Putting out regular audio content as a podcast is a fantastic way to establish a reputation, build relationships, and offer value to people. That’s why an increasing number of businesses are starting their own podcasts. When someone listens to a show every week, or even every fortnight, they are literally hearing every word the presenter(s) are saying. They hear their tone of voice, along with the pacing, delivery, and meaning behind their words. This is an intimate medium.

But how do businesses get people to listen to their podcast? And what sort of things should they talk about on each episode?

Let’s create the example of a fictional business called ‘Jarvie’s Clothing Company’ based in Aberdeen, Scotland. They make hiking gear, such as boots, waterproofs, etc. Imagine they decided to create a podcast about the business and jotted down some ideas for their first three episodes;

Series Title “The Jarvie’s Clothing Company Podcast”

Title “Episode 1”

Subject: We talk about the history of our business and how successful a company we are.

Title “Episode 2”

Subject: We had a new water cooler installed in the office, and we interview one of our employees about working for the company.

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Title “Episode 3”

Subject: We talk about our new sales campaign, and we opened a new shop recently.

Straight out of the gate, you can tell this podcast would be an utter disaster. Who would listen to this, aside from those involved, and their friends and family? To be honest, friends and family would be a push, too!

So, what have they done wrong?

First, the podcast title is bland and offers no value to potential listeners. Remember, they want to benefit from listening to a show, perhaps by learning something, being entertained or being inspired. You need to convey in the name why it’s worth listening to. You don’t need to fully convince them here, just start to hint.

The episode titles are also meaningless.  You’d be surprised how many people actually name their episode “Episode X”.

Most importantly, the subject matter is all about the business, rather than the listeners they want to attract. It’s ‘me, me, me’, giving little incentive for anyone to listen.

Imagine finding this show on iTunes, or any other podcast directory – can you think of a single reason why you might want to listen to it?

So what could they have done instead?

First, let’s look at the name. We need to put a bit of incentive to listen in there. It’s tempting to be clever, include a pun or two, but those often don’t inform or add value. They don’t tend to tell you what the show is about. They could have named their show “The Hiking Podcast, with Jarvie’s” or – to niche down a bit – “The Jarvie’s Scottish Hiking Podcast”.

Next, their first 3 episodes might look something like this

Title: “Five ‘hidden gem’ hiking routes in the Scottish Highlands”

Subject: Where they are, how to find them, and why you need to walk them!

Title: “Seven essential items to have in your pack at all times”

Subject: These things won’t cost much, they won’t take up much room, and they could save your life!

Title: “What snacks should I take with me on my walks?”

Subject: Interview with nutritionist, we tell you the best foods you can take with you to keep you energised and well nourished whilst out on the trail.

Now, anyone interested in walking, hiking or the outdoors can easily find this podcast, and they’ll know right away what it offers.

But if you’re just giving away information, how does that benefit your business?

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, but if I’m just giving away information, how does that benefit my business?”

There are a range of ways that you’ll benefit by spending time and effort to create and put out all this free content.

I mentioned at the start about using this intimate medium to build relationships with people. When someone listens to your show, they begin to feel like they know you. If they keep listening, it’s because they like you, and this, combined with the great information you’re giving out, leads to a huge amount of trust.

If that’s the case, the next time your listener nips online to buy a new jacket, who do you think she will think of first?

You can become the go-to business in any space by publishing hugely valuable content for free. Your audience will listen, read, watch, grow to like and trust you, and will buy from you even though they now know everything you do. It’s amazing how many people out there can know HOW to do something, but still want help in DOING it.

A final note on selling; this isn’t banned from your show by any means – in fact, as long as the bulk of your show is material valuable to the listener, you should be doing at least a little selling in some form.

The easiest way to do this is to add short, unobtrusive adverts. Essentially, you sponsor your own podcast.

Alternatively, you can simply mention your products, services and special offers in amongst the normal, engaging, informative content. It’s natural that this will happen from time to time anyway, and is completely fine as long as it’s not pushy.

Just remember that your podcast episodes will be found by new listeners for years to come, so try and avoid time-sensitive special offers if you can.

What if your business is purely local?

If you run a taxi firm, a gardening service, or a café in Scotland, what use are 200 downloads in the USA?

Put Your Numbers in Context

Firstly, I’d encourage you to picture 200 people in your head. Imagine that crowd assembling every week to listen to your advice, your information and your entertainment. That number might seem small on paper, but what would you give right now to have that many people in a room finding out more about what you do. Even if that’s the highest your audience grows, it’s still a fantastic opportunity to build relationships, develop a community, and really have an impact in your field.

The Power of Referrals

So, what about the non-local aspect? They’re elsewhere in the UK, or even in the US. They’re not going to buy from you, right?

Firstly, having fans ANYWHERE is always beneficial. Word gets around, and, these days, the world is getting smaller and smaller. A fan of yours in London might have a brother in Fife who’s looking for a plumber. Who’s he going to tell his brother about?

If you have 1000 fans around the world, it doesn’t matter where they are, referrals can always lead to local business.

Increased Local Search Rankings

Next, looking at the bigger picture, an increase in online interest through your podcast is hugely beneficial for your search rankings.

If a plumber’s website is proving more popular through links, mentions and traffic than other businesses in your area, then he’s very likely to rank higher in that local search.

Diverse Income Streams

Finally, a loyal audience provides you with the opportunity to create new streams of income.

I mentioned a local café earlier; let’s say the owner releases a podcast on baking pastries and cupcakes. As a side project, she can transcribe her episodes and release them as a self-published eBook. That can then be sold on Amazon for £5.

Once the eBook is released she can let her audience know that it’s available to buy. Because of the loyalty and trust generated through a podcast, this approach can lead to really good sales. It’s also something that’s constantly working in the background. New listeners find the show, hear the old episodes, and eventually buy the book. The café owner doesn’t need to do anything to keep this running other than keep on releasing those episodes.

When you have a ‘passive income’ stream like this, you can wake up in the morning having made money whilst you were asleep.

What’s Holding You Back?

We’ve really just scratched the surface here of what’s possible when you create a podcast series that provides valuable and engaging content for the audience you’d like to reach. I hope it’s given you something to think about and that you’re already starting to plan your first 7 or 8 episodes.

If you’re still not convinced though, let me know. Are there still any reasons that you feel this still doesn’t apply to you, and wouldn’t benefit your business?