I’m obsessed with podcasts. I’ve been listening to them for the past 10 years – back to the early, early days of the genre. I literally subscribe to several hundred podcasts – everything from Doctor Who podcasts, to news podcasts, to book recommendation podcasts. I listen to them several hours a day. Even now, my headphones are in my ears (although I’m not talented enough to listen to podcasts and write at the same time, so my current comedy podcast is on pause).
Podcasts have exploded in popularity the past few years, especially after the success of the compelling true crime saga, Serial. What is it about podcasts that people love so much? Part of it is the ability to get information 24 hours a day. Unlike radio, you get to choose what to listen to or ignore. Also, there’s an intimacy to podcasts that other forms of media don’t have. Most people listen on their headphones while commuting or working out at the gym. It’s personal time just between the podcast host and the listener. Listeners form strong bonds between themselves and their podcaster “friends.”
Even though podcasts are now very popular, it’s still early days for the medium. People are just starting to discover how great podcasts are for businesses. Because of the newness, businesses can get involved with podcasts with relatively little competition.
There are two ways to promote your business through podcasts: (1) advertise on established podcasts; and (2) create your own podcasts. Let’s explore these options a little further.
Advertising on Established Podcasts
Podcasts are free to listen to. But they are not free to make. Podcasters invest in quality recording equipment and pay more for server space as listeners increase. Because of these costs, advertising has become prevalent in podcasting world.
Advertising through podcasts is a great way to get your company name out there in a positive manner. The best podcasters don’t just read advertisements. They make it part of the show. Sometimes it’s just a funny conversation between the hosts talking about the product. Other podcasts do special interviews and create stories-within-stories just for the advertisements. This encourages listeners not to fast forward through ads and to also view the advertising company positively.
There are two ways to get advertising spots on podcasts. First, you can go through an established ad network. Midroll and Archer Ave are two of the biggest. They act as middlemen matching your company with multiple podcasts to place an ad. The upside is less work and placement on established, popular podcasts. The downside is it’s more expensive.
The second option is to reach out to podcasts yourself. You can research which podcasts best match your target audience and ask them to place an ad on their podcast. The upside is it’s cheaper than working with an ad network; plus, you probably know your target audience better than an ad agency. The downsides are that it’s a lot more work, you have to count on the podcast accepting your ad, and the podcasts may not be as well known.
If you think a sixty second ad isn’t enough to truly get your name out there, you can go a step further. Create your own podcast.
Podcasting as a Business
As a business, what’s better than having a captive audience who listens to everything you say intensely and views you as a personal friend? Not much, right? With a well-done podcast, that’s the future you can envision for your company. Happy listeners / potential customers who become happy actual customers.
The most difficult part will be creating an enticing podcast that people want to listen to. We can all agree that no one wants to hear a weekly 30 minute infomercial. Your challenge is to craft a podcast that will be educational and entertaining, while also getting the word out about your company.
Let’s say your company is Carla’s Cookies. You have a successful local cookie bakery, and you want to expand to ship your cookies to customers nationwide. Set up a baking podcast. Put out a weekly episode (or even just twice a month) about every aspect of baking. Interview the latest cookbook authors. Give out recipes and expert baking tips. Chat about your all-time favorite cookies and encourage listeners to share their own. You only need to mention your cookie shipping business once or twice an episode. Your friendliness and expertise will be an advertisement in itself.
Creating a podcast won’t work for every company. It depends on your area of business, available time and resources, and whether anyone would enjoy hosting one. If you are interested in having your own podcast, remember the order of the alphabet: Education and Fun come before Marketing. Focus on the first two and the third will happen naturally.
New mediums for marketing seem to arise everyday in today’s quickly evolving technological world. Podcasts have risen quickly to be one of the most popular forms of media, but it’s still new enough that there are loads of opportunities for any business. If you place fun ads or create an entertaining podcast, you’ll have a flock of happy new customers.