• March 1, 2024
  • By Linda Pophal, business journalist and content marketer

6 Steps for Turning Podcasts into Effective Outreach

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Podcasting for business purposes has grown in popularity over the past several years, with all kinds of content being offered to both B2B and B2C audiences. Many are free. Some aren’t. But most monetize their programming in various ways. That represents a huge opportunity for marketers.

“Podcasts create a virtuous cycle of opportunities for businesses,” says Robert Brill, CEO of Brill Media, a media buying agency based in Los Angeles. They can be used as a way to meet ideal clients, he says. “Podcasts allow business leaders to forge meaningful relationships while also starting with a give rather than an ask. Eventually, the rule of reciprocity will kick in and your clients will feel more compelled to give back to you.”

Businesses of all types and sizes, from behemoths like Coca-Cola to a wide range of sole proprietorships, have found podcasts to be extremely effective as a marketing tool. The share of Americans who listen to podcasts has substantially increased over the last decade, Pew Research reports. In 2013, just 12 percent of Americans had listened to a podcast in the past month. Today, it’s 42 percent.

“The beauty of podcasts is their versatility,” says Steve Pogson, an e-commerce growth specialist and founder of First Pier, an agency in Portland, Maine. “They can be used to discuss industry trends, interview experts, provide advice, and even share customer testimonials.”

At Anthem Software in Orlando, Fla., podcasting has become “an intrinsic part of our marketing strategy,” says Joe Amaral, its founder and chief operating officer. “We see it as a platform not merely for promoting our products but as an avenue to have meaningful conversations around digital marketing, customer relationship management, and more.”

The benefits of podcasts are multi-fold, Pogson says. “They can help establish brand authority, broaden your audience reach, and create a more personal connection with your audience.”

Podcasts feel more personal than written content, he adds, “allowing businesses to build a deeper relationship with listeners.”

Magee Clegg, founder and CEO of Cleartail Marketing in Chicago, notes that his company started a biweekly podcast covering topics around efficient email strategies, case studies, and learned experiences, with some very positive results. “After bringing guest speakers from various companies onto our podcasts, we witnessed a measurable uptick in our website traffic and inquiries about our email-serving products. Not only did the podcasts position us as thought leaders, but they also facilitated an indirect promotion of our products,” he says.

Podcasters can also generate revenue based on their efforts, Brill notes. “If done correctly, search engine optimization will make the podcast the de facto voice on that topic, leading to clients easily finding the business,” he says.

Podcasts are proliferating these days, and because they are, joining this crowded field means standing out and offering value that will help you gain and maintain an audience.


Successful podcasts, Pogson says, provide “value-added content to the target audience.” It’s all about “creating authentic and engaging content that resonates with the listeners, subtly promoting the products or services within the context of that content.”

Pogson points to Grammarly, a writing assistance app provider, as a good example of this. Grammarly, he says, “uses its blog to provide comprehensive writing advice, which not only helps its users but also effectively promote its tool.”

Podcasting has been used effectively enough at some companies that a few best practices have emerged, according to experts. Chief among them is understanding those who will be seeking out and ultimately viewing the content. This can be done by carefully going through the following six steps:

  1. Identifying Your Target Audience

A solid understanding of your audience, Pogson says, will “guide the selection of your podcast’s content, tone, and style.” Once you have a clear understanding of your audience’s interests, pain points, and preferences, he says, it’s time to “choose a theme or topic that is relevant and interesting to your audience.”

  1. Determining Content

The content of your podcast is obviously a deal maker or breaker. So be clear on what you will and won’t cover, recommends Penny Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts in San Diego. Being clear on your focus, she says, will “help you create a more solid footing. If you’re all over the place with your content, you won’t build a following as quickly.

“I run a book marketing and publicity firm. The podcast I do speaks to that and nothing else. I don’t cover book editing [or] finding an agent. [There’s] none of that.”

Understanding the target audience is also key to developing content that might interest and engage prospects, leading to relationships that can boost your business.

That’s what Heidi Moore, owner and host of “The Wine Crush Podcast,” did to help her build relationships for her day job—insurance. “The podcast is not about insurance but about the wine industry,” she says. “It’s been a great way to get the door open and the relationships developed. Business has often come after the fact.”

Friends first, business later, she advises further. “People like to work with people they know, like, and trust. This has been a huge game changer for my business.”

“A successful podcast is all about delivering value,” Amaral adds. “It should offer your listeners something tangible, be it knowledge, insights, or skills they can apply.”

Keep in mind, though, that while podcasts can be a great marketing tool, they should not be used as informercials, warns Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry Podcasting and the author of Podcasting: The Do-It-Yourself Guide.

“The most effective business podcasts tell stories about their services in an engaging and positive way and use that information to educate and inform listeners about the product or service,” he says. “Unlike ad copy that requires a call to action, the entire podcast can be a call to action with listeners being able to seek more information from the information provided.”

  1. Selecting the “Right” Equipment

Then, once you’ve gained clarity around your audience and the type of content you want to deliver, it’s time to think about equipment and how to develop, post, and share content with the target audience, experts agree.

