What is a business podcast strategy, and how do you make all of the many decisions about your show in a way that is going to give you the best chances of success?
This is a question we get asked a lot – but not nearly as much as we should be. A company podcast, or one that is created by a business to advance specific business goals is a little bit different than a podcast that is being run as a hobby, and also from those that are run as businesses in and of themselves. If you’re an entrepreneur, or a marketing manager, you need to know exactly what role a podcast is going to play in your overal strategy, and most importantly of all, how to determine whether or not it’s successful.
This means knowing what to track and how to track it.
Over several years of producing dozens podcasts for a wide variety of different kinds of businesses, we started to identify patterns in what made shows successful for the companies that were running them, and in 2021, developed the Business Podcast Blueprints: 4 high-level podcast archetypes that inform the different strategic decisions that need to be made about a new show. The blueprints are Thought Leadership, Audience Engagement, Relationship Building and Content.
Choosing a Blueprint starts with your highest level goal for your podcast – are you trying to establish thought leadership, engage an audience you already have, build the relationships you need in your business, or consistently generate lots of high quality content? Think of this as your podcasting Prime Directive – ultimately, if the show does THAT for you, things are going well.
If that’s feeling a little restrictive (I want it all!) remember that you’ll accrue all of those benefits over time, but having an overarching theme or goal for the podcast is going to make a much more cohesive show that it’s easier to measure the success of. You can optimize your show for specific benefits after you’ve chosen the high-level blueprint and structured your content, workflows and investment to maximize it, I promise. 😉
Would you like to listen to this content instead of reading it? Check out How To Choose Your Podcast Content on the Business Podcast Blueprint Show!
How The Blueprints Inform Your Podcast Strategy
Your Blueprint is going to dictate 6 things for you:
1. What Style and Format of show you should create
2. What style of show notes you should make
3. Whether or not you should have guests
4. Whether or not you should have ads or sponsors
5. What kind of promotions you should create for your episodes
6. Where you should invest most of your time and money
Now, let’s go through each of the blueprints and answer each of those questions. For each of the blueprints, we’re sharing the type of strategic choices you will want to make to get the most value out of your show. None of this is written completely in stone, but it is all best practice as we’ve been able to identify it.
Thought Leadership shows exist primarily to increase the influence, authority and reputation of the host and company that create them. These are shows where you are bringing IP to the table, engaging in high-level conversations with colleagues and generally setting the tone and topics for what your industry is talking about.
- Show Format: Solo Episodes or Conversational Style Interviews. If you want to establish thought leadership you need to BE a thought leader, and that means putting the ideas out there for the rest of your industry to respond to, reference and report on. You can do this by creating solo-episodes with your own content, or by having high-level conversations with fellow experts in your field.
- Show Notes: Action Steps and Key Ideas people can take and run with. Many people like to have timestamped bullets of important ideas or quotations, and this is also a god opportunity to provide a transcript, both for your listeners, and for later repurposing.
- Guests: Optional. You don’t need guests for a thought leadership style show, but if you have them, make sure the conversations you have with them ARE conversations, not you running down a list of questions, or exclusively making them look awesome. You’re sharing the spotlight in a thought leadership show, not shining it on your guest.
- Ads or Sponsors: None, promoting your own content or highly selective host-read ads for known companies. A thought leadership style podcast is no place for a pile of pre-produced ads. Be selective, promote your own content, and always do host-reads.
- Promotional Priority: For promoting a thought leadership show, focus on the ideas you’re sharing, the questions you’re answering and the conversations you’re going to have with other experts. Consider reaching out directly
- Investment: The highest quality recording equipment, space, and post-production as you can manage. There are a lot of shows out there, and people are selective about what they’ll listen to. Two shows can have the same basic kind of content and the one with better production value will win every time. This doesn’t matter for every type of podcast, but if you’re trying to be a thought leader the quality of your sound has to match the quality of your content. It’s also wise to invest heavily in content repurposing – you’re putting out IP – make sure it’s distributed on all of your channels and in all possible formats.
Relationship Building Shows exist to help the host connect with other people. These might be potential clients, or partners, or colleagues – anyone who could be an important part of your professional network.
