Want to find a new way to engage your customers and prospects and demonstrate your company’s expertise? Have a relatively tech-savvy clientele?

Podcasting may be right for your business.

Podcasts are digital audio files that people can subscribe to that download to their smartphone or computer. Podcasting has grown significantly in popularity in recent years as more consumers have smartphones that allow them to easily search for podcasts and subscribe to them, says Naresh Vissa, a Florida-based online marketing consultant and author of the book “Podcastnomics: The Book of Podcasting…To Make You Millions.” In fact, 57 million Americans listened to podcasts each month in 2016, a 23% year-over-year growth rate, according to AdAge.

“Podcasting establishes you as an authority figure in your industry,” Vissa says. “Whether you are selling products or services, it gives you a platform where you can go directly to market.”

That said, competition in the world of business podcasting is intensifying, so it’s important to map out a game plan that will maximize your success before you start. Vissa offers these tips:


Go long—and commit.


A podcast’s subscriber base often grows steadily over time, and your first episodes may attract few listeners. All social media efforts require patience at the beginning while the audience is growing. And for that audience to build, podcasts can’t be sporadic. There’s no reason to create a podcast unless you do it regularly—such as weekly—and over at least eight months, Vissa says. Experts recommend you start by publishing three to five episodes at launch to get new listeners hooked.


Find the right format.


Podcasts can be anywhere from five minutes to an hour long, but Vissa recommends not going longer than 25 to 30 minutes, given that most people don’t have time to listen to anything longer than that. There are three common formats that businesses use: Question-and-answer style (owner answers questions on each episode), an interview format (owner brings in outside experts on the chosen topic) or “talk show” style (owner simply discusses a topic of their choosing on each episode). Many podcasts mix and match those formats, but it’s important to think ahead about what kind of format would work best for your target audience.

Invest in the right set-up.


Beyond the time involved—which may require just one hour a week—podcasting is relatively cheap. You need a computer and a quality microphone (which you can buy for under $70), such as Blue Snowball microphone. Vissa recommends also buying a foam windscreen for the microphone to block out white noise—which costs less than $10. You need audio editing software, which now comes pre-installed on many computers, and a podcast hosting service, such as Libsyn  or SoundCloud, which runs $20 or less per month. For a polished effect, you can buy royalty-free intro and “outro” music for your podcast through online services such as AudioJungle, which charges as little as $1 per track.

If you’re not wild about the idea of producing it yourself, you can outsource production to a studio that will record and edit a weekly podcast for less than $500 a month. A more elaborate podcast production studio package that includes a transcript and promotional help might cost closer to $1,000 a month, Vissa says. A quick Google search under “podcast production companies” will bring up dozens of results.


Promote your podcast.


Once you have your podcast up on iTunes (which is the predominant podcast-sharing platform), it’s time to get the word out. Start by sending a launch announcement to your email list and include episode descriptions in your upcoming e-newsletters. Create 15-second soundbite clips of podcasts that you can upload to SoundCloud and share on Twitter. Turn quotes from your podcast into tweets and Facebook posts. Create blog posts for each episode that include written takeaways, along with your embedded podcasts. And don’t forget to mention your podcast in your LinkedIn profile and email signature.

Although creating and promoting podcasts may seem like a big time commitment, the payoff can be great. It can be especially valuable for a business that wants to attract a tech-savvy consumer with higher-than-average socioeconomic status, because podcast listeners tend to be both of those things. “It’s not like putting up a billboard along the road, where anybody will see it,” Vissa says. “Podcast listeners are what businesses would generally consider to be highly qualified leads.”


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