(This post originally appeared on Philly.com)
The podcast industry is booming, according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Researchers at PwC say that more than half of the U.S. population over the age of 12 listened to a podcast in 2018 and that revenues from advertising — which jumped more than 50 percent last year as compared with the year before — are expected to reach $1 billion by 2021.
Most popular shows, according to the report, were in the politics, current events, and comedy categories, but a growing number (13 percent) of those surveyed said business shows were among their favorites.
So should your company consider hosting its own podcast? Quite possibly.
OK, you’re probably not going to compete with the likes of Mark Maron or Alec Baldwin. But with the right amount of effort, and resources, a podcast can turn you into a potential industry thought leader and be a great way for you to improve your company’s brand. Even for the smallest of businesses, a good podcast can expand your outreach far beyond what you might achieve with local print or broadcast advertising.
“Podcasting helps you leverage your expertise or industry leadership in a way that’s easy to share with prospects and clients,” says Steve Lubetkin, who owns a Cherry Hill-based media company that produces podcasts. “As we know, people learn and absorb information in different ways, and for auditory learners, podcasts are a great channel for people to get to know how you can help them solve their business problems.”
Lubetkin’s clients have seen increased visibility in their search-engine results from the additional audio content they’ve included on their websites.
The good news is that making a podcast isn’t so difficult. The best quality will likely be achieved by using a professional studio. But if you’re just getting started and don’t have much of a budget, a home recording using software like Zencastr or Libsyn and good audio equipment from Rode and Shure may do the trick.
Regardless of where you record, just remember: This is not Wayne’s World, folks. Podcasts should also be professionally produced, with intro and exit music and editing that keeps the pace moving along.
Once you’ve created a podcast, you can easily get it listed on the popular sites like Libsyn, blubrry, Apple, Google, Spotify, and Pandora. All of these sites have step-by-step instructions for publishing. But keep in mind that just publishing a podcast isn’t going to automatically get you listeners.
It’s a crowded field out there and you’ll need to budget some money — and time — to promote your episode. You’ll also want to spread the word to your customers and community on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to ask anyone you interview who has an audience to do the same. The bottom line: After considering the costs of equipment, hosting, and marketing, you should expect to spend about $1,000 to $1,500 to get your podcast started and you can expect each episode, on average, to cost a few hundred bucks.
To make the investment worthwhile, the best professionals in the business all say that content is key.
“It’s a lot to ask for someone to spend 30 minutes to an hour or more with you,” says Conrad Benner, who hosts the popular Streets Dept Podcast, a regular show (and blog) that takes a deep dive into topics particular to Philadelphia and has featured guests from City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart to The Inquirer’s architecture columnist, Inga Saffron. “You have to create something new or different enough to get people to give your podcast a try.”
Your content needs to be relevant to your industry. Don’t worry about not being appealing to a wide audience. Even if you’re attracting a few hundred listeners, those are likely the people who are in a similar business to yours and may be a source of potential opportunities. Most important, don’t turn it into a platform where you’re the only person talking.
“Consider having a host ask questions, because it makes listening less monotonous if there is a conversation going on,” Lubetkin says. “Focus on conversation that helps move the needle on customer decisions to engage with your business and/or buy your product.”
That said, getting into the podcast world requires something more than just a desire to attract more customers to your business. Johnny Goodtimes, an owner of Shibe Vintage Sports in Philadelphia and one of the hosts of the Philly Blunt podcast, realized this early on.
“If you’re only doing it as a marketing ploy, it’s going to fail,” he says. “You have to be truly passionate about whatever it is you’re talking about. People are going to sniff an infomercial dressed as a podcast a mile away.”
One thing’s for sure: The success of your podcast isn’t going to happen overnight. Both the Streets Dept and Philly Blunt podcasts have taken years to build their audiences, and both Benner and Goodtimes agree that it will be your passion that’s going to make the difference in the long run.
“If you truly love candles, and you have a candle business, and you want to do a podcast talking about how much you love candles, that’s great,” says Goodtimes. “People will appreciate your enthusiasm. But if you’re doing it because you think it’s going to sell candles, nobody is going to care.”