How to build a profitable podcast.
Welcome to the ultimate guide to podcasting for your business...
To kick things off it's first best to illustrate the insane impact that a podcast can have on the growth of a business with a story.
The story starts in January 2019 with Ebsta. Ebsta are a B2B SaaS business that sell software to help sales teams sell more. The marketing team at Ebsta realise that there is a new persona that may really like some new features they are building.
This persona is sales operations (the person who is responsible for making the sales team sell more).
So Ebsta decide to launch a podcast to educate and inspire this persona.
Ebsta had never podcasted before but fast-forward twelve short months, and they have:
But perhaps most important of all?
They have added a shedload of value to the sales operations niche whilst learning even about this type of person.
In short, that is why you start podcasting for your business: to learn and add value to your core persona. If you get these two right then you will win in the long term.
We will use the rest of this post to illuminate more about how, like Ebsta, you can use podcasting for your business to realise these benefits.
Let's get started.
In order for us to understand how a podcast can help grow your business we must first understand what podcasting is.
The term "podcast" is a little deceiving, it originates from the times of the Apple iPod (remember those?!) and describes the process of continually updating a stream of audio content to a mobile device.
As the iPod became more popular, more and more people started creating these audio feeds that you would submit into iTunes, to then be downloaded by the users of the iPod and iPhone, it wasn't long before device agnostic podcasting directories sprung up to cater for the non-Apple users.
This "streaming" strategy for distributing content is not new: blogs have been doing this for many years. It has another term: RSS. This stands for Really Simple Syndication.
An RSS feed is simply and stream of regular content whether that be written or audio.
So that is it...
A podcast is simply a stream of audio content distributed through an RSS feed.
If a podcast is simply a stream of audio content distributed through an RSS feed, podcasting for a business is simply your business producing a stream of audio content distributed through an RSS feed.
Well, there is a little more to it than this.
Your audio content feed could be just for internal employees for example, or it could just be for customers or it could be for everyone. In this article we will focus on your business producing a podcast for anyone that would like to listen.
This could include:
Though most podcasts run by business will focus on the first two: prospects and leads.
The question then becomes... how can your business produce a stream of audio content (e.g. a podcast) that will capture the attention of potential prospects and leads and then ultimately lead them down the path to doing business with you.
What is the point in investing the time and resource of your business into creating a podcast?
Like any marketing campaign you embark upon, you must be strategic.
How can we invest $1 into the podcast to generate $2, $3 or even $10 out?
Let's first understand how it is possible to generate a profit through a podcast. For each example I will include an example for a business that is currently generating a profit from their podcast.
The first and obvious way to monetise a podcast is to convert your listeners into leads.
Document360 (a knowledge software business) do this by offering their listeners an eBook with insights from their episodes in exchange for their email address. These leads are then nurtured and ultimately offered a free trial of their knowledge base software.
A lesser known method of podcast monetisation is through building relationships with guests. Hammad Akbar, the host of the Launch Legends podcast in the online marketing space uses his podcast to build relationship with other influencers in the space.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, a great way to gain a benefit from your business's podcast is to use it as a chance to learn about your customer persona. This is just one of the benefits that Ebsta (sales software business) gain from their podcast: Sales Ops Demystified.
A side effect of podcasting as a business is that you will raise the awareness and authority of your podcast host in your chosen niche.
This is starting to happen with yours truly through our podcast in the B2B marketing space: Confessions Of A B2B Marketer.
At the same time, podcasting as a business will also boost the authority of your brand in your chosen niche. This is happening right now for SyncSpider (eCommerce automation software) in the eCommerce space with the eCom Ops Podcast.
Here are bCast we believe that just as every business has a written content feed (e.g. a blog), every business will soon also update an audio content feed (e.g. a podcast)... why?
Businesses must communicate with their customers. Right now, businesses mainly do this through writing. And that's great, a podcast will not replace email or a blog post.
