If executed thoughtfully, podcasts can add real value to your brand.

These days, it seems like everyone has a podcast. Comedians, political analysts, and media personalities have all swarmed the medium, experimenting with a variety of formats and enjoying varying levels of success.

Podcasts have the potential to add real value for content marketers. But successful podcasts require more than a haphazard foray into a seemingly simple medium — they demand high-level production, consistent execution, and a nuanced understanding of the platform’s storytelling capabilities.

Here, we unpack five questions would-be podcasters should ask themselves before hitting the record button.

Why are you making it?

Don’t start a podcast just because it seems like everyone around you is starting a podcast. A successful podcast provides a service to your existing consumers, while effectively attracting new audience members who may not be familiar with your brand.

Who are you making it for?

The International Advertising Bureau recently released a study showing that almost two-thirds of adult podcast listeners in the U.S. claim to be more willing to consider products and services after they learn about them on podcasts. 65% of podcast listeners said podcast ads increase purchase intent, while another 45% said that they’re likely to visit an advertiser’s website after hearing an audio promo.

So ask yourself: does your podcast appeal to the average consumer who’s just stumbled across it on their iPhone’s podcast app? Or are you looking to specifically target industry insiders? You should be able to succinctly describe the audience you’re looking to attract, work to understand their listening habits, and design your podcast to meet those needs.

Respectfully make the most of your audience’s inclination to engage with your brand — you’re in their ear, after all!

Have you selected the right partner?

News flash: effective podcast production and distribution requires more than your Macbook’s built-in microphone. That’s not to say that amateurs can’t be successful, but if your podcast is representative of your entire company, make sure it’s executed professionally. “From the outside, podcasts look like they are really easy to create — [stick] a microphone in front of someone and have them talk — but in fact the really great ones have a strong point-of-view, are highly produced, highly edited,” said Matt Lieber, co-founder and president of Gimlet Media. Spend time researching the unique resources that each production company has to offer before selecting your partner.

What’s the format?

It’s important to explore a variety of formats your podcast might take before hitting the airwaves, and to determine which is best suited to the show you’re looking to put on. Whether that’s a narrative storytelling experience or an in-conversation between a group of rotating guests, make sure your subject matter and format make sense for your brand’s content. Some podcasts break each episode into segments, while others follow one narrative arc for a full 15-, 30-, or 45-minute episode.

While you’re at it, plan your content. How often are you looking to publish podcasts? Weekly? Monthly? Once you’ve got listeners tuning in, you’d better be ready to deliver consistently. Map out each episode and the segments within them, keeping in mind the timing and flow.

Why are people listening?

Last but certainly not least: your brand’s podcast should add real value to your listener’s day. If you record a 30-minute commercial for your product or service, people won’t bother to download the second episode. Find creative ways to unpack your subject matter that are line with what your brand stands for.

Finally, hook your audience early. Podcast listeners aren’t all that different from website visitors — convince them your podcast is worth their time the minute they start listening, and you may have the makings of a loyal costumer on your hands.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer B2C content marketing services to help your business reach the audiences that matter with smart, useful content that delivers the right message at the right time. Learn more about B2C content marketing here.

Author Grace Stearns

A graduate of Pepperdine University, Grace has worked in PR and brand communications at publishing giants like Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, and Simon & Schuster. She writes about content marketing, social media, and technology for L&T's blog. A reluctant West Coast transplant, Grace lives in Brooklyn and spends a majority of her free time curled up with a good book.

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