Starting an audio podcast is one of the most powerful ways to build a loyal audience for your personal brand. Let’s take a closer look.
In 2006, I was still in the real estate business and created an educational podcast about the mortgage application process. It was called “Beyond the Rate” and without any real promotion, it went on to accumulate over 75,000 downloads in 27 different countries. I was stunned.
Automatic touch points to sample your character and competence
When people “subscribe” to a podcast, their computer automatically downloads your latest episode every time they open iTunes. That guarantees delivery of your content to all your subscribers. Admittedly, it doesn’t guarantee that they actually listen to it, but the delivery is an important first step.
Getting them to listen is step #2 and it’s important to understand how and where your audience is tuning in. From my experience, about 90% of your subscribers listen to your podcasts when they’re either (1) commuting to work, (2) at the gym or (3) walking their dog. So when you record your episodes, pretend you’re speaking to them in that setting. It will enhance the connection your listeners feel with you, and that will encourage them to listen to every episode.
Time and interaction necessary for trust
Turns out, different types of content inspire different levels of trust. There are basically four types of content: text, photos, audio and video. Which inspires the most trust? Video! In a video, you can see what the person looks like and how they move their body as well as the tonality and inflection of their voice.
What’s in second place? Audio. With an audio recording, you can’t see the person but you can still hear the tonality and inflection of their voice. Believe it or not, that makes audio content infinitely more “personal” than basic written text. When people hear a recording of your voice, they feel like they’re really getting to know you. They identify with you. They trust you.
All of this makes audio podcasting a very powerful medium. Now, I’m intentionally restricting this post to AUDIO podcasting. I’m not referring to video podcasting. Why? Because I believe the delivery mechanism of audio podcasting is more powerful. As I said before, your subscribers are listening when they’re commuting, exercising or walking their dog. The delivery channel is over a set of headphones or speakers. It’s easy and fits well into people’s lives. That’s not the case with videos.
Audio and videos differing “ease of access”
Videos require people to stop what they’re doing and watch the video. That makes it far less convenient than audio, unless your videos are extremely short. To me, the loyalty of audio subscribers trumps the added trust of video. I would much rather have a high percentage of my subscribers listen to my audio content than a low percentage of my subscribers watch my videos.
At one point, my “Beyond the Rate” podcast series was the third most popular mortgage-related podcast on iTunes and I was getting tons of new subscribers. In every episode, I encouraged listeners to call me if they had any questions. I was obviously hoping to secure new clients. And when some of them did call, they were completely shocked that I actually answered the phone. Listening to my voice on those podcasts, they automatically assumed I had a whole staff supporting me. That’s a powerful personal brand!
Host your own podcast
You can host your podcast yourself or you can use a platform like BlogTalkRadio. It’s turning into a huge online community and they have free option as well as premium accounts with powerful features to get the word out. With a little effort, you can start leveraging this powerful content medium to build your business as well as your own personal brand.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is the author of Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley) and is a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. He has spoken about modern entrepreneurship and the social media revolution at conferences and business events around the world. Patrick has also authored Webify Your Business: Internet Marketing Secrets for the Self-Employed (2009) as well as Make Yourself Useful: Marketing in the 21st Century (2008) and has been featured by the Associated Press, National Public Radio’s Here & Now program and Authors Unscripted among others.