I can objectively (ahem, subjectively) say that podcasts are the greatest communications medium since the creation of written language. (Yes, better than TV.)
My podcast love affair began about five years ago with NPR’s “This American Life.” Since then, I’ve subscribed to more than 70 podcasts, ranging from Stern Strategy Group’s “Minds Worth Meeting” to horror stories and economic explainers, from music recommendations and modern radio dramas to… well, you get the idea.
When I first started listening, people would frequently challenge me, questioning why I found so much personal value in podcasts. To be fair, until fairly recently, if you weren’t into storytelling or economics, there might not have been a podcast that interested you. Today, however, the breadth of topics and quality of the content have improved so much that it would be nearly impossible to not find at least a few that appeal to personal passions or professional endeavors. Yet, the stigma that podcasts are a niche medium still exists in the minds of many communicators. I’m here to change that – and to prove you’re missing out if your communications and content marketing plans don’t include a podcast strategy.
The Value of a Podcast Strategy in Communications
It’s true that no podcast will have the same cachet, as say, a Harvard Business Review article, but you make up for it in the quality of the audience you reach. According to Apple, its platform boasts more than 1 billion subscriptions to upward of 250,000 podcasts. Because the number of podcasts is so large and the subjects of most are highly defined, the audiences of any given show are typically highly engaged, knowledgeable and passionate about the topic. They are truly interested. This allows organizations and thought leaders the opportunity to deliver highly tailored messages to the people most excited to hear them and most likely to take action as a result.
For example, if you are selling pens, you will likely want to speak with “The Pen Addict,” a weekly (Really? Is that necessary?) fix for pen enthusiasts. Are you a biking fanatic? Try “The Cycling Podcast” (clever name). Sell audio equipment? Try out “HowSound,” which explores how to make and edit an audio recording. And so on.
If you aren’t convinced yet, you may be surprised to learn that a study found 44% of Americans have listened to podcasts and 26% do so monthly. While 26% might seem small potatoes, it’s quite the opposite. For context, 16.8% of the U.S. population are Twitter users.
Clearly, the potential of reaching a large, targeted, engaged audience via podcasts is huge. Let me give you one more reason to buy into a podcast strategy. Listeners actually enjoy promotional messages. Surveys suggest podcasts do not normally engender advertising aversion and in fact foster stronger brand recall than other forms of advertising. Listeners like me eagerly soak up your product or service spiel; we still tune it out if we see it in print or on TV. So, if this blog were a podcast, I could say, “Subscribe to Stern Strategy Group’s ‘Minds Worth Meeting’ podcast,” and you’d be receptive. But because this is an on-screen medium, you’re probably already in the process of forgetting you just read this paragraph.
Lastly, podcasts aren’t just a flash in the pan tactic. They’ve seen exponential growth in popularity over the past five years, with no signs of slowing down. This is largely because it’s the perfect medium to satiate our curious minds when we’re on the move, which is almost always. In 2014, most podcasts were listened to on a computer, probably while sitting in a desk chair. Not fun. In 2019, listeners have ample options: Tune in while commuting, vacationing, cooking, hiking. Hey, astronauts have even listened to them while in space!
Some say we’re in the golden age of podcasting, yet marketers and executives have yet to recognize their full value and invest in their worth. Does your brand have interesting ideas to share? Of course it does. Invest in podcasts and make an impact.