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The Criteria of a Successful Business Podcast: Part 1 (the Listener’s Perspective)

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chalkboardThe practice of selecting a corporate podcast to criticize in a public forum is a common one.  I’ve had the displeasure of listening to, or reading various "podcast experts" trash other company podcasts under the heading of education. 

To me, that practice is just plain hurtful. As I read elsewhere, you can teach without being cruel.

It is unnecessary to tear something (or someone) down to teach others.  I haven’t done it. . .and I won’t.

On the other hand, I do think it’s important to point out a collective error that many corporate podcasts suffer.  This problem has to do with a persistent disconnect between the majority of corporate podcasts and their audience.  The good news is that if you understand the criteria for every corporate podcast in the world, you’ll be better able to develop a show that works for you and your listeners.

The Two Groups We Care About

As I’ve said previously on this blog, there are two groups of people I care about when PodWorx begins to plan, produce, publish and promote a new show.

  1. The Listener
  2. The Organization for which the podcast is developed

Today’s post will focus on group #1: The Listeners

The Criteria for a Success Corporate Podcast: From the Listener’s Perspective

For a podcast to be useful in the eyes of a listener, one of two things must take place:

  • The listener must be entertained
  • The listener must be educated

And if the podcast Gods are smiling, the listener will be entertained and educated.

The Living in Las Vegas Podcast, a Las Vegas Podcast that speaks to the experience of living in Las Vegas, does a good job of doing both.  We hear from people every week asking for advice about living in a place where 5000 people move to each month.  We’ve developed a nice community that appreciates the dual educational/entertainment nature of the show. 

But for a strictly corporate podcast, while it can certainly have both entertainment and educational elements, the key piece is that of education.  If you are not educating your listeners, you are not helping your listeners.

Now, educating your listeners does not mean spewing forth a bunch of features and benefits about your latest product or service.  This is where most corporate podcasts go terribly wrong.  And, this is where it becomes painfully obvious that the marketing department is running the show.

Instead, you must remember that you bond with people on their problems, not on your solution.  If you are able to clearly articulate the challenges, problems, concerns, goals, dreams, aspirations and desires of your customers and prospects (ie; listeners), you break down barriers and create an environment that says to your listener, "we understand what you’re going through, and we can help".

If you do spend time speaking to the problems your listeners are faced with (and be sure to recognize that a problem can be the desire to remove pain OR the drive to be in a better place), you further establish your credibility and are looked upon as an expert.  Once you’ve done that, your next step is to teach people how to work and/or live smarter. 

If you spend time listening to any of the public podcast we produce for our customers, you’ll notice a common pattern to the story we tell:

  1. We first speak about the problems facing our listeners
  2. Next, we talk about the ways these listeners might try to fix these problems (and how many of those attempts aren’t working)
  3. Then, we teach people how to solve those problems

And when we get to the third step, while we don’t disallow the mention of the products or services the company offers, we don’t dwell on them.  Instead, we focus our attention on what the products and services do and how they help.  Less about the name, more about the action behind it.

The fun fact about selling is people don’t like to be sold, but everybody likes to buy.  And for those of you who are dying to use their podcast to improve their bottom line, remember that telling is not selling, teaching is.  For me, instead of pushing sales and marketing content down somebody’s throat, I like to explain, in the simplest form, how stuff works.  And let the listener decide if it’s helpful or not.

What does this mean to you?  When you are preparing your next podcast, ask yourself if you are helping your listener.  What’s in it for them?  Why would they appreciate receiving this content?  How will it make their life at home or at work better?  And then keep your eye on the content.  Make sure your are teaching your listeners about a better way of getting stuff done.

What about you?  What do you specifically do to help educate your podcast listeners?  What feedback have you received proving you’re doing the right thing?  Let me know!

Posted on Monday, April 28, 2008 · 5 Comments


5 Responses to “The Criteria of a Successful Business Podcast: Part 1 (the Listener’s Perspective)”
  1. Steve Taylor says:

    Sorry for the late comment.

    I’ve been following your Feeds and podcasts for a while now. We’ve also been ‘playing around’ with providing a podcasting service. However, we have been thoroughly missing the point and I now realise my most basic mistake (i.e. teaching not selling – as you’ve highlighted).

    I used to own and run a tyre retail store in the late 1990’s. My products could be sourced anywhere and probably cheaper if customers could be bothered to look and travel (and they could!). So, I decided to create a site that demonstrated our the firm’s knowledge of the products and vehicles in question. So, I built a web site that literally told our stories. I detailed what worked, what didn’t work, close disasters, successes and customer comments
    but most importantly I never mentioned costs, special promotions or any kind of selling.

    The site reached 30000 hits a month without any search engine optimisation or paid ads. We received emails all day long and enquiries all day long and I was even asked to present the latest tyre innovations and experiences with local Advanced Drivers associations on a regular basis.

    I’d forgot all this.

    Thank you for the awakening.

    Steve Taylor


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Live Streaming Video – Business Podcast – Web TV Consultant – Las Vegas, Nevada