Knowing your audience is the #1 key to starting a podcast right

If you’re thinking about starting a public affairs podcast you’re probably asking (or being asked), “okay, so who’s going to listen to this?” Good question.

In fact, it’s not just one of the questions you should be asking when you think podcasting for your business or organization, it’s the first and most important question you should ask. The simple answer is your audience. So you’d better know who that is before you start your podcast.

Read: 3 Common Questions about Podcasting for Public Affairs Organizations

Whether anyone listens to a podcast has a lot to do with marketing and promotions, distribution platforms, and other common content marketing requirements, but, ultimately, your podcast will be judged on just one criterion: the value listeners get from it. A podcast that provides real value to the audience can always succeed, even if the marketing goes through changes before it finds the right audience.

Define your audience

If you're starting a public affairs podcast, you're speaking to an audience. Know who they are.
If you’re podcasting for business, you’re speaking to an audience. Know who they are.

You can ensure you are starting a podcast that creates value and avoid marketing misfires by making defining your audience the first step in your process. 

Depending on how comprehensive your marketing (and particularly any content marketing) is, you may already have a good idea of who your intended audience is because you’re already using blogs, social media, and other channels to reach them.

If you’re a nonprofit, for example, your audience may be your members. If you’re a business, your audience might be potential customers or current clients. If you have a large number of employees, you might create an internal podcast with your employees as your audience. Your audience might even be a combination of these.

Whoever they are, when starting a podcast for public affairs you should take the time to consider what you know about your audience and how they might listen to your show. Are they commuters? Activists? Very busy people with little time on their hands? Think about them and the factors in their lives that might affect how they think about a podcast.

Often, people in podcasting talk about creating an audience “avatar,” a hypothetical individual who represents the most important characteristics of your ideal audience member. This is a useful exercise if the primary (and possibly exclusive) goal is maximum listenership. 

For most businesses and organizations I work with, who listens to their podcasts is as important as how many, and a single avatar usually fails to encompass that effectively. In these cases, defining a few avatars can be helpful but often simply defining a clear market for the podcast, as with any other product, is sufficient. 

Define the value you give

If you are starting a public affairs podcast, you should provide clear value to your audience. They should enjoy listening.
Your podcast should provide clear value to your audience. They should enjoy listening.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the audience you’ll need to articulate the value you intend to provide them before starting a podcast.

That value might be education, or information, or even entertainment, but you should consider what kind of value your ideal audience might want from a podcast. Would they appreciate help figuring out investment strategies or buying a new car? Is parenting advice likely to be something they can use? Maybe they’d find discussions and insights about government policy important? 

It’s important to articulate the value you think your audience wants; don’t assume you know what they would find valuable in a podcast, even if you have a clear idea of what they like in other media. Podcasts are not the same. 

One key difference between podcasts and other content marketing channels is the need to provide consistent content over several episodes. A list of ten steps to perfect barbecued spare ribs may make a million-view blog post, but that doesn’t mean people will want to listen to a 30-minute podcast episode about each of the ten steps. It might, however, mean they’d listen to a 30-minute podcast episode about spare ribs, and another about brisket, and another about barbeque chicken, etc.

The value you get makes it worthwhile

If your public affairs podcast provides value to your audience, they will return that value to your organization..
If your podcast provides value to your audience, they will return that value to your organization.

One of the great things about starting a podcast is that they can provide much more value to an audience compared to other media. Video and text require your audience’s undivided attention but many people listen to podcasts when doing regular activities such as exercising, doing house or yard work, or are otherwise actively engaged in something else. Only podcasting can reach people during these times.

Video and text’s need for an audience’s undivided attention also limits their scope. A home renovation company, for example, can produce a blog post or video called Ten Steps for Renovating your Home, but both require the focused attention of the audience so brevity becomes important. Imagine how much more detail (and value!) they could provide by producing ten 15-minute episodes of a podcast!

Businesses and organizations, in particular, reap the benefits of the value they provide to audiences by starting a podcast. As with all well-executed content marketing, your listeners become customers, members, or stakeholders, and the value they gain from your podcast, plus the value you receive from them as your business grows, creates more opportunities for you to produce new podcasts and episodes that keep them engaged. 

Listening to your podcast represents an investment someone is making in you, your business, or organization. Defining your audience, and articulating the value you can provide to them by starting a podcast, will go a long way toward ensuring you can answer the question, “Who’s going to listen to this?” with a confident, “All the right people.” 

Learn more about starting a public affairs podcast. 

If you focus on the things I’ve explained here, starting a business podcast can be a very effective addition to a content marketing strategy. Find out more about all of this and get a free consultation about podcasting for your business or organization by clicking the button below.