STARTING A BUSINESS PODCAST IN 2021:
The Complete Step by Step Guide
This is my complete guide to starting a business podcast in 2021.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn:
- To design a podcast your ideal client will listen to
- The best ways to stand out in the market
- Different strategies for lead generation
- Equipment that will get you started right away
- How to promote your podcast effectively
So if you want to attract more of the right clients with a podcast content marketing strategy this year, you’ll love today’s guide.
Let’s get started.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon says: “If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”
And in this chapter, I’m going to show you exactly how to craft customer personas for your business that you can then use as a base for your ideal listener in your podcast.
(Including a real-life example of how we built it for a client of ours in Podcast Rocket.)
Let’s dive in.
The Power of Demographics
A 24 year old living in rural Kentucky has a very different spending power than an 35 year old engineer in Silicon Valley.
That’s why knowing who your customers are, where they live and how much they can afford on your product will make or break your business (and therefore your podcast).
- How old are they?
- What are their values?
- What is their occupation?
- Where do they live?
- How much do they earn?
- Are they single, married, divorced?
You need answers to all these questions.
At Podcast Rocket, we helped George Beesley in his Call To Adventure business and podcast define his avatars.
You may have to talk to your sales team to find out, you may have to send out some questionnaires, or you may have to make educated guesses but it all starts here.
Their Backstory Connects the Dots
Because if you find out that they want to save the world, it will help us meet their needs later on when we announce our product comes from sustainable sources.
We are all looking for happiness.
And each one of us associates happiness with a goal. It can either be fame, status, class, or helping others.
And there is always a reason why we think that.
Knowing that reason gives us the tools to craft messages and solutions to those needs that will resonate with them.
So, What Are Their Needs?
Your customers’ demographics and their backstories feed into the needs they will have.
It’s time to list all their needs.
List even the ones you are not sure you will be able to cater to. You never know what affiliate product, or social media post you can craft that will resonate with them.
Knowledge is power.
And as we’ll see later in this article, “shoulder topics”, are topics that your ideal listener is interested in, so it will give us powerful ways to connect with them.
And How Do We Meet those Needs with Solutions?
Now comes the exciting part.
For each entry in the Need section, you want to match that with a Solution you provide.
Some of them will come easily to you.
Others not so much.
Try to be creative for those hard ones. Is there an affiliate product you can recommend? Is there another firm you can partner with? Is there a freebie you can give out that will help with it and attract them to your brand that way?
Think of serving them.
How can you best help them with their needs?
Craft Three Avatars
Now that you know how to define one customer persona, do it all over again.
Craft 3 avatars at least.
Make them as distant from each other as possible. Look at your current and past clients for reference.
And use a “time arc”.
Your customer that just discovered your product or service will have very different needs to someone a bit more experienced, and those two will have very different needs to the client you’ve had for 20 years.
Also don’t discount the way they use your product.
The dabblers, the hardcore users, the socialites and the influencers. They all perceive your offers in different lights.
When 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands to support, and 81% said they need to be able to trust the brand to be able to buy from them it’s not hard to understand why defining what makes your brand unique is the second most important thing to do for your business podcast.
Now it’s time to be specific about your brand.
In this chapter we get into the nitty gritty of establishing your unique value proposition.
And we do this, again with help from Jose Caballer and Chris Do from The Futur.
Defining your Brand Values
Take a page from the guys at The Futur and use Culture, Customers, Voice, Feeling, Impact & X-Factor as brand values.
This exercise is a two step approach:
- Start with a brainstorming session first – what is called a diverging strategy.
- And then spend some time narrowing down the elements you resonate with most later – converging strategy.
What is important is that you make conscious decisions about your brand.
This will come into play later in who you want to make business with, how you want to be perceived, what causes to affiliate your brand with and which ones to avoid.
Come up with Your Brand Statement
An internal brand statement acts as a filter.
This filter is necessary so everyone involved in the brand is on the same page. Freelancers, employees, customer service and sales. But it also helps you make decisions in the future.
