Last week we took a look at producing your own media. You might not want to go through indirect channels, you might have a base of customers and prospects that will respond to the direct approach.
There is a lot to be said for the indirect route. You produce your own podcast, fine, but it’s going to contain whatever you want. You get someone else to interview because you’re interesting and the listeners will know you’ve been sanity-checked. It’s like the difference between a traditionally-published book and a self-published effort. A self-published volume might be excellent but it might also be full of typos. The traditional version will have been accepted by a publisher and had an editor looking over it to ensure it follows in a logical order and the spelling and grammar are OK.
If you’re convinced you have enough to say, however, why not try? There are many ways to run a podcast so we’re going to use Guy‘s “The Near Futurist” as an example.
What is your podcast about?
It might sound obvious but the first decision to make is going to be the topic of your company’s podcast. “It’s going to be about my company” is unlikely to succeed. There are a number of reasons for this. Primarily the things that interest you in and about your business might not be all that thrilling to someone else. A small glazing business once came to Guy for thoughts on its website. It had started the copy (with changed names): “Ben and I had been trading independently for ten years but we thought, recently, let’s be serious – so we incorporated as a limited company.”
Nobody in the history of glazing has ever had “but are they a limited company or partnership?” as the first thing they want to know. Some need to understand whether the glazier is experienced. Many want to see pictures of windows they have installed. Probably all want to see testimonials.
Your podcast is the same. Making it about your business just won’t work. Guy’s effort, for example, could have been about journalism. Only other journalists and PR people/spokespeople (OK, that would be the readers of this blog, we grant you) would listen. So he decided to make it about the near future, taking advantage of 30+ years as a technology journalist .
So you need to decide what it’s about. Maybe there’s a niche within your own business that you can exploit.
An aside: the business purpose
The business purpose was and is different from just entertaining people, although he likes doing that too. Guy wanted to ensure he wasn’t one of those media trainers who had done some journalism years ago and whose counsel was therefore likely to be out of date. He wanted people to hear he knew how to interview people, to have a platform for his voice so if people wanted to check him out for some corporate voice work there was a current source, and perhaps a secondary source of income – which, thanks to a small amount of sponsorship, it has produced. Your own podcast needs to have a reason behind it as well.
Where do you start?
A theme you’ll get used to with us is the satnav image. You don’t start with “who do I interview” or “what microphone do I use” – you start with the business purpose. That’s your destination and like a satnav, the route you take has to be the best one to get you there.
It’s particularly important to be realistic with that destination. Few people are going to listen to a podcast and think “I’ll go and buy some of that item/service immediately”. You’re much more likely to achieve branding and thought leadership as long as you have a strong enough idea; this means putting obvious self-promotion to one side and focusing on issues that will resonate with your target client. It’s important at this stage to speak to a few of them!
You’ll need to decide some of the basics. Some podcasts are an hour long. Some are ten minutes. How long will your listeners listen? Ask them!
Guy Clapperton takes up the story:
My own podcast was relatively easy to formulate because the idea was to act as proof that I could interview people rather than just tell them about being interviewed – it’s a proof point. It’s also subtle proof that whether I’m more or less in my late fifties or not, I’m not put off by newer technologies – you hear a lot from marketing people about ‘over 55s’ as if we’re an alien species and I was keen to kill that stone dead.
Having those aims in mind it made complete sense to take advantage of my contacts in the IT PR industry and get them to supply me with some guests. I did so and it became easy to start building up a set of shows. The mechanics are surprisingly simple.”
Record and publish your podcast
When Guy is out interviewing people he doesn’t bother with an intimidating mic or other IT set-up (we get that you’re going to cry “we know, we’ve heard it”. Instead he uses his phone – just voice recorder on the iPhone or the equivalent on your Android phone. In terms of recording remote interviewees he uses Zoom although here he does use an external mic; the Blue Yeti was very good until he dropped it; the Blue Snowball does just as well. It connects to your computer like any other USB device.
He arranges the time for the interview and sends some topic areas over and records. He then uses a copy of Audacity (you can download it free of charge) to take out the umms and aah’s, his own and those of the interviewee. It’s worth leaving a few in so that you don’t end up sounding fake.
He then adds music, again using Audacity and he downloaded this music from Audiojungle – always use music for which you’ve paid a small amount so you can be sure you’re allowed to upload it. Other sources of music and of course other editing software is available.
Getting it out there is the next stage and here someone advised Guy to look at Libsyn, short for Liberated Syndication. This is an inexpensive way of uploading your edited and complete podcast; you can add “cover” artwork and show details.
It’s up there but nobody knows
At this point you’re published but nobody knows about it. This is where Libsyn has some clever workarounds; once you’ve filled in some details and selected some sources it will push your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Acast, your own website, just about wherever you want.
Then it’s up to you to publicise it.
Caveat: lies, damned lies and statistics
There are two things to beware of here. The modern version of Libsyn has two sets of figures you can look at. One is “Unique” and for a long time, Guy looked at these. What he didn’t realise was that it would register every time someone scrolled past a Tweet mentioning his show prompting it to start automatically. The fact that someone clicked off immediately was not, apparently, a problem.
The figure to look for is the IAB figure which is easy to select. This will be lower but it excludes accidental starts and other “non-listens”. Guy is now quite happy having 2-3000 downloads a month of his podcast.
The other thing to watch out for is your own time spent on getting your word out there. A small section of people reading this article might have ambitions to be full time podcasters in which case, great, go for it. However, most of you won’t, and it’s all too easy to put so much time into your podcast and publicising it that you might as well have taken it up as your sole occupation.
Always remember in the case of this or any other sort of marketing, it’s great as long as it’s doing its job. If it doesn’t perform or starts to suck all of your spare time out of the equation, it’s not doing you any favours – try something else!
And good luck – if your podcast attracts attention you can become a permanent fixture in your ideal client’s ears. This will make it all the more likely that they’ll come to you when they need a service like yours.