We’ve all heard the saying “timing is everything,” and podcasts are no exception.
Making sure you start your podcast at the right stage in your business makes all the difference between a highly successful growth tool or a total flop.
Over my seven years of helping dozens of entrepreneurs start and produce their own podcasts with our Podcast Launch Services, I have seen firsthand what key criteria need to be in place to ensure you’re harnessing the full power of podcasting right from the start.
In this article, I’m going to break down how to know if you’re “podcast-ready” BEFORE you actually put the time into creating a show.
Keep in mind that if the criteria I outline below don’t apply to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a podcast. It just means that NOW is probably not the best time for you to start using a podcast as part of your marketing strategy.
How do you know if you’re ready to start a podcast?
Before I get into the nitty-gritty details of what will make you more likely to find podcasting success, let’s cover some basic qualifications to determine if you should start a podcast.
Of course, there are always going to be outliers, but generally speaking, podcasting is a great marketing strategy if you:
1. Have an established, growing business.
This means the details of your branding and business model have already been ironed out.
2. Know who your best customers are.
You should have a specific group of people in mind for who will benefit from your podcast.
3. Know what you offer and how you deliver results.
Make sure you can articulate your unique product or service in a clear way, and that you’ve got a process in place for delivering results for the people you work with.
Why is it important to have all this stuff figured out before you begin?
Because creating a podcast before you have ironed out the specific details of your business means you’re very likely to change who you are trying to market to while you’re figuring out your target audience.
And while your target audience can be refined or tweaked slightly along the way, making significant changes to your customer avatar is essentially starting over from scratch.
Podcasting (when done right) is a long-term strategy to build momentum for your brand, so every time you change your who, you’re basically stopping and trying to start that momentum all over again.
But if you meet all three of the criteria listed above and you’re ready to scale and become an authority figure in your space, then things are looking good for you to start a podcast to generate more business.
Keep in mind that I said more business.
You want your show to become the cornerstone content engine for your brand to help you grow and build trust with your existing audience, while providing them with clear next steps for working directly with you.
That said, there are some important things to consider to find out if your podcast is likely to be successful at turning listeners into clients.
Which brings me to:
The Podcast Success Mindsets
Starting a podcast is one thing, but starting a podcast that actually generates more business is another.
In order to determine whether or not you’ll be able to turn listeners into clients, I recommend taking a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you know your specific target audience?
I can’t stress this enough: You need to know exactly who you are talking to when creating your show.
This means having a specific group of people in mind who will benefit from your podcast.
Our clients target everyone from women physicians who want to lose weight to financial advisors who want to open up their own practice to dental practice owners who want to invest for long term wealth creation.
Whatever it is, pick your niche.
Once you figure out who you’re talking to, you can figure out their specific needs, their most pressing questions and concerns, and what you can do to help them.
2. Has your product or service provided clients with consistent, positive results?
Your offering should be specific, unique, and—most importantly—effective.
That means you have actually sold your product or service and have seen it repeatedly help members of your audience to achieve their desired result.
It’s okay if you plan to develop additional offers down the line, but before you get started with a podcast as part of your business strategy, you need to have nailed down at least one main product or service.
That way, when the time comes to educate your audience about your offering, you know what kind of results you can get them.
3. Will your content offer value?
It’s important to keep in mind that successful podcasts are designed to be valuable for listeners.
Whether you educate your audience about a topic they need to understand, advise them on common pitfalls to avoid, or anything in between, each episode you release should be a helpful resource in its own right.
You should always keep in mind what your potential listeners would need to know and how you can help them understand it.
I also strongly recommend giving actionable advice that listeners can implement right away to achieve a small result.
This will build your audience’s trust in you as someone who can solve their problem and brings listeners back for more.
4. Do you have a clear brand voice?
Your business, brand, and podcast should all be aligned to share your message clearly and simply.
So before you start a podcast, make sure you have a well-established brand and a unique approach to helping people in your target market.
Keep that in mind when coming up with a title for your podcast.
Whatever title you choose, you want it to be clear, simple, and direct, so that target listeners know it’s a show meant for them as soon as they hear the name.
One of our clients has a podcast called “Weight Loss For Busy Physicians.” Another hosts “Financial Advisor Success.”
These are the kinds of strong branding that will set your podcast up for success.
5. Can you clearly articulate what the “next step” looks like for your listeners?
Establishing what listeners can do when they are ready to work directly with you is crucial for using a podcast as a marketing tool.
Because more often than not, the people listening to your podcast or following your content won’t be ready to buy from you 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.)
That’s why it’s important to have one or two easy, clear calls to action that listeners can follow when they want more of your content but aren’t quite ready to work directly with you yet.
This is easily achieved with a quick statement that tells listeners exactly what to do or where to go to get more of your help.
Typically, this will be an opt-in like a checklist, ebook, or email series. (For a more thorough look at effective calls to action, click here and scroll down to tip #3.)
You can get creative with this and tailor your offer to the unique needs of your audience, but make sure you have your “next step” offer nailed down before you begin recording a podcast.
6. Do you have the right goals for your podcast?
Take a moment to consider what you want out of your podcast.
Is your aim to grow your audience? Spread knowledge? Let the world know you are an expert in your field? All of the above?
Knowing what you’re trying to do is an important part of determining not only what success looks like for you, but also how likely your podcast is to become a good business generator for you.
If your sole aim is to grow your audience, then podcasting probably won’t be a particularly successful marketing strategy for you.
The podcasts that succeed at turning listeners into clients are the ones that educate and help their audience, no matter the size.
You want your podcast to be a helpful tool for listeners, which means it should be done with your audience’s needs in mind, not a desire to prove your own awesomeness.
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7. Can you commit to consistent releases?
It’s important to be honest with yourself about how much time you are willing and able to commit to your podcast.
Figuring out how often you’ll record and how you’ll fit it into your schedule will be a major factor in your show’s sustainability.
I’ve seen too many podcasts fall by the wayside simply because their hosts planned to record content when they “got around to it.”
That doesn’t work.
To keep up momentum, you’ll need to set a regular schedule for both recording and releasing episodes.
I’ve found a weekly publishing schedule to be the best mix of the least effort for the highest reward.
This frequency allows you to become part of your listeners’ regular routine and gives them enough content to really get value without you becoming a full-time podcaster.
The key is to plan for this and build the time you need to record into your schedule.
Then just stick with it.
8. Do you have an overall strategy beyond podcasting?
Creating a podcast should not be your marketing plan.
It should be one part of an overall plan.
What’s more, podcasting should be a third or fourth step in your strategy, not the first one you use to try and get your first clients.
As I said before, podcasting is a long-term strategy. You want to take the time to build a relationship with your existing audience.
In addition to your show, plan to interact regularly with your audience via email, social media, etc.
The more interaction you have, the better.
Keep your podcast as one of many methods to do that.
Summing it all up
Meeting the three initial criteria I mentioned means you have the major pieces in place for starting a podcast, but taking the time to evaluate the eight Podcast Success Mindsets will really help you determine whether podcasting can be a considerable asset in your marketing.
That’s why I designed our free Podcast Success Scorecard to help you score yourself on these mindsets.
If you find yourself in Stage D for all or most of them, then you’re likely ready to start drumming up more business with a podcast.
If you find yourself in the earlier stages, then take some time to really figure out the missing pieces to help you make sure you get everything in order to make the most of your podcast.
Do you have additional recommendations for deciding when to start a podcast? Leave them in the comments below!
P.S. If this article helped you realize you are ready to start a podcast but you don’t know where or how to begin, check out our article How to Start A Podcast That Gets You More Clients.