When it comes to podcast success, creating a thoughtful strategy before you hit the record button is essential.
With over 5 million podcasts in existence and 70 million episodes between them, listeners are beginning to expect more from the podcasts they consume, so it’s important to find alignment with your team from the get-go.
Of course, it’s impossible to plan out your every move before you begin executing your podcast—after all, podcasting is a fluid process and unexpected issues will likely arise along the way.
However, it’s still important to determine at least a rough game plan in advance to avoid losing steam mid-season.
So, how can podcasters create a winning podcast strategy before the real heavy lifting begins?
Here are 7 questions to consider when devising your branded podcast strategy:
What’s the goal of my podcast?
One of the most important questions to ask yourself before launching your podcast is, “What am I trying to achieve?”
Setting specific goals helps you clarify the purpose of your branded podcast. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales? Knowing your objectives allows you to tailor your content and marketing strategies accordingly.
Additionally, goals provide benchmarks for measuring your podcast's success. By establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) such as download numbers, listener engagement, or conversion rates, you can track your progress and make data-driven decisions to improve your strategy.
Goals hold you and your team accountable for your podcasting efforts. When everyone knows what they are working towards, it becomes easier to allocate resources, assign responsibilities, and ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the podcast's objectives.
Here are some other potential podcast goals that may resonate with your brand:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Connect with industry leaders and experts
- Establish brand authority and thought leadership
Once you have your primary “why” established, it’s time to refine your goal further. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- - Is the goal attainable?
- - Is the goal important?
- - Is the target specific enough?
- - Is the goal measurable?
- - Is there a time limit?
Remember, sustainable success in branded podcasting requires ongoing goal-setting. As you achieve one set of goals, you can create new ones to drive continuous growth, ensuring your podcast remains a valuable asset for your brand.
Goals should be flexible and subject to adjustment as circumstances change. Podcasting trends, audience preferences, and market dynamics can evolve rapidly. Regularly reviewing and adapting your goals ensures your strategy remains relevant and effective.
Who am I speaking to?
A successful branded podcast requires a deep understanding of your target audience.
By defining your audience's needs, preferences, and pain points, you can create content that resonates with them and fosters a stronger connection between your brand and your listeners.
Here are some questions to help guide your research:
- Who is our ideal customer or client?
- Who is our ideal podcast listener?
- Why is my content interesting and/or important?
- What type of content resonates with my ideal listener?
- What value does my content provide to my listeners? Is there a problem it solves?
Once you have a general idea of who you’re catering to, we suggest refining your research further to create an ideal listener persona. Here are some characteristics to keep in mind:
- Industry and Occupation
- Socioeconomic status
- Social Causes
- Pain Points
For example, instead of simply saying your target audience is “mothers,” you can get more granular and say your ideal listener is a “middle-class, university-educated, female between the ages of 25 and 40 with infant-aged children who are interested in child psychology.”
By outlining your target listener persona, you can craft content that directly addresses their needs and desires.
This tailored approach ensures that your podcast resonates with the listeners, providing them with valuable insights, solutions, and entertainment that align with their interests.
What are my competitors doing?
By analyzing your competitors' branded podcast efforts, you gain a better understanding of the podcasting landscape within your industry.
You can identify who your direct competitors are, their podcast topics, formats, and the level of success they've achieved. This knowledge helps you set realistic goals and expectations for your own branded podcast.
Through competitor research, you can pinpoint gaps and opportunities in the market. By identifying topics or angles that your competitors haven't covered or have covered inadequately, you can position your branded podcast to fill those voids. This can help you stand out in a crowded field by defining (and refining) your niche.
Examining your competitors' podcasts can provide valuable insights into their audience demographics and preferences. You can learn about the types of content that resonate with your target audience, enabling you to tailor your podcast strategy to meet their needs and preferences more effectively.
Here are some questions to answer during your competitor research:
1) What topics do competitors cover?
2) How frequently do they publish new episodes?
3) What kind of guests do they have on the show?
4) How have they positioned their podcast?
5) What keywords do they use on their website and where is the traffic coming from?
Is anyone else involved in your podcast process?
When it comes to executing a winning podcast strategy, taking a clear stance on roles from the beginning is essential.
