With 116 million podcast listeners monthly and growing, more marketers are considering the creation of a custom podcast. As is typical in all marketing, some brands are doing it right, and some not so much.
“We know our brand better than anyone. Let’s order a couple of USB mics for our computers. How hard can it be?” But would ordering a camera turn someone into a good video producer? Is everyone who uses a keyboard considered a good writer? Creating audio that will engage and delight existing and potential consumers, and improve perceptions of your brand, requires skill and experience.
Like any other form of content marketing, a podcast requires resources, strategic planning, great writing, sound design and an effective promotional strategy to evangelize the podcast.
As creators of some of the most successful branded podcasts, we have learned some lessons. Read on for a list of DO’s AND DON’Ts for creating a successful custom podcast for your brand.
DO have a thoughtfully defined audience in mind. People listen to a podcast by choice. They’re looking for an engaging story, one that resonates with them personally. Then they make a conscious decision to hit “play.” Unlike traditional media, consumers won’t discover your podcast accidentally by flipping through channels. Your podcast’s audience may be narrower, a subset of your brand’s entire target. Microsoft has nearly three dozen podcasts, all focused around specific aspects of tech and society. It’s Marketing 101: narrow focus equals broad results. Microsoft isn’t trying to appeal to the comedic podcast listener.
DO have a mission for your podcast. KPI’s should be desirable, measurable and attainable. Is your goal to be a thought leader for your brand’s category or industry? Or possibly improve brand affinity by showing you care about your customers’ lifestyle, causes and concerns? Charles Schwab’s “Choiceology” explores behavioral economics to aid in making smarter decisions.
DO fill a need. In a practical sense, does your podcast already exist? What is the whitespace that your podcast will fill? Paraphrasing marketing author Clayton Christensen,what job are consumers hiring your product to do? If another well-known podcast is already accomplishing what yours would, you may need a fresh idea.
DO invest in quality. Exceptional writing, audio capture, sound design and promotion. Your brand deserves it. Remember also that you’ll be competing for time and attention with many other podcasts, not to mention other media. Your podcast must inform and entertain.
DO create a unique sound for your brand. Just as your brand’s visual look is unique, your brand needs a signature audio sound. Expert sound design creates visuals too. It’s a “close your eyes to see it” experience. Listeners can picture their neighborhood Trader Joe’s store when they hear the familiar bell and friendly crew on each episode of “Inside Trader Joe’s”. Or they’re invited to visualize locations like a hummus factory or the cave where Coastal English Cheddar is aging.
DO have a strategy for promoting your podcast. Unfortunately, this is not a “If you build it, they will come,” proposition as in the classic movie Field of Dreams. Engage your consumer database. Employ social media channels you know to be effective with your audience and if possible, promote your podcast within other podcasts your audience listens to. This remains the single most effective marketing tool. National Geographic was effective in reaching Emmy voters to introduce their “The Making Of” podcast series through direct mail.
DO measure your results. Will it be using anecdotal feedback from customers and employees? Downloads? Reviews? Internal moral? Or do you invest in a brand lift study that tracks affinity and purchase intent?
DON’T turn your podcast into a 30-minute commercial. Even a brand-centric podcast needs to be about topics of interest to the listeners, rather than pushing your products or services. In podcasting and throughout media, there is an obvious trend toward consumer acceptance of content over commercial interruption.
DON’T take your audience for granted. You’ll have one opportunity to captivate and engage. If it’s dull and unimaginative, they will not continue to listen and likely not return for another episode. This can effectively be harmful to your brand and can do lasting damage in the process.
DON’T set it and forget it. The best branded podcasts are constantly adjusting levers to for optimization and growth.
DON’T give up! Few podcasts are overnight sensations. Joe Rogan has been at it for well over a decade. Be in it for the long haul. By partnering with a creative studio your brand essence and messaging will always be fresh and compelling to your listeners.