in Authority Marketing

How To Make A Successful B2B Podcast

Making a fun and revenue-generating podcast for your business doesn’t have to break the bank.  You don’t need to have a large audience or even a large budget to create a profitable show that grabs the attention of your target market.  In this article you’ll learn the four kinds of revenue generating podcasts that we see working well for B2B businesses, who should use which type, and the results you’ll get from each one.

Why We Recommend Interview Style Shows

Besides my background with interview style podcasting, Call For Content recommends interview style shows to our clients for a few simple reasons.

  1. Having on guests makes it easier for you to produce the show by using guests as topic generators to keep the content fresh.
  2. Inviting somebody onto a podcast is a great way to build rapport with them, making it easy to incorporate into existing business development, sales, and marketing strategies.
  3. Having a conversation with a guest is an easy way for a less-experienced host to create quality content. Plus, they’re damn fun to make!

Relationship Builder Shows

If your company has high-value B2B sales, and if you’re looking for a way to generate a steady lead flow or build a deep network in a targeted market, Relationship Builder podcasts can be an extremely effective tool.

Relationship Builder shows differ from the other three types we’ve discussed in that they are specifically designed to directly generate leads and relationships.  Guests on a Relationship Builder show are going to be people who are your ideal prospects, either for networking or for directly purchasing your products and services. 

A Relationship Builder style show is our #1 recommendation for consultants looking for stable high quality lead flow.

With that in mind, the biggest amount of planning that will go into this type of podcast is going to revolve around making sure you’re consistently reaching the right targets.  Getting the right people onto your show is going to be key for getting the most out of it, so you’ll definitely want to put some time and energy into finding and booking guests who are squarely within your target market.  Once you’ve got that down, preparing and producing a Relationship Builder style podcast is relatively easy.  You don’t need to necessarily have a professional level of production and editing, but in order to establish and maintain credibility to keep attracting high-quality guests, you will need to make sure your show is edited with a consistent intro and outro. 

A Relationship Builder show done right has potential for extremely strong ROI.  Topics that you discuss with your guests will be centered around your niche, and you’ll notice that interviewing your guests will naturally lead to learning about their challenges and pain points.  After you’ve spent 30 minutes (or more) talking with a prospect, that person will be far more inclined to accept an invitation from you to sit down and discuss how your services can help solve their problems.  That’s the great thing about Relationship Builder style shows — they give you an opportunity that you wouldn’t otherwise have to generate leads organically, rather than through methods like cold calling or traditional networking events.  Plus, hearing directly from your prospects about their challenges gives you up-to-date information about what types of services would best fit their needs, so you can continue to update your offerings accordingly.

Authority Combo Strategy: Rather than immediately asking a guest to sit down with you for a consultation, send them an email after the interview with  a small request to help cement your relationship with them. We like to use referrals for business if our clients have strong positioning and guest referrals if they do not. This tactic can allow you to expand your network in a target audience at a lightning pace.

Examples of Relationship Builder shows are High Velocity Radio, which celebrates top performers, and Talk With the Top: St. Louis, which shares positive stories about the local business and entrepreneur community in St. Louis, MO.  As a disclaimer, Talk With the Top is my show, but I wanted to share it because I’ve had great success using it to build a valuable network for myself here in St. Louis.

Top of the Market Shows

If you’re an established brand looking to position yourself as a market leader or if you have a medium or large existing audience, this type of B2B podcast may be the best option for you. 

Top of the Market shows cover the state of your business’s industry.  They focus on macro trends and only feature well-known guests, sometimes in a roundtable format, discussing cutting-edge or popular topics.  These podcasts are meant to showcase your business’s expertise and to establish you as the go-to source for your market’s latest ideas, trends and hot-topic discussions. 

Top of the Market shows are best used as part of a multi-channel content strategy.  You can use your podcast to tie in to or expand on topics that you’re already talking about elsewhere.  Podcasting in this way is a powerful medium to get your message across to your target audience. It gives you an opportunity to speak directly to them.

We only recommend Top of the Market style shows as a 3rd or 4th content channel.

