James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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How to Come Up with Topics for Your Business Podcast

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

One of the hardest parts of creating a business podcast is coming up with interesting topics consistently. You need to keep your audience engaged, provide content of value, and keep yourself interested and motivated. 

There are a variety of popular methods podcast creators like to use to help them come up with topics for their content, but I think there’s one method that is more effective and engaging than any of the others.

Having a plan for how you will determine your podcast’s topics is important to ensure that you’re creating consistently good content that will appeal to your audience.

How do you come up with topics for your business podcast? The best way to come up with topics for your business podcast is to use interview-based podcasting and force your guests to go as niche as possible.

Interview-based podcasting is a great method because it enables you to take full advantage of your guests’ expertise without too much extra work from you.

Content strategy, but no content calendar? I don’t know about you but I think that sounds pretty sweet. 

To make this as clear as possible, I’m going to break down exactly what you need to know about why interview-based podcasting is so great, and exactly how to do it, in this order:

  • Interview-Based Podcasting
  • How to Create an Interview-Based Podcast Episode
  • Solo Episodes Are Important, Too
  • I’m Just Starting, Who Should I Interview?

Interview-Based Podcasting

What is it?

Interview-based podcasting is the best way to have a constant stream of high-quality topics

You invite practitioners in the industry you want to serve to come on to your show, and that’s it. They choose the topic. Sure, you help along the way, but it really is that easy.

You’re crowdsourcing your content strategy

Make it hyper-specific

As the host, your job is to make sure that the topic they choose is as granular as possible. This means making sure that the topic they pick is as narrow and specific as possible

No one wants to listen to 45 podcast episodes about what marketing experts think about marketing. 

You and your guests should avoid discussing the same general wisdom that any industry expert will say. First, it’s boring after just one time, and second, expertise is in the details, not the generalizations.

Try these POV Questions

Ask these POV discovery questions and see what produces a passionate and different-from-the-norm answer. Make the episode about discussing that answer.

Here are the questions (that work like a charm):

  • Q1: What’s a commonly held belief about [your field of expertise] that you passionately disagree with?
  • Q2: In the world of [your field of expertise] what should everyone stop doing?
  • Q3: In the world of [your field of expertise] what should everyone start doing?

What you want to get to is super-specific content like an episode on “demographics marketers should stop overlooking in their social content”. 

It has to be relevant to your audience, interesting, and different from what is commonly talked about.

But hang on! Make sure they’re not selling their product in their topic. They should be providing knowledge, expertise. 

If they interest a listener, the listener can find their product (especially if you mention at the beginning and/or end. But don’t let the podcast be a commercial. 

Source: Giphy

Interview-based podcasting in action

A great way to get inspiration for how specific you can go with your guests is to look at some podcast titles for an interview-based podcast like B2B Growth

9 Things to Do in Your 1st 90 Days as a VP Marketing” is both clear and engaging — anyone who’s interested knows what they’re going to get, and anyone who isn’t won’t waste their time. 

Notice how long interview-based podcast titles can be. Long titles can be super useful if they tell the audience exactly what they need to know about the podcast episode’s content.

Short and sweet is great, but when you’re being hyper-specific, it could serve your audience even better to tell them exactly what they’re getting into so they know you value their time.

How to Create an Interview-Based Podcast Episode

Don’t skip the pre-interview

There are two reasons for a good pre-interview and two things you want to do during it.

1. Relational equity. Write everything personal you learn about your guest.

As you talk, you might hear about your guest’s kids, hobbies, struggles, goals, etc. Write it all down.

It’s going to help so much as you continue to nurture the relationship with your guest long after the episode is recorded.

I recommend loading all your notes on each guest into an app called Fabriq, so that you get alerts to stay connected on the things that matter to that guest.

2. POV discovery or content planning. Write down every point your guest passionately makes.

As you’re asking questions you’ll strike cords within your guest. They’ll start to get passionate. Whenever you hear the soapbox tone, make sure you’re writing.

After the pre-interview, write What/Why/How style questions that you know will reactivate those passionate answers.

