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Branded podcasts: How marketers can cash in on the audio publishing boom

The last year has seen a surge in the popularity and profitability of publisher podcasts and brands are keen to cash in this trend.

We spoke to Shannon Martin, director of communications at Podbean, a major player in podcast hosting, to understand how businesses can improve their chances of success when it comes to podcast.

Why are you here?

“The most important tip before getting started is to understand what the company is trying to accomplish with the podcast. This helps guide decisions such as content, timing, format, and, of course, success metrics.

“For example, a company trying to firmly establish itself as a thought leader and get in front of key contacts probably wants to select an interview format. Just the process of interviewing experts in the field provides new opportunities through deeper connections with the interviewees.

“Other company podcasts may be focused on a specific initiative or an educational series for a target audience of professionals.”

Mathew Rouse, podcast lead at Octave Audio who deal with brands including Absolute, KISS and talkSPORT, agrees with this approach.

“When brands decide to launch their own podcast, the first questions they should always ask are: ‘What story am I trying to tell?’ and ‘Who is actually going to listen to this?’

“Brands usually want to create podcast content simply because they feel they need to, but these can quickly turn into vanity projects. This means when the audience numbers fall short of expectations, trust in the popularity of the media then also plummets.”

What are we going to talk about?

“Starting a podcast is easy, but good planning makes the difference between a successful branded podcast and one that falters.

“Remember, a podcast is not an ad. Consider storytelling elements, good flow and sound design, and content designed around your target audience. Content is key for attracting and maintaining an audience. People need to clearly see the benefits of using their time to listen,” says Shannon.

“The key is to elegantly weave a brand into the podcast content. For example, using comedy (one of the most popular genres in the podcast market) as a vehicle to deliver key messaging and using a celebrity host to authentically deliver the strapline.

Brands therefore shouldn’t rely on recognition of their name for success. Known hosts can be crucial as they will already have an inbuilt fan base that can be tapped into for promotion through their own social channels,” continues Mathew.

Where are you?

Discovering a podcast can be more luck than judgement, but to give a branded podcast the best chance then targeted promotion is key.

“Your company should determine how you will promote the podcast, focusing again on who your target listener is and where your efforts will be most fruitful. Don’t forget LinkedIn for promoting amongst professionals.

“It often helps to get the word out to listeners of similar podcasts, by cross-promoting or running promotional ads on podcasts or podcast apps.

“Most importantly, create something valuable for listeners and you will find success. And, remember that success for a branded podcast does not necessarily mean millions of downloads. Even a small listenership can drive big results for a business,” concludes Shannon.

“Podcast discovery is an industry-wide issue and a brand must be prepared to promote any new podcast themselves.

“Whether that be by using their own existing channels or by running ads across other podcasts, listeners are always looking for new recommendations,” confirms Mathew.