Associations are devoted to helping members stay on top of the latest trends in their field. While content strategy is key, sometimes a leap outside our communication comfort zone can bring fresh ideas for connecting with our members. Many associations are experimenting with expansion into the world of podcasting. While at first, it may feel intimidating, the learning curve is often rewarded with unexpected benefits. If you helped your members transition from conference calls to Zoom, from in-person meetings to virtual platforms, you too can podcast!
Start by looking at your product portfolio and communication plan. Is it time to introduce a new mode of engagement or one that resonates with younger members? Perhaps your association typically offers in-person events as a way for members to connect, and you are seeking inventive ways to keep in touch and inform members remotely. Podcasting provides a new way to recruit, engage, and retain members. Audio content is easy for your members to access, and they can listen while they work, walk, cook, drive, and work out. It is an opportunity to share ideas, studies, articles, services, products, and best practices. Associations can use their podcast program to develop industry reputation and position themselves as an expert in their field.
If your association is considering podcasting, take some time to consider what your association offers that is unique. Be sure to choose an overarching theme that will continuously provide enough content to produce consistent episodes. Next, determine the format. Does it make the most sense to conduct interviews, promote products, discuss articles, or share personal experiences? In all decisions, involve your members by asking them what is most valuable to them. Some associations create committees to lead the charge on content and interviewing, while staff drives the production. Regardless of the direction you take, aim to create a podcast that will be beneficial to your main audience, entertaining, and to the point!
A common first question is, what expenses are involved? First consider whether you have the talent in-house to produce episodes, or if you need to outsource. The amount of time and money spent is dependent on the number of podcasts you produce and episode length. From start to finish, one podcast typically takes 5-7 hours of production time. You will also need to purchase a hosting platform to upload episode files that are then distributed to other platforms such as iTunes. Equipment costs can be adjusted up or down depending on your budget. You can simply use your computer and recording software like Zoom, or you can invest in nice equipment like microphones, headphones, and a pop filter. Editing software is also a must, with both free and paid services available. If you invest in good quality recording equipment, it will pay off!
Once you get going, how will you measure the success of your new endeavor? For some associations, this includes the number of listeners and downloads, podcast reviews, increased website traffic, networking and referrals, product and service revenue, and revenue from sponsorship and advertisements. That’s right! Your association’s podcast program can provide an additional revenue stream by increasing your advertising and marketing space for sponsors. As your audience grows, you can charge for logo placement and commercials. You can also use your show to promote your products or services (books, courses, or consulting, for example). Aside from the monetary benefits, don’t forget that podcasting is a new avenue for building your member base! If your podcast program hosts various guests for each episode, your network will expand and provide a platform to reach people you might not have been able to otherwise. Your ability to reach out to high-profile experts in your industry will also increase as your audience expands. Every person you invite to be a guest on your show can potentially become a valuable contact for life.
Podcasting is helping associations take center stage. If your association has been sitting on the sidelines, now may be a perfect time to take the podcasting plunge!
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