By Taylor Smithfield
Last month we discussed how relevant podcasts have become thanks in part to their portable nature — or rather the portability of our smartphones — and also a swell of intellectually curious consumers. The internet is like an open-source library just waiting to be Googled. We have knowledge at our fingertips, and it not only gives us power, but a more educated and engaged group of people overall.
Google is the number-one visited website for a reason. The popular search engine has unsurprisingly become an integral part of our day: “Why is the sky blue?” “What do sharks eat?” “How can failure lead to success?” are some of the most popular searches conducted recently. People are not only curious about the diets of marine animals, but they’re interested in how to become a graphic designer, how particle physics works or what pistol shooting drills will improve their accuracy. Inquiring minds need to know.
Not that the internet can’t also create doggedly ignorant people (“This blogger was talking about how essential oils will one day replace traditional medicine!”), but overall we’re seeing a trend in more curious, more open — hungrier — people. It’s not a bad idea to capitalize on this voracious desire to consume.
The Perfect Snack
Podcasts are the perfect snack for hungry audiences. Unlike radio, podcasts are on-demand, which means people can listen whenever they want without fear of missing last night’s episode: Content is evergreen. People also listen to podcasts when they’re on the go or even while they work because it’s not necessarily a medium requiring 100 percent of their attention like, say, a blog post or a video. Compared to other content, podcasts create intimate connections with audiences because people feel like the host is speaking directly to them and only them. And of course, podcast subscriptions are free.
Thanks to this level of engagement, people also tend to listen to, instead of skip over, advertisements in podcast episodes. Midroll, a conductor of the largest podcast survey, found 61 percent of listeners purchased a product or service after hearing it advertised on a podcast.1 Remember last month when we said podcast audiences tend to be more affluent and educated? The survey also reveals they tend to have more disposable income. Twenty-two percent have an annual household income of $100,000 or more.
Meeting Customer Demand?
Maybe you’d like to start a podcast or perhaps advertise on an existing one. Either route could prove profitable. The more your brand connects with customers on a personal level, the more likely they are to bring their business to you.
Of course the best podcasts already have a built-in audience in a particular industry or niche. (Spoiler alert: the firearms industry comprises a ready-made audience). Which is why Leupold’s new “Core Insider” podcast will likely be successful. The company’s CEO, Bruce Pettet, explains they launched “Core” to meet a fierce customer demand for more exploratory, educational content. The show promises to deliver industry insights and tips, but also to entertain. (An important balance to strike!)
“Taking Stock with Kelly McMillan” from McMillan Firearms has been “on the air” since January 2017. Nearing 70 episodes, the podcast publishes weekly interviews with a variety of guests like a former Marine who started an online community called Sniper’s Hide, or the creators of Guardian Long Range Competition, whose proceeds help orphans through Bethany Christian Services.
“Core Insider,” “Taking Stock” and “Long-Range Pursuit” by Gunwerks (as discussed in last month’s column) aim to reach the more conscious and curious subset of the firearms industry. Although these podcasts are published by big brands, the beauty of the podcast is it’s very cheap to produce so it’s something you, too, could do.
Choosing Your Niche
Before we discuss the practical steps to starting a podcast, let’s talk about the kind you could start. Naturally, you could test and review products. This would translate very well to a podcast platform, but consider thinking of ways to make the presentation unique, since products reviews are already quite popular in the firearms world.
Interviews are another great way to connect an audience with different personalities and perspectives. They allow listeners to hear from experts and they also expose a broader, more varied community. Gunwerk’s podcast, “Long-Range Pursuit,” plans to reveal the science behind shooting. This fantastically geeky idea is exactly what podcast consumers are demanding.
In addition to interviews, stories — both fiction and non-fiction — have become extremely popular among podcasters. Perhaps you could invite guests to tell stories from a hunt, the interesting relationships they’ve built on the range or their earliest memory of shooting as a child. Think about integrating music or sound bytes for a layered, evocative effect.
Podcasts are also ideal for keeping up with the culture or politics. With a climate clearly hostile towards the firearms industry, it’s a perfect time for people to remain informed and engaged. You could publish a podcast about safety tips or stories about how guns have improved and saved lives. Likewise, you could discuss the history of guns and how they’ve played a positive role in our country.
Your podcast could also focus more broadly on the outdoors or the best places to hunt, hike, or camp. A survivalist podcast would no doubt be a big hit with this demographic, too. Maybe you’re looking to attract a younger or more female audience. Finding your niche amongst these demographics is key.
Remember, people already have a palette for podcasts. They already crave valuable and engaging content. You don’t need to create demand; you just need to fill it.
How To Start A Podcast
There are many resources to help you start your own podcast. The Podcast Host2 breaks it down for you in eight simple steps:
1. Plan your podcast. (Identify your listener, your problem and unique solution.)
2. Name your podcast.
3. Plan your initial episodes to get a feel for your topics.
4. Choose a format that best complements your topic.
5. Select your recording equipment.
6. Produce your show. (Edit, add music and cover art.)
7. Publish your podcast to iTunes and elsewhere.
8. Think about your next steps, from promotion to monetization.