Maybe your startup hasn’t generated any revenue yet. Maybe you haven’t even landed a single cent of seed funding. But you should definitely consider starting a podcast to help promote your brand. Seems crazy, huh? As it is, you barely have enough time to run your company. Why waste even a nanosecond on something as far removed from product development as a podcast? As Wilfred says in the eponymous tv show—Everything has to do with everything.
Chances are that, if your startup hasn’t gained any traction yet, you’re willing to take advice from a grown man in a fuzzy gray dog suit. And what Wilfred is getting at is this—there’s not a single action that you take at any moment that won’t in some way affect the state of your company. When you’re on the clock, this maxim might seem pretty obvious, but have you ever considered that adhering to the same old office routine day-in and day-out is actually killing your creativity? Or that, when you’re off the clock, noodling on your guitar and that crossfit class are actually making you a better problem solver?
If we extend this brain metaphor to your startup, running a podcast would be like playing the “Stairway To Heaven” solo while doing jumping jacks on a treadmill. In terms of branding, you’re more likely to hone your voice by consistently producing content that’s relevant to your target demographics. And by evaluating how your content relates to your target demographics, you’re bound to learn more about the interests and behaviors of the people you want to buy your product.
So enough procrastinating already. Let’s get your podcast started via the 10 steps below!
Decide the theme and name of your podcast.
When deciding on a theme, first think of the problems your product solves and how that fits into your target customers’ everyday experiences. Even if your startup’s product is something as abstract as an algorithm that will greatly reduce power plant inefficiency, there’s still lots of potential for a podcast theme that would attract everyday and expert listeners alike.
General Electric, for example, started GE Podcast Theater, a science-fiction podcast that has so far offered up two separate series—The Message and LifeAfter. And not only does science-fiction make sense for a science innovation company, the podcasts have both been hits.
If you think your product is too niche for a general audience, then try thinking about your industry and how you can create a forum for consumers and solutions providers alike. A mainstream audience isn’t always the ideal placement for your brand. Sometimes, it’s better to try to position yourself as a reliable thought leader within your industry. Everybody’s got a thought leadership blog, but what about a podcast that’ll allow you to expound upon your ideas in a more casual and inviting way? Authenticity goes a long way in building brand loyalty.
Naming Your Podcast
It’s best to find the right balance between straightforward (so strangers will know what your podcast is about) and creative (so your name is memorable). You’re probably not a celebrity, so using name recognition, i.e., The Joe Rogan Experience, won’t get you very far. There’s no universal formula for naming your podcast, but one good tip is to look at the names of top podcasts for inspiration.
For instance, one of the most popular podcasts in the US is My Favorite Murder. It doesn’t matter that this podcast has nothing to do with company or even personal branding. Nor does it even matter what the podcast is about. The title is so intriguing that you’re likely to click through and learn more. Your #1 goal at the outset is to get people to know your podcast exists, and naming goes a long way.
Ask yourself, Why am I qualified to host this podcast?
This step isn’t meant to discourage you. Two things are going to drive the sustainability and potential success of your podcast:
- Your passion – Regardless of how much you love your company and its product, your podcast concept better spark you in a similar way. You’re already pressed for time as it is—creating a podcast that continually excites you will inspire you to make time for it, and if you’re excited about your show, that passion, if channeled correctly, will transmit to your audience.
- Your expertise – Let’s hope that, because your podcast ties back to your industry somehow, that you know what you’re talking about. But, hey, we all fake it till we make it in one way or another. But what you can’t fake is sincerity and genuineness. Maybe, behind the scenes, you’re learning as you go. To integrate an element of uncertainty, a sort of “thinking out loud” format to your podcast could both add authenticity to your show while endearing you to your audience.
Choose your style.
This is all about the general format of your podcast. These decisions don’t have to be set in stone, but they’ll certainly help to establish a trajectory for your show in the long term:
- How many hosts will there be?
- Will you be doing any interviews?
- Will you be doing any storytelling?
- Is your show best served as a free-form or segmented episode?
So much depends on your industry, your theme, and your personality to answer these questions. Are you better at talking off the cuff to an audience or do you thrive more in conversations? Try to play to your personal strengths, but always keep your target audience in mind.
One of the most common reasons podcasts have exploded in popularity is that listeners appreciate the feeling that they’re sitting in the room with the host or host(s). If it’s just one person talking, that person’s talking to the listener as if they were having a casual lunch, even if some heady info is being exchanged. If there’s a conversation happening, the listener gets to sit in the middle of it. Which format(s) best deliver your ideas and message?
And the greatest advice to give any podcaster: don’t read from a script. Nobody wants a podcast to sound like a news report. It’s OK to create an outline, even in-depth notes for each episode. But when recording, don’t read from a paper. Talk it out naturally.
Brainstorm 10+ episode ideas.
This is the first huge step in determining whether or not you’ve got a viable concept. Until now, you’ve mostly daydreamed about how good your podcast can be, and even if you’ve brainstormed a handful of good episode or segment ideas, now is the time to place those ideas within an architecture that allows for your podcast to grow.
