Mission critical

A well-crafted 'value proposition' is vital to promoting your podcast

Like a metaphorical tree falling in a metaphorical forest, does your podcast make a sound if no-one is there to hear it?
 
With thousands of new podcasts published each day and vast amounts of content flowing through our inboxes, social media feeds and favourite websites, we don’t have a lot of time and space to grab the attention of potential listeners.
 
Great cover art is a huge part of getting people to pause and take note but, once they do pause, what are you going to say to them? Having a few written words telling a potential listener everything they need to know about why they should listen, is vital.
 
The trouble is this (rightly) feels like a daunting prospect – the stuff of marketing nightmares! But it turns out that if you know what your show’s mission is and why your show is different to all the others, then these words become a lot easier to write.
Your mission should be to offer something that a good portion of listeners can care about, and your USPs (unique selling points) should tell them why your particular slice of content is the one they should be listening to – rather than one of the other two million or so podcasts out there.
 
When these things come together in a sentence or two, you get a very powerful combination of words. And it turns out that this particular combination of words is used in quite a few places by quite a few people. In fact, they’re so powerful that the business and marketing worlds have a powerful name for them – they’re called the ‘value proposition’.
 
So now you know about value propositions, let’s look at the two key ingredients you need to make one.
 
What’s your mission?
Your show exists for a reason. That reason might be to make money, to share your passion or simply because you were bored… but there is a reason!
The question is, how does that reason translate into something the audience cares about? I have discussed in a previous article about the importance of thinking about what the audience wants and the three types of podcast that generally exist to help meet this need.
 
What I’m keen to explore here is how you can boil all this down into what we can call your show’s ‘mission statement’ – or to put it another way, the simplest way to explain the thing your show is trying to do that listeners will care about.
 
Imagine you’re passionate about video games, and so you make a podcast about…video games. All the easter eggs, cool levels, incredible characters, music and moments of madness – everything that makes the genre such an incredible experience.
And so you want to share these moments – the joy, the passion, the memories. You want others to be able to enjoy what you enjoy. Which means, whether you’ve realised or not, you have a mission – to help others enjoy the incredible experiences you only get with video games.
 
Or let’s say you made the show because you were bored and you wanted to have fun. Then your mission might simply become for listeners to have the most fun possible when listening to people talk about video games. Maybe your mission is to help people discover the best new games, or to celebrate the worst games ever made, or to discover how to get the best scores… the list goes on.
 
The point is that if you can think about the focus for your show – its reason for being, its overarching goal – then you can equally focus your episode-planning, guest-booking, and ultimately promotion and marketing around that mission.
 
Different is good
So now you have a better feel for your mission, you’re ready to promote your show, right? Well, not quite, because many other podcasters will have the same, or a similar, mission to you. The trick now is to say why your particular version of this mission is, well, different. Differences come in many shapes and sizes. Your podcast could be the longest, or indeed shortest in length. Or maybe it’s the most unusual, or the most well-researched. Perhaps it has the best sound design or the silliest jokes?
 
Equally there could be unusual format features that only your show delivers, certain guests no-one else books, or unusual topics that no-one else talks about.
 
If you’re not already doing so, it’s worth stepping back to consider what your show does that’s different – and how you can tweak your format to accentuate these differences.
But beyond format, editing and guests, there is one thing that I can guarantee makes your show unique. One thing that only you have: you.
 
Your way of thinking, your ideas, your sense of humour, your knowledge (or lack thereof), your charm (or lack thereof) – a hundred different sets of characteristics and memories that go into making who you are, and what everyone else isn’t.
 
Take some time to consider the ‘essence of you’, your hosts and indeed your wider team. Spot the little nuggets that make you all unique. Find a way to express what it is that makes your content uniquely yours.
 
Now, write it down!
So there you have it. Figure out your mission and USPs and you have pretty much all the ingredients you need to find your value proposition. And armed with one of these, you’ll have a much better chance of standing out compared to podcasters who don’t know why their show exists and why people should listen to theirs… instead of yours!