I am convinced that a podcast is one of the best means for connecting and engaging with an audience. In fact, if you want a unique and effective way to promote your brand or your company, I believe you should seriously think about starting a podcast.
Now, before I started my own show, all I saw were roadblocks. Here are some of the feelings I had – raise your hand if one of the following applies to you:
- My target market has no idea of what a podcast is
- My target market is not tech-savvy
- My target market is still struggling with using simple technologies such as email
- My target market would never “get” how to subscribe, download, and listen to a podcast
- There are no other or very few podcasts in my niche – which can only mean there is no audience for my type of content
Despite all these obstacles, I launched the Construction Industry Podcast back in August of 2011. I guess I just really wanted to be a radio star.
Since then my show has been downloaded thousands of times, I was able to bring thousands of dollars of revenue to my business, and I even won an industry award as the “Best Architecture/Engineering/Construction Social Media Blog of 2012.”
I would like to share with you 7 ways you can find an audience for your podcast, even if your niche is podcast-less. These techniques have worked for me and are largely responsible for the successes I’ve had so far.
1. Convert them: Teach your future audience what a podcast is and how to listen
Patrick Madrid, the famous Catholic author and speaker was the first person I heard talking about subscribing to podcasts, back in 2005. To this day I’m grateful for that little nudge that changed my life. Ever since I started listening to podcasts I have become more educated, healthier, and better grounded in my values.
Here is a great opportunity for you to be the “Patrick Madrid” of your niche: create content that educates your target market on the benefits of listening to podcasts and how to do it. Here are some ideas you can implement right now:
- Write a blog post on what a podcast is
- Create a video showing how one can use a smartphone to subscribe to a podcast (show them how to subscribe to your show)
- Show them how to connect their smartphone to their car stereo and listen to your podcast
- Point them to other podcasts that you know would be of value to them
Lead your niche into the awesome world of podcasting. They won’t forget it.
2. Find where your audience hangs out on the internet and engage them
Even if they are not that tech-savvy, the internet is so pervasive in our culture that I’m willing to bet a large part of your target audience “hangs out” somewhere. Lots of baby-boomers may have no idea what a podcast is, but have a LinkedIn profile. Many stay-at-home moms might not be aware of the latest release of WordPress, but spend hours debating other moms on online forums. Heck, even my 83-year-old Brazilian grandmother is on Facebook.
Find out where your future community of listeners likes to hang out. Go there and meet them. Engage in the conversation. When a topic relevant to your podcast comes up, point them to this or that episode you released and ask for their feedback. On your next episode, thank them by name for the feedback. Go back to them and let them know you mentioned them on the show.
In my case, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. There are tons of construction professionals there eager to make new connections and construction-related communities bubbling with exciting conversations.
3. Leverage your social media presence and influence
I don’t have to convince you why a social media presence is important today. What I can tell you is that there are ways to leverage your presence to point people to your show.
I’ll give you two examples.
Dustin Hartzler, from YourWebsiteEngineer.com, consults and podcasts on all things WordPress. In order to grow his podcast audience, he constantly does Twitter searches on the term “WordPress” to see what people are talking about. Whether or not they have a question or are just talking generally about WordPress, Dustin uses that as an opportunity to engage them. Here’s a screenshot of a search for people using the terms “WordPress” and “help” in the same tweet:
This profile exists for the sole purpose to advertise his Hunger Games Podcast to people who had never heard of a podcast before. He then finds Twitter profiles that Hunger Games fans would certainly follow and uses this account to follow them.
These people get notified that he follows them and many decide to follow his HungerGamesPod account.
He then publishes Twitter updates, providing links relevant only to this audience, linking them to other sites, late breaking news, gaining their trust along the way. Once a week, he posts a link to his new podcast episode and people start clicking through to his site.
He used this technique to add about 6,000 podcast subscribers to his Hunger Games Podcast, which was for many the first podcast they had ever heard of.
