I am going to skip my witty intro and get right to the first thing you need to know before we begin. We are not talking about why businesses should rent out ad space in podcasts, why podcasts should do their best to obtain brand backing, why you should treat your podcast like a business, or how to build your personal podcast brand. The fact that I have to say that may just point out my own failure in writing clear article titles, but I like to ignore my faults. So then what are we talking about? This is about podcasts that are created by companies and brands and everything you need to know about them, informed by the brilliant mind of Rachel Downey, founder of Share Your Genius, a StorySelling™ agency helping brands share stories worth selling through podcasting.
First things first, why are businesses coming to podcasts at all? Besides podcasts being a lot of fun, what’s the draw? “Everyone wants to hear a story, nobody wants to be sold to,” Rachel explained. Today, consumers are more and more aware of the brands we associate with via our spending and we are very concerned with what those associations say about us. “We want to spend [our] time and [our] investment with companies and brands that represent us and understands who we are as human beings,” Rachel said. Businesses are consistently turning to podcasts to build that kind of understanding because of the medium’s intimacy: “a podcast lends itself to this opportunity to connect to people as people because you’re hearing their voice and their intonation, not just staring at a screen.” Beyond the unique ability to form intimate connection with listeners, there are other reasons businesses are coming to podcasting.
First off, podcasting may present an untapped market that your company should be reaching. Rachel called this “leveraging a new channel to engage with your audience.” “A lot of times clients haven’t even realized they have an audience in this podcast world, one they just never thought to access,” Rachel said. With more and more people worldwide tuning in to listen to podcasts, you may have more of an audience than you think and it’s definitely worth considering getting in their ears.
Second, a podcast allows users to build a useful network. Rachel called these “strategic connections” which doesn’t automatically translate to “prospects, though it could be.” All of those connections may not mean clients or customers, but when people get to know who you are and what you’re reaching for there’s no telling who is going to want to support you. A company may not see an immediate flood of consumers, but over time the connections built through podcasting could become invaluable.
Lastly, podcasting is a long-form space which means companies have room to tell “their signature story.” “That’s not your elevator pitch,” Rachel said. “Your signature story is who you are as a company without promoting or pushing your product or service.” Rachel suggested that the story can be broken down into three main parts: wanting to forge new connections with other companies, wanting to tell the story of how the company was started, or using a new format to build a specific feeling and identity around a brand. Short commercials aren’t going to give a company the space to do that and podcasting offers more flexibility than any other storytelling medium. Further, Rachel said, podcasts make a perfect “center for your content strategy” that companies can “wring out” for maximum leveraging. Podcasts can be shared on your current social media pages, used by your sales team, your YouTube, wherever you want to tell your story. A podcast makes the perfect “heart of content strategy,” and that heart has your company’s story at the center of it.
Each of these bring businesses into podcasting but Rachel made it really clear that “podcasts are not for everyone.” So before you start planning your first season, here are some things Rachel mentioned as essential for a company podcast:
If you think podcasting is the next big step for your company, it’s time to discuss what it looks like practically. A perfect example is the Better Product podcast that Share Your Genius helped get up and running for the Innovatemap company which was recently featured on Apple’s New and Noteworthy for Business, Arts (Design), and Technology. The podcast highlights digital products, the people that bring them to life, the soul of the companies that create them, and the people that are affected by the products themselves. Rachel said that Better Product is a perfect example of what Share Your Genius does and how brand-driven podcasts work: “The company is able to assert itself and its expertise, but the show isn’t about them. The show is about the people that they’re having conversations with and the stories that are told from those conversations.” Better Product is just one example of what a company’s podcast can look like, and Rachel made it clear that these shows can look like just about anything.
Rachel said what the show looks like “really depends.” “We have some clients who want a weekly show because they’re using their show to talk to really smart people and that’s how they measure success – how many smart-people conversations we can have in a year,” Rachel said, providing an example of a podcast that won’t be enclosed and may run indefinitely in order to accomplish the company’s goals. Other shows may be shorter and entirely enclosed, it just depends on what the company is seeking to accomplish and often on how they want to segment out their story. Rachel explained that “brand story is the overarching cohesive thread, but there are different stories within,” offering the example of how marketers use case stories – the application of the service or product doesn’t matter – it’s the story of how the company creates impact . “There’s no end to the stories we can tell,” Rachel said.
Now that you have a clear picture of what a company podcast looks like, you’re probably wondering if they work. Is anyone listening? “It’s not always about the thousands or the hundreds of thousands when it comes to brands and their audience,” Rachel said. “If you have a hundred people who show up to listen to you every single week and they share you and they promote you to their network, that has so much intrinsic value.” Beyond that, yes, people are listening, and Backtrack recently released an article on “10 Successful Branded Podcasts” that lists just a few of the brands that have leveraged podcasting to its greatest potential.
The success of a few doesn’t guarantee the interest of the majority, but it does set an encouraging precedent and, while Rachel admitted she couldn’t guarantee that branded podcasting would become more prevalent in the industry, she thinks it will. Over and over again Rachel emphasized that podcasting is something entirely unique and that means more and more businesses will be driven to make the most of this rapidly growing medium. So if you’re a brand looking to grow or a listener curious about your favorite brands, podcasting is the new destination for you!
This piece is part of Podchaser’s Industry category, featuring helpful information and exciting news for people in podcasting. If you have a topic you’d like us to cover, an agency or show you’d like us to interview, or news you think Podchaser readers should know, email firstname.lastname@example.org!