There's no better way for an entrepreneur to speak directly to an audience than through a podcast.
That's what Sam Coturri, manager of Winery Sixteen 600 and co-host of Sonoma-based The Wine Makers podcast, said when I visited the studio last week and asked whether podcasting can help a young business. He gave a few reasons why.
It's literally in your own voice.
You have complete control over your message.
You have none of the usual constraints of traditional forms of media in terms of length, deadlines, format or language.
Plus -- and this is no small plus -- podcast listeners are some of the most loyal consumers of any form of media available today. If they listen once, they're likely to come back, again and again.
There are multiple reasons for that, and multiple ways to do it well, which we'll explore below. But here's what you need to know right off the bat: podcasting is an awesome platform for getting the word out, not only about your business but also (and more importantly) about what makes your business and you, as its founder and visionary, tick.
So why exactly, as entrepreneurs, are we not all podcasting?
I'm still trying to figure out a good reason why not. In the meantime, here are four ways that more entrepreneurs can benefit from hopping onto the podcasting horse.
1. A good guest has a story to tell.
"We have heard origin stories that begin in Bogota Columbia that transcend gender and cultural expectations," Coturri said. "We have heard stories of subsistence farming in California's Central Valley, where farmers inter-planted bell peppers in vine rows pursuing all avenues to make a living off the land before the California Wine boom."
Although, ostensibly, your podcast is about your primary industry -- wine, for example, or automotive or artificial intelligence -- and it's the open-endedness of the podcast format that allows for amazing stories to emerge. "More than any other media, podcasting allows the flexibility to go find those stories," he said.
2. There's many hands, multiple voices.
Much of podcasts' appeal is the diversity of voices that can be heard as invited guests, who are each "handed the mike" to speak about their particular area of expertise and opinion. Equally important, however, is the diversity of voices of the production team. Yes, the podcast (and the startup, for that matter) may well have been your idea in the first place. But there's no way you're successful on your own.
I was a guest this past week on a podcast called The Wine Makers, which is hosted on the Radio Misfits network and was created in Sonoma, California by four wine personalities who represent distinct aspects of the wine and broadcasting worlds: Coturri, from the grape grower and winemaking side; Bart Hansen from Dane Cellars; Brian Casey, a local sommelier; and John Myers, host and "everyday consumer." It was Myers and Coturri sharing the studio that day but the flavor and longevity of the podcast is a direct result of multiple voices.
3. You have more than one shot at this.
Certainly you want every podcast to shine, and to make a unique and valuable contribution to your greater body of work. But the podcast realizes its true potential in its continuity and longevity, and in its format of an entire body of work that's available to anyone at any time.
Podcasting has done for talk radio what Netflix did for television, Coturri believes. "Listeners can 'binge-listen,' they can stop and pick up where they left off, they can revisit specific episodes or time frames. It's the best way to break through the clutter and build lasting impressions."
4. Mistakes? What mistakes?
When I asked Coturri and Myers about the worst thing that's ever happened during the course of recording over 70 podcasts, and how they would avoid "worst things" from happening in the future, their response was indicative of why their podcast is successful in the first place: they roll with it.
"Fortunately, we have had relatively few mishaps in our first 70 or so episodes," Coturri said. "I mean, we record live, out in the wild, with alcohol. We've had a few spills. We've bumped into the technology learning curve once or twice. We've had some canine-related interruptions. We've had guest and/or host get a little over-served."
At the end of the day, however, it's an organic growth process. A lot like winemaking -- and the entrepreneurial journey -- itself.