Suddenly everyone wants a podcast, and believe me, I'm not complaining. My reputation for creating quality shows makes me the go-to resource for helping companies start their own audio program. But when asked, "Should our company start a podcast?" I don't always immediately answer, "Yes!" Instead, I ask a few questions.
What Are Your Objectives?
Just like when everyone wanted a website and then everyone needed a Facebook page, people are creating meaningless shows that achieve no purpose. So job number one is figuring out what your end-game is.
Business podcasts can be used for lots of purposes. Some are purely for customer service, some are about prospecting through thought-leadership, and still others are just for fun. My own show, The BeanCast, was only started as a way to provide strong analysis of marketing trends to my consultancy clients. Now, seven years later, even though it does a lot more than that, it's still basically a service to my clients. Having a clear objective gives your show focus and helps to build a loyal following.
How Do You Define Success?
Unreasonable expectations are the death knell of digital content. Just because Serial can launch a show and gets umpteen million downloads doesn't mean that you should want or expect that.
With clear objectives we can easily find our way to reasonable definitions for success. If your podcast is helping one prospect make a decision to trust you with their $100,000 contract, I would say that your audience of 10 was worthwhile. Podcasting is not always about mass reach, but it is always about highly targeted and engaged audiences.
Are You Ready To Commit?
Would people have watched the Daily Show if John Stewart had sporadically showed up and episodes were produced every few days whenever the producers felt like it? Of course not. Yet for some reason business podcasts are being launched and run the same way that most company blogs are run...whenever the already busy CEO finds the time to publish.
A show is a SHOW. And shows have release schedules and firm deadlines. It can be monthly or it can be daily, but when an audience member commits to listening, they expect a commitment back. That means you must commit to a regular release of content, you commit to the same host being on every show, you commit to turning out quality audio by investing in the right equipment, and you commit to making it entertaining as well as informative.
Now of course there is much more to starting a show than just these three questions. But if I get a satisfactory answer to all three, then I know that this client has a shot at creating a great program. That's when I say, "Yes, I'd love to help you get started."