Caesar show, we try to make ourselves laugh. If we’re laughing, we know some of the audience will also be laughing.
4. HAVE A POINT OF VIEW
People like to hear opinions – even if they don’t always agree with them. On my podcasts, I like to express multiple sides of an argument. Even if people disagree with some of my views, it will force them to think. Some people might disagree with your opinions strongly and stop listening to the podcast – but that’s okay. You shouldn’t try to please everybody.
5. MARKET IT
Like everything, a podcast needs to be marketed. You can’t have a “build it and they will come” mentality. Know who you audience is and find ways of getting the word out. Do you have a database of customers? Tell them about the podcast. Advertise on similar podcasts who have similar audiences. If you do something unique and different with your podcast, you might even find that the media want to talk about it.
6. BUILD A COMMUNITY
I don’t think of our listeners as an “audience” – I think of them as our community. So we use forums and Facebook and Twitter and email and live Skype shows to try give our listeners lots of opportunities to talk back to us, express their opinions, tell us when we are wrong, and to ask questions. We want them to feel part of the experience.
The whole point of doing a podcast, like any other marketing, is to give people reasons to LIKE and TRUST your brand. If you bring your audience entertaining and informative content, you’ve just added one more reason for them to like and trust you. But if you bore them to tears…
Of course, if you need help producing your podcast, you can always drop me an email.