If you’re one of the 62 million Americans who listen to podcasts weekly, you understand full well that they can be engaging, intimate, and compelling. In the hyper-competitive RIA industry, financial advisors know that when speaking directly to clients and prospects, a distinctive personal touch goes far.
Podcasts offer advisors a platform to dish on financial news and investment topics and to make valuable connections. And if you can forge a genuine connection, these listeners may become clients.
The audience for podcasts, which are on-demand audio shows consumed on mobile devices, desktops, and smart speakers, is growing steadily, with about one-quarter of Americans listening weekly, according to Edison Research. However, with more than 700,000 podcasts in the Apple podcast app, there is already a glut of podcasts offering investment advice. To be distinctive and attract a community, an advisor podcast should offer expertise in a particular investment area, geographic area or a niche of clients.
In Las Vegas, Travis Scribner, Managing Partner of WestPac Wealth Partners, hosts the “Las Vegas Money Resource” podcast, which highlights local business owners. He says podcasting is convenient for listeners, who can consume the content whenever and wherever they’d like. And in a crowded, competitive field, he notes podcasts are a dynamic marketing tool.
“The podcast gives us an actual voice, as opposed to a blog post or a newsletter, which are all important, but they’re all rather sterile,” Scribner said. “The podcast allows us to create a voice in the community.”
Aspiring podcasters can take cues from regionally-focused shows, like Scribner’s, and industry leaders, such as financial advisor Michael Kitces, who hosts two podcasts, “The Financial Advisor Success Podcast,” which has nearly 150 episodes, and a newer second show, “Kitces and Carl.” On “The Financial Advisor Success Podcast,” Kitces tackles topics from building your business to serving constituencies like LGBTQ individuals and single women. His in-depth interviews with experts are rich in advice, anecdotes, and analysis.
Such podcasts are inspiring other RIAs to jump in. Mike Hennessey, founder and CEO of South Florida-based RIA Harbor Crest Wealth Advisors, plans to launch a podcast early next year. An avid podcast listener himself, Hennessey says his podcast will offer useful information and serve as a marketing tool. Since his clients are mostly boaters and small business owners, Hennessey plans to craft short segments on those topics and investment advice. Eventually, he wants to add expert interviews.
“Podcasts create great engagement with the audience. You get to know the podcast host, their voice and mannerisms, what makes them laugh or tense,” he said. “This type of audio engagement in your marketing funnel can be a helpful boost.”
Like any good financial plan, before you jump into podcasting, run through the variables. Here are five key considerations:
Who is your audience and what makes your podcast special?
Consumers already have plenty of podcasts at their fingertips, so you need to make sure your content fills a niche or serves a community. Offer something useful, be engaging, and create a personal connection. The audience doesn’t have to be huge. For example, a podcast industry executive recently shared a story about a plumber who hosts a podcast on common plumbing dos and don’ts. He has attracted a small but dedicated audience and when those people have a plumbing issue, he will likely be their first call. For an RIA podcast, that could be your niche clientele, your personal interests or even your take on headlines.
On “Las Vegas Business Resource,” Scribner interviews local business owners, ranging from a hair salon proprietor to other wealth managers. That’s his firm’s main clientele and Scribner says the podcast is another way to reach them. “We want them to think about their business, how it is growing, where it is going and how they will potentially exit,” he said. By sharing business owners’ stories on the podcast, he hopes it will motivate listeners to address their business needs.
While you’re planning your podcast, identify your optimal episode length. On Kitces’ podcast, for instance, episodes are usually more than an hour, while Scribner’s podcast runs about 30 minutes, the length of a commute. Some podcasters are even experimenting with bite-size shows that run 5 or 10 minutes.
Do you have the bandwidth and know-how?
The bar of entry for podcasting is fairly low: a microphone, an Internet connection, online editing tools and a publishing platform. But a well-produced podcast requires planning, including research and writing a script, followed by the recording and editing. If you act as host and producer, it could take three hours to create a single episode. RIAs can outsource the production to podcast studios, local radio stations or marketing firms. You can also hire writers or producers. In some communities, podcast studies offer low-cost or free recording and editing services.
Podcaster Anthony Chen, host of “Family Business Radio” podcast works with audio network Business RadioX to produce and distribute his podcast. By outsourcing the technical side to a partner, Chen says he can focus on the content, including finding family business owners to appear on the show and prepping for interviews.
When you’re ready to launch, be sure your podcast is on all the big platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and even YouTube.
Promotion and marketing are key
Many people have heard of podcasts, but don’t know exactly what they are and where to find them. Before you post your first episode, go on social media and send an email to explain your new podcast and how to listen. Once your podcast is live, make it part of your marketing ecosystem. Use the audio and text transcription to populate your other channels. Post excerpts to LinkedIn and Twitter and use the transcript for blog posts.
In the Chicago suburbs, RIA Blue Haven Capital plans to launch a podcast next year, hosted by co-founder Kevin Kleinman and his partner, offering investment tips and their take on current events. Kleinman plans to post about his podcast on LinkedIn, Twitter, and local Facebook groups while alternating the podcast between his monthly e-mail newsletters so clients get bi-weekly digital communication.
To be effective, Scribner says podcasters need to be consistent. He recommends picking a publishing schedule and sticking to it, whether that be weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. To ease your workload, he suggests recording several interviews at the same time and then staggering their release.
Manage your expectations
You don’t need a Joe Rogan-size audience to be effective. According to Libsyn, the median download for a podcast episode is 130 downloads. Beyond number of downloads and rate of completion, you won’t get much data on how your podcast is performing. Unlike other digital platforms, podcast data is limited and generic. So, rather than getting hung up on data, consider podcasting a marketing experiment. That’s Kleiman’s take. “This is another way for us to communicate with our clients and a way for us to differentiate ourselves.”
Stay in touch with your audience
To build your following, regularly post on social, in e-mails and even print mailers. Solicit ideas from your audience. At the end of every episode, remind listeners to follow you on any and all podcast apps (not just Apple) and to share their feedback. Your listeners could be future clients – and even podcast guests.
The bottom line is that podcasting is not just the latest, shiny new thing. The market is ascending. Said Chen: “A podcast is an engaging, organic conversation with the person being interviewed. That’s something that a blog or traditional article can’t capture.”