As podcasters, we’ve a large and diverse digital footprint to think about. It’s not just about the audio files we create.
We spend a lot of time thinking about our website, because Google still can’t index audio. And for professional service providers, we need a website to attract potential clients.
We think about our social media properties, since that’s where we engage with our customers, our peers, and can do targeted outreach to once again attract potential clients.
We think about our newsletter, because that’s where we already have permission to send targeted information to a few thousand clients, peers, and maybe some friendly media people.
We think about these digital aspects of our business not because they are fun places to spend our time, but because of their direct impact on our firm, our consultancy, or our practice; because that’s how we make the money necessary to keep the business running.
Because we’ve already built up these channels, this website, this going concern… it’s natural for professional service providers like us to look at content we’re already producing for other channels to support our business objectives when answering the ever important “what should I podcast about?” question.
Coming up with fresh ideas for our podcast episodes is hard. But repurposing content? That’s almost easy.
We can narrate our blog posts, and that makes a podcast episode.
We can interview a guest, a colleague, or even a client for an article we’re writing for our blog. And if we record the audio of that conversation, we can let it go as a podcast episode. (With some judicious editing, of course.)
We can look through our library of videos on our YouTube channel and pay someone to strip out the audio, releasing those choice bits as podcast episodes.
We can even repurpose our own guest appearances on someone else’s podcast, pulling out our interview segment from the audio file to create a quick “I was on this other podcast” episode for our own podcast. (With permission, of course.)
We can do all of these things and more. All of these ideas are solid tactics for keeping our podcast feeds topped off with content.
But they aren’t the most strategic of concepts.
Thinking Strategically About Your Podcast
Spend more than a few minutes in just about any podcast community and you’ll be bombarded with “how can I spend less time on my podcast?” threads. This, I think, is the exact wrong attitude for serious podcasters. And certainly the wrong attitude for the professional service provider who podcasts.
Done correctly, with the right team of people, it’s possible for your podcast to be the top business generator for your business.
Yes, that is a bold claim.
It’s no secret that most established professional service providers make most of the revenue for their firm, practice, or consultancy from existing client relationships. It’s almost always cheaper to keep a client than to find a new one, and a well-produced, highly-relevant podcast can continually demonstrate your skills, knowledge, and worthiness to your most valuable clients.
Podcasting is also a great way to fill up the biz dev pipeline, with effectively zero additional costs to reach hundreds — and sometimes even thousands — of potential clients on a regular basis.
But I’ll concede this zero-to-scale cost structure isn’t unique to podcasting. It costs no more to write a Tweet that’s read by a dozen people as it does to write one that gets shown to a thousand. The cost to send a newsletter to 10,000 people isn’t that much more than mailing to a list a tenth that size. And YouTube isn’t charging you for views on a video of your recent shareholder presentation. Digital products scale cheaply. So too for a podcast.
The Difference Is In The Distraction
When you Tweet about your business, you’re competing with the multitude of other Tweets sent out by the hundreds or thousands of other Twitter accounts your customers choose to follow.
And some of those Tweets are comedy gold.
When you publish a post on Facebook for your firm, your hard work is quickly overshadowed by baby photos, restaurant check-ins, and various I’m-mad-as-hell-and-I’m-not-taking-it-anymore diatribes that are much more “likeable” and/or comment-worthy.
Because babies are cuter than business.
When you send your weekly email, you hope it doesn’t wind up in the spam folder, get relegated to Gmail’s dreaded “Promotions” tab, be filtered out by corporate firewalls, or become just one more I’ll-get-to-that-later-ok-maybe-never item in your customers’ already overflowing mailbox.
How are you doing on your “Inbox Zero” goal?
When you publish on your blog, you sure hope someone drops by to read your carefully-crafted missive. Or that you’ve correctly remembered what Google’s ever-changing rules say you should do for the post’s title, body contents, and whether or not you’ve used too many internal links.
Remember when SEO was supposed to become easier?
OK, I’m laying the doom-and-gloom on rather thick, as I think all of those digital properties are important. But the fact remains that — at least right now in early 2018 — podcast listeners are the least distracted of all other potential audiences.
Here’s an illustration of that point. I’ve virtually zero “fake followers” on Twitter and have built up a follower base of over 5000 on my personal account. I Tweet fairly regularly, am connected with other people who also Tweet fairly regularly, and am known for generally helpful Tweets. I’m no angel, but my people dig me.
But when I send out a Tweet, I’m lucky to have that bit of text, image, or link reach more than 500 people. Out of 5000. That’s a 10% reach. And that’s not an analysis of people who click on my links, or retweet what I have to say, or even give my Tweet a little heart to show they like it. That’s just impressions. 10%. If I’m lucky.
Compare that to my personal podcast. It has a much smaller number of people (it’s a personal, after all) who listen regularly, clocking in at about 400. And 75% of my audience downloads/streams every single episode I publish on my podcast. The total download count is never under 300. That’s a reach of 75%. At a minimum.
But it’s not just the contrast between the reach of my podcast and my Twitter account that’s so striking. My Facebook Page gets even worse reach. My YouTube profile isn’t even worth talking about. Heck, even the emails I sent out on a regular basis only enjoy a 40% open rate. If I’m lucky.
But my podcast: 75% reach. Bare minimum. Yours will see a similar number too. Why? Because podcasting is a much, much smaller pond. Welcome to instant “big fish” status, just by having a podcast.
Going Podcast First
Armed with that rather obvious bit of math, it makes total sense to not only invest more in your podcast channel, but to take a Podcast First approach.
Podcast First means, among other things we’ll get to in a moment, turning the content creation model on its head. Rather than considering what content you have created that you can repurpose on your podcast’s episodes, you start considering what great content you can make exclusively for your podcast that will directly impact your business.
