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Written by Rodney Laws

Back when the iPod was sufficiently relevant to influence the lexicon, podcasting was mainly a casual hobby pursued by early tech adopters. If you’d told someone then that it would become an industry attracting huge listener numbers and massive advertising revenue, they would have been skeptical — but then, people didn’t know what technological developments awaited them.

Today, as noted, it’s a massive part of everyday life. Now that we all have smartphones with fast data connections, Bluetooth headphones, and fast-paced lives that often make it impractical to consume long-form written content, we can build up huge backlogs of podcasts and steadily work through them as we do other things (such as commuting). Podcasting is powerful.

This makes it a great time to get involved in podcasting. You can make new friends, develop new skills, and have a lot of fun in the process — but that’s not all that power is good for. You can also generate high-quality leads for your business. Here are some tips for doing just that:

Create guides to show expertise

Making a podcast that’s overly promotional about products will damage its perceived value — instead, focus on making your episodes as useful as possible. Record content so good that it will be shared very widely in your niche (I’m talking about creativity and production value). This isn’t altruism: it’s about steadily demonstrating your authority and trustworthiness so you become perceived as someone worth consulting.

Think about the people you’d like to worth with or sell to, and create content that will appeal to them. Should one of your listeners need to bring in an expert, there will be an excellent chance that they’ll think of you and reach out for advice. That will be your opportunity to cultivate the lead, building on their positive perception of you to establish a working relationship. 

Bracket your shows with branding

If you wanted to achieve anything, you wouldn’t send a marketing email without a CTA — similarly, you shouldn’t release a podcast without extensive branding. Note that I don’t mean talking incessantly about your business throughout the duration, because that will drive away your listeners. Instead, I mean using the tried-and-tested bracketing method.

What does that involve? It’s simple: open each episode with a succinct promo for your business, explaining what you do and how people can reach you, then end the episode with a similar promo (or even the same one if you think it’s good enough to use twice).

Ensure that your message is easy to understand, and that your contact details are extremely simple: for instance, use a short customized URL if you’re going to mention your web address, or don’t bother at all (no one’s going to laboriously type out a massive URL of random strings). Even if the only result of your branding is that listeners clearly remember the name of your podcast, it’s still worth it: the data shows clearly that brand awareness matters more than any other factor when a shopper is searching for something (even beating out price).

Feature influential guests

Within the online community of your business niche, there will be numerous people who hold a lot of sway. Some of them will have a lot of exposure through their own podcasts, while others will simply be sufficiently notable that their comments can make or break businesses. Being mindful to avoid any of your potential business competitors, a great way to generate leads is to invite these influential figures to appear on your podcast.

Here’s why this works so well: we’re all somewhat vain, and it’s flattering to be invited to appear as a podcast guest, so you might be surprised by how easy it can be to persuade someone to give you some interview time. And when you have someone notable on your podcast, you benefit in several ways:

  • You get to present yourself as their peer to some extent.
  • You can promote their appearance to show the prestige of your brand.
  • You can get some fresh traffic from your guest promoting their appearance.

If they have a podcast, they might even invite you to appear on it, further increasing your chances of being noticed by prospective customers. Overall, it’s a fantastic way to elevate your status and reach a lot of relevant people.

Run ads on suitable podcasts and/or networks

So far we’ve looked at methods for generating leads using your own podcast, but that’s not the only way to turn podcasting to your advantage. You can also run ads on specific podcasts, or even on podcast networks (here’s a solid lineup to review) — it all depends on what you’re trying to promote and exactly how relevant you need the podcasts to be.

The great thing about podcast ads — when they’re done well, at least — is that they’re much less likely to be avoided than other forms of advertising. Take a TV ad, for instance: while it’s on, the viewer can easily stop paying attention, go get some snacks, or start using their phone. Internet ads can simply be blocked. Podcast ads, though, are often deeply rooted into extended audio content, and even a 30-second ad (reasonably long) doesn’t seem so objectionable when it’s part of a 45-minute episode. Is it really worth looking reaching for your phone to skip past it?

In addition, you have great creative options. You can write specific scripts for podcasters to read, allow them to riff on whatever you want promoted, or use programmatic advertising to have your ads dynamically inserted into relevant podcasts while people are streaming them (those ads can’t be blocked or skipped — at least, not easily).

Podcasting might not  sound like the ideal platform for generating leads, but it’s more potent than most people think. If you can use your podcast to build up your business reputation, bring on guests to get additional attention, and push people to your other marketing channels through suitable branding, it’ll make a big difference — especially if you couple it with some carefully-chosen podcast advertising.

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