Should Your Business Start a Podcast? (Maybe)

Bygone are the days of huddling around the radio listening to “The War of the Worlds.” While popular culture has shifted away from radio drama, it hasn’t lost its love affair with audio storytelling. Instead, today’s listener is riding the train into work or sweating at the gym while listening to podcasts like “Serial” and “Freakonomics.”

Modern listeners are still enthralled with unlikely heroes, impossible odds and even mundane situations — they’re just busier, and consume the digital medium on the go. So what does this mean for you as a marketer or business owner? Digital storytelling isn’t just niche entertainment that’s reached its golden moment in popular culture — it’s big business.

The Facts & Figures

It’s easy to stereotype the podcast listener as a college-educated person sitting around the fire worshiping Ira Glass and listening to “This American Life.” But to truly cast a stereotype of the average podcast listener, you need to think bigger.

According to the Pew Research Center, one-third of Americans now say they have listened to a podcast. As of 2016, 21 percent of people age 12 or older say they have listened to a podcast in the past month, reflecting steady growth since 2013.

To give you a little context as to how big this number really is, the same number of Americans listen to podcasts that actively use Twitter. That’s 57 million people. This enormous group of people are voracious listeners; 69 percent consume an average of five podcasts per week.

But where are they listening? They’re consuming podcasts in the same manner they read their daily news and look up Yelp reviews — on their mobile devices. In 2016, 64 percent of Americans age 12 or older who have ever listened to a podcast said they were listening “most often” on a mobile device.

While podcast success is primarily measured in the number of downloads, advertising revenue continues to increase. In 2015, advertising spending on podcasts was estimated to be around $34 million. So where does it go from here? Media experts say up.

Ready to Join the Bandwagon?

Do your research first. List to great B2B marketing podcasts. Dive deep into your strengths and weaknesses as digital storytellers. When properly executed, podcasts can build your brand’s audience and help establish long-term engagement. The medium is flexible and the technology is easy to use, but creating content that actually resonates with listeners is incredibly difficult.

If your team can’t produce thought-provoking content week after week or month after month, you’ll abandon the project — or worse — create garbage content just for the sake of creating content. Like all successful content marketing initiatives, you must know your audience inside and out in order to offer insights into the industries and topics they care about.

If you don’t have the storytelling bandwidth to focus on the topics, length, frequency, format and distribution of a podcast, consider sponsoring one. Mega brands like Harley Davidson and Hallmark sponsor podcasts that relate to their target audience and core messaging. They’re using the narrative to draw more customers in.

And you can too if you create the type of podcast that pulls people in. It might not cause hysteria like the iconic “The War of The Worlds” radio show, but you should be focused nonetheless on content that turns listeners world’s upside down, even if only for a short train ride into work.

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