Considering starting a podcast? They’re growing in popularity for businesses in 2020. In early 2019, I launched The Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainable Development Podcast. Now, after publishing weekly, we are well over 50 episodes in (with one of those episodes featuring Mad Fish Content Strategist, Giselle Waters!), so I couldn’t imagine shutting down shop. 

I feel like I’m on the edge of an emerging space. With Spotify investing nearly $500 million in podcasting this year through acquisitions, podcast advertising is forecasted to double in the next three years. The percentage of Americans listening to online audio has also doubled since 2012, so podcasting is, well, budding

Not to mention that 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or most of each episode and listen to an average of seven shows per week.

Nevertheless, I’m not blindly recommending that everyone and every business should start a podcast. Keep in mind that making a podcast takes a lot of work. 

For one, it’s an investment. As with all content marketing strategies, the greatest successes and returns on investment are long-term.

Creating a sustainable and well-spent effort is all about making sure your endeavor is the right remedy for you. The joy of marketing is that there are endless ways to find what you need. With podcasting being a hot method right now, it makes sense that it’s sparked more curiosity across the board of entrepreneurship and general listenership. But, that’s not enough of a reason to focus more on podcasting over any other method of marketing.

Unless you are Oprah, you’re likely starting from scratch, building an audience and making sure your new podcast meets your identified business goals. 

So, how should you know if a podcast is right for you and your business? Let’s start with a few critical questions that might help you find the correct answer. 

If you still have questions at the end of this discussion, feel free to reach out to me at Grow Ensemble, and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. 

What are your goals? What are you hoping to achieve?

First, before we get all excited about getting setup with our equipment and hopping on the mic, we need to take a step back and think about our goals. 

As is common in marketing, it’s easy to get caught up with the “latest and greatest” aspects of our work, which could surface some terrible FOMO because you didn’t start your dream podcast yesterday…

So, to produce a podcast–or any marketing effort– the right way (and by that I mean the most effective way), we start by considering the result we are hoping to achieve. If we determine that our desired outcomes might be better reached with another marketing effort, then whew! We saved ourselves some serious work. 

Think about what your goal might be. Is it…

  • To expand your network and connect with potential clients and customers? 
  • To position you/your brand as a thought-leader in your industry? 
  • To drive a quick influx of traffic/sales?
  • To develop a long-term and highly profitable marketing channel? 
  • To land sponsors and advertisers as a sustainable source of revenue? 
  • To have fun? 

There isn’t a wrong goal but should tailor yours to your business’ needs. In marketing, you want to be honest and upfront with yourself so you know your means match your desired outcome. Here’s what I think you should consider when diving into podcasting as it relates to your goal.

What types of goals & objectives seem to fit the podcasting format? They are perfect for:

  • Businesses and business owners who want to network and connect with clients and customers strategically or entrepreneurs who want to link up with subject matter experts in their space.
  • Businesses and business owners that want to position themselves/their brand as thought-leaders within relevant industry topics and spaces. 
  • Businesses that want to build a unique and highly engaged relationship with their audience or clientele. 

What types of goals & objectives DON’T typically fit with the podcasting channel? Well, they don’t often work for:

  • Businesses looking for a marketing channel with a more immediate payoff (podcasts–like most content marketing–are long-term plays with long-term payoffs). 
  • Businesses that think advertisers and traditional sponsorships (for their podcast) will provide a reliable and sustainable source of revenue for their business. 

If any of those goals resonated, I recommend engaging with other marketing efforts that are more likely to bring in the results you want. For example, look into paid ad campaigns, sponsoring podcasts your targeted clientele/audience listens to, or potentially developing an email marketing campaign that fits your business goals (if you have a good-sized email list).

While it’s totally possible to turn a podcast into a sustainable revenue stream, you have to get creative. On average, you can expect to receive roughly $25 per 1,000 downloads if you have traditional sponsorships and advertisements. 

To do a little math, let’s say your show gets 10,000 downloads a month. With a Cost Per Mile (CPM) of $25, you could earn $250 a month from your podcast.

Whew! Growing a show to 10,000 downloads per month isn’t easy, and $250 doesn’t typically come close to even covering your production costs. 

Look. Podcasting can undoubtedly become a profitable and reliable marketing channel for some people and businesses, but just not in the way most people think via traditional advertising and sponsorships. 

What type of businesses (and business people) are a good fit for the medium of podcasting?

Okay, so you’ve set a goal, and based on my suggestions, you think podcasting might still fit the bill for you. 

