Podcasting for Ag Marketers

[Audio Transcript Below]

Hi, I’m Sarah McNabb – Chief Marketing Officer at Gate 39 Media, a full-featured marketing and technology agency serving the financial, agricultural, and professional services industries.

And in today’s session, I’ll be covering How a Podcast Can Boost Your Agricultural Marketing Efforts.

I’m here in Citation Needed Media’s professional podcast studio in downtown Chicago and, as you can see if you’re watching this as a webinar that, in addition to recording a webinar, I’m also…recording this session as an audio podcast.

Let’s dive right in and start with the basics.

What is a podcast?

You may or may not be listening to podcasts already, but for everyone’s benefit, we’ll start with defining what it is:

Podcasting is a free service that allows Internet users to pull (or stream) audio files (typically MP3 files) from a podcasting website to listen to in an audio player on their computers, mobile devices, or phones.

The term comes from a combination of the words iPod (a personal digital audio player made by Apple) and broadcasting.

I listen to podcasts on my smartphone – my Podcast app automatically updates with the latest episodes when they’re release, so that the latest episodes are automatically delivered fresh to me. I even get pop-up notifications when the latest episode has arrived and is ready to be listened to.

Podcasts are a highly engaging, low-cost marketing technique that appeals to a broad demographic.

If you are marketing to agri-businesses, farmers, and producers – audio content is one of the best ways to reach them where they live.

Whether they’re in the field, or in the office, busy on-the-go ag industry players appreciate efficient, time-saving ways of getting the latest information so they can stay at the top of their game.

Listening to podcasts is also a productive way to pass the time (while accomplishing other tasks) and it enables the ag community to get information to make more informed decisions to stay competitive and help manage risk.

For example, when a USDA or commodities outlook report comes out, it’s nice for producers to have an expert provide meaningful context around the information, or to provide recommended actions.

Podcasting is an effective way for ag industry pros and marketers to speak and demonstrate their subject matter expertise to the listener.

After all, hearing a human’s voice in your ears really is a salient and intimate medium. And, in that way, if multiple episodes are listened to, a virtual relationship can be built between expert and listener.

There are lots of great ag-focused podcasts available today — where farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, and ag influencers discuss issues with each other – issues facing modern agriculture, precision-farming tech, sustainability, to hedging and other issues.

For ag marketers, having a podcast offers a great opportunity to introduce additional products that their audience would find helpful, such as subscribing to additional market intelligence reports or introducing them to seasonal producer pricing programs.

Ag podcasts can range from having a more entertainment or even humorous bent…or they can seriously focus on the volatility of the daily commodity markets and what it means for price risk…

Popular Ag Industry Podcasts You May Have Heard of Include:

  • AgriTalk podcast with Chip Flory is a 2-hour syndicated talk radio program that (in part) focuses on the business of farming and helping producers make better marketing decisions.

Another example

  • Agri-Pulse Open Mic podcast features interviews with ‘leaders in Ag policy’ in 20-minute-long weekly episodes

If you scroll through iTunes, you can see that there are lots of agricultural niche podcasts out there. And if you haven’t listened to any, I would encourage you to take a listen and see what others are doing.

You can provide value by consistently publishing insightful, helpful, timely information, there’s always going to be room for great podcasts out there.

So, Let’s Explore Why Podcasting is a Good Idea

In the never-ending effort to rise above the noise, podcasts are a way to carve out a niche, show your expertise, and provide value to your customers and potential customers at no cost to them.

Having your own podcast enables you to:

  • Answer customer (or potential customer) questions and engage with topics they care about
  • Establish your authority without selling
  • Demonstrate your team’s subject matter expertise and that you are actively participating in the conversation
  • Build brand awareness and trust – I talked about having a voice in your ear. In this way a podcast is considered a HOT medium, meaning it is “high-def” and rich in sensory data.
  • Reach a wider audience – And don’t forget that podcasts and audio are one of the best ways to reach the next generation of agricultural decision makers, who you may be looking to create relationships with
  • Provide High-value content to share and promote on all your channels
  • And having a podcast can supports and adds value to your existing marketing campaigns

Getting Started: Podcasting Basics

As with any worthwhile endeavor, a little planning goes a long way.

You don’t need a lot of equipment to get a podcast going, but you do need a plan.

When you have expertise and authority; coming up with episode topics to cover should be easy, but the key to successful podcasts is being consistent and tying your activity to goals.

By nature, people are creatures of habit and pattern seekers, so if you choose to start a podcast, you’ll need to give your listeners the consistency they desire. A consistent publishing schedule, consistent quality content, and consistent production value.

And this is where you as a podcaster will also require you to be a good organizer (or lean on a team to help you with organizing).

  • Listing out potential topics and your goals around each topic
  • Make a list of potential guests you may want to include
  • Outline a show content and scheduling calendar – some podcasts produce daily, weekly, or biweekly shows.
  • Determine your bandwidth and commit to a long-term plan for your podcast. Consistency is key. Everyone knows information has a shelf-life. So, if you only produce only 1 podcast every six months, or have inconsistent starts and stops to your project, you won’t be successful in building a meaningful listener following.

These steps will help set you on a path to building the infrastructure you’ll need to create a repeatable process for recording, producing, and marketing your podcast.

Naming Your Podcast Series

Today’s ag business landscape is affected by so many variables. As a result, there is an almost endless list of subject matter and breaking news to choose from.

