If you're reading this article, I’m guessing you’re thinking about starting a podcast for your company and you’ve likely listened to at least one podcast in your life. 55% of the United States adult population (that’s around 155 million people) has listened to a podcast at least once; that number has grown from 51% in only the past two years. Podcasting is one of the fastest growing sectors of new media and, as such, it’s definitely a medium that marketers should be thinking about.
That audience number alone, though, isn’t enough to make a podcast worthwhile for your business. So let’s talk about a few reasons why your business might want to invest the time, effort, and cash in starting up a podcast as a part of your overarching content strategy.
To get some of the details on why businesses are turning to podcasting, I talked to Share Your Genius co-founder Rachel Downey, who’s been helping B2B brands develop and share podcasts for four years and is a producer and showrunner for Scared Confident. Let’s get into what we found.
Conversational style builds connections
Each medium allows for a different style of content that is particularly suited to its strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you’re trying to impart a lot of detailed information, a blog is great—it’s a lot easier to go back and consult it later than it would be in another medium. If you’re trying to teach how to do something (especially if it’s something tangible like auto repair or product assembly), video is great because it provides not only instruction, but also a visual record of what the process—and the final product—should look like. These are, of course, not the only situations in which a blog or a video is best; they’re just examples.
Podcasting has its own strengths as well. One of the most important is its style. In a lot of business-related communication—think seminars and the like—the tone tends to be pretty formal. That’s not always the case, but even in a panel setting, there is a level of disconnect between the speaker and the audience. As hard as presenters try to avoid it, it’s just part of the game. But podcasting is a much more intimate experience, and a good host is able to build a rapport with their guest and turn a show into a conversation. And that intimacy comes across to the listener, where a level of virtual relationship is formed. For some podcast fans, it’s almost like hanging out with friends—it can even go so far as to alleviate loneliness.
A podcast can build a stronger connection between you, your brand, and your audience than any other kind of content. And the stronger the connection they feel, the more likely they are to seek you out when the time comes to buy.
Content without screen time
It is cliché at this point to say that we spend too much time looking at phone and computer screens these days, and while there’s probably some truth to it, that’s not exactly what we’re getting at here. What is relevant, though, is that a lot of the time we spend looking at those screens is spent working. And for many, that’s not time that can be spared reading a blog or watching a video, even if it’s connected to the work they’re doing. That time crunch might lead to skimming content, or it might lead to simply moving on. Obviously this isn’t exactly an epidemic—if it was, this would be a blog post about how we shouldn’t write blog posts anymore.
But if you want to try to make things easier on the people you want to reach, you can make it easier for people to consume your content during downtime, or when they’re doing something else. You can’t really watch a video while you’re driving your kids to soccer practice. It’d be pretty hard to read a white paper while you’re working out. But if you’re already trying to multitask by taking a meeting or making calls while you’re making dinner, podcasting becomes a great option for your audience.
Most podcast listeners multitask while listening. According to the Discover Pods Podcast Trends Report, nearly 80% of survey respondents listen to podcasts while commuting, and nearly 70% listen while doing housework. Especially if you know your brand’s specific audience tends to live a hectic life, podcasting is a great way to break through the clutter and get some of their valuable time and attention.
The networking effect
Podcasting offers a unique and simple path to audience growth: the networks of your guests. If you have structured your show around interviews, you can easily plan your interviewee roster around networks you’d like to get exposure to and audiences you might not be able to reach on your own. Both through your own promotion of your episode with a given guest and your guest’s promotion of the podcast episode they were just on, you’ll get in front of plenty you wouldn’t be able to otherwise reach.
And the best part? This should in no way compromise the integrity or quality of your podcast. The people in your field of interest—your industry, most likely—who have followings are probably the people you want on your show anyway. They’re the people with the most interesting points of view, they’re the people who are leading rather than following. Even without taking their audiences and networks into account, they’re going to be the best guests.
Obviously, not all podcasts involve a host and a guest talking. Plenty have a stable group of voices, but that doesn’t mean networking isn’t viable. It works both ways—if your podcast becomes a source of thought leadership in your realm of influence, you’ll be the one other hosts are clamoring to get time with. You’ll get in front of their audiences, and have the ability to not only draw them to listen to your own show, but also to potentially turn them into customers.
A content flywheel
Finally, your podcast is itself content, but it can also create growing momentum in your overall content ecosystem. In essence, the things you cover in your podcast can help you create content elsewhere. For example, you might do a video or two with a guest who appears on the audio program, on topics that you covered in the original discussion or on other industry info. Or you might be able to write a few blogs based on a particularly insightful conversation.
You’re actually experiencing that basic idea right now—it’s unlikely this blog post would exist, at least in this form, if it wasn’t for Tiffany’s Scared Confident show. The fact that we’ve started putting resources into a podcast of our own is driving written content ideas, and you can bet you’ll probably see some video content on the subject as well.
Your podcast can drive content in a number of ways. Don’t ignore any of them.
Seize the opportunity
There’s space for new voices in the podcasting game right now, despite the fact that the medium is experiencing a ton of growth. There’s also room for innovation—it might feel sometimes like everything’s already been done in blogging and video, but there’s really no way you can argue that’s true in podcasting. If you have a unique idea, and it fits into your content strategy and your brand, your business can find a niche in podcasting and become a leading voice. So take your shot, and seize the opportunity that podcasting affords your brand.
Thomas fills a few roles at E3—writer, editor, and resident European soccer expert—but his chief responsibility is content creation. When he's not crafting thoughtful content for the Element Three blog, he's captaining our kickball team, watching the Mets, or talking up Indianapolis to anyone who will listen.
Feed your marketing mind and keep your skills sharp by opting into our weekly newsletter, packed with lessons we’ve learned firsthand. You won’t regret it.