This blog was commissioned by and first appeared on Tuesday Media.
You must have overheard it. People talking in hushed, but excited, tones about S-Town, Serial, Dirty John or the latest podcast that they’ve discovered. One in ten adults in the UK now listen to podcasts every week – spending hours catching up with their favourite audio shows from across the world. And that number is growing.
A podcast is a series of digital audio files downloadable onto your phone, tablet or laptop. To put it another way, it’s a form of radio show which needs no radio station, nor radio set to listen to it. Anyone can record them and publish them. Listeners can search for a topic they want to hear more about, download a podcast on that topic and listen to it. Wherever they want. Whenever they want. For free.
Current research tells us that podcast listeners are young, affluent and keen to learn new things. Starbucks, eBay, Microsoft & NatWest are already doing it, but podcasting is still an underdeveloped marketing tool for businesses. So, here are seven reasons why your business needs to start podcasting.
Since Guglielmo Marconi started testing the concept out at the turn of the 20th Century, radio has been written off many times. Lord Kelvin – he of the temperature scale – once said “Radio has no future”. In the 1970s, there was even a song about it. In fact, as radio futurologist, James Cridland notes, so many things have “killed the radio star” that you’d be forgiven for thinking audio would be dead and buried by now. Instead, BBC radio is approaching its centenary with nine in ten people in the UK listening to the radio every week. Meanwhile, Google and Amazon are making audio sexy again with smart speaker technology. Alexa won’t be able to read your blog or play your video but she will be able to play your podcast!
So why has audio survived? Well, it’s a simple, effective and convenient form of communication. What‘s more, done well, radio is your friend. Over the last two decades, I’ve seen first hand how important radio presenters are to people – and how personally they take it when you make changes. A presenter is in a listener’s life day in, day out. Often they spend more with them than they do with their own friends and family. Podcasting offers that same bond but with more of a commitment. After all, podcast listeners have made an active choice to press play and listen to you. They’re interested in what you’ve got to say. They trust you. We know how effective this is for advertisers. US ad agency Midroll polled over 160,000 podcast listeners in 2015 and found that 60% had bought products they’d heard about on a podcast.
6.1 million adults in the UK listen to podcasts every week. That’s one in ten people who are making an active decision to take control of what they listen to. These people tend to be in their twenties, thirties and forties. And in the US – where podcasts are much more of a part of daily life – Midroll found half the podcast audience are university educated. A fifth earn more than $100,000 a year. Podcast listeners, it seems, are young, well-educated and affluent. These are, for many businesses, dream customers.
Your podcast listener is a rarer species of human than, say, your YouTube consumer, or your Facebook user. But no one can match them for their passion or their evangelism. If you’re a podcast listener, you spend most of your listening time listening to podcasts, rather than other forms of audio. And 85% listen to most, if not all, the episodes that they download. That’s extraordinary loyalty when you compare it to the average watch time for a YouTube video. It also adds up to lots of listening time. Think about the way you consume audio at the moment. When you’re driving, for example, or when you’re out for a run, or at home while you’re doing chores. Audio is helping to entertain your conscious while your subconscious cracks on the everyday tasks that take up hours of your day.
For many, podcasts provide a welcome break from radio ads and hearing the same songs over and over again. Podcast listeners are active listeners. Research firm Edison discovered they listen to learn something new every time.
What’s more, the beauty of podcasting is that niche is king. If you create a podcast discussing different types of pens, you can and will find an audience for it. Saying that, it’s important to remember a podcast doesn’t work if you’re trying a hard sell. Instead, be generous with your knowledge in order to build an audience. You can create the desire around your product but encourage people to visit your website and convert sales there.
Many people see video and think why bother with audio. But there are a couple of ways in which podcasting has the edge. For starters, people spend more time with podcasts than with video, which gives you more time to engage potential customers. But also in a podcast world, you can become a big fish in what is still, relatively, a small pond. Although no one has definitive figures, there are around 200,000 active podcast series available today. Compare that with the 300 hours of videos uploaded on YouTube every minute and the 5 billion videos watched every day. Becoming a trusted voice in your field is far harder on YouTube than it is as a podcaster.
Every business needs great communicators. Particularly when the going gets tough, people who look and feel comfortable in front of a microphone are worth their weight in gold. With a regular podcast, your team can get used to being on microphone in a live, studio environment. They can hone how to make your company’s key messages appeal to your audience. Podcasting is a great way to get some regular practice at those key media training skills.
Up to now, podcasts have been the domain of media companies and individuals with a story to tell. But with the help of experienced audio production companies, more and more businesses are getting in on the act. There are three types of branded podcasts, as they‘re known. The first type shows off your area of expertise. So, for example, Tinder has its own dating show and Mumsnet shares baby stories with new parents. The second type is where content aligns to your company’s values. Starbucks has a podcast highlighting ordinary people making a difference in their communities. Meanwhile, eBay provides inspiration for people starting up their own business. The final type of branded podcast is perhaps the most philanthropic – where you lend your name and your money to the creativity of others. The best example of this is audio drama provider, The General Electric Theater – a throwback to the US company’s role as a TV drama sponsor in the 1950s.
