Audio production specialist Ben Anderson explores how to create podcasts to establish credibility for your clinic
Driven by the change in the way people consume television programmes, which has seen a significant shift to on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer, the country’s listening habits are being transformed.
Until the recent stay-at-home warnings, the number of people listening to live radio had been dropping, particularly amongst youth audiences, and this trend is expected to continue once the coronavirus crisis has passed.1 Meanwhile, those choosing to listen to podcasts is on the rise,2 with the latest Radio Joint Audience Research data reporting almost a quarter of 15 to 34-year-olds now listen regularly to podcasts.3
A podcast is a set of digital audio files that are made available on the internet for people to listen to immediately or download for later use. Users can subscribe to specific podcasts on the relevant platform to ensure they receive it as soon as a new one is uploaded.
The biggest brands in the world, like Jaguar Land Rover, Nike and Microsoft understand the power of branded podcasts and are releasing their own frequently but, regardless of the size of a business, podcasts are a great way to communicate your value proposition to an engaged and captive audience. Businesses now use podcasts for a variety of purposes, including sharing information about new products, company news or general information related to the sector in which they operate and even information aimed only for the ears of their employees. In a survey conducted with 300,000 podcast listeners in the US, around 63% of respondents indicated they had bought what the host had been promoting, which demonstrates the power of podcasts to positively influence the buying decisions of the audience.4 This on-demand format reflects the growing trend amongst the public, offering your clinic an opportunity to share insights and expertise with an engaged and captive audience.
As an aesthetic clinic, patients are trusting you to carry out procedures safely and deliver the desired results without adverse effects, so there can be no room for error. Short, engaging, and insightful podcasts, where experts are talking passionately about the services they provide or discussing them with colleagues and even patients, can be a great way to establish credibility and authority within the field, offering insights and advice that will assure new patients they are in safe hands. Listening to you explain in person helps the audience better understand your values and the way you run the business. You become a companion voice, a source for interesting news to be listened to whilst they undertake other tasks; unlike video or reading, which requires their undivided attention. Not only will it help potential customers understand the personality and authenticity of your clinic and the people that work there, but they will feel much more comfortable and more likely to use your services if they can hear you have in-depth knowledge of the industry. This trust was supported in Edison Research’s 2017 survey of 28,964 podcast listeners, in which 33% of respondents said they viewed podcasts as ‘very trustworthy’ and 49% described them as ‘somewhat trustworthy’.5
Your podcast is the opportunity for you to demonstrate, then share your experience and expertise to listeners. Previously, you may have relied on the written word through blogs and social media, but podcasts are a different way to show your enthusiasm for what you do that will make you stand out from your competitors.
Podcasts offering information, opinion and new ideas for discussion also helps establish you and your business as a leading authority, as people come to you for regular advice. The insights you offer could also be relevant and beneficial for other practitioners, boosting your reputation in the eyes of fellow professionals and even competitors. Hearing people present sector news or discussing topics creates a strong connection with the audience. Regular listeners will recognise your voice and presentation style, hopefully finding it a pleasant experience and want to listen to more. If you’re good, there is the added benefit of your podcast being recommended to others who may be interested in what you have to say and offer.An additional benefit of a podcast is that you can engage with your audience while they are doing other things; one survey suggested that 94% of 2,000 respondents tune in to podcasts while multitasking, including doing chores, driving, exercising and running errands.6
Technically speaking, a podcast is relatively easy to produce, requiring just a good microphone connected to your computer to make the recording and a way of editing the finished sound files. In terms of your equipment, you do not need to blow the budget on the latest and greatest products, especially if you are unsure of your long-term commitment to producing the podcasts. Start with the affordable options whilst you are learning the ropes – if the sound quality is good then that’s all that matters. If you are looking for a reliable brand, then I find that Rode Microphones offer a range of high-quality equipment at various price points, but there are various other brands available.Like your microphone, the recording software doesn’t need to be overly sophisticated and it does not require a large budget to start recording clear and insightful episodes. If you have a Microsoft Office subscription, then that comes with sound recording software, which is more than enough to get started. Alternatively, services like Zencastr can be used, which costs $20 per month for the professional package, offering unlimited guests and recordings, as well as access to a live editing soundboard.More important than the equipment itself is how you go about producing the podcasts, as there are important techniques that can help improve the quality of your episode. If you don’t have the luxury of a quiet and distraction-free room that improves the acoustics of your voice, then broadcasting under blankets or sheets can help block out any unwanted background noise. It goes without saying that all equipment should be tested before recording starts, as this will eliminate any post-production issues.
