The Business Podcast Primer
Nothing has more of an identity crisis than the B2B podcast. And that makes far too many podcasts more appalling than appealing.
How—when the format seems to be "having a moment"—can I suggest such a contrarian viewpoint? Easy. I spent decades in broadcast journalism, and podcasts think they're that. They're not.
Whether you're putting together "tape at 11" or a story for a weekly news magazine, you've got the same responsibility to viewers. On the very most basic level, you have to tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. Unless a viewer is recording the show and can rewind, you've got to make sure you make your point on a first hearing or viewing, and the repetition ensures that happens.
On TV, of course, visuals help tell that story. That's not an available advantage in a podcast. And that's why it's so vital to stick to the subject and the most vital facts. You have to use words to draw pictures, and that takes particular skill.
My father was the perfect example of someone who did that very well. He'd do intros to songs on his rock and roll radio show using stories he wrote that were specific to the tune. In a minute, he could describe a scene you couldn't help but see, and the structure of the intros themselves had beginnings and middles and ends (and those ends were always the opening lyric of the song).
But podcasts shouldn't do that. They should do their own version—serving a very different purpose.
So it's time to rethink the purpose, the process, and the payoff of B2B podcasts.
Too many B2B podcasts (not serialized stories or consumer-brand fluffage with some mention of Kardashians) tend to be a total waste of customers' and prospects' time:
Unlike video, where you can scroll through to material that looks more interesting, podcasts can go on forever and still never get to the point. In B2B, you're asking for someone to donate their time, so don't squander it. You might never earn back their attention. Or interest.
Even when your listeners are stuck in traffic on the freeway or desperate to hear something that is not ESPN while they're getting in shape at the gym, you have an obligation to them to be informative, entertaining, and concise. That 30-second opening? Make it 10 (or just get rid of it entirely). All the details about everything your guests have ever done? Trim it to what matters for this one specific episode.
So here's the way to salvage the podcast from the content morass:
The goal is simple (and it isn't to sell stuff): provide busy business people with useful, beneficial, easy-to-understand information that they associate with you (and/or your company) in a positive way.
Now go be brilliant, beguiling, and brief.
We don't make things irresistible in a vacuum. We follow the same advice that we give to our clients.