The series finale of Game of Thrones just happened. This coming weekend, the Indy 500 is happening. I know these things, but I’m not (yet) a watcher of Game of Thrones. Nor am I fan of auto racing.
But nonetheless, I'm aware of these things because they are blockbuster events. How can you, the working podcaster, do something similar?
Both NBC and HBO have fostered the public conversation -- nationally and internationally -- about these two events. When you look closely, you’ll see that there's a big difference in the way these events were marketed vs the way podcasters typically go about marketing their shows/episodes.
Granted, big organizations like HBO and NBC have something that most podcasters don't have. A true network. And they’re in the business of driving either eyeballs (for ads) or keeping you from canceling your paid subscription. Quite a few podcasters, especially business podcasters, don't run ads. And most aren’t relying on paid subscriptions. So there are differences.
But in those differences is where we find the lessons.
Most podcasts -- even business podcasts -- tend to market “after the fact”. The big push for new listeners is done in arrears after the episode is published. From a listener-perspective, that makes sense. Why advertising something that isn’t yet available? Especially when there’s no immediate need to have massive numbers of people listen at the same time. Heck, doesn’t that entire concept break what podcasting is all about?
Leaving that last concern (if it even is a valid concern) aside for the moment, let’s examine the idea of building anticipation in the world of podcasting.
Most podcasters will face challenges in building anticipation. Many podcasters are podcasting too close to the ball and have no idea what’s happening on their next episode. But all it takes is some planning and foresight to solve that problem. Which you have to do it you’re going to build anticipation for a future episode.
But not every episode is worthy of anticipation-building. But events, however, often are. That Game of Thrones episode last week was the end of the series. That's a big deal. If your podcast is also “seasoned”, where you’re producing episodes that build off one another and finally culminate in a final episode, you’ll find it easier to can get people excited about the finale.
Don’t underestimate the power of a “series wrap” to draw in lots of listeners. I have seen several cases where a podcast experiences a big spike in downloads when the final episode is posted. There are many people out there who will wait to subscribe/listen until all of the episodes are available, then they binge.
Can your business-focused podcast play to that audience?
If not, can you create your own event? Or is there an event in your industry that you can build anticipation for? In the podcasting space, we have a big event each year when Edison releases their Infinite Dial report. Many of us in the business of podcasting -- even hobbyists -- talk up the event for weeks in advance. That’s a good promo for the report release, which builds an even bigger audience.
If we can “manufacture” an event around a report release, surely you can do the same for your business podcast. What event -- or perhaps your take on an event -- can you leverage to build anticipation for your coverage?
Of course, when HBO, NBC, or other networks do this, they have the power of a network behind them. As a business podcaster, you probably are not part of a network. But you could build your own. I've talked previously about the DIY approach to building your own network. And I think businesses can do it a whole lot easier than independent podcasters.
The lesson podcasters can learn from the Game of Thrones series finale and the Indy 500 race is one of anticipation. People like to anticipate things. So if you have a “thing” worth of building anticipation, start marketing it earlier and make those marketing efforts laser-focused.
Think about how you can build anticipation around an event, and utilize that anticipation to bring attention to your business-focused podcast.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.