If someone told you that they could fill Madison Square Garden ten times on a marketing budget of just five bucks, how fast would you dismiss them? Well, don’t be too hasty. That pretty much sizes up what we’ve done. I’m one of the producers and hosts of Fashion Is Your Business, a business podcast at the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce. In less than 15 months and 90 episodes, we’ve amassed more than 180,000 downloads, which equates to filling the legendary Madison Square Garden. Ten times over.
The podcast, made up of podcast veteran and creative entrepreneur Marc Raco (that’s me), Rob Sanchez (business growth strategist, law professor, COO of Open Source Fashion and 2016 New York Fashion Fellow) and Pavan Bahl (fashion tech thought leader, co-founder of The Global Fashion Battle and Founder/CEO of Open Source Fashion), and produced by Open Source Fashion in collaboration with the Fashion Media Center, features discussions inspired by recent news, useful in-depth interviews with industry notables, a platform for business leaders to announce startups and milestones, and commentary about virtually anything in between, making insights into business and technology within the fashion industry entertaining, meaningful and accessible.
Is there a secret recipe?
Other than efforts like smart SEO and riding multiple platforms, there are a few things we’ve done that have added to the momentum. Several may seem obvious, and yet it may surprise you that most podcasts miss out because they don’t do these things with diligence. Note that most of them involve collaboration; much of our success has been propelled by the impact of relationships our hosts have built within their professional community. Add these to your other efforts and you can quickly up your game.
Partner with others
There’s no need to go it alone. Collaborating with a business (such as recording from their space as your podcast home in return for regular mentions on the show, or inviting them to be a part of the format of your show) can offer goodwill, potential connections otherwise unavailable, resources, and another set of social media and networking channels to tell people about your show.
Interview guests with followers
By inviting guests on the show who have dedicated followers and who are active on social media, they become a fantastic partner and ambassador by sharing the show actively through their channels. Ten guests with 10,000 followers each could expand your potential audience by as much as 100,000 people.
Don’t spend money unless you have to. There’s plenty of free software out there and until you’ve got a lot of revenue following in for the show, you don’t need to buy a lot of fancy equipment or build a fancy website. Hustle and work ethic go a lot further.
Build in enjoyable rituals
Your show format should feature milestones that your audience expects and looks forward to, which can also create an important rhythm. Even show with serious content can have moments in the show, from the sounds and music used for the intro of the show to a food or news segment at about the same point in every episode.
Use multiple social media channels
Having partners, co-hosts or team members who already have their own following on social media is helpful. Even the simple act of “liking” or retweeting each other’s posts adds activity and reach to the publicity of your shows.
Link to prior content
Reference prior shows and link to them in show descriptions and tags. This establishes a perspective of history for the show, which contributes to credibility, and also introduces new audience to prior content, bringing new activity to those episodes. As well, those guests will often note they have been referenced and promote that without being asked.
Take photos of every episode, especially with guests. The audience likes to feel like they are in on the fun, it provides art for the website and show descriptions and improves SEO when the images are properly describes and titled.
This is big. If you can find another show with a good following that is in a similar subject, propose cross promoted episodes. Appear on their show, and they appear on your show. They will advertise you by prompting that episode, and you will have content for your episode, which they will also promote (after all, it’s one of their episodes). As long as you hold up your end of the bargain, you could end up with a great “podcast buddy”. One of our most popular shows to date is a show with the hosts of American Fashion Podcast.
Hold live events
Every so often, record or stream your show from an event or unusual location. Ideally, arrange to have a live audience sit in for the show. Even ten highly engaged people can bring a lot of life to the sound of an episode, and allows some variety to the catalog of episodes. Plus, you can attract new listeners who might attend and encourage already engaged listeners with a special treat of seeing you in person. Many times you can charge for the event to cover costs or even turn a small profit.
Invite guest hosts
Every so often, invite an expert, friend, or another podcast host to sit in with you or substitute in for one of the regular hosts. It adds variety, provides new content, and that person can be another ambassador of your show who will spread the word happily. Having the occasional guest host helps to break up the monotony for you as well.
In the last fifteen months, we’ve spent only $5.00 specifically on marketing the podcast (via a small effort of Facebook ads), and converted listener-ship and interviews into significant opportunities, sponsorships and clients, which is a pretty good ROI. The rest has been mobilizing connections, relationships, diligent outreach and creativity. Putting these ten tips into action can help elevate download activity. When re-purposed for the specifics of another business model in general, they can also be applicable and useful.
We believe podcasting is a tremendous business outreach and marketing tool, which is why Open Source Fashion partnered with PodAbility, a podcasting training program premiering in New York City in April, 2016 and has made access to the program easier for its own audience.
We’re just getting started, because we have another five bucks burning a hole in our pockets. We challenge you to get your game on, find your arena and fill it. Again and again.
Artwork credit: Ekundayo