Marketing that Speaks: Podcasting in the B2B World
There’s been plenty of ink spilled about how video is taking over the internet. There’s no doubt video is front-and-center in terms of content media. You can find any number of statistics to prove it, such as these. Though video has long been a popular medium and will continue to be, the spoken word continues to maintain its relevance. In fact, somewhat quietly, podcasting has become a discernible force in media. And while podcasting owes its initial popularity to entertainment, the vehicle has developed into quite a useful marketing tool – including for B2B businesses.
That maturity of podcasting
In 2005, while announcing podcast support on iTunes, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called podcasting “the next generation of radio.” For years now, classic terrestrial radio has been viewed as a prehistoric fossil, doomed to a future of uncertainty. In its place, satellite radio grew, with streaming radio carving out its own market. But hinting that Jobs may have indeed been correct in his prediction, neither satellite nor streaming has seen the exponential growth of podcasting in recent years.
For the uninitiated, a podcast is essentially an audio file that can be streamed or downloaded and listened to on demand. They’re typically serial and organized in an RSS feed to which listeners can subscribe. Podcast users commonly listen to the broadcasts while commuting, running, cooking – at times when they’re a welcome distraction or filling idle time with something entertaining or relevant to the listener. As the format has matured, their popularity – and uses – have soared, which is why savvy B2B marketers have spotted an opportunity.
Why podcasting makes sense for B2B marketers
The range of topics for podcasts is almost infinite. Whatever you’re into, there’s likely a podcast out there for you. Podcasting represents an opportunity for your business to build its brand, expand its audience and establish it as a leader in your industry. This is especially true if there aren’t currently many (or any) podcasts in your particular industry.
Not sure who your audience might be? Consider this important nugget: 44% of senior-level decision makers on LinkedIn who know what a podcast is claim they make time to listen to them. The key here is decision makers – C-suite executives, VPs, department heads. The very people doing business with your sales teams.
It’s also worth noting that podcast listeners are 68% more likely than the overall population to have a post-graduate degree and 45% more likely to have a graduate degree. About half are likely to be working in management and 60% are more likely to be professionals.
Research from eMarketer found that 73 million Americans listened to one or more podcasts per month in 2018, with the number expected to climb past 80 million in coming years.
One of the great things about podcasting – in addition to the potential audience – is that it doesn’t have to be a costly investment. The barrier for entry is quite low. You essentially need a decent-quality microphone and audio editing software, which can be found online for free or cheap.
Furthermore, with opportunities for advertising and sponsorships within your podcast, it might even turn out a zero-sum or net-positive exercise for you. Once your podcast develops its niche audience, vendors, suppliers, and partners may clamor for the opportunity to get in front of that audience.
Simple, but not necessarily easy
While producing a podcast might be as simple as a microphone and editing program, it takes careful planning to make a quality podcast. You’ll want to make sure you establish a schedule that’s sustainable. That means an editorial calendar to ensure you have enough material in place to meet your expectations.
Successful B2B podcasts often feature a panel discussion or Q&A with an industry insider or expert. This also allows you opportunities for influencer marketing, because your guests will want to promote their own appearances, further spreading the reach of your broadcast.
Like with any marketing, you’ll also want to track the success of your podcasts. That means measuring key metrics like unique downloads, subscribers, average listening time, engagement and download sources. Because these metrics are all attainable, it helps you follow the performance of your broadcasts and look for methods to improve them.
A blank canvass
Podcasting is still a burgeoning medium, especially in the B2B space. But that’s great news for your business. Many of the rules are still unwritten, and the main limits are those you place on yourself. You can approach it like a painter with a blank canvass. It’s an opportunity to express some creativity in a business you may not otherwise have many opportunities to get creative. It’s a chance to potentially let people look behind the curtain at something they never thought could be so interesting. If you haven’t thought about a podcast to market your business, now is the time.