Do you have a podcast idea?
If you’re like many of the would-be podcasters out there, you probably have at least one topic you’ve been considering.
But how do you know if your podcast idea is a good one?
How do you know it’ll be worth your time, and know whether people will love it?
In this article, I’m going to share the method I use to determine whether a podcast concept is going to be a big win—or a lot of work for little to no results.
Consider it a litmus test that will give you undeniable feedback about your show’s success potential before you put the time and energy into creating it.
But first, let’s break down some basics about what makes podcasting such a powerful business tool and what kinds of businesses tend to benefit from it the most.
Why Podcasting Works For Businesses
There are three main reasons why podcasting works particularly well for businesses and brands:
1. Podcasts Build Trust
A podcast provides a systematic way of creating a relationship with your audience over time and helps build trust until they are ready to get started working with you.
The real power comes when people see positive progress in their life/business/health/insert-your-field-here simply from listening to your show.
This can be a tangible result (such as more sales, weight loss, etc.) or—more commonly—a fresh perspective that opens up a new world for them (such as showing them that something is not as hard as they originally thought or revealing that their goal is a real possibility).
Once listeners get a taste of you helping them achieve a result, you become their go-to trusted advisor, and they are much more likely to check out your paid offers.
(For more on this, check out WHEN Should You Start a Podcast? (And When You Shouldn’t) and scroll down to the third success mindset.)
2. Podcasts Cut The Customer Lifecycle In Half
Most prospects who discover you, your business, your content, and your ideas are not ready to buy right away.
In fact, 85% of new leads—even interested leads that are a perfect fit for a product or service—won’t buy until 90 days to 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 a lot of money left on the table.
And while these people are definitely interested, they are just not ready to start right now.
A podcast is the perfect tool to help ‘not ready’ prospects become ‘let’s do it’ clients over a short period of time by developing a relationship, building trust, and allowing folks to ‘binge’ on your expertise by quickly listening to all episodes you’ve released.
Then when they are ready to buy, you’re the obvious choice to help them.
(For a deeper dive into this, check out How a Podcast Should (And Shouldn’t) Fit Into Your Growth Strategy.)
3. Podcasts Provide Discoverability Through A Far-Reaching Funnel
Podcasting allows you to be featured on the most trafficked, active social platforms in the history of content.
It puts your expertise out for easy discoverability in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google, YouTube, and many more high-leverage places.
Not only that, but it makes your ideas shareable forever, which means that once you produce episodes, they can drive new listens and prospects forever.
This is the maximum leverage of your time and effort to reach tens of thousands of interested prospects for your offers.
It doesn’t get much better than that!
What Kinds of Businesses See The Best Results
Now that you understand why podcasting works, you may be asking yourself whether podcasting is the best marketing tool to grow your business.
And that’s an important question.
So let’s break down who podcasting tends to work well for—and who may not see such great results.
Podcasting is a PERFECT tool IF:
- You have valuable expertise, content, or a unique perspective to share.
- You already have a product/service/offering that sells and helps customers achieve a result of some kind.
- You are your brand, or your personality is closely infused with your brand.
- You already have a working sales funnel or process.
- The Lifetime Value of a customer is $5,000 or more.
- It’s easier/faster for you to talk about your topic than write blog posts.
If the above points describe your business, podcasting can easily add tens of thousands of dollars in new revenue per month (and quickly), while also creating a vast network of findable content, building a growing audience of highly targeted prospects, and solidifying you as the go-to authority in the market.
PERFECT Business Types Include:
- Financial Advisors
- Personality Brands
- Done-for-You Services
- Membership Sites
Podcasting is probably NOT the best tool for you IF:
- You have a product/service that sells, but you sell products under $100 with no recurring payments (for example, a $27 ebook, an $89 widget, a product with $50 affiliate commission, etc.).
- You intend to monetize your show with sponsorships or donations.
- Your business is strictly one location only and cannot have a national or broader audience to serve (for example, a bike repair shop, a single-location dental office, etc.).
If any of the above describes your business or current status, podcasting may not be the best tool to promote your growth, and I would recommend trying out other marketing tools that may work better.
Of course, podcasting can work in this situation, and you may see examples out there of successful shows that have these attributes, but it won’t be your best marketing option.
Testing Your Idea
Now that we’ve established which circumstances will set you up for podcasting success, it’s time to put your podcast idea to the test.
The goal here is to help you prove whether or not your selected audience will be receptive to the show you want to create.
Now, there are two ways to go about this, but before you try either, you must clearly define your topic area.
In other words, decide exactly what you’d like your podcast to focus on, and how you and your expertise will be valuable to the audience.
What’s the unique knowledge or viewpoint you bring to the table?
Who will benefit the most from it and how?
Really take some time to consider these questions, as the answers can make or break your audience’s reaction and receptiveness to your show.
Then choose one of the two following ways to gauge their interest.
Option 1: Record A Sample Episode
This option is pretty straightforward—sit down behind the mic and knock out a test episode.
Of course, you don’t need to add the fancy intro and outro. Your goal is simply to create the main portion of the episode where you teach a lesson, share important insight, interview an expert or whatever your show will be.
You want this to be an accurate representation of what your show would be.
(Not sure what to talk about? Check out 5 Ideas For Awesome Podcast Content (And How to Generate Even More) to get your creative juices flowing.)
Once you’ve got your recording, put it up as a private video on YouTube and spread the word to your existing audience.
Ask for their feedback on what you’ve recorded and what they’d want to hear in future episodes.
The more you can make them a part of the creation process, the better.
Here’s an example template you can use to reach out to them:
We’re thinking of starting a podcast and need your opinion!
We’re always looking for ways to [YOUR GOAL AND HOW SPECIFICALLY YOU HELP YOUR AUDIENCE]. So, we’ve been considering starting a podcast to help us do just that!
