Is Podcasting Your Business’s Next Marketing Channel?


Today, there’s a podcast for everything.

There’s one where a guy talks about how much he likes Jeeps. There’s several about the thrilling sport of Curling. There used to be one where a grown man holds a conversation with his cat for an hour.

And, of course, there’s even one in which podcasters complain about podcasts.

It’s enough to make you cringe and dismiss the decade-old medium as a dying trend. But with 67 million people around the world tuning into podcasts every month, and figures growing at a steady rate, it can’t be denied that podcasts are grabbing people’s attention.

And that attention is not your typical half-arsed internet-browser’s attention. Unlike a blog post or email marketing campaign, podcasts are delivered through the medium of speech — our original and preferred mode of communication. And therefore they’re able to resonate with an audience and engage them much more effectively.

This is music to a digital marketer’s ears. Especially as people are more likely to consider products or services they heard about on a podcast, with over half of them believing the hosts use the products themselves.

The rise of mobile is in part responsible for the recent surge in popularity of podcasts. People and their attention are now constantly on the move, with little time or patience to sit with dense articles and wait for ad-ladened videos.

Podcasts complement the rapid-fire, portable lifestyle. Allowing listeners to consume content while waiting in line, working out at the gym, making their way to work — pretty much wherever and whenever they want.

So, despite all the noise from every man and his dog who thinks they’re a podcast host, the opportunities to benefit from podcasting as a marketing channel are simply too great to ignore.

However, as you’ve no doubt noticed, podcasting doesn’t compliment every area as well as others. And, therefore, producing a show about your telecommunications product may not be the best investment for your business. So the question is, how do you know if podcasting is right for you?

And that is what we’re here to explore. Below are a few of the main reasons why creating a digitally recorded audio show may be the next best move for your business.

Get in the pocket of the millennial market

Millennials and generation Z are a notoriously disloyal and hard to reach bunch.

But in the market of all things digital, they hold the biggest clout. And so it’s in the best interest of the future of most digital businesses to try and maintain the influential but distracted focus of the modern day youth.

The traditional approach is to build a brand that cultivates loyalty and retention. But how do you do that when the digital native’s world is simply one big interchangeable circuit board? Firstly, you recognise that loyalty to teens and 20 somethings no longer means being loyal not to an external company, but to their own personal brand.

What this looks like from a marketing perspective is constantly reinventing yourself and thinking more about how you can sell a lifestyle rather than a product or service. With the audience skewing young — 44 percent of monthly podcast consumers are 18-34 year olds — podcasts are proving one of the best ways to do this.

As the very nature of podcasting is attuned for spontaneity and new insights to arise, it feeds the young customer’s craving for constant newness. Being able to be consumed wherever and whenever meets their need for portability. And as many podcasts have strong characters and brand identities, they also meet their need for status and recognition among peers.

All this translates to a greater potential to retain the headspace of a millennial longer than any other marketing channel. The best podcasts even become a part of how a listener defines themselves.

In sum, if millennials and gen Z make up a large chunk of your customers, you may want to take a closer look at podcasting.

A tech-first audience for tech-first businesses

If you’re a regular podcast listener, you’ve likely wondered why they’re all sponsored by the same handful of businesses — Squarespace, Audible, MailChimp, etc.

It’s pretty simple: for a long time, and largely still today, the common characteristic of the podcast listener was that they’re the young, tech-savvy, early-adopter type. So tech-first companies got in there early and bought up a load of advertising space, recognising the power of the medium and the wide-open opportunity to reach entrepreneurial-minded rich kids.

Today, the type of listener remains the same. And, in fact, are even more likely to be the tech-orientated type due to the proliferation of digital assistances like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

If selling digital products and services is your main gig, then it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll find customers through podcasting. This was eBay’s thinking when last year they launched ‘Open for Business’, a branded podcast series produced in partnership with an external audio marketing company.

The podcast, that shares insights from industry experts on how to start your own company, generated hundreds of thousands of downloads and quickly become the number one business podcast on iTunes. Although you wouldn’t necessarily know the marketplace giant was behind it — only occasionally did it subtly mention eBay in recommendations and case studies.

The trustworthy merit of your local podcast host

To become a thought leader, it used to just be about who could produce the most content, most often. This meant inevitably those with the grandest content marketing budgets rose to the top, leaving little chance for the little guys to compete.

But as podcasting is much less about brute force and quantity and much more about personality and resonance, it helps to level out the playing field. Finally allowing much smaller outfits to push through and compete against the big boys.

Although it’s not strictly selling a product or service, one fine example of a podcast that did this is The Joe Rogan Experience. Joe Rogan got started by recording conversations with a few friends on Skype. Today, the podcast has reached more than 1000 episodes and is ranked 11th in the podcast charts, sitting among giants like NPR and the New York Times.

By producing a podcast, Joe Rogan unearthed a highly receptive audience that now hangs on his every word. In much the same way, if you create the right type of content and find your own audience — your 1000 true fans, as Seth Godin says — you can ride a podcast to a whole new level of thought leadership.

Producing a podcast may seem like a big investment, but really you only need a cheap mic to get your first few shows out there. And if you’re a digital business targeting a young, tech-savvy audience that wants to be seen as the leading force in your field, then it may just be the best investment you ever make. 

Joseph Pennington is a freelance writer and long-term traveller from the North of England. Find him on Medium exploring remote working, technology, spirituality, meditation, and everything in between.