7 Questions to Answer Before You Start a Podcast

podcast checklist
May 18, 2015
Audio Production

We’ve written before about the important role podcasts play in your marketing mix. Once you decide to pursue this opportunity, how do you create a top business podcast?

To help you with the process, here are seven questions you should ask yourself before setting up a podcast. You should be able to answer all of these questions easily before you begin production. Think of these questions as a checklist; you shouldn’t move on to a question before you have answered the previous. Often the answers to previous questions will influence the future questions as you move down the list.

1. Whom is this Podcast for?

This is the very first and most important question you should be asking yourself. Any effective communication has a clear understanding of whom their audience is and knows exactly how to speak to them. It’s important to segment your target audience into small, specific groups to understand their needs, interests and circumstances.

For example, say your target audience is young Australian entrepreneurs and small business owners, both under the age of 35. Understanding their demographics gives you insight into how they will consume your podcast and what they want from it. We can assume this audience is ambitious and driven but may be lacking experience. They may have other time-consuming lifestyle traits, like a young family.

You can assume they will be listening to your podcast in what little free time they have and usually while multitasking – for example, driving to and from work.

All this information influences the content of your podcast. Staying with the same example, you may choose to include ‘tips from industry experts’ so your ambitious audience receives the guidance they crave. You might also choose to have your hosts speak informally using uncomplicated language so a multitasker can stay on track with your messages while doing other things.

2. What is the objective for this podcast?

Is the purpose of your podcast to inform? Is it to entertain? Is it to persuade? Is it to influence? Is it to shock? Is it to educate? You need to have a clear goal of what you want your audience to take away after listening to your podcast.

Although you are likely creating a podcast as part of a content marketing strategy, the objective for your podcast should not be ‘to drive business to the company’. If this is the core focus of the podcast, your audience will see straight through it. In this day and age, media consumers have an aversion to overt marketing messages because of how frequently these messages infiltrate everyday life. If your podcast sounds like an advertisement, you can be sure they will tune out before the end of your first episode.

3. What is the style?

How, and in what style, will you communicate the messages and objectives of your podcast? Will you be casual? Will you be formal? Will you be conversational?

Decisions about your style will obviously closely relate to your decided target audience and objectives. If your podcast is targeted towards mothers working from home and the podcast is designed to be entertaining and uplifting, you’re probably not going to choose a strict, formal style for your podcast.

Likewise, if your podcast is targeted at highly experienced government workers and is designed to inform and educate, you’re probably not going to adopt a casual, humorous style.

The style is the filter through which listeners will receive your information. Tread wisely in this area.

4. Who will host this podcast and what kind of guests do you want?

In choosing a host for your podcast, it’s recommended you feature more than one speaker at all times. It’s easier for several people to bounce ideas off one another than for one person to talk alone. It also sounds more natural and a lot less scripted.

Obviously, you want your hosts to be good speakers who can think on their feet and who are knowledgeable and credible in the subject matter. In all likelihood, they will be part of your team, but you might also include a host from a partnering business or relevant industry.

Your choice of hosts will reflect the style and audience of your podcast, as should the kind of guests you invite to contribute. Guests are highly recommended in business podcasts because they keep your podcast varied and interesting. They allow you to maintain a variety of opinions and insights in your content.

You don’t need to plan every single guest you’ll ever feature, but as a starting point you’ll probably want to send an invitation out to several people whom you’d like to include before you start. Put yourself into the mind of your audience. Whom would you want to hear from and why?

5. Where are you going to host this podcast?

This doesn’t mean what room you will record in, but rather what hosting platforms you will choose to use. Will you choose to host your podcast on Soundcloud? Will it be on iTunes? Will your podcast be embedded on your company website or will it have it’s own stand-alone site with a link to your company’s page?

There are many considerations to how you will host your podcast, and they will relate to the choices you have made in previous questions. No matter what, you want your podcast to be visible and accessible to anyone who is in your target audience and interested in your subject matter. You might want to create social media pages linking to your podcast but research where your target market hangs out before you take this step.

6. What is the distribution of this podcast? How long will it be and how often will it be released?

Will your audience prefer short, 15-minute podcasts? Or will they gain more from an hour-long podcast? Will you publish every week, fortnight or month? Will you have themed months or stand-alone subjects?

These are the considerations you must make while keeping in mind your audience, goals, style and show hosts. You want to maintain a certain consistency to keep your audience engaged, but you also don’t want to commit yourself to promises you can’t keep. Be realistic; where is the intersection between what your audience wants and what you can deliver?

7. How are you going to produce this podcast?

In recording your podcast, will you attempt to use DIY technologies or will you seek the services of a recording studio? Each option has its pros and cons, as using your own technology is inexpensive but reduces your perceived professionalism.

If you choose to use a recording studio, the production quality will be greatly improved but there are considerations to be made when you contract this service. Does your chosen studio/production house have experience in producing podcasts? Are they experienced in the style you envision for your podcast? Will it be recorded in one take, or will it have edit points? The answers to these questions will depend on the length of your podcast and also the style. You want to do as much research as you can before making these decisions on production to ensure you have the best possible end product.

If you need help or advice about setting up a podcast for your business contact Lush – The Content Agency. We have a wealth of experience creating popular podcasts and radio programs.