In order to craft your brand statement, combine the elements from the previous step into a phrase that encapsulates what your brand stands for.
An example could be something like this:
You would not use this statement as is in your messaging or communication.
But you can use it as a very effective compass to make brand decisions.
Would a partnership with a fast food burger restaurant make sense for the business in the example?
Probably not, as their customers are health conscious looking for re-energisation.
You can see how this brand statement helps everyone working with you understand what your brand stands for and against.
Podcasting is a tool for mass conversion.
But a tool nonetheless.
80% of the problems in business stem from a lack of direction and parameters according to Josee Larocque Patton, CEO and Founder at THE HR ICU.
In this chapter we put goals in place and align those goals with podcasting to attain them.
Start with the Results You Want
When setting out the goals, work it backwards.
What results would you like?
Obviously to be extremely successful at what you do.
But ask yourself: Looking at the data today, where do I want to be in a year? What about three? Five?
Extrapolate the data from where you are now and where you’ve been last year.
And then double those results.
You have 2,000 visitors to your site and it seems like you’ll get 3,500 by the end of the year?
Set a goal of 7,000 visitors by the end of the year then.
Results from a review of laboratory and field studies on the effects of goal setting on performance show that in 90% of the studies, specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than easy goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals.
So don’t cut yourself short before you start.
List all the business goals you’d like to achieve.
Classify and Score Your Business Goals
If you don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of goals you have by the end of the previous exercise, go back and add more.
Great, time to break those down into categories and priorities.
Start by breaking them down into Revenue, Awareness and Efficiency goals.
This will keep you centered around what is crucial for your business success.
Once you have your goals categorised, you might find that you get more ideas so go ahead and write them down.
Now it’s time to prioritise and stay focused on the important ones, you don’t have infinite time to dedicate to all after all.
Rank them by Desirability and Doability. In other words, how much do you want it if it were free and how easy it is to actually do it when you do have to pay for it in time and money.
Jose Caballer explains that once you have these scored, you can easily see which ones you should focus on by picking the ones that have a score of 15 or more.
Match The Goals to Your Podcast Strategy
Now that you have a good idea of where your business is going and what you should be focusing on, it’s time to match each goal to your podcast.
Ask yourself: How can the podcast help you reach your business goals?
For example, if you want more leads, you may want to create a lead magnet like an ebook.
Making it related to an episode and announcing it in said episode with an easy to remember landing page is an effective way to attract leads.
As you can see, it’s not the podcast doing the work directly, but the podcast becomes a part of the flow to reach that goal.
Think outside the box, how can you make the podcast work for you?
And then add those steps to a list.
Create SMART Goals
A goal without a plan is a dream.
Make a list of concrete actionable steps to have a clear vision of how you will get from where you are now to where you want to be.
To do this, take the steps you identified from the previous section and expand on them.
What do you need to have an ebook as a lead magnet?
Well you need to write the ebook, maybe you already have this content in your site and just needs editing, so you should hire an editor, put it together, create a good looking PDF, so you need an artist for that.
You’ll also need a landing page, that means a web designer to create that for you, and you’ll need an email service provider to capture those emails and provide that PDF.
By making the steps concrete you are able to put those in your calendar and the chances of following through, skyrocket.
My personal calendar with goals
Now you have business goals supported by the podcast with specific action steps to reach those goals.
79% of people say that user generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
This is the videos, comments, reviews, images and of course podcasts that your business puts out there..
In this chapter we delve into how to make sure you capture your listeners’ attention even before they have listened to a single second of your podcast.
Find “Shoulder Topics”
Imagine a podcast that only talked about one service or product.
Every episode the host would only talk about that one product or service and would hard pitch you every time on how amazing it is and how much you should go and buy it.
How long would you listen to it before you lost interest in it?
Not very long, I bet.
“Shoulder topics” – like “shoulder keywords” in SEO – are similar topics your ideal customers are looking for when they are not looking to buy your product or service.
