Joe Rogan’s $100 million contract has made everyone think about starting a podcast. All you do is sit in front of a microphone and have a conversation, right?
In fact, 50% of all podcasts fail.
Here are four actions to take before you release your first interview to make sure your podcast is a success. Listen, List, Love, then Launch.
Listen to podcasts in your vertical market
Goal= Gap Analysis
It is easier to develop a specialization in one topic than to start as a generalist. Podcaster Ralph Burns has a great quip on narrowing your focus at the start. He tells listeners they have to “niche down then scale up.” You can listen to Ralph on his podcast “Perpetual Traffic.”
Subscribe to podcasts in your selected narrow topic. There should be a few podcasts in your area you can find easily. Remember podcasts are put together by busy people. They can omit concerns that listeners have. This means that podcasts in your specialty will have gaps in coverage.
Listen and make a list of topics that are not covered.
A concrete example
For example, let’s say there is a podcast for civil engineers that has a focus on concrete forms made in factories, called “precast concrete.” Just for fun, we can call it The Precast Podcast.
The Precast Podcast may cover all the major aspects of precast concrete manufacturing. They may delve into topics like selection of fine and coarse aggregate, and even water temperature variations. Inevitably they will not talk about something like water reducing and set controlling admixtures for non-plastic concrete.
That is one gap you can include in your podcast. It is extremely targeted and focused to bring insight to a specific audience—civil engineers. Just for the record, there are an estimated 300,000 civil engineers in the United States alone. So, it is not that narrow a market.
History is a thing of the past
Another approach is to take a fresh perspective on an established topic. You can give an original approach or divide it into new categories
For example, hundreds of books have been written on the topic of Western Civilization. Michael Gibson has reduced a thousand years of Roman history into 179 episodes for the History of Rome podcast. It is a description of Rome made into bite-sized chunks. The podcast led to another blockbuster called “Revolutions” and a book about Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette.
If you are a part of a given community, you are probably listening to several podcasts already. Listen to at least five competitive podcasts for six months to see what topics are popular and where the gaps are in coverage of your specialty. Hold onto this list, we will be using it as a topic list when you interview your guests.
Monitor social media for status updates on podcasts that are popular with your target audience
Follow your competition and see how they use social media. It is quite easy to see which social media posts get many likes and retweets.
Today’s marketing gurus use the phrase “swipe file.” It is a folder that contains ideas you save that you find provocative or attractive. Let us say you are on LinkedIn and see an update that catches your eye. Take a screenshot and save it to Google Drive or Dropbox. You can use these as a model or idea generator for social media updates for your podcast.
Pay special attention to hashtags. You can create a spreadsheet with hashtags used by your competitors. Several tools are available to help you select hashtags for Twitter. They include RiteTag and SproutSocial.
Once you get your first three interviews recorded, you can create twelve tweets for each interview. A campaign for each podcast can include images, topics, and hashtags that can all be assembled before the first podcast is released.
After sending out 12,000 Tweets promoting podcasts, my sweet spot is twelve Tweets over ten days and one LinkedIn status update on the day of release. Status updates can be scheduled manually, or you can use a service like Hootsuite or Meet Edgar.
Goal=list of 100 influencers
While you are searching for social media, make a list of leaders in your industry. Start with the top ten most popular people in your field. Find their Twitter account and list the top ten people who follow them who have the most followers. That is a 10 x 10 approach that should yield one hundred influencers – the start of your influencer list.
YouTube is another wonderful place to find leaders in your field. They are talkers because they are vocalizing on YouTube. You can search for popular videos in your area – you can use free tools like “Tube Buddy” to see downloads and hashtags for the channel.
Next, and most importantly, read posts of influencers and engage with them on social media. Even better, attend a live event and introduce yourself to the speaker after the presentation.
Goal=guest list of 50 potential guests
Now you are listening to your target audience and have developed a promising idea of the popular topics and influencers in your world. Many thought leaders like to speak, some avoid a microphone like a plague. Three great ways to find talkers are conferences and book releases
Conferences are not dead
You can visit the site of a conference in your respective area and make a list of speakers – these people are influencers in your world.
If a conference organizer picked these people, it is because the audience is interested in what they have to say. If they like to talk on stage, they will love to prognosticate and pontificate on your podcast.
For example, a conference called Satellite 2021 kicked off with a panel discussion with four speakers. These leaders are selected because, well, they like to talk.
Why not grab a conference speaker as a guest on your podcast? The guests on the Satellite 2021 kickoff panel were Brian Barrote from Facebook; Steve Collar from SES; Gwynne Shotwell from SpaceX, and Kevin Stein from ST Engineering. If you had a podcast on space and satellites, this would be a fantastic grouping of guests.
Book releases are gold mines for obtaining guests
In your search, be especially careful to include people who are about to release a book. They are more amenable to appearing because podcasting is an effective way to sell books.
For example, let us look at John Jantz. He has authored many books and has leveraged podcast appearances to sell his books. He must have taken this to heart because he constantly interviews authors on his podcast, the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.
Your “Dream Team” is the fifty people you would like to have as a guest. Do not be afraid to stretch. You will be surprised who will want to be on your podcast. I have invited people as diverse as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates to be on my show.
Goal=have listeners know you before you launch the podcast
You must show your audience some love.
By now, you should have topics, plenty of social media promotion examples, a solid list of influencers, and your dream team of who you would like to interview. Once that is complete, it is time to transition to the drip, drip, drip of continuous contact.
During this phase, get the email for everyone on your list. Sign up for a free service like MailChimp or Constant Contact to get your feet wet. You can easily segment the list into influencers, potential guests, and listeners. You have already done the challenging work and know the topics that resonate with this audience. Send out information in your area that this group would enjoy. Always bring value and topics of interest to your audience.
How many email addresses do you need? A good list size is 250 names; better is 1,000 names; gold is 5,000 names in an email list before launch. Like everything else, it is better to have a list with 250 people engaged than 5,000 who could care less.
Some would say this is priming the pump.
Goal=generate excitement for your podcast
You have been staying connected with your mail list regularly. This is done weekly six months before launch. You have three building blocks to get familiar with: the marketing calendar, hashtags, and images.
Assemble everything and put together a calendar. Plan out your Tweets, LinkedIn status updates, and email for the first six months after launch. Do not forget to block out time each week to try to be a guest on other podcasts.
Use your list of popular hashtags. Please remember they vary on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Make an image bin and use graphics that can help promote your podcast. Face-to-face interviews are great for this. Photograph the person giving the interview.
One creative approach is to make a list of images you need and think about them while you are going to the gym, jogging, or on vacation. Take photos that relate to the topic.
Build anticipation – get people excited about the release of your podcast.
Joe Rogan was building an audience for twenty years as a standup comedian before he launched his podcast. Then, it took ten years of demanding work to lead to the Spotify contract. He was not an overnight success, and you will not be either.
Stay connected with your following by providing helpful information before the launch. Use that list to announce the next interview.
Record at least three shows before release. Ask the audience for feedback on topics and guests during the show. You can get the pulse of what is popular.
During each show, you can tease the next guest. You can say something like, “Today we gave a good introduction to water reducing, set controlling admixtures for concrete – next week we will interview Sally Smith from Miami, Florida to hear what she has to say about temperature variation in concrete block manufacturing.”
Be creative, be aggressive, and be thorough.
Good luck. The next time you see a microphone, go forth and podcast.
Thinking about launching a podcast? Before you jump in . . . why not spend 30 minutes with John Gilroy to learn about how much time it takes and how many downloads to expect? Click here to set up a telephone call.