I started podcasting in 2003.
Six Pixels of Separation has over 640 episodes to date. It is published every Sunday. It’s a long-form show format. I interview a business/thought leader (usually about a new book or a big concept that they are promoting), and it’s conversation based (not a straight forward Q&A). Along with Six Pixels of Separation, I also host Groove – The No Treble Podcast, where I am slowly trying to build the largest oral history of electric bass players. That show is monthly, and we’ve published close to fifty episodes. It has the same long-form show format as Six Pixels of Separation. Both shows are rarely under 40 minutes, and most edge closer to 60 minutes. I don’t write this to inflate my own tires or to impress you. I’ve simply learned a lot about podcasting and have watched it transform from an edge/indie medium to one that many businesses are thinking about starting these days.
Why should your business start a podcast?
That’s another conversation for another day. You have to figure out whether you enjoy the audio format of the medium, the frequency, the content type, how it will get rolling, produced and distributed and what you want for a business outcome. My origin story with podcasting was pretty straightforward. Back in 2003, I was blogging every single day, and simply wanted to take a break. My idea was to “talk” what I would have written on any given Sunday. What many people don’t know about me, is that from 1989 and onward (for about a decade), I was a music journalist and spent my days interviewing hundreds (maybe thousands) or musicians, artists and entertainers. I “cut my teeth” figuring out out how to have these public conversations over a long period of time. So, the current format of my shows are a comfortable place for me. Your mileage may vary.
Fine. But, from a business perspective, what are the actual benefits of podcasting?
- Problem solver. The shows enable me to call on any expert, author or thought leader in the world to discuss an issue that my business (or a client) may be facing. It could be related to a technology innovation or how to be more creative or how to increase sales. I use the podcast as an “in” to get answers to questions that are challenging me about my business and my clients’ businesses.
- What is the next challenge? The show also forces me to think about the challenges that my clients and other business professionals may be facing in the future. Is blockchain going to change everything? Does artificial intelligence really matter when it comes to developing a campaign? The show allows me (and the audience) to stay ahead of the curve.
- Success = Reading. I read a lot of books (over 60 this year alone). Because I tend to have conversations with authors, it forces/keeps me reading at a frenetic pace. I believe that this makes me smarter, stronger, and better equipped to solve any business/life challenge. Everyone talks about popular authors and bestselling books, but my experience says that few people actually read the books, and spend a significant amount of time “in the weeds” on a topic. I’ll often hear “experts” talk about a subject, and by reading a book or two on the same subject, I can eyeball how “experienced” they truly are. This doesn’t make me know the topic better (I’m no expert!), it just makes me aware of the subject matter with more depth than most. I also believe that reading a lot of books (again, spending the time to dig in deep) is the true secret to business success.
- Success is actually about asking better questions. Tagging along with reading for success, the outcome of that effort is that you can ask better questions. Asking better questions will get your brand better answers. Period. End of sentence. When you host a podcast, you are forcing yourself to work on this area of expertise. The guests are being asked the same questions – day in and day out. Having a podcast forces you to think of better questions. Always. Non-stop.
- Better communications. Editing and thinking about the already recorded audio content has made me a much better presenter of ideas and communicator. Why? You really hear your flubs, words that you repeat and your stammers… in detail when you edit/listen back. It’s a great teacher. Also, the limitations of the conversation/content of the show forces you to reflect on how you communicate and present. Both of those skills are huge and important in business success today.
- The spin-off artist. It’s not easy to do, and it requires a lot of attention, but the show has also created and inspired a lot of spin-off content. From blog posts and articles to stories that I can tell from the stage and solutions for clients. It goes well beyond just that, but as your spend hours with interesting people, other ways to use that content for a brand becomes increasingly obvious…. And opportunistic.
- The great monetizer. I don’t do this, but I might soon (and many do). Podcasting is growing in popularity, so the ability to find advertisers, sponsors and more is right there for the taking, assuming that you can build, grow and sustain an audience. From a corporate perspective, the main reason that Six Pixels of Separation never had any of this, was because (at the time), my agency was the only “external” brand that I wanted the listener to be exposed to. The hope was simple: should the content resonate with the audience, maybe they would consider our agency if there was work to be done. Now that I am a “free agent,” the show might have an advertising/sponsorship component to it. We shall see.
- The greatest opportunities. Over the years, my show has brought in many new clients, introduced me to my literary agent (which got me a book publishing deal), and has been a major reason for event planners to search me out for speaking events (which led to speaking bureau representation). So, in a few word: money, business development and growth.
- The greatest benefit. All of the above means little to nothing when compared the amazing friendships and relationships that my show has built over the years. If your network is your net worth, then my podcast has made me one of the wealthiest people on this planet (by my own measure). While there is not a direct relationship to having a show and making new friends/contacts, it has been the most important strategic by-product of the show. Truly powerful and real friendships and relationships. The coolest part? These people and friends are from all over the world! Glorious.
What am I missing? What are some of the other great benefits of starting a podcast for your business?