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Three podcast formats your small business can try

5 minute read

Monique Holtman
Monique Holtman

Podcast consumption has increased dramatically in the UK. Just four years ago, nine million people were tuning into them. Fast forward to 2021, and this has nearly doubled to 16.76 million, with numbers expected to reach nearly 20 million by 2024.

If your small business is looking for a new way to reach out to customers, podcasting can be a great option. Aside from the fact that they’re hugely popular, there are other benefits of having your own podcast:

  • You’re speaking to a highly engaged audience (people have actively chosen to listen to your podcast)
  • It’s a great way to showcase your expertise in your field
  • Listeners will feel they’re really getting to know you and building a relationship with you

If you’re looking for inspiration to get started with your very own podcast, you’ve come to the right place. Below I look at some popular formats for small businesses and share some successful podcast examples.

1. Solo commentary

A podcast format that is very popular and also easy to execute is a solo commentary. This involves just one person talking for the duration of the episode. You may for example discuss a new product/service, share your story about how you got to where you are or provide expert advice relevant to your industry.

An example of this type of podcast is Small Business Made Simple by Australia’s thought leader, Jenn Donovan. Featuring a mixture of solo commentary and some guest appearances, each episode is less than 40 minutes long which is ideal for busy business owners and covers social media and marketing tips, tricks and advice.

Advantages of solo commentaries:

  • They’re easier to produce because you only need yourself
  • If you’re suddenly struck with inspiration, you can record an impromptu episode
  • You don’t have to worry about guests cancelling or rescheduling
  • They’re a great way to build a strong relationship with your listeners
  • You can share expert advice in your field

Solo commentary podcast examples:

  • The $100 MBA – short, practical lessons about all topics of business such as content marketing and social media advertising
  • JavaScript Jabber – A weekly podcast discussing programming practices, coding environment and anything else Java-related, featuring bonus solo episodes alongside panel discussions

Top tips for getting started with a solo commentary podcast:

  • Plan out your episodes in advance so you know what you’ll be recording and when
  • Talk about topics you know and love
  • Start with easy topics. When you’re feeling more confident you can move on to more in-depth subjects
  • Research your topics beforehand
  • Write out a transcript or bullet points
  • Practice talking into your phone first so you can get an idea of how you’re coming across
  • Keep it short – don’t keep talking because you think your podcast has to be a certain length
  • Imagine you’re talking to a friend – this is ideally the type of relationship you want to establish with your listeners
  • Don’t worry if your first episode isn’t perfect. The more you practice, the better you’ll get

2. One-to-one interviews

A hugely popular podcast format, one-to-one interviews involve a host (yourself) and a new guest for each episode. They typically involve a brief guest introduction with the host then asking questions to guide the conversation around a particular topic.

An example of a podcast that features this format is HerBusiness. Hosted by CEO, Suzi Dafnis, she focuses on how she went from being a solopreneur to running a successful business while still being able to achieve a good work-life balance. Episodes include interviews with other successful professionals who share their own experiences, tips and advice.

Advantages of one-to-one interviews:

  • Guests keep your podcast fresh and interesting
  • You can reach new audiences
  • Your guests allow you to share even more knowledge with your audience
  • You gain access to a range of opinions and viewpoints
  • With just one guest, this podcast format is still quick and easy to execute

One-to-one podcast examples:

  • Beauty from the Heart – make-up artist, Rose Gallagher discusses the power of the beauty industry while engaging in meaningful conversations from others. A great listen for freelance make-up artists and business owners looking for some inspiration
  • A Small Voice – this podcast features interviews with a diverse range of photographers discussing their lives, work and how they came to enjoy success

Top tips for getting started with one-to-one interviews:

  • Research guests you would like to feature, put together a list and then contact them. If you’re not well known, this might not be easy. How to invite someone to an interview on your podcast provides some great tips from creating catchy subject lines when reaching out to potential guests to ensuring you can answer the question that’s bound to arise, ‘what’s in it for me?’
  • Once you have your subject, decide what you’re going to discuss and write out your questions beforehand. It’s also a good idea to send the questions to your guest before recording
  • Ensure your guests are relevant to your business and/or industry
  • Decide how you’re going to record your podcasts. Online has become a popular option in recent years because it’s more flexible and you can interview guests from all over the world. This helpful YouTube video explains how you can record podcasts online and interview guests remotely

3. Panel podcasts

Panel podcasts are similar to one-to-one interviews but with more people. You act as the host with episodes featuring a group of guests. When this podcast format is executed well, your listeners should feel like they’re listening to an organic conversation between friends.

An example is This Week in Tech. Hosted by Leo Laporte and a roundtable of tech experts and journalists, they discuss current news and trends as well as niche topics in the tech industry.

Advantages of panel podcasts:

  • With a selection of guests on each episode, you can provide listeners with some interesting and balanced insights into your industry
  • It can feel easier for conversation to flow with more people
  • You could attract a wider audience through your guests who are likely to promote the podcast
  • You can break the content down into chunks and release it as a series of podcasts
  • If you’re recording remotely, you can invite people on from all over the world

Panel podcast examples:

  • The PR Show – a panel of industry experts discuss the latest news and all the hottest topics in PR and communications
  • Let’s Talk Apple – at the end of every month, a panel of guests discuss all the latest news regarding the brand and its products

Top tips for getting started with panel podcasts:

  • Draw up your dream guest list and get in touch with them
  • You can get creative with your panel. You don’t always have to feature industry experts. You can also talk to employees, customers and anyone else who does business with you
  • Let your guests know the topic beforehand and what you would like them to contribute so they can prepare
  • With so many people involved, it’s important to decide on the best way to record your episode. Whether it’s remotely or face-to-face, ensure that you and everyone else has the equipment they need

In this article I have discussed just three of many podcast formats available. If you would like some more ideas, have a read of Podcast formats: the complete guide. It can also really help to get some inspiration from others who have mastered this medium. Here are some successful podcast examples and why they work so well. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t have to stick to just one format, many of the podcasts I’ve mentioned feature a variety of different formats. While the majority of your podcasts may be solo commentaries for example, there may be times you want to feature a guest or two. It can be beneficial to play around with the different formats, especially when you’re first starting out. This will help you to gauge what goes down well with your audience and what doesn’t resonate so well.

Below are some more articles which can help small businesses get started with podcasting:

Monique Holtman

After completing her degree in Journalism, Monique began her career at a digital marketing agency. It was here she discovered a passion for online marketing with a particular focus on content creation for the web. Six years ago Monique set up her own copywriting business, Copyworks Group, which specialises in creating content for websites, blogs, newsletters and social media pages.

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