My interest in podcasting developed in the middle of the night. If I have insomnia, my mind becomes a dangerous neighborhood. When I wake in the wee hours, my brain spins tales of my inadequacies, old opinions and work that I should be doing. A few years ago, I discovered, however, that donning headphones and listening to podcasts took me away from this circular mind chatter. Once I’ve pressed “play” I will either go back to sleep or, if sleep eludes me, I’ll at least learn something new. Beyond a response to insomnia, I’ve discovered that podcasts could be extremely helpful for many businesspeople. It’s a way to reach unexpected audiences, pose your IGC as the go-to center for plant information and disseminate information that is always available.
Podcasts and IGCs
Podcasts offer garden centers several specific advantages. First of all, a podcast positions you as an expert in your field and region. Best of all, you don’t have to convince a local radio station to give you airtime. The beauty of this media is that there are no gatekeepers; you don’t have to persuade anyone that your information is worth broadcasting and you don’t have to pay a commercial station for airtime. Anyone with a computer, headphones and microphone can develop a podcast and put it out to the world.
A second benefit is that there is no set length or format for podcasting. There are highly successful programs that are three minutes long and others that are several hours long, plus every timespan in between. The length of a podcast is totally up to you. Additionally, the content is evergreen. As long as you keep it on a website and/or podcast host, it’s there when people want to listen. In your garden center newsletter, you can post links to podcasts that deal with seasonal topics that are important to your customers year after year. Podcasts reach a wider audience because unlike written material or videos, they can be consumed as the listener does other things such as walking, driving or cooking. This type of “talk radio” is especially favored by the demographic those in horticulture are always anxious to connect with: people under the age of 50.
The first step in getting your podcast launched is to decide what you want to say, and to determine what is a realistic amount of time to spend on these recordings. Given the nature of our business, it makes sense to begin slowly by recording several episodes in the slower seasons. A podcast makes a good winter project because you’ll need to research recording equipment, hosting platforms and other details. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the process, you’ll be better able to record programs in the spring or summer, but initially, it’s best to schedule the first episodes for your slowest season.
Name your program
Decide on the name of your podcast. To help determine if other programs are already using the name you’re considering, search for it in Apple Podcasts or on other podcasting apps such as Stitcher. For a garden center, the best name might be your company’s name, with a tagline that indicates what your business is all about. It might be “growing beautiful landscapes,” “cultivating Wisconsin gardens” or something similar.
Create a logo
You’ll need a logo for your podcast, and believe it or not, this is an important decision. Apple Podcasts wants logos that are clean, easily understood and specifically formatted. The podcast host Blubrry gives good guidelines here: create.blubrry.com/manual/logos-branding-and-theme/. Logos need to be square and graphically appealing with minimal text.
Record and launch
Once you know the title, the host of the program and the type of information you want to focus on, the next step is to decide how you’ll record your sound. The easiest way is to sign on with one of the podcast companies such as Podbean or Anchor. These companies provide the ability to record on a cell phone and upload the finished program to their servers. Other options for recording include GarageBand for Mac users or Audacity, a free audio editing software for all computers.
There are several articles, websites and Facebook groups to guide beginning podcasters. Take advantage of these but know that sometimes the simplest procedures and most basic equipment are all that is needed. Don’t get distracted by highly-priced microphones or fancy audio paraphernalia.
Finally, decide on how frequently you can realistically record and launch an episode and try to stick with this. Listeners who become loyal to specific shows anxiously await the latest episode so make sure they know when to find it.
An IGC might use a weekly podcast to inform their customers about new plant arrivals, upcoming events or the latest pests or problems in the landscape. You could provide your clients with inside information about problem-solving products or give garden design tips for creating beautiful outdoor living spaces. No matter your topic, podcasts make ongoing connections that will help your business grow.