A Sound Idea: Use a Podcast to Build Your Business
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As recently as 2006, podcasts were limited to the technological intelligentsia: only 22% of the population had even heard of them. But by 2022, 79% of Americans expressed familiarity with podcasts, with the vast majority having one or two they listened to regularly. Not only that, but listener frequency is growing steadily. During the decade ending in 2022, those listening to at least one podcast in the previous month more than tripled. By 2024, an estimated 100 million Americans will be regular podcast listeners.
Clearly, the audience for this medium is on a strong growth curve. But does that mean that it’s an audience independent financial advisors should be targeting?
Well, there’s plenty of evidence that listeners are eager for financial information. Category-leading productions like NPR’s Planet Money, The Dave Ramsey Show, Motley Fool Money, and others capture the attention of millions of listeners each month.
And just because there are some big players, independent planners shouldn’t assume that there isn’t room in the landscape for well-conceived audio content that is carefully designed for a specific market segment or investor persona. Because the “big kids” rely on garnering the broadest audience possible, it is eminently smart for innovative advisors to hone a presentation to appeal to the exact clients they want to acquire.
Let’s look at the keys to creating a successful podcast for your independent financial advising practice.
- Focus on brand recall and discoverability
According to a Nielsen study, podcasts and other audio-based content generate more than four times better brand recall than display ads. Major national brands also report that 61% of consumers exposed to podcast ads were more likely to purchase the advertised product. In other words, promoting your practice with a podcast is an effective way to increase impressions and perceived familiarity among your target audience. Additionally, with the recent emphasis by search engines like Google on adding transcribed audio content to search results, discoverability of podcast content will only be further enhanced. By crafting your content around effective keywords for your target audience, you gain another tool for enhancing the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. When you know what content your ideal client persona is interested in, you can design your podcast to appeal to those specific interests – and make it easier for listeners to find you.
- Commit to consistency
How many of us thought we were going to be giants in the blogosphere, only to find that within the first six months, we had only managed to generate one or two publishable articles? Obviously, to build an audience in any medium, you have to be consistent. For a podcast, you need to commit to posting at the same time, on the same day, and doing it week in, week out. Here’s where investing in the expertise of a professional consultant pays off. When you’re paying someone to keep you focused and on track (not to mention helping you with the occasional technical glitches), you’re much more likely to achieve the type of consistency that, over time, translates to a loyal and engaged audience.
- Create quality content – and personalize it
Naturally, you’ll want to build your content around the investor persona you’re trying to attract, as I mentioned in #1. But this doesn’t mean that you need to sound like somebody reading a prospectus. Remember, this podcast is you: your voice, passion, and desire to communicate with people on a vital topic. Allow yourself to talk about things that matter to you personally: your favorite sports team, your pets, what you’re reading or listening to. Make sure that you’re delivering authoritative information in each segment, but there’s no rule against allowing your personality to come through at the same time. Remember, the goal is to form a relationship with your listeners that will motivate them to seek out your services. You don’t form relationships with facts; you form them with a person. Many successful podcasters find that they get as much or more audience engagement because of a “personal” approach as they do with “expert” content. And speaking of quality, it’s wise to invest in a good microphone and a quality recording setup. If your podcast sounds like it was recorded inside your shower by using a tin can, it’s not going to inspire confidence in your listeners.
- Leverage your content
Once your content is created and available for streaming, it can work for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year after year. You can make it a feature on your website; you can transcribe the content and use it in your blog or e-newsletter; you can cross-promote in your social media postings. And don’t get discouraged in the early going if you don’t have hundreds of downloads. According to podcast platform Libsyn, the average podcast gets 141 downloads during the first 30 days. ThePodcasthost.com indicates that 30 downloads in the first week puts you in the top 50% of all podcasters. In other words, you can’t think of downloads in the same way you think of “likes” or YouTube plays. Instead, think of your podcast as playing the long game: building a reputation as a content expert with a granular understanding of the issues important to your target client persona (a.k.a., your core listening audience).
- Create value and connection
Speaking of building your reputation, don’t forget that a podcast with quality content and thoughtful SEO development – delivered with your own personal flair and style –positions you for deeper client connection, greater perceived expertise, and – maybe best of all – more referrals. Choose topics that will be evergreen for your ideal client persona, coordinating it with your website and social media channels, and re-utilizing content systematically, aligning topics with your business cycle and current events. If you haven’t already, create topic links on your website’s “insights” or “more info” page. If you know your clients are always going to be interested in good information about taxation, estate planning, budgeting, or similar topics, make it easy for them to access it through your website, and then promote, promote, promote. It can be especially effective to connect with other professionals – attorneys, CPAs, and others – who share an interest in your target clients. Invite them to be guests on your podcast, and link to their websites and social media as appropriate. Even better: Do you have a client who has specific expertise in an area of interest to your listeners? Have them on the show, encourage them to cross-promote on their own channels, and then re-leverage that content in your own channels. Such “team-building” techniques are a win-win, helping you expand your listener base and creating raving fans among your clients and other associates in the process.
Admittedly, podcasting isn’t for everyone. But for independent advisors with a clear idea of their target clientele, the ability to articulate financial concepts in everyday language, and the willingness to engage in a personal way, a podcast can be developed into a reliable pipeline to investors who are already interested in your services and are developing a ready-made level of trust. Remember, the “secret sauce” for podcasting is building community: providing a platform for people who are interested in and want to learn about what you’ve got say. To quote a familiar line from the movies, “If you build it, they will come.”
Gretchen Halpin is the co-founder of Beyond AUM, which provides growth, client experience, and advisor experience support to financial advisors to drive business success. Over the course of her 25-year career, Gretchen has founded more than five businesses in addition to serving as the chief strategy officer for one of the financial services industry's leading wealth management firms. She has been featured in Advisor Perspectives, Financial Advisor Magazine, and Forbes for her insights and has served as a speaker at numerous industry conferences, including NAPFA, Financial Planning, and Invest in Women. She also serves as a facilitator in Financial Planning Association’s Women and Finance Knowledge Circle community.
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