My advice for businesses looking to start a podcast

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Kick-starting a podcast series that helps to sell your business proposition can be difficult. Success is found in storytelling, consistency and expert help.

by Shaun Weston

My advice for businesses looking to start a podcast

To achieve long-term success in podcasting, as with many forms of content, there are fundamentals to consider. Let’s look at three main discussion points, which are perfecting the basics, being consistent, and finding guidance to take you to the next level.

Why do people listen to podcasts in the first place? A Statista study in 2019 found that nearly three out of four podcast consumers (at least in the US) want to learn something new. Ongoing research into the science of learning has revealed many interesting things, including how much emotion influences our ability to learn, and how mistakes are essential as part of the learning experience. My own belief is that people not only gravitate towards podcasts for convenience and knowledge, they also do it to hear stories.

Storytelling is an art. It’s also one of the core principles of good content, where you take your audience on journeys that correlate with your business ambitions, or whatever objective you want to achieve. It’s one of the most important basics I can think of when it comes to formulating a content strategy. One of the first things I ask a client is “What do you want to achieve?” This leads to a path of discovery in which my client questions the motives behind what it thinks it wants to achieve, and what the underlying story is that wants to come to light. Customers love stories. They want to feel that you speak the same language, have the same goals, come from the same place. A good podcast will help with all these things.

So before you begin to think about your equipment setup, the guests you want to invite and the music you want to use, perfect the basics first. Of all basic tenets, know yourself so you can know your story.

Be a consistent storyteller

After some businesslike soul-searching into what your business really is and what it represents to your audience, double-down on your story. Really get to know it. This is harder than you think because it’s about constant reinforcement of your business purpose and the communication of this story across all departments; each and every person who works for you. After all, if you can’t convince employees about why your product or service exists, how will you fare in front of your audience and potential new clients?

Master the basics and then be consistent with your story. All roads must lead back to your story and the reason your business exists in the first place. People get this. It’s instinctual, biological and very human. Joshua VanDeBrake wrote in 2018 that “when listening to a well-told story, the exact same areas of the brain light up on an MRI in both the storyteller and listener. Your brain, as the listener, mirrors the brain of the storyteller. In other words, when you hear a well-told story, your brain reacts as if you are experiencing it yourself.”

So be consistent about your story, which will inform how you approach your podcast. You may find that your head fills with ideas so quickly, it’s difficult to process beyond the excitement of getting started! Take a breath, sit down and write down what you think the podcast should do in terms of helping you share your business story. Take the time to flesh out the details so that each composite part of the narrative is broken into pieces that can be easily digested over time. Our brains don’t want to be overwhelmed with information, so deliver each “chapter” of the narrative to make the story simple to digest, and stay consistent throughout. No curve balls. No shifting goalposts.

Pass on the happy burden to someone else

Finally, don’t be afraid to get help. Shouldering the demands of delivering a solid podcast series alone is tough, and I’ve interviewed many clever people about how tough it is! Creativity is regularly underestimated. Business leaders like yourself, adept at managing people in crises, poring over financial results and steering a ship through a sea of competitors, can suddenly find yourself in strange waters when it comes to creative content. I’ve seen many leaders give up on great ideas because they don’t know how to wrap their heads around them.

The premature death or casual abandonment of great ideas is one of the saddest and most frequent observations of my professional life. I see it too often. My advice to great business leaders out there who feel tempted to give up on a great podcast idea (or any content idea) is to pass it on. You can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t. Defer the expertise it takes to bring your story to life to someone else. Let them manage the “happy burden” of content creation so that you can go back to managing other things.

“The premature death or casual abandonment of great ideas is one of the saddest and most frequent observations of my professional life.”

Letting go of your story so that others can run with it shows strength. It will result in having a podcast series that others may have built for you, but that belongs to you, your employees and your business. The story belongs to everyone who understands what the journey is. Sometimes, to share that journey with the outside world, you need a professional storyteller.

Giving birth to a successful, long-term podcast series that reflects your business objectives and your underlying purpose for existing is no easy ride. Yet, if you’ve mastered the basics of what you want to achieve, have planned it meticulously to ensure a consistent message, and you’ve sought guidance and a pair of extra hands to help bring it to life, you’ll be on the road to a successful creative campaign that has the legs to run and run.

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