You don’t need to go far in today’s day and age to read about individuals and companies starting a business podcast. The New York Times, for instance, released a story in July 2019 that asked whether we have hit peak podcast. Currently, there are over 700,000 active podcasts and more than 29 million podcast episodes. Compared to last year, this is an increase of approximately 27 percent for active podcasts and approximately 57 percent for podcast episodes. Whether or not we have truly hit “peak podcast,” the simple fact is that podcasts as a whole are a terrific and inexpensive way to create authentic connections with your audience.
At Dubb, we are always thinking about ways that our clients can leverage the power of video to grow their businesses. But that said, we have also dipped our toes into podcasting. Our podcast, titled Connection Loop, focuses on the stories of innovators, leaders and, friends—all in a conversational format. It has been an extremely rewarding experience, as the podcast creates value not only for our listeners but for the entire Dubb team. It simultaneously allows us to maximize relationships and scale our brand.
Ultimately, if you have been wondering how to start a business podcast that boosts your ROI, you have come to the right place. I recently spoke with Joe Lemon, a podcasting expert, on how businesses can leverage podcasting to build personal connections and accomplish their business goals. By incorporating the following advice into your podcast strategy, you will substantially increase the odds of seeing significant ROI from your entire collection of podcast episodes.
Selecting a Genre and Theme
One of the most important decisions you will make when starting a business podcast centers on your genre and theme. While you may initially think that this is obvious, spending some time thinking about your particular theme is a critical exercise. It forces you to think about your audience and what they actually want to hear.
Joe mentioned that the founders of Gimlet Media have some great insights here. They say that there are three reasons that people listen to podcasts. The first reason is that they want to listen to stories for entertainment. Second, they want a piece of content that is very educational. But the third reason (which is one of the most powerful) is that the audience sees the podcast host as their friend. These sorts of podcasts—like the Joe Rogan Experience—are often seen at the top of the podcast charts.
Whichever reason (or reason) that you want to leverage, all of them come down to providing some type of value for the particular audience that you identified. As Joe says, know what they are looking for and craft your messaging around something that is going to be valuable for them.
This means that your show can go in many different directions. For example, let’s say that you own an online clothing store. You are thinking of starting a podcast as a way to drive more sales for your apparel. Beyond that, however, it is helpful to consider what would convince your audience to take time out of their busy day to listen to your show. Your show, for instance, could talk about the latest fashion trends and how your apparel fits those trends. Each episode of your show could discuss several items in your inventory and how your audience can best wear those items. You could even interview influencers who wear your products and ask them what makes your collection so great. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
When completing this exercise, however, make sure that you aren’t targeting too broad of an audience. Many times, we believe that our businesses can serve a large swath of people. According to Joe, our ego gets in the way and we think that everyone is going to love us.
Therefore, we urge you to resist this temptation. Similar to creating a startup, it is a much better strategy to target a certain niche of individuals who absolutely love your content. In fact, focus on conveying some sort of value to one person. Create a high-value piece of content for that person and then distribute it on your social media channels. That asset not only becomes something that can convert that specific person, but that can appeal to a larger audience.
So start with that person. From there, find those 1,000 true fans. You can always expand out and target a larger audience. In sum, it is much harder to start extremely broadly and find an audience than it is to start extremely narrowly and find an audience.
Equipment: Don’t Dwell On It
To create a business podcast, you are going to need equipment. At the very least, you will need a microphone. Yes, you can also invest in things like podcast editing software and online interview software. Once you find your microphone, however, essentially nothing is stopping you from creating content and releasing it to your audience.
There is an important point here. When you are first starting, it is easy to spend time shopping for the “best” microphones or editing software. Even though it feels like you are being productive, the simple fact is that your equipment is going to make or break you at the beginning. No one is going to stop listening to your podcast solely because you didn’t purchase an expensive microphone. Instead, they are more likely to stop listening because your podcast didn’t provide enough value.
So in the beginning, you certainly have the option of recording your podcast with the little microphone on your headphones. You can also make a small investment into a microphone like the Blue Yeti USB microphone (which we use at Dubb). Whichever you choose, make sure that you are creating consistent, valuable content that your audience will likely love.
Editing: Easier Than You Think
As with creating video content, some businesses hesitate to start a business podcast because they think a podcast is difficult to produce. They may not think they are “technical” and don’t see the ROI in hiring a third-party service to edit their episodes.
