Podcasting is soaring in popularity and brands should take notice. In my previous article, I outlined reasons why brands benefit from podcasting and discussed a few of the necessary tools required to get started. In this piece, I will cover podcast funding and planning strategies and tactics.
How to finance a podcast
Corporate marketers should be able to pull from existing budget to cover startup hard costs ranging from $150-$1,500 relatively easily. That number may not be as trivial for an individual looking to build a personal brand. There are a few options, depending on objectives, audience, competition, format and talent. Most individuals fund out of savings, but there are alternatives. Whether you’re an individual or employee within a corporation, advertising and sponsorship revenue can cover costs, if not create a livable wage.
It can be challenging to sell sponsors or advertisers on a show that doesn’t exist or yet have a following, so I recommend investing in the startup costs and hosting half a dozen foundational shows before reaching out for investment. Sponsorships are typically customized and based on personal relationships, so they’re easier to secure earlier in the development of a show. Advertising is typically managed or hosted by a network, which means you will need to have listener data (sometimes 10,000 listeners minimum) to get picked up by a network. Give yourself a season (6 to 24 shows, depending on frequency) to build a foundation for meaningful advertising and sponsorship revenue opportunities.
Alternatives to hosting a podcast
If researching, producing and hosting a regular podcast sounds daunting, consider alternatives. For starters, consider forming a strategic partnership with another entity (like I did for DadsUnplugged) to share the responsibility and play off each other’s strengths. If you have the industry knowledge but lack podcast prowess, consider a partner that knows podcasting better than your industry, but would benefit from the exposure and your credibility.
Another viable and common alternative to hosting a podcast, is to sponsor a podcast. Invest the money into visibility and save your time for other higher-value activities. If you don’t find an existing podcast that is an ideal fit for your brand, consider pitching one to existing podcasters, industry influencers or media companies looking to expand their reach and leverage their infrastructure. You can also pitch yourself as a guest on existing podcasts (public relations) or buy your way in via advertising networks. Currently, a 15-second Pre-Roll commands $18-35 per 1,000 cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs), aka “listens,” and a 60-second Mid-Roll commands $25-50 per 1,000 CPMs.
Creating a podcasting brand
As with any good marketing, a podcast should follow branding best practices. The podcast creative and voice should be authentic and consistent with your brand to maximize trust. Your podcast content and format should be unique and therefore memorable. Show descriptions should be intuitive, but also keyword-loaded for maximum visibility. Consistency is also important to maximize credibility. Commit to a season at a time, not one show at a time. Lastly, design is important. Create a compelling show logo and episode thumbnail design format that results in consistent show titles, yet each is unique and relevant to the topic. Thumbnail images or logo should be 14000x1400 pixels for iTunes and other podcatchers.
Selecting talent to host your podcast
For maximum reach out-of-the-gate, it is always desirable to have a podcast show host that is high-profile within your industry. Short of that, it’s good to hire professional voice talent that has a soothing yet modulating tone. Most commonly, however, show hosts are most passionate or knowledgeable about a given topic and thus work for free or low-cost as a hobby. This can still be true in a company, particularly with experienced or enthusiastic staff. While previous experience is helpful, it is not required, if practice is substituted. To balance “on-air” experience with industry knowledge, consider co-hosts. For DadsUnplugged, I was the ‘foil’ to my co-host, who drove a Prius, meditated and tried every modern parenting tactic available. I once put soap in my son’s mouth after he swore. Our personalities balanced each other well.
Planning podcast show content
Content is king of the podcasting world. Based upon your overall objective, host talent and resources, you’ll need to finalize show frequency, duration and format. The most common podcast format is weekly, but some shows are daily while others are monthly. The most common duration ranges from 10-22 minutes, but daily podcasts may run 1-5 minutes while monthly shows may run 60-90 minutes. In terms of format, consider segmenting, especially if longer than 10 minutes. Standard late-night TV talk show format can be a guide: introduction/monologue, feature segment, guest interview. Pick what works best for you, however. That may include guests, panels or a live studio audience. When in doubt, test! Try out a few different formats in the first season and refine based on fit and feedback.
With a podcast show in the works, you can begin your brand’s journey down the path of audio branding. In part three, our final article in the series, we will cover essential marketing strategies to maximize reach, engagement and ROI from your podcasting efforts.
Kent Lewis is the president and founder of Anvil Media.