Building on Solid Foundations

Why you need to make sure you’ve done the groundwork before trying to build an audience.

In the last chapter, we looked at a quote from advertising guru Bill Bernbach, “Nothing makes a bad product fail faster than good marketing.”

Every podcaster wants to get their show in front of more ears and increase their download numbers. If you've not quite got the basics right though, any new listeners who find your show might not be compelled to stick around and subscribe.

So how do we make sure we're building on solid foundations with our podcast promotion?

Getting Back to Basics

The biggest obstacle that stands in the way of starting a new podcast is procrastination. Many people never get around to launching their show because they over-plan every little thing and, due to their perfectionism, never actually get to the point of hitting `record`.

It's far better to start recording, without having much of a plan in place, than it is to have the most thoroughly planned show in history which only exists as notes on a word document.

Because of this, a lot of shows have been launched without huge amounts of planning. The beauty of podcasting though is that its all on your terms. You can adjust, tweak, or pivot your content, you can make as many changes as you want, ranging from subtle to sweeping. Maybe you nailed everything before you even recorded your first episode, or perhaps there's still a few things you missed first time around. Let's take a look.

What Kind of Podcaster Are You?

…and what pain are you trying to solve? This sounds dramatic, but you need to determine where exactly your podcast fits into the lives of your listeners or target audience.

The people who listen to your show are selfish. I don't mean that in a bad or negative way – it's just a reality that if someone dedicates half an hour of time each week to listen to you talk, they're doing so because they are getting something out of it.

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This is where your topic and niche comes in. What do you have that people want? Like most things in podcasting, the possibilities here are limitless, but there are five main categories.

The Podcasters
  • The Teacher – Are you teaching something?
  • The Coach – Are you offering encouragement or advice?
  • The Journalist – Are you tapping into the expertise of others by interviewing them?
  • The Guinea Pig – Are you about to embark on a learning journey by trying and testing various things?
  • The Entertainer – You could be anything from a comedian or film reviewer to a storyteller or audio drama producer.

Of course, these can all overlap. You might be only one of these, or you might be all five. The point is you need to identify exactly what you're offering and why your audience wants or needs to listen. Are you going to help them lose weight? Share personal experiences and advice for dealing with grief? Teach them how to grow their own fruit and veg? Or make them laugh with some improv comedy sketches?

Once you know you're offering something that people want, you're well on your way to growing your audience before we've even done a single piece of promotion. Let's move on to the next part.

Who (And Where) Are Your Audience?

A targeted approach with any promotion that you do is going to be far more effective than a billboard or scatter gun strategy of shouting to everyone. We've identified what you're offering with your show, now lets find out who you're offering it to.

If you're a fitness podcast for example, there are still sub-categories to niche down to so you can really focus on who you want to reach. Is it a weight loss show for people who don't traditionally exercise, or is it a show for athletes looking to fine tune their training? Both groups here have different motivations, habits, and lifestyles, and they'll be found in different groups and communities online too. The more work you put into researching this, the easier it'll be to successfully promote your show.

What Are You Trying To Achieve?

What ultimately is the purpose of your podcast, from your own point of view? Again, if we look at the fitness example, let's say our podcaster is an authority on weight loss through various diets and exercise regimes. Her podcast gives away a load of great information for free, but once she gets listeners onto her website she has an eBook for sale, an email list to sign up for, and various affiliate links to products mentioned on her show.

The aim of your podcast might be to earn some income (be that a full time wage, or some extra income on top of your day job). It might be to promote yourself as an authority or industry expert. It might be to build an audience around your business or service, or it might simply be to have fun.

Whatever the aim is, just be sure to identify it. Again, once you're very clear in your own mind about these things, you can really focus on things that'll further these aims, and forget about things that probably won't.

Doing The Groundwork

So that's a brief run through to help make sure you're on the right tracks with your show, and are getting the basics right. If not, it's this, rather than the type or lack of promotion that could be holding you back from reaching new listeners.

If  you're still struggling to nail this stuff down, I'd suggest checking out our article on how to start a podcast, which takes a deeper dive into laying the foundations of a successful podcast.

In the next chapter we're going to take a look at creating content that people want to share. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you about the series so far.

Do you feel you got the basics right before you launched your show, or is this something you're trying to work on with a few episodes already under your belt? Let me know in the comments section below.

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