Though audio content does add a level of intimacy that cannot be generated through the written word. This is the reason that, as more customers want to know the story and the people behind the business... we believe podcasting will become a competitive advantage.
The business that is able to tell their story and introduce the characters of this story (e.g. the employees) will form longer and more loyal relationships with their customers. And therefore those businesses that are not sharing their story and introducing these characters will fall by the wayside.
Let's move through the benefits of podcasting for businesses... I have personally experienced the benefit of business podcast for 13 difference businesses and have broken these down into five categories. Most of these were covered in the examples shared above but as this is crucial to understand, we will cover these again...
As you create content in a specific niche, over time your business will start to become viewed as an authority. This means that when people have a challenge or a question related to your business and the content you produce... they will come to your for advice or to learn more. This is a great place to start a sales conversation from!
When you bring guests onto your podcast you are collaborating together. You are working together towards a common goal: to create an awesome piece of audio content. This process will strengthen your relationship with the guest and can lead to sales or partnership conversations down the line.
When you invest time and resources into educating your market, this creates a feeling of goodwill towards your brand.
As a customer would you prefer to buy from a business that you have learnt a large amount from over the past two years without paying a dime or a business you have never heard of?
I know which one I would choose...
When you podcast, we recommend hosting all the content on your own domain. You can embed a player for your episode into a blog post, write up key takeaways and include other assets.
You can then takes parts of your episode and distribute them to social platforms in text, image or video form. Over time, this will boost your rankings in search engines and will increase your audience on social platforms.
And finally, possibly the most powerful benefit of podcasting: learning from others.
The process for finding a niche, finding guests, interviewing guests and releasing episodes is incredibly insightful. You will learn with each interview your record. This is one of the reasons we recommend that businesses include interviews with potential customers in their podcast as it allows them to spend time learning about them and their problems.
In short, you shouldn't start podcasting because you are an expert in your niche... you should start a podcast because you want to become an expert in your niche.
The very first thing you need to do to start a podcast for your business is commit.
You need to commit to at least six months of production before you make any further decisions as to the future of your podcast. You need to give the people you are targeting enough time to find and fall in love with your audio content.
Once this decision has been made you now need to find the person within your business who will be responsible this project. This person may or may not be the host of the show, but they will be responsible for everything else:
It's important to select a single person as this ensures accountability for the project.
Once you have decided to commit and have found the person who will drive the project... it's time to get the ball rolling.
Let's run through the four core things you need in place before you start a podcast for your business:
The #1 reason that most podcasts fail is that their creators are not consistent. The reason why podcast creators are not consistent is that their podcast is not growing: downloads are not increasing month on month.
And normally their downloads are not increasing month on month as their podcast is not sufficiently different from other podcasts out there.
We strongly recommend that you choose a very specific target market during the planning process and from there choose a very specific value proposition.
Why should someone subscribe and listen to every single one of your podcast episode?
Next you need to choose who will be the host of your podcast. This person is responsible for forming a bond and engaging with your listeners.
They should be skilled at interviewing, networking and speaking. This is typically the founder, CEO, head of sales or someone within the marketing or customer success teams.
They won't need to be involved with booking guests, production or editing of the podcast, but they will need to be available to record episodes.
When someone listens to your podcast, your audio files are sent over the internet to the device of your listener. Podcast hosting software helps you do this:
Now obviously we're biased here... if you've read the bCast story you will know that bCast is the only podcast host that has been built to host business podcast. We build features for marketers that want to maximise the ROI on their podcast.
You will also need someone to take the audio files generated during recording and make them sound amazing. This is crucial... one of the biggest reasons that people stop subscribing to podcasts is due to poor audio quality.
If you don't have an editor, then hit me up on this email address and I can recommend or simply head to UpWork, post a job advertisement and hire one. Pricing can range between $15 to $200 per 30-40 minute episode base on the quality and experience of the editor.
With these four things in place you are ready to start recording and distributing your audio content out into the world.