The word episode itself should be thought of as a chapter in a book or the latest installment of a TV series—each episode is another piece of a puzzle that is too big to see all at once. Most writers will tell you that they create their best work when they only kind of know where the story is heading. You should definitely have a vision for the trajectory of your podcast, but always remain open to where the process leads you.
By brainstorming 10 or so episode ideas, you’ll be able to assess whether or not your podcast theme is ripe enough to maintain stimulating content over the long haul. If you’re having problems coming up with 10 episodes, chances are your focus is too restrictive.
Do some market research.
If you’re running a startup, you’re already familiar with scoping out the competition. Compare your ideas to existing podcasts with similar themes. How many followers do they have? How many reviews do they have and what are the reviews saying? The podcast world is like its own meta-economy, and you have to find your market niche.
Even if you find a podcast with a similar premise as yours, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it better or, in the very least, different. Take My Favorite Murder for example. Each episode premise is that the two hosts, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, will each share an intriguing, real-life murder story. There are tons of True Crime podcasts out there, even other shows similarly about murders. The difference is that Karen and Georgia aren’t crime experts, but rather comediennes. And while episodes often take somber turns, the hosts always cut the tension with jokes and funny self-deprecation. The podcast is equally informative and entertaining in more ways than one. How can you make that formula work for you?
Determine your ideal episode length.
After conducting your market research, revisit the decisions you made throughout Steps 1-4. Does your target podcast market seem receptive of your theme, style, and episode format? Don’t be afraid to completely revamp your initial idea, but also don’t waver between ideas for too long. After all, the best way to test your idea is to do the damned thing.
One way, however, to evaluate your podcast ideas is to determine your ideal episode length in terms of your theme and podcast market. (What’s the ideal episode length?) Now try writing up an outline for the segments or topics you want to cover in a specific episode. Then time yourself doing a dry run of a particular segment or topic. This will begin to give you an idea of whether or not your ideal episode length will serve the amount of content you’d like to cover. If your content will run over, try narrowing your focus for that episode. If your content runs under, either delve deeper into each topic, or add more topics per episode.
Create artwork and branding for your podcast.
It might not be nice to judge a book by its cover, but A LOT of people are going to judge your podcast by its artwork icon, especially because nobody knows who you are or what the show is about. Treat your artwork like a promo poster for the essence of your show. Also consider meshing the artwork colors and font with your brand logo in order to establish some brand continuity.
Whatever you do, don’t just throw up any old graphic that looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint. You were willing to pay money to get your brand logo and website designed; treat the podcast like a legitimate extension of your brand.
Record and edit your audio files.
So far, you haven’t spent any money, and you won’t have to, unless you don’t mind coughing up a few bucks. If you want to go the free route, you can still create a quality podcast.
Your iPhone alone can provide all the tools you need to record your show. With apps like Opinion and Anchor, you’ll have a one-stop shop to record and distribute your podcasts to any platform you’d like.
If you prefer a little more professional sound, there are a variety of mics you can purchase. For $15, you can get a quality lavalier mic that’s easy to travel with and surprisingly sensitive, given its size. For $40, you can level-up on sound with a larger yet portable microphone.
If you’ve purchased a microphone, you might as well try out some free recording software to adjust your levels and possibly edit out unnecessary dead space or any glaring mistakes. Garageband (iOS/Mac) or Audacity (PC/Mac) will definitely do in this regard.
Whatever software you use, be sure to normalize your audio files when editing them. This eliminates any high volume spikes that might startle or irritate your listeners, especially those using headphones.
Also be sure to properly tag your audio files. This ensures that a listener’s device will display your podcast name, episode name, and artwork.
Find the right podcast hosting.
There’s a bunch of podcast hosting sites out there, but below you’ll find a handful that offer excellent deals. Keep in mind that, in terms of the file size of a podcast episode, a rough estimate is that 1 minute of audio = slightly less than 1 megabyte of audio. So if you’re planning for two 30-minute episodes per week, that’ll require around between 200-250 MB of upload volume per month in your hosting plan.
Podbean – $9/month (when paid annually) for unlimited upload volume
Castos – $15/month for unlimited upload volume and download bandwidth
Libsynn – $15/month for 250MB storage upload per month
Blubrry – $12/month for 100MB storage upload per month
Syndicate your podcast files into an RSS feed.
Once you upload your first episode to your media host, you’ll be provided with an RSS feed, which will contain all of your episodes (including their titles, descriptions, artwork, and MP3 location).
You must then choose the media platforms where you’d like your podcast to be distributed. The most popular platforms include:
Then upload your RSS feed to all of the platforms you choose. You’ll only have to do this once, then all future uploads you make to your podcast host will automatically update your RSS feed on whichever platforms you’ve chosen.
Congratulations. You’ve just launched your very own podcast. May your brand be forever ignited by the discoveries you make throughout your podcasting journey.
Everything Has To Do With Everything
At tekMountain, we believe that any successful startup must engage in wide-net approach to brand discovery. Even if you’ve already developed a viable product to deliver to market, that doesn’t mean that you’ve fully established your brand to the degree that potential customers will buy into your company’s universe, rather than just its widgets. Starting a podcast is one of the many inbound marketing efforts that can help launch your business to the next level.
Contact tekMountain today to learn how your startup can benefit from outside-the-box strategies.