There are many reasons to start a podcast. You may want to grow your business or personal brand. You may see it as a lead generator, or a potential income source. Heck, you may even start your podcast just for fun – because it seems like something you might enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with that. Your reasons for starting a show may be about you. But to grow your show, you must focus on your audience.
I spent 15 years as a radio DJ. When new on-air personalities first crack the microphone, it’s often about them. But the talent that truly grow and succeed in media? They learn to turn the mirror on their audience, and they focus their show content on their listeners. The same is true in podcasting.
Why the Listener is More Important Than the Host
A podcast listener is giving you a significant amount of their attention for a significant period of time, unlike the fleeting interaction of social media. You may be asking for their attention for 15, 30, or 60 minutes, or even longer depending on your show. Every podcast listener starts with one simple question: “What’s in it for me?” Will your listeners get a valuable return on the time they invested in you? Are you going to provide them with valuable content? Are you going to inform or entertain them? Are you going to make them laugh, tug at their heartstrings, or create some other kind of emotional connection?
When you start planning your content from the perspective of your listener, and not yourself, the quality of your content will rise exponentially. Make sure there’s something in it for your listener. Good content is the foundation of any good podcast.
Start Strong, and Don’t Waste Your Listeners’ Time
We’ve all heard podcasts that start with small talk. What did you do over the weekend? How’s the weather? Have you tried the new breakfast diner on the corner? First off, none of that is relevant if someone goes back and listens to your episode later. More importantly, you only get one chance at a first impression. If someone is a first-time listener to your show, you’ve only got one chance to hook them.
Start off with something attention-getting, like a great story that’s relevant to the episode. Or tell them what they are about to hear in this episode. By starting strong, you’re giving them a reason to keep listening. Small talk and tangents, whether at the beginning or middle of the episode, imply that you’re more interested in chatting away than you are providing something valuable to your audience. This is a waste of their time, and a major tune-out factor.
“I” vs “You”
This is a subtle difference, but it can be very powerful. Think about the last cocktail party or event you attended (even if it was pre-pandemic). Who did you connect with – the people who told you all about themselves, or the people who showed a genuine interest in you?
- “Here’s what I’m going to talk about today.”
- “Here’s what you’re going to hear today.”
These two sentences mean the exact same thing. However, one focuses on the host and one focuses on the listener. Which sounds more inviting?
Creating Advocates and Ambassadors
Focusing on your audience will make them truly connect with your show and, ideally, feel like a part of it. If you can truly connect with your audience, and make them passionate fans of your show, they will be your best form of advertising.
Social media and word-of-mouth are major forces in podcast discovery. And if a trusted source (online or in person) sings the praises of your show, that carries weight and significance. This will lead to natural, organic growth of your show. And that’s a surer path to long-term success than any “quick fix” marketing scheme.