Top 5 podcast pitfalls—and how to avoid them

What may seem like a quick and cost-effective win that capitalizes on a growing trend can end in confusion about whether the podcasts have achieved their true aims. Here we take a quick a look at some of the most common barriers to success.

1. Lack of commitment

If you’re going to do a podcast, go big or go home. We’d recommend a minimum of five episodes to launch in order to demonstrate commitment and encourage ‘binge’ behavior, and thereafter a regular cadence for episode release. Always leave the audience wanting more! If there are large gaps between episodes, it can be difficult for the audience to sustain interest in a world that’s always competing for their attention.

Key question to ask yourself:

Do you have the time and resources to do this properly, and regularly?


2. Lack of differentiation

What makes your pod different to, or better than, your competitors? The growth in podcast creation has been exponential, so the reality is that hooking in listeners can be more challenging now. Your podcast should have a clear proposition that meets an audience need – and one that is consistently delivered against by appropriate voices. This means not limiting hosts and guests to people within your organization, which makes it feel ‘all about you’ to the listener. Seek out experts in other organizations and other fields to tap expertise that can delight and enlighten. This will help drive better engagement.

Key question to ask yourself:

What are you doing with your podcast to make it stand out?


3. Lack of planning

After a good initial run based on enthusiasm for the new, podcasts can begin to fizzle out or lose their edge. An effective podcast series should be planned in the same way as a deep dive whitepaper. The chapters (episodes) should be planned out in advance, contributors booked in, and whole series recorded in one go if possible. Particular planning should be put into how the podcast relates to your success metrics – what do you want the podcast to achieve? Is it an informative awareness piece? Is it to drive traffic to your website? Is it to prompt contact from consumers and clients? A firm intention makes it easier to plan out your podcast subject matter and keep track of the qualitative or quantitative metrics that actually matter.

Key question to ask yourself:

Are you giving this the same attention as your other thought leadership assets?


4. Lack of consistency

Think of your podcast as an extension of your brand. Podcast audiences like consistency. They like to know roughly what they’re getting in terms of format, themes, tone and length of time they need to commit for each episode. They also like to know when the next episode is going to land. If any of these elements varies too much, too often, then audiences can begin to feel disengaged. Think of your favorite TV shows – you know pretty much what to expect each episode, and that’s what keeps you wanting more.

Key question to ask yourself:

How tightly are you controlling your podcast ‘brand’?


5. Lack of promotion

Podcasts aren’t an ‘if you build it, they will come’ kind of deal. They are brand events that you need to make your audiences aware of and keep reminding them about. You need regular cut-through promotion that keeps your podcast front of mind before and after broadcast. A dedicated activation runway is a must.

Key question to ask yourself:

Are you giving your podcast the best chance of success?

Kevin Hearn

Kevin Hearn

Kevin has over 20 years' marketing experience, most of that spent agency-side helping brands connect with their customers. As Director of Strategy he consults with some of the world’s largest financial brands and leads a team of super-talented strategists based across our Edinburgh, London and New York offices.