Pods Are Powerful: Why Your Brand Needs Podcasts

If you’re on the go, listen to an audio version of the article here:

In our oversubscribed, over-saturated, on-demand world, getting peoples’ attention has never been more challenging.

As the cut through of written content has declined, brands have increasingly turned to video. Video is great, however it is limited in scope, reach and can prove to be quite costly. For these reasons - and others we will explore - we’re seeing more brands embrace podcasts. And, thanks in part to the wider podcasting boom, there is a growing listening audience ready and waiting to embrace their content.

Increasingly, brands are recognising the value of professionally produced, editorial-style podcasts - using them as effective marketing mechanisms to enrich their brand and build their audiences, sophisticated sales tools for high value customers, or as beguiling instruments for employee engagement.

Since 2016, market giants such as eBay, Mastercard, McDonalds, MailChimp, General Electric and Netflix have all invested in producing their own podcasts. They have grown significant listenership, and reached the top of the podcast charts by blurring the lines between editorial and advertorial. Dell Technologies podcast, Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson, reached 1 million downloads in six months, with 50,000 subscribers awaiting new episodes.

Why podcasts work

In our engagement economy, it’s not hard to see why brands are turning to podcasts. 80% of all podcast episodes are listened to in their entirety, which is arguably the best consumption rate of any digital medium.

Additionally, research from Acast shows 76% of UK listeners have followed up on an ad or sponsor’s message that they heard on a podcast. These extraordinary rates of engagement speak to the intimate quality of audio content - where you have an unprecedented opportunity to speak directly and personally to an attentive, curious audience.

With 18.7% of young adults listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, there is also a unique opportunity for brands to tap into the cultural zeitgeist. The most successful shows aren’t vintage content marketing repackaged as an MP3 - they are editorial, human-centered stories that give intimate insight into your brand. As the Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at McDonald’s put it “If you want to be a beloved brand, you need to start with what people love.”

Put simply, podcasting is a golden opportunity for brands to convene and take ownership of the most interesting stories and conversations happening in their industry.

McDonald’s cashed in on a pop culture phenomenon, fuelling the cult following of their discontinued Szechuan sauce - all told through true-crime style reporting. eBay told stories that appealed to small businesses, and in so doing made this target audience aware of a whole range of business tools that they offered. Meanwhile, General Electric went completely off-piste and made a fictional science-fiction podcast which happens to be one of the most successful branded podcasts ever, with more than 8 million downloads since its release.

The impact of podcasts for ‘I Can Be’

By adopting a conversational style, cutting out corporate-speak and opting for content that starts conversations rather than push-sells in an overt manner, you can get your message across to a targeted audience which is ready and willing to listen.

At Message Heard, we’ve worked with clients to deliver advertorial content for brands like Jungle Creations and I Can Be, an educational charity. Lamorna Byford, Project Director at I Can Be, shares the value of podcasts as a marketing tool: ‘The podcast brings to life the ethos of I Can Be in that it shows the energy and enthusiasm that each of our sessions have. It can be hard to communicate that in a photo or an email.

This is the first of a three part series on The Power of Pods. Keep an eye out for our next post about the most common audio content mistakes that companies make (other than not having a podcast at all!) - and three different forms of engagement that podcasting can drive.

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