A podcast may be easy enough to produce, but the content is critical to the success and longevity of your activity. As an aesthetic clinic, patients, and perhaps even fellow practitioners, will be looking to you for expert guidance and in-depth analysis of industry issues, so it’s good to have a rough idea of the topics you’re planning to discuss before getting started, with a plan that stretches for the first three to four episodes at least.It’s not all about well-edited scripts or carefully crafted questions, but about researching the topics carefully, agreeing what’s to be covered, and then talking as though you are friends having a coffee, not colleagues in the boardroom – this is where the authenticity comes from. Inviting similar respected individuals from within your business or from across your sector to help create the podcasts, will only add to your credibility, and generate further trust from the audience, whilst expanding the number of likely listeners. The content can cover topics such as current events, changes in the sector, news specific to your business, a discussion around sector-specific topics, trends or legislation, but it must be interesting to the target audience and delivered in short sections.To begin the podcast, a short ‘sting’ is always a good idea as this will notify listeners that the episode is about to begin, before the host spends the first few minutes introducing the upcoming topics and talking points. This short introduction will give listeners the information they need to decide whether this episode is relevant to them. Meanwhile, products like the Rodemaster Pro offer an all-in-one console for podcast production, allowing creators to add professional sound effects throughout.7 Whilst the structure of your podcast is unique to your business, it’s best practice to follow a radio style template, where you raise the issue and then take time exploring it with your guests. This means slowly navigating your way through the episode, taking short breaks to allow listeners to digest the information.8
Although the average podcast length is around 43 minutes, this length of time on a single topic might bore the average listener, so it’s a good idea to break the topic up into smaller pieces and deliver several podcasts that revisit the subject.9It is useful to have a person to host or moderate the podcast. This could be the experienced clinic owner, practitioner or manager, who will feature in each podcast and may interview and interact with guest speakers. You don’t have to be funny or try hard to entertain. You just need to use your experience and imagination to deliver short bursts of interesting chat or discussion, in a professional manner, with the content tailored to your audience. And the more you do, the easier it will become.Remember to include a call to action in your podcast, usually it’s a good idea to do this at the end. You can point listeners to your website if you have more detail on a topic, like a guide or catalogue they can download, or even to enquire to make a booking. Depending on how you want your listeners to engage with you, perhaps you might want to tell then to follow your social media channels. Whatever your call to action is, try to make it consistent in each podcast.
Once you have finished recording and editing your podcast, you will need to make the podcasts available on a variety of distribution channels, such as Spotify and Apple podcasts, both of which are free to use. By publishing your episodes on different platforms, you aren’t limiting your podcast to certain audiences, as everyone has their own preference as to where they choose to access podcasts.
Spotify and Apple are the most popular platforms due to their large userbase, but other services like Soundcloud can provide a suitable alternative if you find it easier. It is crucial that episodes are published either weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on your commitment, as you need your podcast to build momentum and follow up each instalment quickly, so that subscribers do not lose interest or forget there are more coming.
Once it’s published you can start promoting it to increase its exposure to a larger audience via your social media channels, website blog, e-newsletter and even send a press release to local press. If you want to talk in detail about sensitive information only for your employees, perhaps explaining strategic decisions, or current policies, a private podcast can be created, and a link emailed to specific recipients – it can be password protected if necessary.
Whilst it is possible to produce a podcast on your own, professional producers will enhance the quality of the output considerably. A podcast producer will help you from the creation to the publishing of the podcast and will be able to advise you on the best channels to choose to publish your podcast. The producer is also helpful for handling the transition between different speakers on the podcast, asking questions, requesting clarification of unclear points or jargon, and ultimately editing the hours of chat into a professional and efficient podcast. Remember, if you don’t have the budget to pay for an external producer, then appointing a member of your team to fulfil this role is also fine.
When it comes to finding a suitable producer, it’s always best practice to review their previous work, ensuring they have the relevant experience for your project. Producers will often have show reels of their past work, so take a closer look and see what other podcasts they have helped deliver.
Each producer will have their own rate depending on their experience and demand, so it’s important to consider all the options before making a final investment and hiring someone. If you need assistance in finding a suitable candidate, then it may be worth asking your communication or marketing agency, if you have one, to do the research on your behalf.
Once you are happy with your choice of producer, it’s wise to give them some general background information on your clinic and the work it does, as this will help them gain a better understanding of your business before recording begins.
Podcasts can be a uniquely spontaneous, informal and intimate medium, perfect for delivering important insight with emotion, warmth and passion for a topic. Ultimately, the podcast must be an additional means for your clinic to assure potential patients that they are in safe hands and that you have experience needed to deliver results they are looking for, which is where the personable nature of podcasts can offer added value.
Disclosure: Ben Anderson is the founder and managing director of Sound Rebel, which produces and promotes podcasts specifically for businesses.
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Aesthetics Media Ltd, 70 London Road, Regal House, Twickenham, TW1 3QS