- Show Format: Interviews. A relationship building show will be all about those interviews! You can’t network if you’re not talking to people! (Many shows, however, including this one! Alternate an interview episode with a different kind of episode to optimize for another advantage like audience engagement or content!)
- Show Notes: Show notes for this style of podcast should focus on the guest great things they said, their links and key moments. Since you’re working on nurturing relationships, consider the show notes (and other assets!) a chance to do exactly that and roll out the red carpet in terms of what you provide. Guests: Yes, at a bare minimum of half the time.
- Ads or Sponsors: Avoid ads and sponsorships for this kind of show, you don’t want anything that detracts from the relationship you are building with your guest. The only possible exception might be promoting your own products or services, or or possibly those of your guests!
- Promotional Priority: Focus on the guest: who you’re speaking to, why they’re an expert, what else they’re working on, the insights they shared.
- Investment: Spend the majority of your budget and bandwidth on showing your guest a good time before, during and after the show. Run paid promotions to their episode, send a thank you gift, invest in great booking software, and spend the time following up!
Audience Engagement Shows exist to let you connect with, nurture and engage and audience you already have. They might be an email list, on social, members of a community or just general fans – but wherever they are, you want to be providing them content and attention in a scalable way.
- Show Format: This can vary a lot more! For an Audience Engagement Show you can do Q and A style episodes where you answer questions your audience has, you can teach content in solo episodes, you can have information style interviews where you talk to someone who has knowledge you don’t to convey to your audience, you can do live coaching of your audience – you can get really creative! The key is to be very responsive to what your audience wants, needs and is interested in.
- Show Notes: Focus on actionable information for your show notes. Key takeaways, tips, steps instructions, and of course, opportunities for your audience to respond and share their own ideas and experiences.
- Guests: Totally optional – guests can be a great addition to an audience engagement style show, but they’re not required.
Ads or Sponsors: You can include any type of ad or sponsorship that you like in this kind of show – just make sure you don’t have so many your listeners get irritated!
- Promotional Priority: Engaging with your audience. Be present on social media, ask questions and respond to the answers. Try to start conversations. If you have guests, invite them to do the same – maybe even schedule a live event or Q and A time to follow up the episode on social media! Likewise, if there are any companies related to your industry, trying to get them involved by participating in conversation (or even episodes!) can be a good move as well.
- Investment: Invest in spending time or money in reaching your audience in the different places they are on line. This might mean expanding your social media or email marketing efforts, buying traffic to episodes, and advertising on podcasts or platforms you know they frequent.
Content Shows may or may not be a standalone Blueprint for your business. No matter what kind of podcast you make, content will be a necessary side effect. There are shows that exist primarily for content that can then be distributed and repurposed, however, and that is a completely legitimate use of one!
- Show Format: Absolutely anything goes. Follow your creative heart to the ends of the earth. 😉 One idea to consider is outlining a course or book you want to create, breaking it into episode-sized chunks and recording it over the course of a year. That can be a great way to tackle huge content projects and build your repurposing right into the process.
- Show Notes: As detailed and expansive as you can manage – since your main goal is content, make sure your notes are standalone pieces that can be referenced, reused and shared easily.
- Guests: Go for it! You can take a content platform and get extra value out of it by also networking, shining a light on clients and case studies, or expanding the areas you can speak about by bringing in other experts. Ads or Sponsors: Absolutely any kind you like. Or none if you prefer!
- Promotional Priority: For promoting a content show, reach out to any person, service, software, author, program course or anything that you mention. You may or may not have guests or an audience to help you promote, so think about who you talk about and give them the chance to help you out. You can also think “who out there creating content and active on social media might be interested in this content?” Send them a direct message or email sharing the episode with them.
- Investment: Your main investment here is going to be in formatting, presenting and then repurposing your podcast. That might mean transcripts that get organized into a book or course, that might mean episodes that get sliced and diced into a world of social media posts – the sky is the limit, but it will be the best use of your resources. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in recording and post-production quality so your content stays more evergreen.
When thinking about the benefits of Content shows, remember you can apply them to any of the other blueprints! You’ll always have content, and you can prioritize using it as much as makes sense for your business. Unless content is your main goal, however, your strategic decisions should always be based on either being a Thought Leadership, Audience Engagement or Relationship Building show.
Here is a quick reference chart you can use if you ever need a reminder!