Call to Adventure’s Podcast Shoulder Topics
For example, if your ideal customer is an activist that wants to change the world and you sell sustainably sourced coffee beans, your shoulder topics should include topics that are not necessarily related to coffee but are related to the activist’s needs.
Adventurous people that travel far and wide and inform on how bad the climate change situation is in the places they visit may be something the activist would be interested in.
Sustainable causes and humanitarian efforts may be other topics.
You can only talk about coffee for so long before someone loses interest, but by providing amazing free value, you make a fan for life.
Now it’s your turn.
Using the ideal customer personas, your unique value proposition and your business goals, make a list of unique podcast topics they would be interested in.
This is the first step to global podcast domination.
Pick a Podcast Format
Once you have the “shoulder topics” defined, you will be in a great position to know if you should go for an interview kind of podcast, or solo podcast, or serial or more investigative.
Take some time to check what’s out there and what your target audience may resonate more with.
You should also consider what is feasible with the budget and time you have.
It would be great to have a 4-way conversation every week with your team but is that possible? Do you all have the time to do it?
If you are like most businesses, you’ll go with the expert interview podcast format and that’s totally fine.
That’s why we defined your unique value proposition in advance.
Name Your Podcast After Your Ideal Client
A podcast name works best when crafted around your ideal client, not your company’s expertise.
Our own podcast talks to our audience, owners of Online Businesses
Shopify didn’t name their podcast “Online Shops made easy”.
I’m sure I would not listen to McAfee’s “Get Your Antivirus” podcast.
Your ideal listener will only consume content that meets their needs and piques their interest.
You need to craft a name that taps into that feeling.
That’s why Shopify banks on entrepreneurs listening to their podcast, therefore “Thank God It’s Monday” so clearly exemplifies why an entrepreneur would like to check that podcast out.
And McAfee goes beyond the anti-virus.
People that are interested in security of their personal computer and data are interested in security in general.
Which is why their podcast has such a great name: “Hackable?”
Now it’s time to look at your ideal clients and the list of shoulder topics and come up with a name that they will be enticed to check out.
Nail The Cover Art
Podcasting is visual when it comes to capturing your listeners.
People will browse through the categories on their favourite podcast platforms and make instant decisions on which podcasts to check out and which to ignore based on the title and podcast artwork alone.
We make such decisions ourselves in less than a second.
It’s not rocket science, spend time or money on a good cover art.
If the title of your podcast can be akin to the url to your site, the cover art is the equivalent of a good cohesive web design.
Which one would you tap on to listen more about?
A recent report finds that companies that frequently conduct market research are significantly more likely to report an increase in revenue over the last 12 months (76%) than those who infrequently conduct market research (65%).
Moreover, companies that frequently conduct market research are more likely to improve customer retention, enter a new market, and launch a new product or service than their counterparts who do not conduct market research often.
In this chapter I will detail step by step how to perform a market analysis to understand the opportunities for your new podcast.
Start With Your Keywords
Are you targeting business owners in the B2B SaaS space?
What about neuroscience majors looking for grants?
Horseback riding enthusiasts?
These are your keywords, these are the things your target audience will be typing onto the search bar to find your podcast.
You better do the same to find out your competition.
Head out to Apple Podcasts and Spotify and type those out.
Then simply list all the ones related to your field.
Each podcast you find through keyword search will belong to a category and subcategory.
You’ll want to make a note of those.
Categories matter because they tell you where they sit in the marketplace.
Pat Flynn sits in the Careers subcategory inside the Business category
But also you’ll be able to get an idea of where you should sit in the marketplace.
The category you end up picking will determine who your competitors will be.
In general, you want to pick the one your target audience is most likely to find you on.
For a full list of categories check out Apple’s official list here.
Apple Podcasts won’t display the number of Subscribers another podcast has publicly.
Or the number of reproductions.
In order to compare podcasts, we’ll need to go another route instead.
Castbox is the most used app for podcasts in the US outside Apple and Spotify that does display these numbers.
