So, what makes a great podcast?
Like most things, it’s all relative. What’s captivating for one listener may not be for another. The key is to develop a strategy and content that works for you and your audience — not simply replicating what you see executed on Apple’s Top Shows list.
Examine your podcast from every angle, from concepting to series promotion, audience engagement to format and post-production. It’s worth taking the time to really consider what you’re dishing up (and for whom) and how you’re putting it out there.
How do you know if you’re building the best possible show for your listeners? Take it from a few of our favorite podcast hosts and business leaders, who know a thing or two about building content that resonates.
Get to Know Your Audience
Generating any kind of return comes from meeting the needs of the people who fund and/or support it. In the podcasting world, that means putting out content that uniquely fits the desires and personalities of those who have sought out your show.
“It can be a dangerous thing to start a podcast and not know enough about your audience before you start,” says Tom Webster, SVP of marketing and strategy for Edison Research. “If you genuinely make audience-focused decisions, you can do no wrong.”
Perhaps your audience doesn’t want the same thing from you as the top podcasts out there, suggests Tom. Not every listener has time for an hour-long show or endless banter at the episode’s start. Read the reviews, observe which shows perform best, and serve up content that keeps them coming back for more.
Would YOU Listen to Your Show?
Meet the “Golden Rule” of podcasting: “podcast unto others what you would want podcasted to you.” (Ok, that’s not official.) The point is that if you wouldn’t listen to irrelevant, unstructured content, then how can you expect others to?
Jeremy Donovan, host of the Hey Salespeople podcast, takes this approach when he interviews guests. Instead of coming to the table with a list of structured questions that guests must generate an answer for, he probes them about what challenges/topics they most want to discuss.
“When I’m invited to be a guest, I want to talk about what’s top of mind for me right now,” he says. By putting himself in his listeners’ shoes (earbuds?), Jeremy strives to develop natural, authentic conversations with his guests, making notes of topics and unanswered questions to revisit later.
Engineer for Excellence
Any successful podcaster will tell you that producing a show is so much more than a voice behind a microphone. Just because consumers don’t see your face doesn’t mean it’s easier to create content. In fact, it may be harder.
“I had the assumption that if all you hear is my voice, then I’m safe,” says Chad Sanderson, host of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience podcast. “If I’m not being entertaining; if the audio quality is horrible; if the guest isn’t overly energetic; then I’ve got to make some moves to get to a subject that’s going to make them comfortable.”
As the showrunner, it’s your job to keep the content on track. If you settle for mediocrity, will your listeners continue to settle for your show?
Podcast at the Center of Content
One of the great things about long-form content (be it whitepapers, videos, or podcasts) is that it can be broken down into smaller takeaways for greater longevity. Our good friend and rockstar podcaster Jay Baer views episodes as more of a collection of thoughts than a single entity, making it easier to spread content across different channels later.
“Stop thinking of podcasts as an album, and start thinking of the episode as a series of hit singles,” he says. “All of a sudden, the way you merchandise the value of your podcast changes dramatically.”
Show What You Know
You and your brand are uniquely positioned to speak on the topic of your business. Don’t let that expertise go to waste. Speak with gusto and specificity to not only entertain and inform your audience but to set yourself apart from other podcasts with less focused messaging.
“My specific background lends me credibility and helps me ask much more specific/tactical questions,” says Sam Jacobs, host of the Sales Hacker podcast. “If I didn’t have any of that, I think it’d be more difficult.”
Community Over Commodity
There’s more than one way to build an audience for your show, and they can come from both internal and external environments. For Sangram Vajre, host of FlipMyFunnel and co-founder of Terminus, podcasting is a community affair — not simply a solo “talking head.”
“Without a community, you’re simply a commodity,” Sangram says. “This is not a Sangram show. This is for all of us to be a part of.”
Sangram regularly lines up guests for the show, both from inside Terminus and throughout the larger marketing community. By expanding the messaging source beyond just himself and his colleagues, the content flows without ceasing and buzz spreads faster.
Ask and You Shall Receive
One of the most common questions we get asked is how to best promote shows and get more listeners. Lucky for you, the podcasting community is a close-knit one. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
“I’m willing to share a lot with other people because I believe in paying it forward,” says Stephanie Cox, host of Mobile Matters and VP of sales and marketing at Lumavate. “Don’t assume that you have to think through it all yourself.”
Want big-name guests like your favorite B2B podcast? Ask where they got the introduction. Need more reviews? Get advice from other hosts who have built a following. Wrestling through a logistics problem? Seek help from someone who lives and breathes that stuff.
Just remember this: you are not alone in your quest to build an epic podcast that brings results. The best podcasts are built through collaboration and connection.
Captivate. Advocate. Replicate.
Whether you’re on the brink of starting a podcast or already have one, it pays big to be strategic. The principles of business and marketing apply in podcasting too, and automation, consistency, and replication will serve you well.
“Doing anything one time isn’t useful,” says Sam Jacobs. “It’s really about your ability to demonstrate you can do it consistently and show up every day.” This means getting creative about who you invite on the show and how you produce and promote it. Sam advises:
- Aggregate the components of production to make them repeatable.
- Don’t be afraid to explicitly ask your guests to share your content, and make it easy for them to spread your message to their own audiences.
- Provide thought leadership opportunities to your target accounts to establish executive relationships with them.
Simpler Than You Think?
Building a better podcast doesn’t have to be a painful undertaking. It could be as simple as re-evaluating your content, recording more authentic conservations, and thinking outside the box in your promotion strategy.
For all of these things and more, Casted is here to make your life easier. From hosting and scheduling to activation and analytics, we make it easy to get more out of the unique stories your brand tells. Drop us a line, and tell us what’s top-of-mind.