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Omaha Magazine

Something to Say

Oct 06, 2023 12:38PM ● By Kara Schweiss
something to say feature

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

A little more than 20 years after the first podcasts emerged,thenumberofaudio and video podcast series worldwide is well into the millions and growing. A major appeal of podcasting is easy accessibility for the listener, and launching a business podcast seems simple enough: set up a microphone in an empty office and start recording. Instant success, right?

Not exactly, said Matt Tompkins, co-owner of content marketing firm Two Brothers Creative.
While there are stories of successful do-it-yourself podcasters, business owners should consider
consulting professionals.

“There’s a reason most podcasts, globally, only last six to 10 episodes before people give up. There are almost as many dead podcasts that aren’t active as there are active ones,” he said. “People quickly realize this is a lot of work… If you don’t go through the process of defining who your ideal listener is, what your identity is, what you want to get out like what problem are you solving for your listeners—you’re going to run into issues of just having no direction or identity for your podcast.”

Richard Lewis III, who owns podcast service provider Webberized with his wife, Marjorie Sturgeon, agreed that developing a successful podcast takes thought, and sustaining one takes determination.

“There’s a lot of time, effort, and research involved,” he explained. “The people who actually have a real passion and a commitment to it, those are those podcasts that stand out.”

Mike Wallace, studio manager for KPAO Community Television, said effective podcasters have an enthusiasm for storytelling or for sharing common interests with listeners. They also need to have abundant content ideas from targeted topics to guest speakers —before the first upload. Starting small, with episodes as short as 20 minutes, and a monthly schedule commitment (rather than weekly) can help a podcast gain traction as it builds a following.

“You really need to have a plan: week to week, month to month, where is your story going? And how do you fill that out—is it with a range of guests that all have different takes, or is it just yourself and a lot of stories?” Wallace said. “You need to be organized. Think of a dozen shows, think of 20 shows, start building an outline so you’re not three weeks in and hitting a wall trying to line up either your topics or your guests… If you have good content that expands on itself each time, then you’ll continue to draw those people in because they love the topic and are getting something new on that topic.”

Businesses can fit well into the podcasting universe because they already serve as subject matter experts for their products or services. Podcasting content, however, is not like infomercials or other advertising media.

“The first thing I like to tell potential podcasters to do to get started—bare minimum—is a mission statement,”Sturgeon said.“I want to see them write a short paragraph about the goal of their podcast and what they’re trying to accomplish or what story they’re trying to share, because that will keep them focused and looking towards that finish line or whatever they’re trying to accomplish.”

Podcasts can help build brand awareness, provide product education, build relationships with
potential customers, and more. But to accomplish those goals, one must first precisely identify their target audience, Tompkins said.

“Everybody wants to be vague, and they say, ‘Well, my audience is everybody,’” he said. “It’s all about resonating deeply, and I believe with any form of content, with so many options, it’s about being specific… With podcasting, in particular, it’s the most intimate medium we have; you’re literally inside someone’s head talking to them one on one… If you’re not being specific, you’re not going to resonate or connect with people on a deep level, and you’re not going to have a successful podcast.”

There’s something to be said for professional resources that include access to studio facilities, high-quality equipment, and expert guidance, Sturgeon said. Professional podcast producers such as Webberized, Two Brothers Creative, and KPAO can help even a neophyte business podcaster sound (and look, if video is involved) more polished, professional, and credible.

“The thing we bring to the table is support and encouragement and just that opportunity to allow [business clients] to be able to focus on their content while we take on the tech side of things,” Sturgeon said of Webberized.

Tompkins, whose company has found a niche working with business owners, said his team also helps integrate podcasting into a larger marketing strategy. Or as he puts it:“It’s really kind of the secret weapon for businesses on a budget.”Professionals can help podcasters find an audience through multiple methods and channels from social media to guesting on more established podcasts. They can also repurpose full podcast content in video and transcription or create short-form, multichannel content like sound bites, post copy, and graphics.

If hosting is not appealing, Wallace said, a business owner or leader who has abundant content ideas and an identified audience still plays a major role in developing a podcast.

“Not everybody feels comfortable having a conversation that brightens the room, if you will. So, if that’s something that you can’t pull off yourself, find someone who has those skills and work with them with your message,” he said.

“Become a podcast producer… Think about the great TV shows and movies: the director isn’t there on screen, they’re making it happen. They’re the ones that are putting it all together.”

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