A podcast can power your company’s entire content marketing strategy. And it can serve as the connected tissue between your audio, written, and video content.
But a lot of marketers get stuck in a rut with one podcast format. They don’t explore different types of podcasts. And they lose interest because the show feels too routine.
Interview podcasts are a very effective starting point, but you don’t have to interview a single guest for each and every episode. Your company’s podcast can have a number of different formats.
And when you include a video component (a show for YouTube), it gives you even more flexibility.
In this guide, we will explore some of the most popular podcast formats available and identify how these types of podcast formats can drive your company’s content marketing flywheel.
What's the difference between the structure and the format of your podcast episode?
Structure and format are often used interchangeably to refer to how your podcast episode flows. However, they are very different things to address when planning a podcast.
Your podcast structure refers to how your podcast episode unfolds for the audience. Think of it as a meeting agenda. Or a storyline. Sometimes it can be rigidly scheduled, and sometimes it’s a little looser to allow for a more natural conversation.
The podcast structure is made up of individual segments that help convey the information you’re trying to get across to your listeners. With guest interviews, we often use this type of structure to capture the entire story on Recorded Content:
- Cold open (10-15 second soundbite from the guest)
- Pre-recorded podcast intro
- Struggles & wins
- Lessons learned
- Pre-recorded outro
This structure helps take your audience on a journey with the host. And it helps the host stay on track.
On the other hand, a podcast format is a vehicle you use to convey the information. Your company’s podcast may include a co-hosted format, roundtable format, or some sort of hybrid format. You have complete creative control because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
Don't just create another episode, mix it up with these six podcast formats
Which format is right for your company’s podcast series? The type of podcast format you select for your show largely depends upon the strengths of your team.
If you have a single host with deep subject matter expertise in-house, then you may want to take some chances with a solo podcast. But if you have talent that’s more comfortable with a co-hosted show, then you’ll want to explore a type of format that highlights the rapport of the hosts.
Here’s a breakdown of the preferred formats we recommend for company’s looking to create one of their customers’ favorite podcasts.
1. Industry expert conversation (one host and one guest using an interview format)
A show involving a single host and a guest is one of the basic formats available to marketers. The host invites an expert from their industry to have a conversation, offering key insights around how they overcame a specific challenge. These are often specific, tightly structured conversations that seek to offer maximum value to the listener while avoiding general chit-chat.
The structure of this format will look like the example we listed earlier, featuring a brief introduction and questions to guide the conversation. Because the guest changes in each episode, it’s important to maintain a common structure while also developing unique questions to get the most from your guest.
When launching a video podcast for a technology company, we often start with an interview podcast format. This is a popular format because companies get a chance to get the ball rolling. An interview podcast format allows you to build a strong foundation, analyze feedback from the audience, and make adjustments based on customer reactions.
“MYTH: The podcast host’s job is to ask a question and get out of the way.”
Damn Good Conversations
2. Panel discussion or roundtable format
The panel discussion podcast format is similar to the industry expert conversation; however, a host involves the perspectives of several different guests. The purpose of this format is to capture stories from a few experts and perhaps get the guests to interact with each other during the recording session.
The panel discussion format will need a different structure to a one-on-one conversation so you can ensure each panel member has equal airtime. The structure tends to be a little looser to allow for natural conversation and slight deviations from the main conversation. This makes each episode completely unique, even when compared to similar shows from your competitors.
This format takes a lot of pressure off the host, as they will only need to moderate the conversation rather than lead it. However, finding a panel of guests and organizing them can be incredibly challenging, especially for new shows. With a panel discussion, you have to coordinate the schedules of two, three, or more individuals.
3. Internal conversation with your company’s subject matter experts
One of the most common drawbacks of a standard interview podcast format is that your company’s host doesn’t get an opportunity to provide his/her own perspective. Unless the host interjects quite a bit, it can be a challenge for listeners/viewers to get insights from the company.
A conversation involving internal subject matter experts helps your company communicate its point of view. An internal conversation can feel like a co-hosted podcast format where two or even three individuals share their ideas.
Not only will this help to build momentum with colleagues, but it can also be a great way to get your bearings and figure out what you want the podcast to be. Finding guests will be simpler, as they can schedule the podcast into their workday.
4. Solo story
While guests and stories are key aspects of a podcast, listeners also come back because of the host. An interesting, engaging, and curious host can be the difference between a successful podcast and a failed experiment.
If you’re lucky enough to have the perfect podcast host, consider the occasional solo episode. Give your listeners a chance to get to know their story and connect with the host on a personal level. This will create a lasting bond that keeps listeners coming back time and time again.
While creating a monologue may be a nerve-racking concept, the benefits and lack of organizational stress can pay off. Plus, if you mess up, you can simply repeat yourself and edit out the mistake, no one has to know!
Listeners love storytelling podcasts. And one of the ways companies can build more storytelling within their branded podcasts is through a reflection or remixed episode format.
A reflection or remix episode is becoming one of the more common podcast formats these days. Podcasts like My First Million and even our own Recorded Content show use remix episodes to add a new layer of perspectives to previous conversations.
The reflection format provides the host a chance to build a narrative around segments from older podcast episodes. By telling an overarching story and weaving in segments from older episodes, the host can tell a more dynamic story. Listeners have the opportunity to then get more direct information from the host while also getting context from other guests on the company’s podcast.
The reflection format is also a great way to mark significant milestones for your podcast. At Motion, we’ve had customers launch a reflection episode celebrating their first season or even highlighting key interview segments at the end of the year.
“My favorite type of solo podcast episode is when I go back & revisit previous conversations. It always sparks something new for me.”
6. Live event with Q&A
Another format your company can use involves repurposing content from a virtual or in-person live event.
With in-person events, your company’s podcast can be a way to capture interviews and build relationships. Qu uses their podcast, Restaurants Reinvented, as a way to collaborate with industry leaders at key industry conferences.
But in-person events aren’t the only way to get creative. If your company hosts a live virtual event, you can repurpose the conversation as a podcast. One of the most common examples is Refine Labs’ State of Demand Gen. The organization hosts a live event each Tuesday and then reformats the content into a video and a podcast episode. During the virtual event, Refine Labs uses the Q&A segment to build rapport with its audience and understand real-world challenges faced by customers.
No matter what format you choose, make it unique
As of April 2021, there are 48 million podcast episodes available. But rather than feeling like you have to compete, focus on what your strengths are and find a format that works for your company.
You don’t have to be stuck with a single format. And your company doesn’t have to interview guests each and every week.
There’s no “right way” to podcast. Instead, focus on connecting with a very specific audience and finding ways to help them.
Want to see how other B2B marketers use their podcasts on YouTube?
Recorded Content is a show for small, scrappy marketing teams who are looking to launch & grow a successful B2B podcast. In each episode, we provide stories on how to overcome the challenges of launching, running and growing a show. We tackle issues with technology, content marketing, distribution and more. We help you become a B2B podcasting hero with an amazing show.
Written by Tristan Pelligrino
Tristan Pelligrino is the Co-Founder of Motion. He’s a serial entrepreneur who started his career as a consultant with large IT companies such as PwC, IBM and Oracle. After getting his MBA, he started and grew one of the fastest video production companies in the country – which was listed on the Inc. 5000. Tristan now enjoys leading the content marketing strategies of some of the most innovative B2B technology companies in the country. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook.