In the words of Mugatu from the cult comedy classic “Zoolander,” podcasts are so hot right now.
You may be thinking: “Podcasts may be hot, but that’s not enough for me to invest in them.”
While I certainly applaud your focus on creating relevant content and not just latching on to the latest marketing trend, this is a case where I’d encourage you to reconsider.
After all, nearly a quarter of Americans listen to a podcast at least monthly, according to Edison Research, and 65% of active listeners only started listening to podcasts over the last three years. These metrics could be a byproduct of a more diverse menu of podcast shows and topics, but they still demonstrate that your audience is eager to listen in, whether it’s for fun or for business.
Second, consider the sheer variation in learning preferences across any given audience. While some individuals prefer visual consumption, others, on the other hand may gravitate to hands-on engagement, or auditory experiences. We as B2B marketers should strive to create content that speaks to a variety of types, available across a multitude of mediums.
Furthermore, as we think about the lives of our busy buyers, we cannot overlook the day-to-day challenges of fast-paced work environments, time-constrained schedules and on-the-go lifestyles. The pace at which business professionals operate puts an even greater emphasis on the need to produce content that sates the appetites for all on-demand lovers.
Finally, think about how your audience has and will continue to evolve. Edison Research analyzed the demographics of podcast listeners and Millennials was the largest group (44%) represented. As Millennials move up the ranks in their organizations, they likely are going to be more present in buying committees — and even leading buying decisions. B2B marketers must engage them in a way that resonates, and podcasts are evidently one of them. Don’t feel like reframing your strategy around one audience? Consider this: 64% of B2B buyers participating in Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey said they prefer to listen to podcasts early in their decision-making journey.
Pressing Play On Your Podcasting Strategy
The above realities may feel a bit jarring, especially if you feel like you just figured out how to tackle the last hot content marketing trend. But we’re here to tell you: you don’t need to create your own in-house podcast studio, and you don’t need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on booking guests or hiring a team of audio engineers. (If you want to, by all means…)
You can test and scale a podcast strategy without breaking the bank — or risking your job. Here are some questions you need to answer:
- Who is my target audience? What are their content preferences? Do they even want to listen to podcasts to learn about relevant industry trends or to learn about potential solutions?
- How will podcasting play into your overarching content strategy? At Content4Demand, we believe that all content should serve a broader, strategic purpose. However, you also need to be realistic. We recommend starting by adding podcasts to a specific campaign and then scaling based on how your first initiative performs.
- What’s the goal or intent of the podcast? This is where you should start thinking about the core theme or mission statement of the podcast. What will you strive to accomplish each episode? What promise will you make to your audience? This will be your benchmark for every installment, so you can ensure you’re consistently creating quality content.
- What style will you embrace? Every podcast tends to have a uniform style or structure. If you’re in the early stages of your podcasting journey, though, you have some room to test different approaches. The core podcast “execution styles” include:
– Radio Drama: Traditional storytelling style, this format usually has a narrator and sometimes different characters. While the most obscure for the B2B world, there could be potential for brands to tell pain-point focused stories from the buyer’s point of view, explaining how he goes through his daily life and what solutions he relies on to be successful.
– Q&A: This is the most common podcast style. Although it’s extremely effective, it may be difficult for companies to stand out if they only take this approach.
– Live Interview: An “on the street” style interview or a standard Q&A style podcast published through a live streaming service. This style brings the authenticity of your podcast to a whole other level, so try to bring in quirky guests or execs with big personalities to make the experience even more memorable.
– Look-Back: Think of “This American Life” and other shows from NPR. They typically include a main speaker who tells the core stories, and then audio snippets from several interviews are edited together to support the core storyline or event. This approach would work if you conducted one or several interviews at an industry event and developed a podcast episode around the common themes or trends discussed at the event.
- Who will be on the podcast? This includes who you will onboard as guests and who will host the show. For hosting duties, you may want to select a key thought leader or executive within your organization. If they have social clout or recognition, even better. You can have a myriad of different guests based on your mission and the style you’re following. You can feature internal experts, customers and advocates, as well as third-party influencers such as analysts, speakers and authors. Depending on the topic, you may even find value spotlighting everyday people who are eager to share their honest feedback on a particular trend or topic.
- How long will episodes be? The ideal length depends largely on the format and whether you have guests, but we typically see higher-performing podcasts to fall within the 15 to 20-minute range. There are exceptions to this rule, however, so be sure you’re tailoring your strategy to what your audience wants.
- How frequently will you post new episodes? Frequency is extremely important, especially if you’re making a promise to your audience. If you promote your series as a “weekly podcast,” you better deliver! This is the main reason why we recommend that all companies be realistic. You don’t know how a podcast will impact your day-to-day obligations, so you’re better off starting small and building up frequency over time. To build an audience, though, you do need to have a consistent cadence. Starting with a monthly cadence or publishing new episodes every two weeks tends to be a good place to start.
Get the Word Out
The podcast world is getting bigger every day. According to FastCompany, there are approximately 525,000 active shows and over 18.5 million episodes available for your target audience’s consumption.
So, how do you stand out?
Having a clear mission for your series and delivering on that mission is the foundation for a successful podcast strategy. Releasing a consistently entertaining and high-quality product will organically help you build an audience and keep people coming back for more. However, there are some core amplification best practices to consider. For instance, promote your entire podcast series and new episodes via email. Promote the show’s mission and special guests, and allow people to subscribe easily through these messages, on the site and even through social media. Develop a multi-channel promotion plan that spans paid search, organic social and paid social advertising. Finally, if you plan to have influencers on as guests, make sure they’re alerted when their episode goes live so they can share it with their followers. Want to make the process easier for them? Create a social toolkit featuring a tracking link, recommend hashtags and post ideas for different networks.
Despite all of the hype surrounding podcasting, it is still a relatively new medium in the B2B world. But that doesn’t mean you should wait on the sidelines. New shows are launching every day, and your brand has an opportunity to entertain, educate and engage its buyers.
Your buyers are ready to listen. Will you give them the information they crave?
Want to get started on a blog, or want insight into how your strategy can improve? Reach out to our Director of Marketing, Product and Channel, Jessica Baum, to schedule some time to chat and get some ideas.