- These five small-business owners are using brand podcasts as a cost-effective marketing strategy.
- Brand podcasts can bring in new customers and nurture relationships with existing partners.
- They give technical advice on cost, production, and careful considerations for your launch strategy before starting a brand podcast.
- This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.
A podcast can be an effective and relatively affordable way for small businesses to get their brand in front of new audiences, build credibility, and support other marketing efforts.
“If you have a decent-quality computer and microphones that are midrange in price, you are good to go,” Stella Guan, the founder of an online design school called Path Unbound, told Insider of how affordable it was to get her brand podcast going. Jordan Schanda King, the founder of Easy Scaling, spent about $400 on equipment, plus $33 a month on recording and hosting software, to start her podcast.
While it can be a relatively low-cost endeavor, starting a podcast can require a hefty time investment — after all, podcasting can be a full-time job, in and of itself. Insider spoke with five small-business owners to learn how they ran successful brand podcasts while prioritizing their actual businesses.
Choose a topic and format based on your goals
Much like other marketing channels, a successful podcast strategy should start with a firm understanding of your business goals.
For instance, if the goal is to get your brand in front of new audiences, interviewing leaders in your field can be a strong format. Guests are likely to share the podcast on their own channels, which, in turn, can help expand your brand reach.
You could also bring prospective customers or partners on as guests to develop deeper relationships with your audience. “We like having a good balance of highlighting current partners and prospecting people who have never done business with us to, just give them a great experience,” Mike Spangenberg, a cofounder of the apparel brand State Forty Eight, said. “It allows us to build relationships that hopefully will lead to doing business together.”
If the goal is to nurture existing customers or build credibility in your industry, consider mixing in solo episodes in which one person can share some of their expertise. For instance, Tania Bhattacharyya, the founder of Lumos Marketing, supplements her interview episodes with solo episodes on topics she regularly discusses with clients or on discovery calls. “It creates this library of content where, instead of having to spend 30 minutes with someone who wants to pick my brain, I can send them a podcast episode.”
Consider what you can do consistently
“Nobody really notices if you post twice a week on Instagram versus four times a week,” Schanda King told Insider. “But with podcasting, you’re setting an expectation. You’re putting your schedule of episodes out publicly, and people notice more if there’s inconsistency.”
She suggested that small-business owners consider choosing a podcast format that they can realistically produce on a regular schedule.
For instance, Schanda King started her podcast focusing solely on long-form interviews but quickly found that such a time-intensive format was unsustainable for her to do on a weekly basis. She decided to mix in shorter solo episodes, which allowed her to produce several in one recording. The entrepreneur found that prerecording several short episodes at once streamlined the production process and gave her a backlog of content to release when her schedule got too busy to commit to the long-form episodes.
Releasing episodes less frequently is another way to reduce the time commitment. Bhattacharyya told Insider that she’d found a biweekly cadence to be the ideal publishing schedule for her podcast. “Releasing the expectation to come up with a new episode each week gave me more confidence in my ability to stay consistent over time and avoid ‘podfade,'” she said, adding that now she’s been podcasting for a while, she repromotes old episodes on the off weeks to keep the feeling of momentum.
Recording is only one part of the process, and the postproduction aspects can require more technical expertise.
“I highly recommend hiring somebody to support you on the podcast management itself,” Bhattacharyya said. After recording her podcast, she sends the raw audio files to an editor who also writes search-engine-optimized show notes, creates promotional graphics, and uploads the episode to various channels. This costs her about $600 a month for two episodes.
There are plenty of tools to make it easier for beginners. Olivia Dreizen Howell, a cofounder of Fresh Starts Registry and the brand podcast “A Fresh Story,” swears by the free Spotify for Podcasters editing tools. “I had zero background in audio editing, and now it’s a huge passion of mine,” she said, adding that she spent about three hours a week editing a one-hour episode.
Schanda King recommends that small-business owners ensure everything they’re creating adds value. For instance, she used to spend a lot of time writing highly detailed show notes — only to later poll her audience and find out nobody was reading them. She has since scaled back the show notes to a short description to go with each episode. At the start of her podcast journey, she also used to create a lot of graphics to share with guests that they never used. Now her team creates just one graphic for each episode. “People have to be careful not to get in over their head in terms of the things that they’re committing to on the back end,” Schanda King said.
Leverage your network for launch
It’s easy to lose momentum if you launch a brand podcast and don’t quickly see some traction. Schanda King, who was able to rank in the top 100 podcasts for entrepreneurship on Apple Podcasts on the day she launched, said she had a three-step strategy she now used with her consulting clients to help their podcasts see results quickly.
First, she recommended assembling a “launch team” of friends, family, clients, and superfans willing to subscribe to the podcast; download and listen to the trailer and launch episodes; and then share, rate, and review the podcast on its launch day. She had 50 people on her launch team.
Next, she suggested releasing at least five episodes on launch day, ideally all interviews if you’re planning on including that format. This way, the guests will all share the episodes on launch day, driving even more traffic to your new podcast.
Finally, she said running a giveaway in the first few days after launch can be a powerful way to incentivize your audience to listen and leave a review. “Lots of traffic and ratings in the first 72 hours drastically increases your chances of ranking in your category,” she said.