Use storytelling to enhance your business.

Use storytelling to enhance your business.

Storytelling is a great way to share your company's purpose. As a result, podcasts have grown in popularity because many brands are finding them to be an easy way to share their story. A 2015 study noted there are over 115,000 English-language podcasts in existence. That number is climbing.

About a year ago, the Columbus Chamber partnered with CD102.5, Groove U, Jump Goat Media, and most recently, Columbus CEO, to create our podcast, cbuzz, as a way to share stories from business owners who have found success in central Ohio. We also recruited local entertainer Dan Swartwout to help lead the conversation. The goal of cbuzz is to create a resource of insights and inspiration for people who are looking to start their own business here in the heart of it all.

If you're thinking about starting a podcast for your business, here are a few things to think about:

Subject Matter: Once you decide on your subject, stick to it. You'll be tempted by listeners or potential partners to stray from time to time, but you risk diluting your impact. By focusing on being a provider of thought leadership on a specific topic, your audience will keep coming back to learn more.A great podcast that sticks to its focus is Girlboss Radio, which highlights a female entrepreneur every week. This interview-style podcast sticks to its format and subject matter and is celebrated for it.

Style: Podcast styles vary, but narrative and interview styles are two of the most popular. Keep in mind both require considerable amounts of post-production work. So if you aren't equipped to tackle that much work, find a partner who can help you with some heavy lifting in the production. Startup Podcast is a great podcast that shares insights and stories from a narrative perspective.

Content: Make sure that there is a message or key takeaways your audience will get from listening to your podcast. Incessant rambling or silly commentary can be entertaining, but when it overpowers the focus of the programming, it can turn off listeners. Keep content focused. This is where experienced editing can help you frame your story-and keep it on track. The podcast Where There's Smoke imparts key takeaways such as books to read, websites to explore or exercises to keep your brain sharp.

Guests: Guests add color and texture to your podcast. It's more interesting to have two voices as opposed to one. However, choose your guests wisely. Being behind a microphone is very different than being in front of a camera or an audience. If it's somebody you've never met before, try to schedule a phone conversation or coffee meeting beforehand to connect on the content and focus on the podcast. This will help guests feel comfortable with the interview, and will also give you insight as to how they will be behind the mic. Of course, TEDTalks Business is a great example of a podcast that spotlights various guests telling their stories. Their guests always share wisdom that is extremely valuable because of the extra thought put into the voice behind the mic.

Promotion: Unless you're wildly famous with a huge following, you will have to cultivate and grow your podcast audience. Don't expect that your stat counter will start hitting record numbers the moment you deploy your podcast. Be strategic in how you share messaging; leverage social media and partners to help promote the podcast. And while you're at it, make sure to have your podcast in more than one place. While iTunes is a major podcast hub, people also look for podcasts on Stitcher, SoundCloud and more; cbuzz is on iTunes, columbus.org and SoundCloud. Additionally, partners help us amplify the messaging when a new podcast has been deployed.

One more word of advice-a podcast is probably more work than you think. Make sure you're realistic about how much time you'll be spending on it and the benefits you expect. For us, the win has been in the collaboration! We can't wait to share more stories from central Ohio businesses as we embark on our second year with cbuzz.

Dilara Casey was director of marketing and communications for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Contact Marketing Manager Liz Dickey, LizDickey@columbus.org