Plenty of business owners plan to use podcasting as part of their growth strategies, but only a fraction of them do it effectively.

The key piece I see a lot of people get wrong is figuring out where a podcast should fit in.

Having helped dozens of business owners start and produce their own podcasts through our Podcast Launch Services, I’ve seen firsthand where podcasting works best within a growth strategy, as well as where it isn’t as impactful.

So in this article, I’m going to explain how this powerful tool can—and should—be used to help you grow your business.

First Things First

Before we get started, it’s important to touch on the concept of the marketing funnel.

A marketing funnel is essentially how you attract leads and convert them into customers or clients. It illustrates a customer’s journey from discovering you to making a purchase from you.

In its simplest form, a marketing funnel consists of three main parts:

1. Lead generation

Lead gen is all about getting in front of people and growing your audience. Think of it as the introduction to you and what you do.

2. Engagement

The purpose of engagement is to build trust and educate the leads you generate. This is how you teach your audience about what moves the needle when it comes to getting the results they want.

3. Selling

This is where you actually tell people what your offer is, how it works, how it will help them, and how they can get started. The important part here is to demonstrate that you know what results your leads are looking for and that you’ve designed a process/system/deliverable/product to help them get their desired result. 

Here is a super basic illustration to give you the idea:

How a Podcast Should (And Shouldn’t) Fit Into Your Growth Strategy

Each step in the process naturally leads toward the next—you have to get in front of people before you can engage with them, and you have to engage with them before you can sell effectively.

As people move through the process, you’re weeding out the ones who aren’t a good fit for your offer, and letting those who are a good fit go to the next step when they’re ready.

Your job as a marketer is not to try and sell to everyone you come across.

You want to help good fits move through the funnel and make a point to connect with people who resonate with your message and fit with your offer.

So, where does podcasting come in?

Your podcast should be primarily an engagement tool.

This is where I have seen it work best time and time again within many growth strategies for businesses.

Why? Because the leads you generate will need to engage with you in some way before they’ll be comfortable buying from you, and podcasting—when done right—is one of the most effective ways to make that happen.

A podcast gives you a chance to teach your audience what they need to know about your subject, offer social proof that you have helped other people solve the same problem, and build a relationship by putting out content that resonates with them. (For advice on how to create conversion content, check out our article How To Be An Amazing Podcast Host: 5 Tips To Turn Listeners Into Clients.)

Now, if someone is primed and ready to buy, they won’t need to check out your podcast to decide you’re the right fit for solving their problem.

But more often than not, your prospects won’t be ready to pull the trigger right away. 

In fact, 85% of new leads—even interested leads that are a perfect fit for a product or service—aren’t ready to buy until anywhere from 90 days and 18 months out. (Those figures are from direct response marketing legend Dean Jackson, who shares a study by an organization that handles surveys for large companies.)

It’s that 85% you should keep in mind when using podcasting as part of your growth strategy.

Now, a podcast can work as a lead gen tool and as a selling tool, but it should not be the main way you aim to generate leads or grow your audience.

There are much more effective ways to do that, which I’ll touch on later.

To make podcasting a major part of your growth strategy, you want to use it to connect with and build relationships with people.

That is what will lead to business growth in the long run.

Pro Tip: This is why I recommend starting a podcast AFTER you’ve established your audience. To learn more about when it makes the most sense to start a show, check out WHEN Should You Start a Podcast? (And When You Shouldn’t).

Putting It All Together

Your business’s growth will really boil down to how effective your marketing funnel is.

If you’re still figuring that out, I recommend choosing one tactic for each step in the process that works well for your business.

Though it is by no means a comprehensive list, below is a chart with some ideas for what you can do for each step of your funnel:

How a Podcast Should (And Shouldn’t) Fit Into Your Growth Strategy

Of course, there’s no official delineation between these categories, and you can mix and match the kinds of things you do for each step.

Just keep in mind that it should be a sequential process.

That means your lead gen source should flow naturally into your engagement source, which should flow naturally into your selling mechanism.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided that doing Facebook ads has been a great way for you to generate leads, and you’ve used email to stay engaged with those leads and tell them about your upcoming webinar that will sell your product or service:

How a Podcast Should (And Shouldn’t) Fit Into Your Growth Strategy

That’s your marketing funnel.

And as I said, you can mix and match how you do it.

Once you’ve got a solid setup, you can figure out how to make other methods work in your overall strategy, too.

Podcasting often gets added in after business owners have figured out their lead gen source and have their sales mechanism ready to go.

Sometimes they even have an engagement mechanism already set up, as well.

Typically, it will be email, which is a great start.

But there’s even more opportunity for engagement and trust-building among existing leads via podcasting.

What’s more, a lot of times a podcast helps people do email better because it gives them a good reason to reach out with a value add for their audience on a regular basis.

But where business owners tend to get tripped up is by thinking that podcasting should be how they grow their audience.

That’s not the most effective way to think about podcasting.

Yes, generating leads is important, but if you are looking to grow your audience, do more lead generation activities like Facebook advertising, networking, speaking engagements, etc.

The leads you generate from those activities will feed the rest of the process, which—if you do it right—will ultimately generate more sales.

And that’s where true business growth happens.

Do you have more ideas for how to use podcasting to grow a business? Do you have other ideas for getting influential guests? Leave them in the comments below!