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Pierre Fitter – Senior Director, Canvas, Genesis BCWGenesis BCW
Here are a few things you must think about before investing time and money in a podcast series
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It’s springtime for business podcasts

Here are a few things you must think about before investing time and money in a podcast series
  • While numbers suggest that listening hours for podcasts fell 14% after the lockdown since people were no longer commuting, things are starting to look up slowly.
  • Consumer behaviour is evolving and people are now listening to podcasts while say, preparing a meal.
  • Pierre Fitter – Senior Director, Canvas, Genesis BCW lists a few things down that will help if you are thinking of investing both time and money on a podcast series.
I’ve got bad news if you want to start a podcast. (I know, the headline promised ‘springtime’, but I do want to be honest). Like nearly all other human endeavours, COVID-19 gave podcasts a hard time too. The Stitcher, a popular podcasting app, estimated that listening hours fell 14% in the 8 weeks between 1 March to 27 April, compared to the prior 8-week period. Primarily, this is because the lockdown means fewer people are commuting to work – primetime for podcast listening.

Dejected? Don’t be. I do have good news as well. Like all other endeavours, humans have also adapted their podcast listening habits to the lockdown. Instead of the daily commute, The Stitcher says listeners are now tuning in as they prepare a meal and enjoy a slightly extended lunch break. In fact, by the final week of April, Podtrac reported a modest 4% growth in downloads.

The best news of all is there’s never been a better time for business podcasts. Anxious business owners and employees are searching for literal voices of authority to guide them through the pandemic, contributing to a 10 per cent rise in downloads for business podcasts.

Podcasts tend to have extremely loyal audiences – 80 per cent of listeners hear all or most of each episode, and they consume six episodes a week. They also tend to be quicker, cheaper and easier to produce than video. All this is to say that if you don’t yet have podcasts as part of your content marketing mix, now may be a good time to start.

Like all content marketing campaigns, there are a few things you must think about before investing time and money in a podcast series.

Start with a goal. What do you want your podcast to help you achieve? Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? Do you want to attract new customers? Do you want to build it as a channel for interacting with stakeholders? The answers to these questions will not only determine your content and your tone of voice, they’ll also determine how and where you amplify your podcast to make sure it reaches your intended audiences.

Next up, have a clear message. You will be part of a global conversation. What will you contribute to it? Do you have powerful lessons on doing business amidst the lockdown? Focusing the first few episodes on how your industry is navigating the pandemic can be invaluable content. And with executives searching for advice, it might be a sound SEO tactic to attract your initial audience. In fact, keep the audience central to your messaging. What are they keen to learn about? What will be interesting for them? As with any marketing campaign, if your audience doesn’t care for your content, you’re wasting your time.

Next, think of your story arc. How will each episode flow into the next one and build towards a conclusion?Start small. A 6–10 episode mini-series, with 10- to 15-minute episodes is a good target. Use the first episode to set your premise. Use the rest of the episodes to explore each aspect of your story arc in detail. A good story arc is vital. Without it, you won’t have a beginning, middle or end. And without those, your scripting will be weak and uninteresting.

Then, consider the actual structure of each episode. Will you broadcast solo? Will you chat with guests; perhaps your customers, or business heads? Maybe talk to employees; after all, they’re on the frontlines figuring out innovative ways to keep operations running. You could also invite listeners to share their take on things as WhatsApp voice notes. This is a good way to connect with your audience and bring them into the conversation.

We’re nearing the end now. Next, you need to consider how you will produce each episode. Good audio quality is a non-negotiable. Listen to Episode 2 first and then Episode 100 of one of my favourite podcasts and you’ll immediately realise why. A good voice recorder is inexpensive. Avoid rooms that are noisy, and turn off electrical appliances – they tend to give off an audible hum that gets picked up on sensitive microphones. Learning to edit podcasts isn’t hard, but there are plenty of producers who will help you for a fee.

Finally, think about how you will host and distribute podcast. Anchor.fm is an excellent, polished service, which allows you to record, edit, host and distribute your content. After its acquisition by Spotify, it also offers excellent audience analytics. Buzzsprout, Podbean and Transistor are equally worthy podcast hosts to explore. Your choice ultimately depends on your requirements and budget. Many will host your podcast for free and charge a basic fee (a few hundred rupees a month) for additional services.

Once an episode is up, you need to market it. Use everything at your disposal - social media, the company intranet, newsletters, emails and even WhatsApp. UTM codes will help you track click-throughs, allowing you to optimise your marketing for subsequent episodes.

Like all things digital, I will leave you with one thought:Experiment, fail, learn, improve, succeed. As true for social media posts of the early 2000's, it’s just as true for podcasts today. Good luck, and happy casting!