Podcasts are a form of digital media that are quickly rising in popularity because of the diversity of topics out there and how easy they are to consume. If you don’t think your business could benefit from starting one, think again! Christine Baird explained at Avalaunch Media Google Day 2020 why starting a podcast this year is a smart strategy for all companies and how it can add value to your brand.
I think it’s fair to say we all know that podcasting has hit the mainstream, and it’s only really become mainstream in the last year or so. But you may have heard a lot of different things about podcasting, and you may be wondering:
“Is it something we have to do?”
“Is the market too saturated?”
There are over half a million active shows right now on Apple Podcasts, and my goal today is to enroll you into believing that you get to have one, and it’s going to be one of the best things you’ve ever done for your brand.
What Does Podcasting Actually Look Like?
So, a quick check-in with reality: If you have been following podcasting for a while, you may think that this is what having a podcast looks like:
- Number-one podcaster in the world, Joe Rogan;
- If you’re not a former MMA fighter and comedian, you can’t do it;
- You have to have presidential candidates on your show (in this case, Andrew Yang); and
- You have to podcast out of a dark bro cave.
This is kind of the image we’ve been given over the last few years about what podcasting looks like. And my goal today is to show you that podcasting actually looks quite a bit different than this for most of us. And as much as I love Joe Rogan, you don’t have to do it in a dark bro cave.
So briefly, I’m just showing you a quick snapshot of what podcasting can look like day to day, or as we like to say, in real life: Me on my couch with a messy bun at any various form of professionalism and togetherness.
Why I’m Obsessed With Podcasts
I am, it’s safe to say, obsessed with podcasts. I started listening to them in January of 2013. I distinctly remember the day I was on the bus from New York City to the Hamptons. I texted a friend and said, “I need something to listen to.” And he texted me the link to a show on iTunes at the time. And long story short, that original episode led me to actually getting to work on one of the top shows in the self-development entrepreneurship world called The School of Greatness where, when I started working on it back in the dark ages of 2014, I had less than a million downloads. I got to work on that show and produced it and, over the years, grew it to over 80 million viewers. I really learned everything in the trenches because, as it turns out, you can’t learn this at any “podcast school.”
Since then, I’ve had the great opportunity to work on a bunch of other brands, a lot of health and wellness influencers, small businesses, and leading business brands. It’s truly the most fun. And of course, I’m so obsessed. I have my own show as well where I publicly broadcast my therapy, as I am on the journey to realizing my own self worth. It’s safe to say that there is something about podcasting that’s contagious but it’s also really adaptable to small business, huge business, mega-brands, personal brands, hobbyists, and everyone in between.
You Have a Place in the Podcasting Realm
Okay, let’s really get into it now that we know why I’m so obsessed. Let’s get you obsessed. So podcasting, in my opinion, is a smart branding strategy for every brand. And again, we’re going to do a quick check-in on expectations, which is where I start with every client and every initial consultation.
This is a screenshot of the newest shows taken about two weeks ago from Apple Podcasts. As you can see, there is true “pop-ery.” We’ve got all of our favorite topics: murder, sex, crime, beauty, history, comedy, culture, home, anything that you can imagine that’s being talked about in media is being talked about on podcasts, which is a ton of fun because there’s actually no gatekeeper to podcasting. This is why it’s kind of burgeoned and blown up over the last few years. There is truly no barrier. Anyone or their dog could submit a show. You’re likely not going to get featured in new and noteworthy unless you have some good weight behind you, but there is always something fun to see on any random day. I didn’t try to time this strategically; I just took a snapshot of the new shows that were trending, and we had this much diversity.
You may be looking at this and thinking, “Well, my business doesn’t necessarily fall into any of these categories,” but it actually could. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about a little bit today. So, we’ll give you some real data because what’s a good presentation without some real data?
This is a research summary graph taken from 2019 Edison Research. It’s essentially showing, as you can see, the growth of podcasting from the OJI podcast, which actually came out in 2008 when hardly anybody knew about them. They dwindled for a few years, and then a resurgence came in about 2013. But if you notice the graph, something happened in about 2015: The show we all know and love, Serial, descended upon us. And if anybody remembers learning about, with bated breath, journalist Sarah K. Canuck’s following of the trial that the country was totally captivated by — this really blew up podcasting to become mainstream entertainment.
So as you can see from 2015 on, we’re getting quite a nice growth. And now, just as recent as last year, over 32% of members of US households 12 and older were listening to a podcast at least once a month, which, of course, for podcast geeks like me, is so delightful. I really appreciated knowing, even though I’m in this every day, that we’re at a place where about a third of the consumer market in the US is now consuming podcasts on the regular. So in case you were wondering if people are listening, they really are.
You Don’t Have to Be an A-Lister to Create a Podcast
So let’s talk about the long-term goal of podcasting. There are a few myths and rumors that I always get asked about right away, and I love dispelling them because podcasting has, in a way, become more of something that celebrities and A-listers are doing.
And it’s easy to think, “Well, if I can’t have a top-ranked podcast that’s hitting top 10 in my category, what’s the point?” So there is a point, and that’s what we’re going to go through — about five different ways that podcasting as a long-term strategy for your brand, for your marketing, and for your evergreen content is, in my humble opinion, unsurpassed. And to illustrate this, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite brands. I’m going to keep you in suspense for just a moment.
You may think that unless you’re top 10 in the business category, you’re not successful. This was again just a screenshot from the business category a couple of weeks ago. If you’re not NPR, Dave Ramsey, Gary V. or Tim Ferris, why have a show, right? It’s easy to look at these charts and think that, but there’s a brand we all know and love that’s shown us a new way — and it’s my favorite case study.