Remember to consider if the topics relevant to your business are fit for the podcast content medium. More so, do you think your target audience (clients, customers, etc.) want to consume the content your business produces as a podcast? 

Let’s use a dentist as an example… 

Do you think dental patients want to spend their time listening to a podcast from their dentist on cleaning teeth? Probably not. At maximum, a new or potential patient might visit your FAQ or dedicated service page to read through how their root canal might go before converting. 

However, if you are a dentist that trains and educates other dentists or aspiring dentists on specialized techniques or running a successful practice, then the podcast model might work for you—as long as you are clear that your audience isn’t your existing or potential patients, but rather, other dentists are your targeting listeners.  

Other business characteristics that make for a successful podcast premise are ones that serve a niche passion or live in a unique industry… 

Have you seen the massive library of health & fitness podcasts? People who have an interest in health, nutrition, and fitness tend to dive deep into listening to their favorite gurus talk about subjects that interest them—how to get better sleep, intermittent fasting, the keto diet…

Podcasts are also useful for businesses with audiences that have specific problems and need solutions they are happy to discuss and share…

There are a million and one business and entrepreneurship podcasts (says the host of a podcast about social entrepreneurship). Why? Well, business owners encounter TONS of problems (or opportunities for the optimists among us), while running and growing a business. 

Considering that it’s often our livelihood, business owners are also very committed to getting those problems solved. 

And, as an added bonus, most business owners are happy to share s what their problems are and how they solved them. That characteristic is what leads to the virality of a show or specific episode. Would people be excited to share your podcast? If so, you might have a solid episode on your hands.

Is this something that you (or a key stakeholder) would enjoy doing? Something you are willing to invest in?

So, do your goals, and your business’ content objectives line up well with a podcast? Great! Here’s the last, but maybe the most important question, you should ask yourself before producing a podcast. 

Do you want to produce a podcast? 

This question is simple but profound and difficult to answer. As I previously touched on, any form of content marketing yields the highest results over long-term and consistent application. 

Since starting my show, and throughout running it, I’ve seen and researched countless podcasts start and stop or create seasons – uh-oh! 

Here are a few tips covering what you’ll need to do to get your podcast up and off the ground successfully:

  • Enjoy interviewing and chatting with people (or have a key stakeholder in your business who does)
  • Commit to getting systems set up and established for production (so the show’s publication isn’t dependent on just you)
  • Have the resources (time/money) to commit to the previous two points and practice them over time. 

In all honesty, those steps don’t always work for everyone! So, it’s essential to keep in mind that these are elements, not factors. That is to write, maybe one or two of those points are feasible for you, but they all have to work in tandem to succeed

Be cautious. If one falls through, it’ll likely take the whole operation down with it!  

For me, those elements fit. I love connecting with the wildly interesting, highly-invested social entrepreneurs, and I’m a systems thinker, so I tried to get myself out of the production process (except recording) as soon as possible. I’m also a staunch believer in content marketing, so I’m willing to invest the resources to build and improve my show over time. 

Don’t sweat it if a podcast isn’t for you. Maybe feel relief that you’ve combatted another “shiny object” in the world of marketing that might not be the best fit for your business.

Not sure if you should dive in? A couple of suggestions to “test the waters”

I hope this post brought on some clarity–or at least presented a couple of ideas to chew on–as you consider developing a podcast for you and your brand. 

Still unsure if you’re ready to produce a podcast? Here’s what I recommend to ‘test the waters’ on podcasting without committing to the whole shebang. 

Try “Guest Podcasting” — Have a good story to tell and like to talk about your business (who doesn’t)? Consider reaching out to other podcasts covering your industry and pitch yourself as a guest. You’ll have an excellent opportunity to test out podcasting from both a return/enjoyment standpoint as a guest. 

Are you a social entrepreneur? Maybe you’d be a great fit for my show! 

Sponsor other Podcasts — Thinking your audience is out there listening to podcasts about your niche/industry? Try sponsoring podcasts in your space to see if you can get some traction there. By doing this, you’ll get your brand pitched to the audience of an existing podcast. This is a much quicker way (and cheaper in the short-term) to see if podcasts are a potential marketing channel for you. 

If none of these options seem to really satisfy you, or your itch to launch a podcast, feel free to reach out to me, at to see if I can help sort through your thoughts, apprehensions, and excitement! 

Cory Ames, Grow Ensemble Founder & CEO