When it comes to equipment, opinions vary for how much to invest. Some experts say it’s OK to keep costs to a minimum, while others stress the importance of a high-quality experience.

Equipment “can be as simple as a good-quality microphone, headphones, and audio editing software,” Pogson says.

Amaral agrees that expensive equipment is not necessary. “A good-quality microphone and noise-canceling headset are sufficient to start,” he says.

Still, others, like Brill, feel that good equipment is a must-have to ensure quality and a positive listener experience. “Trust me, it’s more expensive to go cheap than to go expensive the first time around,” he says.

In either case, though, making the right investment is important and should reflect an alignment between the brand and the experience viewers will ultimately have.

  1. Choosing Talent: You and Your Guests

While many company executives might choose to be the voice of their podcasts, such events are more interesting and entertaining when they offer a multitude of perspectives. Introducing additional voices, Pogson says, “will not only lend credibility to your podcast but also help attract [these guests’] follower bases to your podcast.”

Finding guests can be challenging, Amaral acknowledges, but “it’s best to look within your existing network for potential speakers who can add value to your content.”

“Interesting topics often draw industry experts to display their knowledge,” Clegg says.

Moore adds that she has had luck finding guests by monitoring Instagram to see who is doing “cool new things” or “different unique things” in the field or with her company’s specific products and then reaching out to them.

Podcast speakers should have detailed knowledge of the company’s entire product line while also being engaging and likable, Cochrane says. “Boring and dry personalities are a no-no.” When selecting guests, he recommends asking for multiple references and, if using a production company, listening to their work before making a selection.

  1. Being Consistent

It’s also critically important to ensure consistency, experts maintain, urging new podcasters to remember that it can take time to build a following. It’s important, therefore, to commit to podcasting for the long haul.

But it’s a good idea to do so gradually, as Sansevieri cautions would-be podcasters about overcommitting. “When starting up a podcast, it’s easy to say, ‘I’ll do it weekly!’ But do you really have time for that?” When she started her podcast, she didn’t move to a weekly schedule until she had gotten into a routine with the show.

“Consistency is key in podcasts, so create a publishing schedule and stick to it,” Pogson recommends.

Amaral agrees. “It’s not an overnight success, but a consistent effort over time can lead to fruitful results.”

Sansevieri’s experience is a testament to this. Sansevieri, who has been doing podcasts for four years, says her efforts really didn’t start to generate business for her firm until in its third year. She attributes that to a crowded field. Because of that, she says, “it can take a while to get noticed.”

Depending on the industry and topic, that timeline might be shorter, but she says, “You really have to be willing to stick with it in order to see a real benefit.”

To help hit the ground running and ensure enough content to engage audiences, Sansevieri recommends plotting out a dozen or so shows in advance. The shows don’t need to be fully scripted, “but outlining topics will help to set a solid pathway as you launch into podcasting.”

There is, she points out, a high abandonment rate for podcasts because podcasters tend to run out of ideas. It’s a common issue, she notes.

Yet Sansevieri recommends not being afraid of repeating topics. “We’ve probably done a couple of shows on publishing scams because the content gets updated, and I think we have three shows on media pitching, because authors really want to know this.”

And then, using a distribution service can help determine which topics are most popular and which ones might be worth repeating, she says.

  1. Knowing When to Let Go

Brill is also something of a podcast veteran, having done them for nearly two years. He grew a significant audience but stopped doing them because his ideal customer profile shifted. He’s now approaching podcasting from a different perspective: “I’m not going on a podcast guest tour,” he says.

All in all, Brill shares, “we earned about $55,000 in revenue directly from the podcast. It was good, but considering the time and resources, we opted to focus on other marketing measures.” Still, he adds, “as a PR tool, an SEO-building strategy, and a way to expand my network, I think podcasting is dramatically important and very undervalued.”

As Brill’s experience suggests, being a guest on other podcasts can be a less labor-intensive way to gain an audience and build business.

Angie Trueblood, owner of the Podwize Group, recommends that business owners appear as guests on others’ podcasts when trying to expand their reach and get in front of new audiences. Doing this, she says, involves identifying podcasts with listeners similar to your ideal clients or buyers and working with hosts whose businesses are complementary, not identical, to your own.

In addition to using this strategy with her clients, Trueblood has used it herself and has appeared as a guest on more than 50 podcasts. “While we typically generate client leads when the interviews go live, I also have developed deep relationships with many of the hosts, who now refer their clients and colleagues to us and vice versa,” she says.

Both strategies—hosting your own or guesting on others’ podcasts—can be effective, Trueblood and others have found.

Whether you decide to launch your own or be a guest on others’ podcasts, it’s important to stay tuned in to trends and topics that might interest audiences. One way to do this, Sansevieri suggests, is to “listen and subscribe to other podcasts in your market and get a sense for what you like vs. what you might do differently.” 

Linda Pophal is a freelance business journalist and content marketer who writes for various business and trade publications. Pophal does content marketing for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and individuals on a wide range of subjects, from human resource management and employee relations to marketing, technology, healthcare industry trends, and more.

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