Nothing is as personal as the human voice

These are strange times filled with uncertainty and fear. While people want to be reassured, they’re also craving connection. A few days of social distancing is enough to impact anyone’s mental state. A blog post is fine, but nothing is as personal as the human voice. So this is a perfect time to talk about today’s hottest content marketing format – podcasting.

Meet Kim

Kim’s a young mother of two very active kids who go to Girl Scouts, play basketball, sing in their church choir, etc. She works a full-time job, has a small side-gig, and performs in shows at the local community theatre. On top of all that, she has a husband who has a habit of saying “sure” when asked to volunteer on some board or committee and uses her as an example in his blog posts.

You want Kim at your credit union. She checks all the right boxes to be a profitable, long-term member. But how are you going to reach her when she’s so busy? A blog post is great, but only if she has time to sit down and read it. And watching a video takes time from her day, too. You need content that can be consumed while she’s doing something else.

You need a podcast

My love affair with podcasts started when I had a 55-minute one-way commute. Each morning and evening my car became a classroom thanks to marketers and musicians willing to share their knowledge and ideas. It wasn’t long before I caught the bug and started creating one myself.

In 2016, I started a podcast about songwriting (a hobby of mine). It only lasted a few months and I learned a lot from the experience. (More on this later.) I launched the Current Balance podcast in 2018 for Marion Community Credit Union. We took home a marketing award for it last year, have partnered with our local iHeartRadio stations to gain additional exposure (and use their professional studios), and it’s still going strong today. And you’ll probably be interested in my new podcast (launching April 2020) called Marketing the Movement where you’ll grow as a marketing pro by learning from players inside and outside the credit union world.

With this background I wouldn’t call myself an expert – but I’m definitely a passionately curious student.

The numbers

Some of the people who CAN be called experts at Edison Research shared some impressive stats in their latest annual report about podcast listeners in America – The Podcast Consumer 2019.

Highlights include:

  • 22% of Americans listen to podcasts each week
  • 32% of Americans listen to podcasts each month
  • 40% of Americans 54 years old or younger listen each month
  • Podcasting’s “Share of Ear” (the time Americans spend with them compared to different types of audio) increased by 122% since 2014

If you’re thinking it’s too late or too crowded, let me assure you it isn’t. I know it might seem like everyone and their brother’s cat has a podcast right now, but it’s actually still early in the medium’s growth. Start a blog today and you’re one of 600 million. Roll out a YouTube channel and that brings you to one of 31 million. Launch a podcast and you’re one of just 800,000. 

Choosing a topic

As a credit union, you might think the topic has to be financial education. Sure, that’s the natural direction to go and your area of expertise, but there are a number of different ways to inform and entertain with your podcast. In our commoditized industry, you want to stand out. This is an area where you can leverage your smaller size because the megabanks won’t be able to give this level of local personality to their own podcast. 

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Make your podcast a behind-the-scenes show where you interview staff members not just about their jobs but fun, personal stuff, too.
  • Do a show that’s all about your community and has nothing to do with banking. You can feature area charities and businesses who would appreciate the free publicity.
  • Keep it in the financial education realm, but give it a local flavor. Maybe you record from area restaurants and include a food review segment in each episode. 

It’s the wild west out there so don’t limit your creativity. I’ve even kicked around an idea for a podcast billed as a cure for insomniacs where I’d just read typical disclosure documents with calming music.

While it doesn’t have to be that ridiculous, it does need to have something people can’t find anywhere else. At the very least, drop some local references in as you cover your financial education topics. Again, the big players can’t touch you when it comes to community-centric content.

Recording tips

When it comes to equipment, there’s no need to go crazy right out of the gate. Between free software (Audacity) and inexpensive microphones (ATR-2100 USB), a podcast can be started without a major investment of money. 

But it does require a major investment of time.

Before you even start thinking about a show title, theme music, or any of that other fun stuff, you need to sit down and map out your plan. 

What topics will you cover? If you can’t think up at least 25 episodes, maybe you need to take another look at your topic. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t release a “mini-series” style show, but you should know that going in so you can promote it properly.

How frequently will you release episodes? There’s no right or wrong with this one. Some shows are weekly. Others go every other week. And some insane people have shows with episodes every day. This depends more on your available time than anything else.

Does it make sense to release them in a certain order? Once you have 25 episode titles in front of you, an order might emerge. This is great information to have before you start recording so you can reference topics previously mentioned or tease future episodes.

Probably my biggest piece of advice when it comes to recording is batching. Doing one episode at a time isn’t very efficient and you’ll end up burnt out and behind schedule before you even start. That’s what happened to my songwriting podcast. One week of being sick throws everything off. Add in other emergencies and it doesn’t take long before you’ve gone a month without an episode. Not a good way to build a loyal audience.

I recommend a 3-4-5 plan when launching your podcast. 

3 – Release 3 episodes on the first day. It gives your audience a chance to get a feel for your show beyond a single episode. They can get into a groove and will be more likely to subscribe.

4 – Have 4 more episodes recorded, edited, and scheduled for the future. This gives you at least a month of cushion if you’re doing a weekly show. 

5 – Have 5 more episodes recorded. These don’t have to be ready for publishing – just the raw recordings. Make sure you stick to a schedule for editing and publishing so you don’t fall behind.

Following this method not only helps by forcing you to work ahead, but it serves as a source of proof that you’re truly committed to doing a show. Once you’ve recorded a total of 12 episodes you’ll know for sure this is something you can do for the long haul.

If you need more resources, go to danielbradshaw.com/hero for my equipment list and presentation notes from the CU Marketing Hero Summit.

OK. Stop reading this and get busy crafting your first show. Add some personality to our space. (God knows we need it!)


If you are interested in being a guest author on Shared iDiz, let us know. Credit unions have an incredibly important mission, and we’re honored to support you in every way we can.

Daniel Bradshaw
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