4. Attend events/trade shows as “press”
If your industry/niche holds trade shows and other events and they’re not familiar with podcasts, you will probably be the only podcaster to attend these events. Carry around your audio recorder and ask to interview people on the show floor.
I’ll tell you what: everybody wants to be interviewed. It’s a beautiful thing.
After you’ve talked with them, leave them with a business card with a website address that explains what a podcast is. Or better yet, do as Wade Wangler of the “Fathers Over Forty” podcast: distribute demo CDs containing a few episodes of your show and audio instructions explaining what a podcast is and how to subscribe.
If your niche is not familiar with podcasts, chances are they’re not on the cutting edge of social media either. Take advantage of that.
I attended an industry trade show in Dallas this year and during their keynote event I started tweeting snippets of the speech using the show’s hashtag. Immediately after the speech, the MC thanked the speaker and asked “Cesar Abeid” to stand up. He proceeded to point at me and ask everybody to “look at Cesar Abeid, from the Construction Industry Podcast. He’s just become our unofficial tweeter for this conference.”
From that moment on, I was greeted by everyone who would walk past me. The contacts I made during that conference have turned into real business for my company, all because I was willing to do something a bit different.
5. Bring your audience into your show as guests
One of the most fun I have is inviting “non-celebrities” to be guests on my show. People who are not used to being known as experts are usually very surprised when I approach them to be on my show. They are also excited, honored, and very happy to participate.
There are wonderfully competent professionals and companies out there doing outstanding work. Your audience can greatly benefit from their experience. So bring them onto your show and ask them how they run their business, or their views on a particular topic, or simply ask them to share his/her professional journey with you.
A competent professional will have hundreds, sometimes thousands of contacts in his/her network. You can bet that as soon as your interview with them is published, they’ll be sharing that link with everyone they know.
By doing this you will have made an important professional contact within your niche, educated your audience, and gotten some help promoting your latest episode.
6. Use the power of Q&A sites
I love Q&A sites. They are a great opportunity to showcase your expertise without sounding like you’re tooting your own horn. They asked, after all.
After almost 40 podcast episodes, I have covered a multitude of topics related to my niche. Chances are when I set out to answer a question on a Q&A site that I have already published an episode of my show on the topic. So I answer the question and offer a link to the podcast episode that goes into more detail.
Not only does the original poster see my answer, but everyone else who happened upon the question. Here’s a great list of some of the best Q&A sites out there. My personal favorite is LinkedIn Answers.
You can subscribe to many of these sites by creating an RSS feed using keywords. This is a way to do some filtering and have the pertinent questions be delivered to you instead of spending hours combing through thousands of posts. A quick Google search on how to subscribe to your favorite Q&A site will help you set that up.
7. And finally: Care
It turns out Gary Vaynerchuk was absolutely right. When you genuinely care about people, wonderful things start to happen.
A podcast is a powerful platform. If you launch yours, you will have an opportunity to reach and influence many people. Strangers will want to be associated with you. A simple endorsement by you may result in the attention that a product needed to make it in the marketplace.
As the head of a podcast, when you care about people, you may have a true opportunity to make a difference. So be generous. Care about your audience. Help them succeed. Share their successes, assist them through their rough times, be there for them.
The best way to care for people in a genuine way is to get to know them. Here are some things you can do to get to know people better:
- Visit their websites. You will learn about them and what’s important to them. Take notes.
- Visit their profile, especially their professional profile on LinkedIn. You will get a glimpse of what they’ve accomplished. Send them a message complimenting them on this or that job or project. Ask a question or two about their experience. I find it fascinating to learn about people’s journey. A book could be written on each individual I meet, it’s amazing.
- Ask what project or product they’re most proud of. If you think it’s a good fit, mention the project/product on your podcast. Contact them again and tell them you mentioned their project/product on your show.
- Stay in touch. Use services like Highrise to keep track of your contacts and follow up with them every once in a while.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about podcasting from Cesar, be sure to check out his session “The Benefits Of Being The First To Podcast Within Your Niche” at NMX in Las Vegas this January.