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Podcasts can be an amazing marketing tool, giving you increased publicity and a built-in platform to advertise your products and services. Over the last decade or so, podcasts have grown from niche hobby to mainstream media channel. In line with this growth trajectory, superstar podcast creators have won big; Joe Rogan, for example, recently landed a $100-plus million deal to become exclusive to Spotify. And in the wake of increased consumer awareness, millions of people have flocked to the format to try and take advantage of it.
If you’re considering starting a podcast to market your business, there’s still potential for you to succeed. But there’s a big problem standing in your way: competition. What steps can you take to overcome it?
The advantages of podcasting
I want to start by talking about the advantages of starting a podcast for your business:
- Unlimited direction. You can start a podcast about almost anything. You could talk about industry news. You could host regular interviews with influencers in or adjacent to your field. You could even start your own niche, hobby-based podcast and tie it to your business more loosely.
- Audience size. The biggest appeal of podcasting for most business owners is the sheer potential audience size. Currently, there are an estimated 120 million monthly podcast listeners. If you’re one of the lucky creators who wins a massive audience, you could end up talking to millions of people every episode.
- Propensity for growth. The scale of podcasting is already enormous, and it just keeps growing. It’s estimated that by 2023, the number of American podcast listeners could climb to 164 million. Worldwide, the number of podcast listeners will be many times higher.
- Content diversification. Podcasting is an excellent way to “diversify” your content portfolio. Most business owners understand that content marketing is one of the best ways to raise visibility of a brand, attract traffic and even win more sales. But straightforward written content isn’t enough to help you trounce the competition and give you the support you need. Complementary channels, like podcasting and video streaming, can help you reach more people and appeal to more diverse interests.
- Low barrier to entry. Additionally, the barrier to entry for podcasting is quite low. You don’t need a PhD. You don’t need thousands of dollars of expensive equipment. In most cases, you just need a decent computer, a decent microphone and a bit of time on your hands. This is partially what’s been responsible for the explosion in podcast creation over the past several years.
The competition problem
Podcasting can be massively beneficial, but everyone else realizes that as well. There are currently more than two million active podcasts, with more than 48 million episodes as of April of 2021. Even if you only consider podcasts in your target niche, you’ll still be competing with thousands to hundreds of thousands of direct competitors.
Is it too late?
So is it “too late” to enter the podcasting game?
In some ways, yes. You won’t be able to capitalize on the explosive growth of the communication channel the way that many media moguls did at the beginning of the platform’s history. And if you decide to enter the game, you’ll have difficulty standing out and winning a loyal audience of your own.
That’s not a death sentence, however. It just means you’ll need to employ additional strategies to account for the increased amount of competition you’re going to face.
- Cover a new topic. Consider covering a topic that no one else has covered before. Do you have an area of expertise that isn’t sufficiently represented in the podcast market? You might have to think beyond the limits of your current industry if you want something truly unique.
- Take a new angle. If you find that the podcast market is saturated with people covering topics of interest to you, consider taking a new angle. If the top competitors in your chosen channel are exclusively focused on interviews, try creating more opinion pieces. If the top podcasts are all short-form and bite-sized, try doing something long-form instead.
- Appeal to a niche demographic. Instead of brainstorming a topic that nobody’s tried before, consider taking a currently covered topic and bending it to cater to an unusual or neglected demographic. Choosing a unique target audience could help you earn relevance in a congested space.
- Spice things up. It’s possible to stand out and win a loyal audience even in if you’re covering a common topic — as long as you offer something original and interesting. Entertain your audience, use a sarcastic tone, create an original character or find some other way to spice things up.
Podcasting could be a great way to promote your business and win new customers — as long as you have a plan to deal with the incredible amount of competitors that have cropped up in recent years. In the meantime, spend some time listening to business podcasts relevant to you as an entrepreneur. You might get an idea for how to start one of your own. At the very least, you’ll learn something new.
Originally appeared in Entrepreneur