Podcast listeners make for an interesting audience segment for B2B brands. According to recent reports on podcasting, 74% of podcast listeners want to learn new things, and they’re more likely to be active on social media and follow companies. That means podcasts pose a unique opportunity to generate qualified leads and brand advocates.
But podcasts may not be right for every B2B brand. We’ve asked experienced podcasters to weigh-in on why brands should — and shouldn’t — start a company podcast. They’ve also given their best tips for overcoming the most common obstacles with podcasting.
Should Your Company Start a Podcast?
For B2B brands that are deciding whether to start a podcast, the experts suggest asking some essential questions first.
Are Competitors Doing It?
“If you are a brand that is thinking about starting a podcast you should first see if there are other companies in your industry/vertical doing podcasts,” said Jeanne Hopkins, CMO of Lola.com.
Take a look at their guests, listeners, subscribers and shares to see how they’re doing. Can you match or improve upon the podcasts that your competitors are producing?
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Does Your Audience Listen to Podcasts?
“Brands should start a podcast if your audience listens to them,” said Tim Cameron-Kitchen, founder of Exposure Ninja. “It's as simple as that.” He believes many business leaders and managers listen to podcasts on their way to work or when they’re exercising. “Our target market benefits from podcasts as listening to information — rather than reading or watching it — saves them time,” he explained. For B2B brands, therefore, there’s a good chance key decision-makers are listening to podcasts frequently.
Are You Looking to Make Connections?
“Brands shouldn't podcast if they're afraid of talking to people or if they just want to put out shows about how great they are as a company,” said Griffin Caprio, CEO of Dante32 Inc. He believes podcasting is a communication medium, so if you are afraid to have honest conversations it will show in the final product. Instead, Caprio continued, “A podcast is an excellent channel for connecting with that potential audience and customer base in real, intimate ways.”
Is the Industry Saturated?
“Some marketers will tell you that the brands that shouldn't start a podcast are those in boring industries,” said Ross Simmonds, CEO & digital strategist at Foundation Inc, “I disagree.” He said exciting industries are already filled with podcasts, but boring industries like cyber tech, manufacturing and natural resources have low competition.
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Overcoming Podcasting Challenges
For brands that do decide to get started with podcasting, there are three major hurdles they’ll likely face. Our experts share their thoughts.
“A good name and a good premise will get you started,” Hopkins said, “but the ability to keep the program going is what separates successful podcasts from the rest.” That’s why it’s good to explore the concept in a low-effort way by coming up with topic ideas beforehand and even recording a few sample episodes beforehand.
“If you're starting a podcast for your company,” Caprio suggested, “it's best to start slow and with something you know you can commit to for at least 6 months.” He says you can also do more later, but it’s best to pull back on your ambitions until you’ve found a cadence.
Caprio believes many companies under-invest in planning before they launch a new podcast, and it makes keeping focused on what potential listeners actually want more difficult later on. “Spending time upfront defining a podcast mission statement,” he said, “will help them frame episodes around that consistent focus.”
“For every guest you should send an outline of what will be discussed and encourage the guest to listen to at least one episode to get a flavor of the podcast series you are producing,” said Hopkins. That way, the conversation and topic stays consistent with the podcast’s intended purpose.
“If you don’t have a content calendar with a number of guests to be on your podcast or information to share consistently,” stated Hopkins, “it will fail.” Many podcasts start off well, but then struggle to consistently line up new guests. “After the first three are produced, the next three are harder, and the next three even more difficult,” she explained. That’s why Hopkins recommends front loading some of the work to ensure a full guest lineup so you can consistently put out new episodes.
Even so, it can be challenging to find guests in the beginning. “We got around this issue by inviting our employees on the show to talk about particularly successful campaigns,” Cameron-Kitchen said, “and featuring willing clients that can give great testimonials while talking about relatable issues.”
In the end, Caprio concluded, “The best brands to start a podcast are ones that have a point of view to share.” If your company wants to be a thought leader, therefore, podcasting could be a great route forward.