5 Ways a Podcast Will Help Your Business

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Podcasts are a wildly popular means of entertainment, often replacing music, radio, or other digital broadcasts (like SiriusXM). Browse the iTunes top charts and you'll see recognizable names like "This American Life," "Ted Talks," and "Freakanomics."

The burst in popularity created a new frontier for retail businesses to reach a bigger audience. Thousands of businesses, big and small, put out weekly podcasts to make a more personal connection with audiences around the world.

As a retailer, you may think that a podcast doesn't fit your marketing plan. But consider this - the number one reason people search online is to gather information. The propose of your podcast should be to provide FREE information. The more you education your customers, the more loyal they become to you. Customer loyalty is a very hard thing to acquire in this post-digital world. People are drawn to brands that educate them and prepare them to make a wise decision on their purchase. 

If you don't have one, here's why you should:

1. Become an Expert

The number one reason a customer chooses a local or specialty retailer is that they are looking for an expert. Experts are had to come by these days. "It seems to be mostly kids working" is a common sentiment expressed by today's shopper. You have an expertise that needs to be shared. It's what customers are yearning for and a podcast can help establish you as the local or regional or even national expert.

2. Build Relationships Through Familiarity

Even though communication though podcasts is one-way, it can often feel more like a dialogue. Take "The Monday Morning Podcast" by comedian Bill Burr for example. He seldom has guests or other comedians on his show, and usually spends an hour a week ranting to the audience and reading fan emails.

Simply speaking into the microphone is a great way to personally connect with your audience outside the polished "brand" your customers might be accustomed to. Though Burr is hilarious on his podcast (not for children, if you want to listen), it's a different variety of humor compared to his standup act, and that's what fans love about it.

3. Increase Conversations & Relevant Topics

One of the most popular podcasts of 2015 is "Serial," a mini-series hosted by reporter Sarah Koenig as she recounts her journey into the case of Adnan Syed —a high school student convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. As Koenig digs deeper, the facts and lies of the case bleed into each other, and the audience is taken on a movie-like mystery of who is truly responsible for the murder and where the truth may lie.

"Serial" is actually a sub-series of "This American Life" and the Baltimore Sun where Koenig worked as a reporter. And even though the audience isn't talking about it directly, the current events of the show are driving people to learn more from these sources.

4. Learn Better Speaking Skills

Because podcasts are typically a one-person show, hosting one isn't too different from giving a monologue or presentation to a live audience.

Filling a one-hour podcast is no easy task; it takes practice, preparation, and skill to hold a listener's attention for 60 minutes. A weekly podcast can help you be a much better speaker when the time comes for a big presentation or speech.

5. Break Into Your Genre

Just like "The Monday Morning Podcast" helped Bill Burr break into a new reach of standup comedy, other entertainers can propel into their own genre with a podcast. If you're a musician who owns a music store, you don't need to perform for an hour every week to reach a new audience. Just take some time to talk about music and your passions and your store, and then direct listeners to your Shutterstock or music page if they want to hear more. Just like the first point, your audience will be more inclined to hear more if you've made a personal connection.

6. Prepare for What's Next

Podcasts are just the beginning. As they're on the way up, radio is on its way down. If your show finds its place in the podcast world, you have that much more of a head start when podcasts become the next big medium in entertainment. But most importantly, customers start to see you as an expert and that is who they want to buy from.