Since the goal of this type of podcast is to position you as a market leader, Top of the Market shows are best created with professional producers and post-produciton audio engineers.  You’ll want to achieve radio-level quality in both format and content, and that will require more planning than some of the other types of shows I’ll discuss here.  Getting high-quality guests means you’ll want to get your entire content team on board with advertising and using the show.  A strong launch goal for a top of the market show could be reaching top 10 new show for your category on iTunes or reaching over 1000 downloads per episode   

A few examples of Top of the Market shows done well include Hubspot’s The Growth Show, Unbounce’s Call to Action, and Copyblogger FM’s Digital Marketing and Sales Network.  Each of these features a rotating lineup of experts talking about general topics important to listeners, such as tips for writing better blog comments and ways to use data analytics to inspire creativity.  They also don’t shy away from tackling more complex topics like the future of marketing or more general business strategy.

Authority Builder Shows

For a new or unknown B2B company, establishing yourself as an expert in your niche is key to being able to grow your brand quickly, as you probably already know.  But what you may not know is that starting a podcast for your business is one of most productive and cost-effective ways to do that.

Authority Builder podcasts, like Top of the Market shows, feature well-known experts as guests.  Instead of focusing on the industry level though, you’ll be looking for high authority guests directly related to your niche. Their presence is meant to not only provide compelling content for discussion, but also to accelerate your authority generation and credibility in the marketplace.  Getting respected experts onto your show is an indirect endorsement of your authority, products, and services.  You’re automatically gaining credibility by showing potential customers that other people at the top of your niche think highly enough of your business to spend their valuable time appearing on your show.  Plus, when you interview your guests, it’s also an opportunity to showcase your expertise by asking them intelligent, insightful questions about topics that matter to your audience.

It’s not surprising, then, that Authority Builder shows are well-positioned to evolve into Top of the Market shows as your business and your podcast grow.  When you’re first starting out, they can also serve you well by overlapping with the strategy of Relationship Builder shows, build a deep network in a targeted market for steady lead flow.  I’ll talk more about relationship builder shows a little later.

Authority Combo Strategy: We often combine the Authority and Relationship Builder styles to create shows that simultaneously generate new leads via referrals while also building authority with targeted guest picks. This usually works best for clients with strong positioning in markets with multiple "tiers" in their clients target market.

Authority Builder shows require a fair amount of planning thanks to the caliber of guests you’re aiming to bring on.  You’ll need to dig into your target market to find out who your audience’s favorite experts are, if you aren’t already familiar with them.  Then, you’ll need to coordinate the logistics and scheduling of getting your guests onto your show.  When you’re doing this, be sure to coordinate promotion of the episode through both your channels and those of your featured experts.  This will probably require a little more work on your end, since your guests most likely have a much bigger following than you at this point, but the rewards of having industry experts promoting your show and your company name will be well worth it.  They’ll help you reach a lot more people than you would be able to on your own. 

Production quality for Authority Builder shows doesn’t have to be on the high end.  The biggest points you’ll want to watch out for are avoiding  unnecessary filler words, such as “ah” and “um,” as well as editing out any long tangents that don’t add value.  For this level of production, you can either hire an editor or learn to edit the shows yourself.  And, for the sake of consistency and to maintain a professional, polished sound, make sure to use a consistent intro and outro for all of your shows.

An example of an Authority Builder show done well is the Consulting Pipeline Podcast.  It has a clearly defined focus — the journey from generalist to specialist — and its host organizes all of the show’s content around that central idea.

Culture Shows

Culture Shows work best for larger companies that have a strong emphasis on putting culture and people first, which means they’re a poor choice for soloprenuers.  If your company has a very clearly defined culture and wants to highlight it, this type of podcast can be a great way to do that.

Unlike the Authority Builder and Top of the Market types of shows, a culture podcast is focused internally, rather than externally.  Guests will be people who are experts on your company’s culture — that is, your employees and partners.  Instead of focusing on topics of relevance to your customers, the content will be geared around discussing what’s most important to your internal team members. 