Again very good question...
The answer here, as it often is... is that it depends.
It depends upon the amount of time and resources you have to invest in your podcast. Because when starting a podcast for your business the most important thing to consider is not how often you should podcast... but how long you can sustain that publishing schedule.
In short: you need to be consistent.
There is no point publishing two episodes per week if you will only be able to do that for four weeks. We advise customers to podcast consistently for six months before assessing the ROI.
Most businesses find that publishing one episode per week is both manageable and also allows them to build a solid understanding of how the process works and will produce a backlog of twenty-four episodes to review at the six-month period.
In summary, you need to commit to a publishing schedule you can stick to for six months... and then stick to it.
Unless you have a track record of creating awesome podcasts, an email list or a shedload of cash... you and your business will need to niche down on your podcast topic.
No one wants to hear the next entrepreneurial interview show or self-help monologue. The way you work your way into the 5-10 podcasts that your ideal customer subscribes to is to be more suited to them than one that they already listen to.
I've been in podcasting game for five years and from this experience I have noticed three things that the biggest and best podcasts do.
You don't need to do all three, getting really good at one of them will be enough:
1. Source awesome guests
I'm talking high value guests that have done awesome things and don't get interviewed very often. These people are hard to get on, but very worth it.
2. Tell a story
Think Game Of Thrones... people were hooked due to the wild story and engaging characters. How can you incorporate that into your story?
3. Be transparent and/or vulnerable
Opening up and showing internal information and emotions from yourself and your business can have an addictive effect on your listeners.
I would highly recommend looking to incorporate one or more of these growth drivers in your business's podcast.
The #1 mistake that most businesses make when podcasting is to not understand that the core ROI from running a podcast will come from the relationships you build with your guests... not your listeners.
If you nurture guest relationships effectively, you could end up generating:
Yes of course, you must choose guests that can add value to your audience, but you also must be strategic about whom you invest time building relationships with.
Getting podcast listeners and subscribers is awesome... but in effect, these are less valuable to your business than a website visit as you can't even retarget a podcast listener!
Therefore, it is crucial that you give your podcast audience a simple next step to hand over their email address to ensure you can then contact them again as you wish.
Each of these should start to migrate your podcast subscribers into email addresses.
NOTE - bCast's Auto Optin feature significantly reduces the friction for the conversion to listener to lead.
View each guest you bring on as a partnership.
You are creating content for and promoting them to your audience. They are bringing their expertise... but it would also be great if they were to help promote the episode.
To do this, make it as easy as possible for them to share:
If you get this right, then each episode you produce will give you access to a completely new set of potential listeners and customers.
How do you get your podcast out there?
Well you do just that ;)
You pull out parts of the audio content, re-format them into text or video and then distribute to places online where your ideal listeners exist.
You then link back to the full episode from each of these posts to drive exposure for your podcast and brand.
Also consider investing in paid promotion for your podcast to really add fuel to the fire...
And finally, building any kind of audience online takes consistent time and effort over an extended period of time.
If you are going to commit to podcasting for your business, then agree with yourself that you will run the podcast for at least six months before reviewing the return on investment and making any further decisions.
So there we have it, the most comprehensive guide to podcasting for business on the internet.
I want to finish by sharing a little secret I should have told you at the start of the article.... the business we shared that had started their podcast and realised all those benefits, was my old employer.
The host of the Sales Ops Demystified podcast and Head Of Marketing at Ebsta was me: Tom Hunt.
And the journey from not knowing the persona, to engaging with the persona and ultimately that persona becoming incredibly profitable for the business...
Was facilitated by the podcast.
This is why you need to take note of this emerging medium and at least consider starting a podcast at your next marketing strategy meeting.
At bCast you may be aware that we believe just as every business has a written feed of content (a blog), every business will also produce an audio feed of content (a podcast).
That is why we are building the best podcast host for businesses that podcast, claim a 14 day free trial and find out more here.