If you’re a tourism association, chamber of commerce, business networking group, winery promoter, retail or hospitality association or any group with a membership of business owners and you’re not podcasting, you’re missing out on awareness, growth, revenue potential, and a unique way to serve your constituents.
“I just heard this on a podcast!” How many times have you heard that recently?
In today’s world where knowledge is currency, people are tapping into all available formats to learn and be entertained. A Google search can produce a quick answer, a YouTube video can demonstrate how to do something new, a blog or eBook can provide education through text and images, and audiobooks can be listened to while driving or going for your daily walk.
With more than 1,500,000 shows and 34,000,000 episodes (October 2020, source: iTunes), podcast numbers are growing and people are tuning in. In the U.S., 104 million people listened to a podcast in one month (Infinite Dial 20). Podcasts are arguably one of the fastest growing digital platforms today.
You can tap into virtually any topic via podcasts from dog grooming to legal advice to science fiction stories, but why should business associations tap into this marketing strategy? Below, we explore five of the many ways this medium can benefit your organization and its members.
1 | You have a built-in topic
As a Chamber of Commerce or similar business model, for example, you know that you have an audience thirsty for knowledge on how to run and grow their businesses.
Your members also depend on you for updates on any political, legal, or regional information that might impact their business. You already host events - on and offline - to provide education to your member base.
What if you provided some of these talks via podcast, or better yet, interview the speakers or “experts” briefly in advance of the event to stir up additional interest?
Every business owner has a story that others can learn from. Indeed, the most powerful learning often comes from the story of a peer. Some of the most popular business podcasts today focus on telling CEO and Founder stories with clear lessons for the listener.
Finding an example of a Chamber of Commerce using this tactic both consistently and well is challenging. The Oshawa, Canada Chamber started with an interesting idea following Seinfeld’s lead with short episodes titled, “The one where [fill in the blank such as ‘we interviewed a CEO’]”, but they have not maintained the channel.
The Chamber of Commerce in Greater Birmingham, U.K. appears to have three years of posting almost monthly with excellent topics. If you want some inspiration, we encourage you to take a look.
But my vision for associations is akin to the podcast titled, “How I Built My Small Business”. It includes hour - or more - long podcasts, delivering interviews with business owners that are both informative and entertaining.
Of course, there are larger media companies like NPR who are experts in creating addictive content, such as, “How I Built This”. Look to them for ideas, but don’t let them intimidate you! Your value is your niche, which happens to be the focus of your association.
If you run a tourism association for, let’s use one of my favorite topics as an example, regional wineries, you could host podcasts that interview sommeliers, winemakers, grape growers, or other vintners for information on all things wine.
GuildSomm, for example, “is a nonprofit international membership organization for wine professionals that promotes education and community”. On their podcast, they interview various specialists from the wine industry on topics of interest to their members and technical wine geeks alike.
2 | It’s a great way to support your members
Not only do you have a built-in topic, but you also have an entire list of people to interview!
From my experience, associations are always trying to find new ways to add value to their members. Provide your members with the opportunity to be interviewed for your podcast and they will line up out the door.
Most people understand the value of having a third party interviewing them and how much more business can be cultivated this way as opposed to advertising or self-promotion. What a great feature to include in membership fees or as an add-on service!
3 | Attract new members
With podcasting, you can establish yourself as a thought leader on a chosen subject matter. Depending on your association and the members you serve, your podcast can grow your organization's reputation and authority on your topic. Here are some ideas on which topics your organization could demonstrate expertise:
- Chamber of Commerce or networking group: Business growth or business operations
- Live music association: Local music events announcements and reviews
- Local farmer’s association: organic foods, seasonality and availability
- Event planner or hotel association: Venue expertise for various purposes (weddings, business meetings, etc.)
- Restaurant association: happy hours, events, recipes of popular menu items
The list goes on and can be a narrow niche or open to a wider audience depending on what you have to offer and the nature of the list of your associates. The idea is to leverage members’ stories that appeal to a greater audience. Focus on the desired results: promotion for the member being interviewed, attracting new listeners to your podcast, generating more members for your association.
People search for podcasts based on their interests. Become an authority and optimize your show and each episode so that your prospective members can easily find you.
At the beginning, end, and sometimes in the middle of the podcast, you can remind people who is hosting the show and how people can find more information about your organization. Show notes provide another opportunity to direct people to a landing page where they can find out more about membership with your organization.
4 | It can provide a new revenue stream
Even in the early stages, you can charge a small fee to interviewees to be on your “show”. You could have member and non-member rates or, in lieu of a fee, create a contract in which interviewees agree to send a series of emails and a set amount of social media posts to promote their episode. This adds visibility both for the association and the member being interviewed.
There’s an additional opportunity for revenue once your podcast grows a following. You can then begin offering advertising spots on your podcast episodes. The more niche your topic and audience, the smaller the audience required to start charging for ad spots.
For instance, I would pay the same amount for an ad on a Chamber of Commerce podcast with an average of 2000 listeners per episode as I would for a show designed for tourism businesses, associations, education, SaaS, or other service industries with only 100 regular listeners. Why? Because our target audience is almost certainly going to be one of the 100 listeners while the former may not have one person in our target audience tuning in.
5 | It’s a content producing machine that feeds other channels
We have established that a podcast is a great way to serve your members, attract prospective members, build a reputation and authority, and produce another revenue stream for your organization. But this is the gold mine right here…
Do you ever struggle to come up with blog content and social media posts? Do you wonder what topic to produce a video on? Do you wonder how you will get people to your new podcast channel and how it will generate web traffic, membership, and other measurable results?
Here are just a few of the many ways your podcast can help you create content for your other channels and drive listeners back to your podcast:
- Blog: Podcast content is naturally rich with keywords for your target audience. Transcribe, clean up the text, and create a blog post for each episode. Embed the podcast right on your blog post and add links to iTunes and other apps where people can tune in.
- Social Media: Each podcast will contain quotes for you to use in social media posts. You can also link back to the podcast itself or to your blog in these social posts. If you’re a business association, imagine how inviting this content will be to your LinkedIn network!
- Video: Some people perform their podcast recordings using Zoom or other web call software. If you do, you have another piece of content to post to your YouTube channel, to your IGTV, or Facebook page, in addition to your blog.
Depending on the frequency of your podcasting, you will have no shortage of content for all your media channels.
Podcasting is truly a great opportunity for business associations. It’s not necessarily easy but organizations have all the ingredients to be successful and to leverage this medium for growth, service, and revenue.
In my opinion, not very many organizations are doing this well yet, which means there is a gap waiting to be filled by someone just like you!