The main goal of a culture podcast is to serve as a binding force to emphasize your company’s culture and reward exemplars of it with a feature on the show.  It’s a good way to showcase employees’ and partners’ accomplishments.  If a team from your accounting department took initiative to band together and solve a difficult problem, have them on the show to talk about how they incorporated teamwork and your company’s other values into their approach, and how that led to success.  A culture podcast can work well in companies that are large enough that everyone doesn’t necessarily interact with each other all the time, because it gives all employees an opportunity to learn about each other’s jobs.  Knowing that leadership recognizes and rewards employees’ dedication is also an effective way to keep up morale and motivation.   

Depending on the direction you choose to go with production, Culture Shows can also make effective recruiting tools.  If one of your selling points to potential new hires is your company’s strong culture, your podcast can be a good way to demonstrate that action and content.  It also shows potential recruits that you’re serious enough about honoring your culture and employees.

Another side benefit of Culture Shows is that they give listeners outside the company a peek into its operations and inner workings.  This can be effective if you want your customers to know more about your brand beyond the products and services you offer. Your podcast can give them a different and more personal look at your organization than what they would normally get through public relations or sales.

A Culture Show gives your audience a look at the human side of your business.

Because most or all of the guests on a Culture Shows are internal, you won’t need to do much in the way of advanced planning or booking guests.  You can book employees and partners to appear on the show when it’s convenient for both them and the show’s host, and you can also book company partners and leadership to discuss topics of relevance based on your company’s calendar.

Production value for a culture podcast doesn’t need to be at a professional level.  Keep it light.  If you have the budget to hire an editor, great, but it’s certainly not necessary. 

A few examples of Culture Shows done well include Leadpages’ ConversionCast, Shopify’s internal employees-only podcast and the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital show.  Each of these have a slightly different focus, but each one is effective.  Shopify’s show is truly aimed at just its employees, with the goal of getting people in a growing business to understand what other team members are doing, while the Leadpages and Johns Hopkins shows focus a little more on giving outsiders a glimpse into their organizations.

Tools of the Trade

As I mentioned earlier, creating a fun, revenue generating podcast for your B2B business doesn’t have to cost very much.  If you don’t already have some basic audio recording equipment though, you will need to spend a few dollars getting some.

On the low end of the production scale are Zoom.us and Skype.  Zoom in particular is a simple and extremely cost effective way to get your podcast off the ground. We recommend it over Skype because it has free audio and video recording options built in as well as a call-in function.

A step above Zoom is Zencastr, which lets you record your guests directly from their web browser, with pretty good quality.  It also lets you insert your intro and outro live as you’re recording and offers up to eight hours of recording per month for free.  Since Zencastr is web-based, it saves you the worry of having to have a backup plan in case your computer crashes or something else goes wrong with your hardware while recording.

Zencastr is our go-to recommendation for podcast recording software.

Even at the low end of production, you’ll want to make sure you have a decent quality USB microphone so you sound professional.  These don’t have to break the bank, either.  Good ones can be had for well under $100.

For higher-end podcasts, like Top of the Market shows, you may want to dive into buying some more expensive production equipment.  A sound board and XLR-input microphone will give you more options and even better sound quality.  You can also move up to Zencastr’s paid monthly services.  For $20 per month, you can get unlimited guests and recordings, as well as a digital live editing soundboard.  Zencastr is a great option if the person you’re interviewing is outside of your geographic area or can’t come to your office or recording studio, but it also works well for in-person interviews when you have a separate mic and board.

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

Podcasts are an excellent resource for mining information to repurpose for your marketing efforts through other channels. As you record shows, your archives will become a wealth of quotes, facts and information that you can turn to whenever you need content.  This will not only save you time and energy, it will ensure that your marketing efforts and messages are coordinated across all channels.

Infographics are just one example of content that you can create using your podcast transcripts.  Whenever you or a guest are discussing numbers or percentages, you can turn that information into an infographic that you can post on social media, your website, brochures, handouts, or other collateral. Go a step beyond and include your favorite tips along with visual examples to create an informative infographic summary of the interview.

Social media is another great outlet for repurposing your podcast content.  Simply highlight or note the best soundbites from your podcasts and post or tweet them out to your audience.  A double bonus of doing this is that it automatically promotes your podcast to your followers.

Podcasting can be an effective tool for anyone looking to create more content in a fun and cost effective way. If you spend a some time planning out and preparing for your first few episodes, you’ll be able to create a show that has revenue generating potential from Day 1.