The good news is that editing and distributing your podcast is easier than you may think. While there are many different editing and distribution tools, we at Dubb prefer Anchor. Anchor is an extremely popular platform that lets you easily create, produce, and distribute your episodes on nearly every single podcast network (like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher). Earlier this year, Spotify purchased Anchor for about $140 million, signaling both the power of Anchor’s tools and Spotify’s interest in the future of the podcasting industry.
Anchor’s software is intuitive, yet the company offers lots of documentation, ranging from creating your episodes to even monetizing your show. Anchor is also extremely cheap (it can cost as little as $10 per month for hosting). So ultimately, take a close look at Anchor. It is a great tool that can help you easily and quickly release your content to the world.
Record Your Podcasts in Video Form
When recording your episodes, we encourage you to record with video. Use a platform like Zoom or Skype. Once you are finished recording the video, you can export the WAV file into a service like Anchor, which will also help you share the content on your social channels.
Ultimately, you get the best of both worlds here. You not only get the audio file for platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. With the video, you can share your conversation on platforms like YouTube or Facebook. When sharing on all of your social channels, make sure to tag and mention not only the guest but relevant organizations mentioned in the conversation. Sharing your conversation on more social media channels is essentially free and further increases the potential ROI from your show.
As with creating video content, one of the most important words in podcasting is consistency. Producing quality content on a consistent basis is going to be critical to the growth of your show. Admittedly, this can be difficult. You likely have a million other tasks on your plate. The rub, however, is that without consistency, it is difficult to find real ROI from your podcast work. When I say consistency, the point is to stay consistent with whichever episode schedule you’ve developed. If you release an episode every Tuesday morning, stick to that schedule. If your production schedule is once every two weeks, that’s fine—so long as you stick to the schedule.
Whether you need to rely on freelancers to help with certain tasks or block out podcast-protected time on your calendar, develop some systems so that you can be consistent with your podcast content. Set reminders on when interviews need to be completed and when final edits need to be made. Doing so will keep you in the game and will increase the odds that your podcast gets real traction.
An Effective Outbound Strategy
One of the key things that you should remember about podcasting is that it can be an extremely effective outbound marketing strategy. If you are trying to engage with a thought leader in your industry, for example, your podcast can be a great way to get noticed. As Joe said, these thought leaders are often inundated by email and are tough to reach. Instead of firing off a cold email for a quick conversation (which likely won’t work), you use your podcast as a way to add value first. You lead with value, showing that your target will benefit by speaking with you.
This is one of the added benefits of hosting a podcast. Yes, you can use your podcast to increase your ROI or sell more products. This is all well and good. However, your podcast also adds a different type of ROI. It unlocks rare opportunities to connect with movers and shakers in your industry. Not only can you interview them on your show, but you can use your show as built-in credibility to reach out to those influencers and key actors—whether or not they appear on your podcast.
Some Miscellaneous Tips
To wrap up, I’d like to include a collection of miscellaneous tips to help you with your podcasting journey.
- Share your origin story in your first episode. Explain why you started the podcast and the value that you want to give users. This will give your audience some valuable context as you start your show.
- Leverage presets. Have an easy intro and outro to your show. Also, take advantage of audio presets so you don’t have to do too much tweaking in the editing process.
- Get reviews. Reviews are critical in the early days of your show. They build your credibility and help others discover your show. Think creatively here and consider ways you can incentivize your audience to review your podcast on platforms like Apple Podcasts.
- Don’t be shy. Bring up your podcast when talking to colleagues, friends, and family. You never know who they may tell.
Action is Everything
Ultimately, I hope that this has answered many of your questions about how to start a business podcast that boosts ROI. The bottom line? Action is everything when creating a podcast. Joe says that there may be some psychological barriers that are preventing you from taking action, whether it is anxiety about hearing your own voice recorded or concern about whether your editing is “professional enough.” As with almost everything, however, you must find a way to take action. You may be totally embarrassed by your first few episodes, but that’s okay. Nearly everyone is.
Baby steps are fine in the beginning. But by showing up on a consistent schedule and producing content—no matter what it is—you will start seeing that those barriers are less imposing than they initially seemed.
Subscribe to Dubb’s Connection Loop Podcast
Connection Loop is a podcast hosted by Dubb Founder, Ruben Dua. The show focuses on the stories of leaders, innovators, and friends — all in a conversational format. This show is brought to you by dubb.com.