The idea of the podcast is to [YOUR PODCAST GOAL].
With that, we’ve already recorded a test episode for you to check out, and it’s published on YouTube to get your feedback.
You can check out this episode with [GUEST NAME IF APPLICABLE] discussing [YOUR SUBJECT] here: [LINK]
Here’s the fun part — please share your opinions and feedback!
Would you be excited for a podcast like this?
Either way, reply to this email to let me know what you’d love to see in a new podcast from us to make it the best possible resource for you!
A client of ours recently used this method to gauge his audience’s interest, and he got amazing results.
In fact, his podcast is in the works right now!
So don’t be afraid to put your ideas out there and ask questions.
Whether your audience tells you they can’t wait for your show or that they’d rather pass, it’ll be exactly what you need to know before you invest time, money, and energy into setting up a brand new podcast.
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Option 2: Be A Guest On Someone Else’s Podcast
Again, this option is pretty cut and dried—find a podcast in your field and sign up to be a guest.
Of course, this approach has a few more moving pieces, but it’s absolutely doable.
And it will have a similar effect to recording a sample episode, but instead of creating something from scratch, you’re making yourself a part of something that is already established.
Here are four simple steps for making it happen:
Step 1: Find A Related Podcast
How do you find a podcast that has an audience full of your target listeners, focuses on a similar topic area to yours, and does interviews?
It’s not as intimidating as it may sound.
Here’s what you do:
Open up the Apple Podcasts store and click on the “Podcasts” tab.
Then, on the right under “Categories,” select a category that most closely describes your target audience.
From there, select a subcategory to narrow it down further.
Once you’ve done that, go to “Top Podcasts” on the right of the screen to see a list of the Top 100 podcasts in that area.
Now, do a little review of the top shows that look promising to determine:
- Whether the audience is predominantly your target audience.
- Whether the show does interviews.
(To find highly targeted show options, try using the search function in the upper right-hand corner of the iTunes Store. Then review those in the same way.)
Dig through your options and select the podcast(s) that look the most promising and make a list.
Step 2: Make the Connection
Once you’ve decided which show(s) seem like the best fit, you need to contact the host(s) of the podcast and offer yourself as a valuable guest.
Of course, you don’t want to make this a salesy pitch. Just make it a straightforward, “what’s in it for them” offer to share your expertise and experience with their audience members.
I recommend reaching out via one of three ways (listed in order of preference):
- LinkedIn Message
- Facebook Message
Your ultimate goal is to find their email address on their website, so check out their contact page to see it is openly offered.
If so, you’re golden. Send them a simple email explaining why you’d make a great guest on their show.
If you can’t locate their email address, find them on LinkedIn and send them an “InMail” message. (This sometimes requires a premium account but you can simply sign up for a free trial, then cancel if you wish.)
No luck with LinkedIn?
Most podcasters will have a personal Facebook page where you can send them a direct message.
If all of the above fail, try sending them a quick Tweet. (Hey, it’s better than nothing.)
And if you’re not quite sure what to write in your message, feel free to use the following template:
I just got done listening to your latest podcast episode, and the part about [SPECIFIC EXAMPLE] really connected with me. I decided to finally reach out.
I specialize in helping [YOUR TARGET MARKET] achieve [SPECIFIC RESULT] and would love to share the insights and specific strategies I’ve developed with your podcast audience if you’re interested in having me as a guest.
Do you think that [GETTING X RESULT THROUGH YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE] might be a worthwhile topic for your listeners?
If you’re interested, shoot me a reply and we can figure out the timing.
Hope to connect with you soon,
Then send that baby off!
Step 3: Record and Share the Interview With Your Audience
Now that you’ve connected with a host and done an interview for their podcast, make sure to share a link to the episode with your own audience as soon as it goes live.
Then reach out to get their feedback, explaining that the podcast you chose to appear on as a guest is similar to the one you’re thinking of starting.
Ask if they’d be interested in a show like that from you and what kinds of topics/interview guests they’d like to hear.
Not sure what to write?
Try something like this:
Very excited to share an incredible interview I did for [PODCAST NAME] all about [INTERVIEW TOPIC].
You can listen to the interview here: [LINK]
ALSO, I’ve been considering launching a podcast for YOU all about [INSERT PODCAST CONCEPT WITH A FOCUS ON THE VALUE FOR LISTENERS].
Would you be excited for a podcast like this?
If YES, hit reply and tell me what you’d love to see in a new podcast from me to make it the best possible resource for you!
Don’t have an existing audience?
Research Facebook Groups in your field and post the interview there. Then add a short request for folks to comment if they’re interested in seeing a podcast like the one you described.
Or share the interview with any existing clients you have, or at an event with your target listener audience in attendance.
Step 4. Review the Feedback
Take a look at the responses you get from your audience.
It’s generally very obvious very quickly whether your concept is something people are excited about, or if it’s not something they see as valuable.
Then make your decision from there!
Moving Forward With The Podcast
Once you’ve tested your podcast idea and confirmed that your audience is eager to see it come to fruition, you can feel confident moving forward with your show.
But it can be challenging to know where to start.
If you’re feeling like you need some pointers, check out Podcast Principles: How to Start The Perfect Business Podcast for a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the process.
And make sure to check out The 8 Principles Behind Highly Successful Business Podcasts so you can make sure you’re on the right track for creating the kind of valuable content that keeps people coming back each week.
Then take your podcast idea and run with it. You’ve earned it.
Do you have more ways to test a podcast idea before launch? Leave a comment below!
Founder and Chief Podcast Educator at Cashflow Podcasting. Ben specializes in helping thought leaders and entrepreneurs amplify their impact through podcasting. He’s a world traveller, outdoor sports junkie and future enthusiast!