Grow Your Podcast by Creating a Community of Superfans
I remember the first podcast I launched — it was called the Passion Junkies. It’s no longer active, but it still lives in the back of Apple Podcasts. I borrowed a semi-pro microphone off someone and would spend hours editing for something barely decent to be put out there in the open.
I did very little to promote it, yet the market was ripe, the competition was scarce, and the podcast was flying at the top of the charts.
That was 2014 — fast-forward to today, and I run two highly successful shows that take over 10 hours per month to produce and promote. Things have changed, yet, podcasts are still rocking. Now more than ever.
How many podcasts are there? We are currently looking at over 1,950,000. There are also over 47 million episodes as of March 2021 (Podcast Insights)
Audio has brought people together during long commutes, walks, and household chores like, so what does the future hold for them? And how can you use podcasts as a tool for your brand?
Industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang has documented almost 36 social audio apps in the market today, showing that audio marketing has vast potential, especially when it comes to building authority and brand awareness.
Creating a simple strategy
Whether we want to blame the cycle of lockdowns we have been going through or the abrupt changes in consumer behaviors, podcasts have become a daily habit for most people.
The needs may be different: distraction, curiosity, education, and so on, yet a bigger and bigger crowd has adopted the format.
Just because the market is growing, it doesn’t mean you should stop putting your focus on the medium — especially since podcasts have a great potential for attracting new customers.
First though, you need to create a community of super fans. The best place to start is with the answer to a simple question:
“Why should I spend my time listening to this show?”
If we believe in the idea that the world goes by via an exchange of value, the time your listeners will put into your podcast is one part of this exchange. What value are you looking to bring back to them?
If you want people to listen, you need to add value to their lives. What’s the benefit to them? Is it to learn? To be entertained? To feel a social connection?
The deeper you can go in understanding who your audience is, the deeper connection you’ll create with them.
When it came to my latest show, Alt Marketing School, we needed to make sure our podcast would appeal to a very specific subset of listeners: marketers. This meant the topics and angles would be a lot more refined than the ones I’d curate for our other podcast, the Make an Impact Show, which is, in turn, more about stories.
We understood we needed to combine the two to fit within our audience’s schedule.
In the early days, your podcast should be about building relationships with potential partners and customers, Hunt highlights.
“If you can interview 12 big players in your space and if they have a great time, you will generate some benefit, whether that will be a new customer or partner,” he explains “This is the whole business model behind Fame.”
Creating a podcast in your space and inviting target customers to be on it can be an exciting way of building a relationship with large potential customers without selling to them immediately, suggests Hildebrand.
Invite happy customers on your show and interview them to highlight why they choose you, what do they like about your product.
“Listening to conversations of leads on other podcasts can be a good way to understand their needs for a better pitch,” he also adds.
By carefully choosing the topics you’ll cover, you can incorporate podcast content that educates about the problem your business solves in the sales process and convert new customers in the process.
“Whether this is through your sales process or in email nurturing campaigns,” explains Hunt, whose work with bCast is aimed at supporting podcasting for marketers and businesses.
“If prospects are exposed to content that educates them about their problem AND how you can help solve it… then your conversions will increase”
Cross-promotion and podcasts
Hunt shares a straightforward trick to encourage brand awareness for new and upcoming shows: “build a list of the 100 people in your niche that have the biggest, most engaged audiences and then one by one… invite them onto your show. It really is that simple.”
Don’t forget to make it as easy as possible for them to share your show: “bCast will automatically send them sharing links, but you should also send them assets to share as you remind them.”
A the same time, you should not ignore the power of connections with other podcasters. Audry proposes to create a better ecosystem for creators by allowing them to connect.
This is why, as the market matures, it will be critical to professionalize their efforts: “Any shoutout is great, but podcasters should look into maximizing the impact of any collaboration with the help of social media amplification and advanced KPI measurement.”
The future of podcasts
I was curious to see how Clubhouse may have influenced the evolution of audio marketing. According to Hildebrand, the platform can provide additional ways for podcasters to engage with their most loyal fans.
As 60-minutes it is to open a room and start a conversation, Clubhouse is not the most convenient app for a consumer.
Rooms are often spontaneous, and it is not easy to find great conversations on demand, which is why the platform can become a supplemental tool for podcasters.
“For people that already have existing audiences elsewhere, Clubhouse can be a great place to create another channel of engagement which they can fill instantly by notifying their audience.”
In Hunt’s experience, Clubhouse has positively impacted the amount of time he listens to podcasts.
“I don’t have the time to sift through a 60 minute Q/A. I look for the high-fidelity content that either entertains or educates and it just so happens that podcasts are much better at that.”
Today, Hildebrand suggests that the term podcast is no longer sufficient to describe the vast amount of different themes and formats available.
“From audiobooks, talk shows to educational formats, podcasts present a very diverse range of content that deserve their distinct categories.”
In the future, you can expect this diversity to increase even further, and with that, new names and terminology for different forms of audio entertainment.
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