We can use their numbers instead for comparison purposes.
Now, don’t go comparing these numbers to the ones you have on Apple Podcasts. That would be like comparing apples to elephants.
But you can get a good idea of how a podcast is doing compared to another when looking at both inside Castbox.
Ratings and # of Ratings you can get from the Apple Podcasts website. This information is publicly available.
Which Numbers Matter
Apple uses an internal algorithm to dictate which podcasts sit at the top of the lists.
This algorithm is not known to the public and changes periodically so it’s impossible to know for certain why some podcasts go up while others go down.
For example, an increase in the number of new listeners in a short period of time correlates to a podcast being placed higher.
In the next sections we will be looking at the top 5 podcasts in your category as well as similar podcasts to yours.
When looking at these podcasts, subscribers and reproductions will tell us how they sit in relation to our podcast.
But ultimately podcasts that sit above yours may do so because of their recent subscribers or listeners, their “hotness” at the time.
The Two Top 5
Now that you have a good idea of what matters and what doesn’t, it’s time to pick the top 5 podcasts within your chosen category.
Then do a search for the 5 podcasts most similar to your podcast.
This is important because inside the Marketing category, you might find that the top 5 consist of podcasts about content marketing, email marketing, digital marketing, etc which have nothing to do with your Technical Marketing.
It’s good to see what the top 5 podcasts in your category do, but you don’t want to limit yourself only to those.
You want to also do a top 5 of those you can find that are as similar to yours as possible.
You can do so by scrolling down the full list on apple podcasts and checking each one or googling for your title/sector keywords + podcast.
Once you have the two top 5 lists, it’s time for the next step.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Opportunities
Once you have two lists of podcasts in a tidy table, it’s time to listen to a couple of episodes of each.
Get a good sense of their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
Also check reviews. What do other people like about them? What don’t they like?
Look for conversations about them on reddit, or other online forums.
Write it all down.
Then it’s time for you to come in with your expertise, and your unique positioning.
List the opportunities that these podcasts are lacking that you bring to the table.
This will give you a clear picture of how you fit the marketplace.
And how you bring something new.
This is where most newcomers think they have to break the bank.
It couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can get great quality for a couple of hundred dollars.
In this chapter we go over exactly how to sound like a million bucks without having to go through endless “Top 10 microphones” websites.
It’s actually really easy.
For best quality when recording we recommend the following:
- An external microphone
- A soundproofed recording space (to avoid echoes and external noises)
- Recording on an uncompressed format (.WAV as opposed to .mp3 or .mp4)
And that’s it.
Let’s go over specifics.
Your main tool for the job is an external microphone.
As in, do not use the one that comes in your laptop or mobile device.
Mixers, (those boxes that you plug everything in) can help in the long run, but for starters we just recommend a USB microphone that plugs directly into your laptop.
An affordable and easy to use microphone is the Samson Q2U. This microphone comes with a USB and XLR cable, so if later on you want to purchase a mixer you can use it too.
There are other microphones podcasters like to use that you may see come up on the internet: The Blue Yeti, Rode Procaster, Neat King Bee, Audio-Technica to name a few.
There is nothing wrong with picking any of the above, it all comes down to the pros and cons of each one.
Our recommendation on the Samson Q2U is based entirely on the ease of use as well as affordability vs quality but we don’t deny there are better options out there.
Soundproofed Recording Environment
Normally overlooked, the second most important aspect of audio quality is the ability to record in a sterile room free of echoes and background noises.
During post-production, a podcast agency will be able to remove most noises but this always comes with a cost.
Treating an audio file will degrade its quality.
To avoid echoes, pick a room with low ceilings and fill it with sound dampener items. These can be rugs, pillows, bean bags, towels, cardboard boxes, heavy curtains, etc.
The most affordable way of recording has to be inside a closet in your house. Not only they are normally narrow spaces but they are filled with clothes that absorb sound waves.
Or you can invest in soundproofing a room.