This is your guide through the conversation — as the host, you have to keep things moving from strong point to strong point. 

Tell your guest the plan

They’re not the expert at making your podcast, you are (I hope). Guiding your guest through what to expect can help them be ready to move through the podcast comfortably.  

Tell them exactly how you’re going to introduce them so they can fix their job title or name pronunciation if needed. This doesn’t need any explaining. Always confirm. 

If you’re going to ask them broad questions, tell them what to expect and how long to take. If you’re going to ask how listeners can find them online, give them a chance to plan for that. 

Source: Kaufman Rossin

Solo Episodes Are Important, Too

Even an interview-based show needs some solo episodes — it shakes things up, it reminds listeners who’s hosting, and it gives you a chance to weave things together. 

A big perk of solo episodes: there’s nothing unpredictable. You don’t have to worry about extra-long or super-short responses from your guest because you’re both the guest and the host!

Plus, you can respond directly to what your audience wants because you are controlling every piece of a solo episode’s content

Where your solo episode could go

Solo episodes are your moments where you can reconnect with your listeners and talk directly to them rather than a podcast guest. 

You also have an opportunity to talk about topics that you’re an expert on, explore something you’re passionate about, share updates about your show, and the list goes on.

The key is to make sure you’re providing value and you’re still within your niche. Your listeners aren’t there for you as a person (harsh, I’m sorry, but true). They’re there for what you provide.

Source: Giphy

Tying things together

Solo episodes are great for weaving together disjointed podcast topics if you feel like things have been straying a bit. 

They can also be fantastic if you’ve put out a lot of content and are getting requests or suggestions for things you’ve already done — you can talk about your “top hits” and direct people to early podcasts that are of interest to a lot of your audience. 

Besides “top hits,” some of my favorite ideas are profiling industry leaders who you’re not able to interview, examining new innovations, or providing personal anecdotes with a lesson. 

I’m just starting, who should I interview?

Awesome! Inspiration and motivation can be great spices to the soup of a podcast show. If this is your first time starting a business podcast, this article gives you every step.

A great place to start is by figuring out who you’re trying to serve? Hint: it should be the person who buys your product.

Make sure it is focused completely on the audience you want to serve, and not on yourself, your brand, or your company.

The person searching for helpful customer experience content will skip right past “Keep them Happy: brought to you by the experts at BlahBlah.”

They’ll subscribe to “The Customer Experience Show” who’s podcast cover resonates with them and has nothing to do with you.

If you’re a company who’s ideal buyer is CIOs for example, that is your ideal guest for the show.

Why is your ideal buyer also your ideal show guest?:

  • You will form as many relationships with your ideal buyer as you have episode numbers.
  • You want a show who’s ideal listener could see themself as a guest.
  • You want guests with the in-the-trenches understanding of a practitioner.
  • Your understanding of your buyer will grow with every episode.

Fill out your guest list with these people:

  1. People who can buy from you (aka prospects)
  2. People who can spend more with you (aka customers)
  3. People who can refer you (aka Partners)
  4. People with an audience similar to yours (aka influencers)

Be careful on #4 though. A lot of people focus too heavily on this one. Plus they target the wrong kind of influencers.

B2B Growth has interviewed Gary Vee and Simon Sinek. They’re two of our lowest downloaded episodes. Meanwhile Chris Walker, who is an influencer in the B2B Marketing space, consistently brings subscribers every time we interview him.

In Case You Skipped Right to the End

Interview-based podcasting really is the best of both worlds: less work for you, and an even better result for your audience. It’s successful because it brings so many minds to the table and offers your audience such a good range of content. Try it, I think you’ll like it!

Your guest is the expert and you guide them. 

Use POV discovery questions to discover what valuable content your guest has to share

Be super granular (if you’re thinking, “ugh, I don’t want to google this word,” I gotchu: granular = super specific, a small part of the whole theme of your podcast). 

Use solo episodes when you have valuable content to share.

Your ideal buyer is your ideal guest.

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