Limited resources, such as time and budget, necessitate careful allocation. Whether you’ll be outsourcing some of the work to freelancers, bringing in some help from your network, hiring an agency, or just relying on yourself, it’s important to determine who will be doing what when it comes time to hit the ground running.
By delegating tasks like scripting, editing, guest sourcing, and hosting before you begin executing your podcast, you’ll be putting yourself in a better position to get the work done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What’s my budget?
When it comes to establishing a budget for your branded podcast, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of the expenses involved in creating and maintaining a high-quality podcast series.
While it may be tempting to cut corners by using your smartphone and free editing software to produce your podcast, it's advisable not to take this route.
Remember, your podcast serves as a representation of your brand, and it should consistently maintain a level of quality to make a positive impression on your audience. Poor audio quality is a significant turn-off for listeners.
Fortunately, achieving decent sound quality doesn't necessarily require a massive financial investment. Podcasting equipment and software are generally more budget-friendly compared to other forms of media production, such as video.
For this basic setup, you can anticipate spending around $100 or more. However, if you aim for a professional-grade setup, prices can range upwards of $750.
Another aspect to consider when budgeting for your branded podcast is the cost of podcast hosting. Podcast hosting services offer a range of pricing options, typically ranging from $5 per month to $100 per month. The exact cost varies depending on the hosting company you choose, the number of episodes you produce, and even the volume of downloads your podcast receives.
Adding a bit of complexity to the equation, different hosting providers may base their pricing on factors like megabytes (MB), hours, downloads, or bandwidth. Therefore, it's crucial to thoroughly research and compare hosting options before committing to ensure you select the best fit for your needs and budget.
If you’re a large brand with a large budget, hiring a full-service podcast agency is another favorable option.
If you’re interested in a full breakdown of the benefits and a list of our top agencies, check out our full guide here.
What is my format?
Selecting the right branded podcast format is a critical factor in crafting a successful branded podcast strategy.
For instance, when creating a health and wellness-focused show, you have various formatting options at your disposal. You might opt for a format featuring multiple interviews interspersed with voiceovers and music clips, or you could showcase a complete interview flanked by music segments. Although both are centered around health and wellness, they employ different formats to convey their content.
There are several noteworthy podcast formats to consider when formulating your branded podcast strategy:
- Solo (Monologue): Where a single host presents the content.
- Co-hosted: Involving two or more hosts engaging in discussions or commentary.
- Live Shows: Podcasts recorded in real-time with a live audience.
- Interview Q&A: Featuring interviews with guests, often in a question-and-answer format.
- Documentary: Structured like a documentary, exploring a particular topic or theme.
- Fictional or Radio Play (Storytelling): Narrating fictional stories or creating radio-style dramas.
- Scripted Narrative Video Podcast: Combining scripted narratives with visuals for a multimedia experience.
Determining the ideal duration for your podcast episodes can also influence the choice of format. Branded podcast episodes typically range from 15 minutes to 40 minutes.
It's worth noting that there are no strict rules regarding podcast episode length, as demonstrated by podcasts like Joe Rogan's, which can extend beyond two hours. This flexibility is one of the compelling aspects of the podcasting medium, allowing creators to tailor their content to their unique objectives and audience preferences.
For some inspiration, here’s a glance at the most popular podcast formats in 2022:
What’s my content focus?
When devising your winning podcast strategy, you’ll also want to consider some of the content themes and topics you’d like to cover.
While it’s by no means necessary to draft every single episode theme before recording your first episode, it will be crucial to have an understanding of what you’re going to be discussing on the podcast and how it ties back to your main goal.
During this step, you may want to book a brainstorming meeting with your team to decide on the rough parameters of your content strategy and ideate some initial concepts to play around with.
Another exercise you can do at this stage is creating a word association bubble to come up with catchy names, taglines, and episode titles for your podcast. These details can be organized in Miro, Trello, or even a Google Doc.
Quick tip: To prevent podfade, consider recording a minimum of four or more episodes before your launch, and ensure you always have a backlog of at least a month's worth of episodes. This approach will establish a strong foundation for your podcast and alleviate the stress of constantly needing to create fresh content.
Your podcasting success starts here
A winning podcast strategy has many moving parts and will vary slightly depending on your specific goals, needs, and desires as a podcaster. However, the initial strategizing stage is crucial for all podcasters because it gives you the time to level set and determine logical next steps.