A pretty affordable solution is to invest in some sound dampener foam panels and a bit of DIY time to put them up on the walls.
As you build an audience, you’ll be able to invest in better soundproofing options or even rent a studio nearby.
You can also purchase a pop-filter and an arm for your microphone.
The pop-filter will prevent your breath from hitting the microphone straight on blocking those ugly “plosives” that follow “B”s and “P”s.
An arm is great to position the microphone right in front of your mouth.
These are great additions but optional.
You can always come back and purchase these additional equipment tools if you hear any issues during recording.
When it comes to recording, use whatever is easiest for you.
There are countless options available.
Free platforms include Audacity for Windows or Quicktime for Mac users.
Alternatively, there are paid options like SquadCast that enables podcast hosts and guests to record studio-quality audio from anywhere.
Whatever you pick, make sure it records in an uncompressed format. (.WAV good, .MP3 bad)
Compressed formats lose data which is unrecoverable in the post-production process. The downside is that they are heavy files and cumbersome to share.
Only once the podcast has been treated through post-production, then it makes sense to share in a lossy, small file like mp3.
Podcasts are an amazing content marketing tool, but they can do so much more.
They help with brand awareness, they also position the host as an expert in their field.
And they can help with building a qualified audience around your brand.
In this chapter we’ll cover actionable advice to generate leads when used as a top of the funnel marketing effort.
Check it out.
Amy Porterfield’s main strategy that works like a charm is to create a lead magnet for selected episodes.
This can be an ebook, a pdf, infographic, mini video tutorial, etc that she then promotes through an episode related to that topic.
The key here is to have an easy to remember landing page for each one, something like yourwebsite.com/seo so people can remember it.
This landing page works like you would imagine, listeners can leave their email in exchange for the resource.
Similar to the lead magnet strategy, you can make a special offer related to a specific episode.
Going back to the dropshipping sustainable coffee business example:
Let’s say you’ve done your homework and you’ve identified that your ideal client is an activist that wants to save the world.
If the topic of your next episode is “Adventures in the Amazon Rainforest” where you interview an expert that has been to The Amazon recently, you could make a landing page where they can purchase one specific product for a discount you will give back a part of the profits to The Amazon Rainforest Trust.
This is especially powerful because you align both the topics your ideal client is interested in with your mission and your product.
Invite Past Clients For Social Proof
Do you want to get an epic testimonial AND create amazing content your ideal client will love at the same time?
It’s possible and especially simple.
Let’s say you sell car insurance.
Your podcast is all about road trips because these are the “shoulder” topics your ideal client is interested in.
Well, you find a client of yours that has recently been on a road trip and had a breakdown (and left you an amazing review).
Leah is definitely one of the people we would love to have over at our podcast
And you invite them to your podcast to talk about that road trip they did.
You ask them about the planning of the trip, why they decided to go there, which route they took, what was the scenery like, all the jazz.
At some point they will get around talking about how their car broke down.
And how you, yes you, came in to rescue them and what an amazing service you gave them.
Now you have content your ideal client will love to hear which also acts as an amazing testimonial for you.
Invite Your Ideal Client As A Guest
This is my favourite strategy of all time.
Once you’ve had a couple of current clients on the podcast, it’s time to strike and get new ones.
Using your favourite prospecting method, you find leads you would like to have as clients.
Then you find (genuine) reasons to bring them onto the podcast and you invite them over as guests.
In the previous example, you find people interested in road trips and you pick the ones that have done an interesting trip to a place you haven’t covered yet on the show.
You then send them a message and act authentically interested in having them over in your podcast.
Something as simple as this can get them to open up
And, what do people normally say when you put them as the expert and they can talk about the thing they like most in the world (themselves)?
They say yes.
So now it’s just a case of creating rapport with them before and after the recording session. You may even ask them who they are insured with. You may even offer them a deal for being a guest in the podcast.
And if you’ve sent them an episode where other people lavish you in compliments, well, chances of converting them as a client are high.