When you’re coming up with a name for your podcast, think about the topics that resonate most with your audience. The podcast title should reflect your value proposition, and it should show your personality.

Make sure the niche is clearly conveyed. Cut to the chase and be sure to use terms and phrases that are common in the industry.

Be creative, but not cryptic. Think about your audience – what’s going to hook them?

How Long Should Your Podcast Be?

You might have an endless list of topics and talking points in mind, but you want to aim for a podcast episode length that allows you to get your point across without becoming tedious.

Engagement is the goal. If you go on too long about a topic without adding value to it, you risk your audience clicking away.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules about how long a podcast should be, keeping it under 30 minutes should be a goal. If you have a solid 20 minutes of content, then keep it to 20 minutes. You’ll hear many opinions about the “ideal” podcast length but take a moment to consider where and how your audience will listen. The one risk of it being too long is that the listener might need to stop and restart, which might affect how well your message sinks in.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to fit your episodes into a broadcast window, so even if the show lengths vary from episode to episode, that’s okay.

If one is a little longer and the next one is a little shorter, it’s all good. As long as you are consistent in your podcast production schedule.

The point is, make your time count for something.

Have respect for your audience, and don’t waste their time by rehashing the same information just to fill the air. Aim to inform and entertain, and once you’ve made your point, maybe segue into a little teaser for the next episode.

As they say in show business, always leave them wanting more!

Podcasting Equipment You’ll Need to Get Started

The equipment investment costs to start a podcast are relatively minimal. You don’t need much equipment to get started. Even if you want to purchase top-notch gear, it’s not a huge investment by any stretch.

However, you do want to be sure you invest in a decent quality microphone. Relying on the internal mic on your computer might not be the best strategy.

The Basics

At the very minimum, you’ll need a USB microphone, an internet connection, and some editing software.

  • Let’s Talk Microphones. USB microphones are ideal because you can plug them directly into your computer without needing an interface. That said, be sure you have a USB connection on your computer, at least for when you’re recording. You’ll be able to edit on any device, as long as the software is compatible.

Here are a few suggestions for good quality podcasting microphones:

Samson Satellite. This mic is perfect for podcasting. You can use it with your iPhone or any computer with a USB connection. Lots of settings, good quality, and highly versatile. It’s about $100 and available from various resellers.

Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball are the most popular podcasting mics on the market.
Blue Microphones makes a broad range of affordable, good-quality USB mics from about $100 to $200. This mic comes in some funky, space-age styles—so have some fun with it.

Your podcast will need to be polished and produced to as professional a standard as you can get. This means removing coughs, dead air, adding intro and outro music, and more.

Let’s talk editing software. There are a few options I would recommend:

  • The first option is called Audacity. This program is FREE but not as robust as others.
  • If you already own a Mac, it automatically comes with a wonderful program called GarageBand – this is free and has some great editing capabilities. I would just note that it is not as easy to use when editing multiple guest voice tracks at the same time.
  • If you’re seeking a more robust paid version, Adobe Audition is mixing software made for motion picture and broadcast production, so it’s pro-quality, but so easy to learn and use, even for the luddites among us.

Plus, if you have Adobe Creative Cloud, you already own it. If not, you can sign up for a subscription through Adobe for $20.99 monthly. Audition allows you to create multitrack sessions, so you can layer different types of audio. For example, if you have a pre-recorded segment you want to pull in or some music for the background, Audition makes it easy.

And on the topic of music, there are plenty of sources for royalty-free music on the web, but you can also hire a freelancer from sites like Fiverr to create a piece of music that is unique to you.

Keep in mind that using music you don’t have the rights to might cause your podcast to be taken down for royalty infringement.

Where Do Podcasts Live Online?

Now, your podcast audio files need to live somewhere online.

If you have your own RSS server you can host your own audio files, but there are free and cost-effective audio hosting services out there:

SoundCloud is a free audio hosting service, with the ability to buy up. However, the FREE version has limitations on statistics and backend analytics. The paid version allows you to view more audience insights that will help measure listenership and reach.

The paid versions of hosting provide value by providing you with deeper insights and analytics.

Some paid options include: Libsyn, Podbean, and Audioboom.

Depending on your chosen paid site and how popular your podcast is, some of these companies (like Libsyn) can help you even find paid advertisers.

Measuring Your Results

Like any good marketer, once your podcast is launched and people are listening, you’ll want to know if it’s working for you.

Sales ROI is only one metric you should be looking at, but it’s often the slowest to show any significant action, so don’t snap to judgment based on sales alone.

Here are some of the “other” numbers you should be concerned with to determine whether your podcast is hitting its mark:

  • Number of listeners
  • Number of downloads
  • Engagement – comments, likes, shares, and reviews
  • Podcast page traffic volumes
  • Clicks and email open rates
  • Conversions on any forms you mention or have on your podcast’s page

Also, don’t forget that your podcast holds lasting value as its topics can be repurposed into other types of content.

For example, you might create blog posts, social media posts, or videos based on your most popular podcasts. Best of all, it’s an excellent opportunity to cross-post on other channels and a way to build solid social proof.

Well, I hope today’s webinar on podcasting has been enlightening. If you have questions about podcasting best practices or how Gate 39 Media can help out, please visit our website gate39media.com or email me as Sarah@gate39media.com (and that’s Sarah with an H).