How to podcast for business
Smart businesses are utilising podcasts for various communication purposes. What’s involved, exactly?
In today’s smartphone-centred society it’s extremely rare for individuals to travel in silence. Whether they’re rocking wired headphones on the train, Bluetooth stereo systems in the car or wireless earbuds while out for a jog, people are always listening to something.
In the past, it was safe to assume they were enjoying their favourite playlist, but these days they’re just as likely to be listening to a podcast. The beauty of the medium, as a form of communication for business, is that it is fully opt-in.
Listeners consume podcasts of their choice at a time and a place that is convenient for them. It makes the format quite intimate and personal, and as a result, it is one that is very powerful for individuals, businesses and brands.
One such individual is Andrew Griffiths, Australia’s bestselling small business author and internationally renowned speaker. His podcast (produced with entrepreneur Bree James), called Business Over Breakfast, has passed its 50th episode and boasts over 10,000 subscribers.
In this Q&A for CAs, Andrew shares his experience, advice, dos and don’ts, for succeeding in the business of podcast.
Why do you podcast?
Podcasts are great because you can listen to them in your own time and learn something. I got into it because there’s demand and because it’s another way to connect with our audience.
As a speaker and a writer, I find people want more from me, but also want to know who I am. Podcasting is a perfect tool for that connection. It’s a great way to engage, educate and to subtly sell. Actually, I think it’s one of the most versatile marketing tools on the planet!
How do you figure out a good topic for each episode?
First, you have to consider the purpose of the podcast. Some large companies, such as Hewlett Packard and Google, produce internal podcasts for their staff. In that case, it’s an internal communication tool, so topics will be along particular themes.
Our show is a small business show, so we pick a topic that is relevant to small business owners and managers, and often ideas come from topics fed to us by our listeners. We ask them about their biggest challenges and that helps to make the show more interactive.
You could teach [the audience] about how to do things better in their own business. You could showcase clients.
So even though subscribers are not listening live, it can still be interactive?
Yes, it’s a great idea to reach out and ask for feedback, and for questions and topic requests. You might offer some sort of reward - perhaps a free coaching session or book - for people whose ideas are picked up for the show. But you have to be careful to not be too timely. Remember, they could be listening to your show 12 months after it was recorded.
How might an accountant utilise podcasting?
If I was an accountant I would be podcasting to build my profile and credibility. But are my clients going to want to hear a pile of accounting stuff? Probably not. Perhaps they would appreciate really useful business information, though.
You could teach them about how to do things better in their own business. You could showcase clients. You could discuss Xero tips. You could feature staff in your practice that have areas of expertise - they might talk about reducing debt or improving cashflow, etc.
What equipment do you need?
It’s so much easier than it used to be. Of course, there are purists who say you need a German sound engineer and a $70,000 microphone and a soundproof chamber, but in reality, I have a $300 Bluetooth microphone. Plus, there’s a service called Zencastr, a website that you can record straight onto and it will spit out an MP3 file.
Don’t launch with just one, because people want to binge.
After you have that file, you might edit it a little, perhaps add a pre-recorded opening and ending that is the same for each show - just like they do on radio shows. That’s all very simple and there are endless YouTube videos showing how to do it.
Once you have a completed sound file, what next?
Next, you upload it to whatever platform you’d like. You might put it on iTunes or SoundCloud. The real key is to tell your customers and contacts. If I was an accountant I’d be telling all of my clients via email and social media. If people like your show they’ll then subscribe and will automatically receive updates when a new episode is released.
How often should an episode be released?
Typically, weekly or fortnightly. We do ours fortnightly, but we’re going to move it to weekly. Our regular listeners have told us that two weeks is too long to wait. The other important thing is that when you launch your podcast, you want to have around 10 shows ready to listen to.
Don’t launch with just one, because people want to binge. Once you get to about 50 shows, you then notice a real spike in downloads.
People from all generations are picking up on podcasts.
Should all podcasts in a series be exactly the same length?
If they vary by 10 or 15 minutes in length, then that’s fine. But don’t do anything that could upset listeners, like doing several 30-minute podcasts then releasing one that stretches to two hours.
Do podcasts cater to a specific audience?
People from all generations are picking up on podcasts. It’s actually quite unique for a specific medium to be so broadly accepted across so many age groups. In an organisational environment, in the internal communications space, it is particularly good for Millennials who really don’t like having their time wasted in meetings.
About the author
Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.