There is a lot of misinformation going around podcast promotion and marketing.
There are a lot of strategies that work for video and blogs that have been transferred to podcasts that unfortunately don’t work well.
Unfortunately, people keep regurgitating these stale strategies over and over.
In this chapter I want to cover some dos and don’ts of podcast promotion.
This is actionable advice you will not find anywhere else and that is working right now.
Let’s dig in.
You Won’t Grow Your Numbers With Social Media
This is a biggie because according to your latest Google search you should be posting and repurposing content non-stop to grow your numbers.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for a very simple reason:
When you post content, who sees that?
Your followers. The people that are already following you on social media.
Not the new people you want to attract.
So, how is this even supposed to work?
Maybe by boosting posts with paid ads?
Paying For Ads Doesn’t Work Either
People on Facebook and Instagram are looking for quick short experiences, that’s why we browse through endless pictures of cats, food, and babies.
5 second video of someone dancing to a tune? Yes.
A 40 minute audio file they have to leave the platform they are on to listen to? Nobody has time for that!
It’s just not the experience they are looking for when browsing Instagram at 10 pm on a weekday.
But it gets worse.
If someone were to actually convert, you would never know it was because of the ad.
Apple podcasts and Spotify don’t have a “pixel” installed like your website.
So you can’t know where the latest listener came from.
Which means that if you are on the paying side of the ad, you are throwing money into a hole and hoping it will make it rain.
Good, let’s check out what does work then.
Being A Guest In Another Podcast
Guest podcasting is the new guest blogging.
Why does this work?
Because people are already in a podcast platform listening to another podcast when you show up and give out amazing value.
Not only you are endorsed by the host by having you there as a guest that you should be someone they should listen to.
But also, you are talking to people that have the player already open and are able to follow through and subscribe there and then to your podcast.
It’s like hacking the system and contacting only people that will want to check you and your podcast.
Remember to set up a landing page specifically for that audience so it’s easy for them to find you. e.g. If the host of the podcast you are on as a guest is called Rob, make a landing page like so: yourwebsite.com/rob.
Contact Social Media Group Admins
This hack is amazing to create roundup episodes while you explode your podcast growth.
Go into your social media of choice and find groups related to your field.
Once you are in, you will find that you won’t be able to post your podcast.
These groups normally have rules against spamming.
So the hack is to reach out to the group admins and ask them to participate in your podcast.
Again, be polite and ask them to talk about their expertise.
And make them look good in it.
If they have a group you’d like to promote to, it stands to reason they will know a lot and will be able to contribute meaningfully to your podcast.
That way they’ll be happy to share the episode with their group.
The same group that anybody else would get banned from if they did the same thing.
Use Youtube To Grow Your Show
Now this is not what you think, I’m not suggesting you post the whole episode on youtube. And no, it’s not video podcasting either.
First, it’s hard to find these because podcast episodes normally are about a bunch of different themes that stem from one topic.
But also because it’s a different feel so it’s very hard to keep people on.
Most people on youtube are looking for short videos or with enticing visuals.
Podcasts are neither of those.
Also of course, there are way too many distractions, you are competing for attention with the rest of the internet.
Instead try this:
Use a camera to record your session.
Then look for short parts that are packed with valuable content and are direct and to the point about a specific topic.
Maybe from a 40 minutes podcast, there is a 3 minutes span where you talk about why it’s important to use Podcasting in your online business.
This has a better chance of being picked by the viewers and the algorithm
You can take these little moments and turn them into short clips.
Then put a cover that matches the one thing discussed, pick the right title and put it on YouTube.
Then link back to your podcast links in the description.
This works great because people that want to go deeper most likely will go and check your show.
As any one video can skyrocket, you may hit spikes with some of these in a way that you would never be able to do with a podcast.
Now It’s Your Turn
So that’s it for my guide to starting a business podcast in 2021.
Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:
Which step from this guide are you going to try first?
Do you plan on defining your ideal client?
Or maybe you want to perform a market analysis.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.