This blog first was originally commissioned by Tuesday Media – a new, exciting communications agency which combines storytelling skills with digital expertise to create a full inbound marketing solution for your company. Bengo Media can help you start your podcasting journey by creating powerful audio content for your business. Get in touch to find out more.
People talk about 2016 like it was the end of days. But if I were last year, I’d be talking to my lawyers right now, because it doesn’t have a patch on 2017. I’ve lost count how many times my stomach has turned this year: the thought of civil rights being rolled back in America; the sheer man-made horror of Grenfell Tower; terrorism back in the UK big-time; and now, this week, a nuclear fuelled stand-off between the US and North Korea. My appetite for consuming the news is somewhat waning.
If, like me, you’re looking for some escapism, here are four great podcasts guaranteed to lift your mood and forget the world for a while.
James O’Brien is omnipresent at the moment. The talk show presenter is marking himself out as a bit of a liberal lion, whose LBC show is a thorn in the side of right wing politicians and press alike. Therefore this seems like an odd place to start on the quest for happy podcasts.
However, there is an hour a week of James’ show that is fenced off – sacred almost – in its intention to get away from the day’s news agenda. Mystery Hour is a phone-in dedicated to solving mysteries. Not murder mysteries or conspiracy theory mysteries. But the most mundane mysteries like:
How is it that we hold our pee until we can see the toilet bowl?
Why do you throw salt over your shoulder for luck?
and, Why don’t dolphins get the bends?
You ask the question, and either James or his listeners will answer it.
However, the bar is high. If the question is deemed boring, pointless or has been asked and answered before, you’ll be treated with the ire normally reserved for right-wing nut jobs (albeit with tongue firmly in cheek). Meanwhile, in order to get a much coveted, canned round of applause, you must state your qualifications for answering the question – “I googled it” really does not cut the mustard. At the start of each episode, James promises that you will almost certainly learn something new and there will be at least one belly laugh every week. The show delivers on both counts.
There are plenty of belly laughs in the BBC’s new bespoke podcast of the best of its radio shows. Now, admittedly, I’m a little smitten with Fortunately‘s two presenters, Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. They were my era of 5Live presenters, when listening to the BBC’s news and sport network was not only essential for my job (as a junior researcher in the BBC Wales newsroom) but also a real joy. Jane was brilliant at keeping the acerbic Peter Allen in line on 5Live Drive. Fi was essential listening both late at night and afterwards in the slightly more civil mid-morning slot.
Before long, both headed off to join the grown-ups on Radio 4. But this podcast allows them to let their hair down and embody that cheeky, intelligent but fun spirit that 5Live had in its hey day. Check out the episode with Jeremy Vine to see what I mean.
Fortunately is a bit like Radio 4’s Pick of the Week. That is if Pick of the Week was presented by two of your best friends over a glass of wine (it’s actually recorded in the BBC cafe so no wine is actually imbibed, but roll with me here). Imagine Pick of the Week without a script and with little reference to the audio clips it plays, other than to fuel a wonderously ponderous conversation. So, actually, it’s nothing like Pick of the Week at all. But oh my god, it’s brilliant.
He earns £1.7 million a year for presenting Match of the Day, so you’d expect Gary Lineker to have someone to walk his dog for him – and certainly to clean up the poo. But, no; residents living around south west London are used to seeing England’s greatest living centre-forward take his Yellow Labrador for a walk around the local park, poo-bags in hand. And its just as well, because it seems Snoop (dog, geddit?) isn’t fazed by the presence of a microphone when doing his business, thus leaving his very famous owner clearing up one almighty bowel movement.
You’ll be pleased to know Walking The Dog is not predominantly a podcast about dog-mess. Instead, it’s a lovely, simple and effective interview format where host, Emily Dean, interviews people about their lives while taking their dogs out for a stroll. It’s effective because the point of a good interview format is to make the interviewee relax and feel comfortable sharing. And here Gary shares a lot about his childhood, home-life, even the end of his second marriage. In fact, the only thing Emily fails to get out of him is how he voted in the 2017 Election: which probably disappointed the Daily Mail more than it disappointed me.
And talking of great interview formats with a twist, check out this brilliantly silly podcast where Steven Davidson interviews fellow comedians about their life and career. The twist? The questions Steven poses refer to a life that he has completely made up for his guests and they are learning about for the first time. In the latest episode, former Scottish Comedian of the Year, Mark Nelson, has to improvise his way through questions such as how it felt growing up as the youngest of Prince Rogers Nelson and Margaret Thatcher’s three children; and whether he still get a hard time for accidentally killing Ronnie Corbett at a trampolining competition. It’s certainly surreal but also laugh out loud funny at times. Perfect escapism stuff, in fact.
Steve Austins is the Founder and Director of Bengo Media. Talk to us about creating a podcast to help cheer the world up a bit.