The earliest podcasters wanted to avoid content gatekeepers because they believed in the power of the internet to democratise speech. They wanted to speak their mind and do it on their own terms.
From those early beginnings, we now live in what some people are calling the age of “Big podcasting”. You might ask, “How many podcasts are there out there?” Recent data shows that there are more than a staggering 1,000,000 podcasts in regular production. Yes, there are as many as 30 million podcast episodes available on the internet today!
From our own earlier blog post, we know that brand storytelling is the art of creating a company’s essence through the use of honest and consistent storytelling. So, by combining great storytelling and a powerful podcasting platform, you’d be opening yourself up to another world of customer engagement.
It’s in this spirit that we produced our own podcast called UpTick. The platform offers a great opportunity for us to build a community around our North Star.
We talk to local entrepreneurs & innovators who are building the brands that have the potential to impact the Caribbean as well as the wider world. You might question the size of the podcast listening culture in the Caribbean. Yes, it is young but it is growing. With a total of 1,171 podcast listens within two months of season one launch, we are on the right track.
This is our own podcasting journey. We believe that if you provide something of value and quality, people would listen. In the “New Normal” of a Covid-19 world, consumers are hungry for quality content on platforms they can access from anywhere.
Business author Robert Gerrish says,
“You just need one person to listen, get your message, and pass it on to someone else. And you’ve doubled your audience“.
So, based on our continuing experience with UpTick, and by adding own research on how brands can better utilize the platform, we’ve come up with a quick guide to inform your thinking when creating your first branded podcast.
Which brands do podcasts well?
There is an art to creating good branded podcasts. The art lies in not being too forceful in selling your products. Even though you ultimately want to sell products or services, with branded podcasts, you want to create customer intimacy by creating important stories you can share with your listeners.
Not products, but stories.
Luxury brand Chanel uses its 3.55 podcast to connect with their listeners’ aspirations. The podcast features discussions of ballet, art and architecture. These are not Chanel’s product lines, but the brand uses smart aspirational positioning to create an image in their listener’s minds about “the person I want to be.”
General Electric is a much-loved electronics brand that has been serving American families for over a century. Their popular blog Life After uses science fiction storytelling to quietly communicate the brand messaging about existing GE technologies.
The ROI of podcasting
As we said in our previous blog about brand storytelling, if you are looking for a straight line from a good story to an immediate financial gain, you’d need to think again.
GE’s Life After podcast tells stories that are cliff-hangers that keep you wanting more. They make you think about human relationships and fears about technology. Using storytelling, GE makes humans feel stronger through technology. It is through this connection that consumers think, “This is a brand that cares about people like me.”
Marketing expert Jenna Bradon believes there are two ways to measure content marketing ROI. One is the amount of money you make, which is often very hard to do with podcasting, and the second is the amount of engagement you create. For us, we are focused on building a community around the ideas that guide our organization. As a result, we’ve reached almost 200,000 persons online with our message.
It is true that you cannot put a price on a visceral human reaction. We already know that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts. So, when measuring the response to good storytelling, the place to start is with human response metrics:
- Number of listeners
Knowing how many people download and listen to your podcast is the first port of call. It is the clearest indicator that your content is being received well. It is true that downloads don’t always correspond perfectly with the number of times your podcast was heard, but once you understand the ratio, you can factor it in.
- Podcast reviews
Word of mouth is a powerful force. If enough people give your podcast a positive review, then your audience numbers will go up. It is also a good thing as a marketer to be able to say, “We run a 5-star reviewed podcast!”
- Traffic and conversations
Using site analytics you can learn how your podcast is doing. It would be useful to take snapshots at points in time to see how many conversations you launched from an early podcast episode versus how much you launched at a future point in time.
- Email sign-ups
If you deliver value, your audience will go the extra mile to opt in to email sign-ups. This is one of the best indicators of podcast success. The modern consumer avoids unwanted sign-ups, but when they volunteer for it, this means they are interested.
You can create a referral engine by explicitly asking people to refer your content to someone they know. Be sure to make it clear how they can refer your material. In some cases, your customers will be incentivised by rewards, but often they will do it simply because they are excited by your content.
Marketers can get creative with branded podcasts
With a podcast, you ideally do not want to make your sales agenda too obvious. You need an angle. Branded podcasts succeed most when they are a great audio experience first, with advertising second.
Trader Joe’s podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s steers their brand podcast toward being a look behind the scenes at a great grocery store. It shows how the brand goes to lengths to put only the best products on their shelves. In terms of a podcast topic, this might be an episode where they talk about the history of the spice trade around the world.
McDonald’s used a series of podcasts to cleverly to generate buzz around a dipping sauce. The brand discontinued the sauce and nobody complained. But when, out of nowhere, demand went through the roof for the same sauce, there was a reason. It turns out that McDonald’s had created a brand podcast in the form of a clever investigative piece about the disappearance of the sauce. By doing that they succeeded in re-igniting demand for a discontinued sauce.
John Deere’s podcast On Life and Land is directed at its target market by covering topics of interest to farmers. The podcast focused on sustainability, food, and other issues dear to the hearts of farmers. They even record some episodes out in the fields to build authenticity.
What you can do to get your podcast started
You’d want to take care of the fundamentals of a good branded podcast before you even create your special story. Don’t forget these important tips:
- Craft the story you want your brand to tell. This is foundational before you jump into the guest scouting and production phases.
- Be professional and consistent. Stick to your production schedule. There is nothing like creating an expectation for new content and failing to deliver.
- Use quality equipment. You might start your podcast with members of the marketing department in an informal manner, but it’s always good to get into the habit of using quality tools, and this starts with sound.
- If you conduct interviews, be prepared and ask interesting and engaging questions. You might think getting your interview subject into the room is the hardest part, it’s not. For us, we’ve always done pre-interviews with our guests to find the story in their experience. It also helps the host lead the conversation as opposed to giving your audience a formal interview experience.
- Remember that you are trying to build a community of listeners based on trust and loyalty. Try not to be overly promotional at the first go. Use powerful and original stories to bring listeners into your space.
- When you are thinking about your angle, think about your target audience. What is on their mind? What are their aspirations? How can your product make their lives easier in a small way?
- If getting into a studio to record your podcast is a challenge especially in our pandemic world, know that remote podcasting is a possibility; we’ve chosen this route as the host of Uptick, Chike Farrell lives in the US.
The podcast form is here to stay. At the end of 2019 there were 20% more podcasts on the internet that the year before. Since 2013 the podcast market has grown every year. A recent study showed that 57% of listeners heard about their favourite podcast by word of mouth. This shows that people talk about podcasts.
Remember the basics of running a good podcast when you get started. But above all, build intimacy with your listeners by creating real and authentic stories that they can invest in. From there, results will follow.
Don’t forget to discover the stories on our new podcast here.