Trader Joe’s: A Case Study
Of course, it’s Trader Joe’s and, if you’re obsessed as I am with Trader Joe’s, you’ve probably already listened to their podcast. It is called Inside Trader Joe’s, and it’s just two years old. They have done a brilliant, remarkable job, and they came out with it as a true experiment, a little tiny five-episode season just interviewing the people of the company, revealing and pulling back the curtain on how Trader Joe’s buys their products and tests food in their kitchen and trains their employees.
So using Trader Joe’s as our case study, let’s go through four of the ways podcasting has become one of their best and most beautiful marketing strategies.
They, as we all know, have raving fans.
And if you know anything about podcast stats, earning more than 3,000 five-star ratings in just the first two years of your show is phenomenal — mostly because it takes a lot for someone to actually take the time to pull up their podcast app, write a review, and submit it with no reward. But people who have listened to your show, understand who you are, why you do what you do, and realize you did it all for free as a value-add turn into raving fans. They write reviews. They promote you. They share you, and it truly is out of their own delight. There’s no kickback for them, which is why it’s a really cool metric.
Trader Joe’s has only put out 21 episodes in two years.
There’s a myth from the dark ages of podcasting that you, to have a successful podcast, have got to be pumping out an episode a week, 52 weeks a year, and you’re committed for life or you’re a failure. This is actually not true anymore, which is my favorite thing to point out. A couple of years ago, Apple Podcasts (which is the leader of all the podcast platforms, the only one anyone pays attention to) came out with seasonal shows, and this has changed everything. So now, you can put out however many episodes in a season you want — five, 10, maybe you do put out 52 a year — but it’s completely up to you. And it’s not about the quantity, it is about the quality. Every show is different. Maybe you have a hobby show, but since we’re talking about business and marketing and evergreen content, your brand may very well benefit from a short seasonal show with just a few episodes that are beautifully produced and well thought out and add massive value that you can promote throughout the year. Trader Joe’s has done this brilliantly.
Trader Joe’s understands the value of SEO
All right, now to SEO content. Literally everyone in this room is probably a bigger expert than me in SEO, but there are a couple of things I do know, and one of them is that some of the best possible content to drive traffic and build your digital footprint is something like a blog post with a bunch of really delicious keywords that lives on a site you own that’s posted on regularly. Podcasting has become essentially a new form of blogging because these days, instead of typing your blog posts, you can speak them. Have it transcribed, throw it up on your website, write a nice little summary, pop an embed player up there, and you’ve got the magic of blogging in a different way.
Even Trader Joe’s puts these on their website. They understand the value of having your episodes living on a platform you own that it’s actually tied into your own digital footprint. This is where it gets kind of fun. Other people start to notice you when you start to podcast at a high level, and I love this headline from Fast Company. This is from when the show first came out a couple of years ago:
It’s weirdly popular, but everybody was noticing because when had any other grocery store ever decided to put out a podcast and why was it so trendy? This is a really cool way for publications in your industry to start to notice what you’re doing because you’re offering content in a really creative, customizable, personal way, and you can show what actually you are. Brand is about the voice of your brand, your people. You can showcase whatever you want in a totally new way that’s really digestible, and publications start to notice.
Trader Joe’s has made itself into a thought leader.
All right, finally — thought-leader status. This is another amazing headline:
You know that you’re moving into thought leadership when everyone’s noticing what you’re doing and begging everyone else not to jump on the bandwagon because you’ve done it better than anyone else can. This is one of the things I’ve seen work the best for my podcasting clients; once you become a podcast host or your brand becomes a podcast thought leader in your industry, that’s another item on your calling card and another feather in your cap. Not every brand has been enrolled yet that this is doable, so you truly can stand out.
Hopefully, at this point, you are dying to start a podcast and, if not, I would love to talk to you more later and answer any questions to get you there. If you’re thinking about starting, this is where I always start with clients, and I think it’s a helpful place to start to wrap your head around what your podcast and your brand can be.
Who is your audience?
Of course, we all know this is always the question, “Who is your audience?” And it may not be your customer base. It may be your peers in your industry or it may be the pool you’re trying to recruit from. It may be a tangential audience to your customers that can eventually become. It may be your current clientele. This may be an educational source that you want to add massive value to your current clients. Your audience is going to be everything, and they’re who you’re here to serve. Taking time with this question will help you more than anything to craft a powerful and amazing show.
What are your goals?
Obviously this falls in line with who your audience is. Once you’ve figured out who your audience is, you want to get clear on the goals for the show. As we’ve talked about, hitting number one in the charts is no longer important and no longer relevant for 99.9% of us. We’ll leave it to Joe for a little while longer. Your goals could vary depending on your audience, and it’s super important to be crystal clear on this because it will drive all the decisions on how much you decide to invest in your show and who in your company you decide to put on the project. So, whether it’s to attract the best talent in the world, to work at your company, to attract the best clients, or to become a thought leader — this will be your North Star as you think about the goals for your show.
How often can you post a new episode?
And finally, my favorite reality check: How often can you post an episode? And I couldn’t leave without just giving my two cents here. As a producer of multiple shows for over five years, I’ve worked on some behemoths. I’m talking 900 plus episodes in seven years and insane amounts of production, and I’ve worked on great shows that are much milder. And I will say that one of the biggest keys to the success of a show is being realistic about your output, how that’s going to serve your brand, and whether your team is ready to take it on. So please remember, you can make a podcast fit whatever your needs are and whatever your goals are and being realistic about how often you can post an episode will be your greatest ally.
Of course, the absolute number-one most important thing, in my opinion, is to have fun. If we’re not having fun at work and we’re not having fun with our content or what we’re adding to the world, what’s the point? But podcasting, in my opinion, is one of the most fun ways to build content and to build your brand in 2020, and we’re just getting started. There is room for everyone.
-Presented by Christine Baird