Let me put this in context for you a bit by showcasing two of the more common forms of podcasts you’ve likely been exposed to: Podcast Only and Podcast As Well.
A good number of podcasts are of this style, where the podcast stands alone from everything else. Podcasts produced in this style don’t have much of a digital presence outside of podcasting confines.
Some Podcast Only shows have no base website and are only available in Apple Podcasts/iTunes or some other podcast directory/application. If there’s one at all, the “website link” from that application is often broken, loops back to the listing in that application, or (worst of all) forwards to the show’s listing in a completely different podcasting app/directory.
Other Podcast Only shows have but token websites, often created automatically from the podcast’s media hosting company with minor customization options. Some Podcast Only shows utilize free or cheap blogging platforms to make a hastily constructed website should anyone come looking.
It’s not my intent to throw shade at Podcast Only podcasters. Heck, my last two personal podcasts have taken this approach.
But I don’t recommend it for podcasting professional service providers for reasons that will become clear. But first, the Podcast As Well approach.
Podcast As Well
This won’t win me any favors, but the vast majority of professional service providers who currently podcast fall into this camp. And, truth be told, it’s pretty common among my existing stable of clients.
And for good reason. As a professional service provider, you likely already have an established digital presence. Probably a content-rich and well-trafficked website where you demonstrate your professional prowess to existing and would-be clients.
If you’re already podcasting, you probably tacked on a quick “podcast” page where you list out your existing episodes and (hopefully) provide an easy way to listen with few common “subscribe” links. It’s possible you might even be mixing podcast episodes in with your existing company blog posts. It happens.
As with the example before, I’m not decrying those who take the Podcast As Well approach. It’s a fairly straightforward integration that doesn’t require you to uproot your entire digital footprint just to incorporate your podcast.
But there’s a better approach for professional service providers who podcast.
Why Podcast First Is Better
When you go Podcast First, you’re not just another lawyer who happens to have a podcast. You’re not one more therapist who talks into a microphone every week and uploads a file up for someone to hear. You’re not the next-in-line broker who really wishes to be a radio talk show host.
With a Podcast First approach, you become an attorney with a regularly produced audio program that demonstrates and showcases your expertise. You become a savvy businessperson who publishes compelling content for clients, as well as your fellow practitioners. And you embrace the fact that there’s no better way to build deep trust and lasting rapport with the public at-scale than by producing amazing podcast episodes that your audience can’t get enough of.
A Podcast First professional service provider knows they can’t reach that level just by tacking on an extra page to an existing website. That kind of business person understands how important it is to make clients, would-be customers, and even industry peers hungry for more once they experience the value you’re delivering with every episode of your podcast.
So what is Podcast First?
Going Podcast First means no longer treating social media updates about your latest episode like a shotgun blast.
Going Podcast First means doing more than adding a link to your latest episode in your weekly email newsletter.
Going Podcast First means not having your intern spam a bunch of communities and groups when you have a new episode.
Going Podcast First means you probably need to rethink your entire web presence. And I don’t mean selecting a new theme for your website, or changing your cover photo on your Facebook page.
Going Podcast First means a strategic look at the entire “listener journey”, if you will. And I mean more than just having a good Listener Experience (LX). I mean the entire journey, from initial discovery, to getting them to listen to more, to getting them to subscribe, and making them into a customer for life.
Only it’s not anywhere like the linear pattern in that last paragraph. I wish it were, but it’s impossible to predict what path someone might take. Instead, all you can do is examine as many possible entry points, exit points, and crux points your customers face.
Enhance the first. Understand second. And work hard to eliminate the last, ensuring you’re making it easy for listeners and would-be listeners to keep progressing along their journey.
And that’s a good metaphor to work with: Going Podcast First means you understand how the experience of listening to your podcast becomes an integral part of your customers’ journey.
Yeah, But… How, Exactly? And What About “Right Now”?
The “right now” part starts with you deciding that your podcast is — or soon will be — important enough to your firm, practice, or consultancy to start putting it first.
Everything after that is hard work, I’m afraid. Going Podcast First isn’t a quick fix, and the problem doesn’t lend itself to “5 Quick Ways To Put Your Podcast First” articles. Though I’m sure someone will soon write a blog post with just that heading.
Right now, you can decide to start the process. It’s going to require lots of sticky notes, a willing and open team of responsible parties, a solid facilitator, and probably a lot of pizza and beer.
Deciding to take a Podcast First approach requires an understanding of the risks and rewards, the costs and the revenues, and the pain versus the possibilities.
It requires a flexible vision, strategic thinking, and a willingness to allocate resources and budget on the process to make your firm Podcast First.
But when you consider the drastic difference in distractions, the continued growth in media coverage, the large pools of investment dollars, and the fact that 14 years in we’re still in the early days of podcasting… the professional service provider who finds a way to take the Podcast First approach will reap all of the rewards.
As with my previous piece, this article was designed to give you, the podcasting professional service provider, something to think about. Once again, it’s light on details and high on concept. Such is the nature of the beast. Eventually, we’ll get to the easy answers. Maybe.
If you liked this missive, I’d appreciate a few dozen claps. Look for the 👏 and just keep clicking it.
Firm Voice is a soon to be a collection of advice, lessons, articles, videos, and even audio podcast episodes designed exclusively for professional service providers who want to keep podcasting. It serves the dual purposes of keeping my clients informed and starting to build a community around an underserved segment of the podcasting world. If you want early access and a behind-the-scenes look, give me your email and I’ll keep you posted.
About Evo Terra: Evo’s an OG podcaster who provides strategic podcast consulting services to select clients. After traveling the world and living abroad for over three years, he’s headed back to his home country to take up his biggest challenge yet: being a grandfather. [gulp] 👴🏻