What are the problems your audience has that need to be solved? Understanding the pain points of your listening audience is key to helping you craft your message and your approach as you set up proper expectations for your audience.
Problems, broadly speaking, fall into one of two camps: acute problems and chronic problems.
It Hurts When I Do This
Acute problems are those that need solving once—ideally quickly, but not necessarily—and then the problem is no more.
Take filing taxes as an example. Each year, changes to the tax code mean taxpayers have an acute problem to solve: What deductions can I take? What can I no longer take? And what other changes in tax law will impact me this year? Those questions are specific, but also broad, as they need to know what they don't know. Once solved, they don't want to think about the problems again. At least not for another year.
If you're servicing that audience or an audience like that with your podcast, you'd be well advised to put out quick-hit episodes with solid titles to help your episodes stand out as your listener is sorting through what episodes they need to listen to as they go about solving the problems fresh on their mind that day.
Consider the acute problem of someone taking a really long flight, like eight hours or more, looking to stay entertained or informed while they're locked in, with questionable wifi access. That traveler needs to download content, and they're likely to prioritize content that flows nicely. Resorting and hunting through a playlist or queue on their non-wifi-connected phone mid-flight isn't all that fun.
If you're servicing that audience or an audience like that with your podcast, making distinct series or collections of episodes available, with an emphasis on branding those collections, could be helpful. As can properly using season and episode tags, so that your listener can easily get what they need with little fear of getting random episodes that break up their listening flow. Organization and packaging matter.
Or perhaps your listener is a consumer looking to buy a new laptop that fits their needs the best. They'd like a clear rundown of the features and benefits in a way that cuts out the fluff so they can make a well-informed decision in an efficient manner.
If you're servicing that audience or an audience like that with your podcast, you need a tight format that's straightforward for you to produce and easily conveys the needed information to your listener. Maybe give some comparisons and reviews, or whatever it is that helps listeners get the answers they need from you.
Knowing why your audience is there allows you to craft the right kind of podcast content to solve their immediate acute problems.
You Say "Problems" Like Their A Bad Thing
Chronic problems are long-term issues—perhaps even perpetual—that are low-grade worries or just the realities of your listeners' everyday lives.
Where filing taxes this year is an acute problem, financial planning or money management is a chronic problem that your audience may have an ongoing interest in.
if you're servicing that audience or an audience like that with your podcast, you'll need higher concept episodes that focus on the "why" questions as much (if nor more) than the "how-to" ones. And you'll also want to constantly reinforce positive benefits and the reward-reaping of staying on top of things. Those messages are likely to keep your podcast audience coming back to you and your podcast for more.
Where an 8-hour flight is an acute problem, perhaps your audience member is a traveler who spends 50% or more of their time in the air. Or maybe they have a different need that has them seeking to fill multi-hour blocks of their day with podcasts. Perhaps they're a driver or just have a really boring job.
If you're servicing that audience or an audience like that with your podcast, a deep catalog is probably important. That means you need to find ways to increase your output. Have you considered collaborating with another podcaster? What about showcasing the work of other podcasters on your podcast? Or even going so far as to syndicate other content to help you keep your audience well-fed?
And instead of a one-time big electronics purchase, maybe your podcast services an audience that is deeply interested in the latest and greatest technology. Or has some other focus that requires them to be informed of whatever is new in their own field of interest that your show speaks to.
You'd be best served if you became a trusted source for those people. Not just your podcast, but literally you as that trusted source. It's still super smart to develop a format that enables your content to be easily digested and shared. Reviews and comparisons are probably still important, but with a healthy injection of more "you" into your show, keep your name recognition high.
Easy, right? Well... not so fast. As often happens in life, things are a bit more complicated. In reality, your listeners have both acute and chronic problems. So you need to present solutions to both types.
But you're not alone, and you don't have your audience's undivided attention.
Playing Nice With Other Problem Solvers
For as much as we love podcasting, it's sometimes (oftentimes?) much easier to jump on YouTube, do a quick search for the acute problem we're facing right now, and get a fast answer in minutes. Or seconds, if we're lucky.
Yeah, we rightfully cast a lot of shade on the "experts" on YouTube passing out outdated or outright wrong answers. But it's not all bad advice. There are some good pieces. Which is why we use it too. And unless something amazing happens, podcasting will likely never be as searchable as YouTube.
We podcasters are also aware of an invention called "a book". And books, be they paperbound, electronic, or audio, often make for nice and portable containers of knowledge or entertainment. Most are completely on point and have a lot less extraneous content than other forms of media. The other advantage to a book is the uniform consumption experience from start to finish.
Those sources and more are our reality. As much as your audience loves you and your show, they're going to consume other content. Content that touches on the same topics and subjects of your podcast.
Yes, they're going to cheat on you. And that's okay.
The best you can do is make the best podcast content that you possibly can. Just understand—and accept—that a good swath of your audience will, in fact, dip in and out of your content. Just like they dip in and out of other people's content.
You can't solve every single problem for every single member of your audience. But you can work to make sure you've covered as much of the problem landscape as makes sense for you and your podcast.
I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.