(By Tim O’Brien) The launch of a branded podcast for your organization, whether it’s a small business or a large enterprise, whether it’s a nonprofit or a for-profit organization, is an investment. It’s an investment of time, money, resources and brand equity.
It’s with this in mind that just about every organization that considers the idea of launching a branded podcast may hesitate longer than some of its staff members or creative agencies would like.
“The podcast train is leaving the station and we have to be on it!,” they may say. But here’s the thing, before falling in love with the idea of podcasting, it makes sense to know a thing or two about what you hope to get out of this new content-marketing romance. And it makes sense to take a cold hard look at the kind of commitment you may need to make to assure this relationship lasts.
Enter: The Feasibility Study
The answer, quite simply, is you need to conduct a feasibility study. Sterile as the term sounds, it doesn’t need to be of the ilk NASA would conduct before deciding to put a human on Mars. But it should be thorough, methodical, and above all, realistic.
I’ve started to do this with some of my clients, which is not unlike the work I’ve done over the years in helping start-ups with their business plans, and not unlike the work I’ve done myself in the podcasting realm over the past couple of years.
The first thing to understand is why you need to do it. Since, in this context, this isn’t a solo hobby of yours, you need to marshal the support of your organization’s leadership. You’re going to need approvals of your plans to spend time, money and resources on the project. Even if you don’t plan to use the podcast to generate revenue, you need to enter the project with a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve. And you need to be able to communicate that.
A feasibility study provides the process and the structure for doing this. Here’s what your feasibility study should look like.
- It should be specific. You need to know who your audience will be and how the podcast will enhance your organization’s relationship with that audience.
- It should be strategic. You need to know how your podcast’s format, frequency, accessibility and subject matter will combine to achieve its mission.
- It should be mission-driven. Speaking of mission, you need to know the master objective of the podcast. Is it to support sales? Improve vendor and partner relations? Advance your organization’s position on issues of importance to you?
- It should detail all of the “how” aspects of the project, from the technical infrastructure required, to work flows, to how other work will get done, to the creative processes involved. Everything from where you will record and how you will produce your podcast, to its branding, naming, human hosting, and episodic format – all to ensure your organization’s larger communications objectives are being met.
- It should identify the costs. Costs include financial cost; the staff-hours that will have to be dedicated to the project; a work flow plan with proper assignments; identification of support activities that will be required to make the podcast a success, such as social media support, media relations support, even trade show or conference support, if needed. And you will need to determine how content that will be generated by the podcast can be repurposed in other ways, extending its value and cost-efficiency.
A feasibility study forces you to look at both the big picture and the minutia to ensure success. Or, it can provide the substantive rationale needed to justify postponing the launch of a podcast, if for no other reason, than the organization is just not ready.
As you conduct your feasibility analysis, it can be tempting to overstate the perceived benefits and outcomes. Be careful not to let your own enthusiasm for podcasting lead you to over-promise and under-deliver. In the long run, that’s worse for your podcasting dreams than if you are to take the time to do it right.
I prepared a one-pager on the Five Steps a Brand Can Take to Create its Podcasting Story. Please feel free to get in touch with me to get your copy, and feel free to get in touch with me to talk more about approaches to feasibility analysis.