indicatorSales and Marketing

How businesses can benefit from podcasts

By ATB Financial 11 March 2020 7 min read

As Karen Unland from the Alberta Podcast Network puts it, podcasting is “a shiny object” in the content marketing space today. And for culturally savvy business teams, podcasting can be a very effective way to share useful content and generate brand awareness while also generating new business leads.

Convenience is key for media consumers today, making podcasts—which people can consume while they are preoccupied with other tasks—a popular choice among busy audiences trying to cut through all the noise. Just like when blogging emerged as a prominent form of media, the growing popularity of podcasts presents businesses with an opportunity to reach customers and clients alike using a medium that is not yet oversaturated.

When we connected with Unland to speak about integrating podcasting into your business growth strategy, she reminded us that—shiny as it might be—creating your own podcast is only one of four ways to get involved in podcasting. Let’s take a deeper look into strategic podcast approaches:

1. Be a guest on someone else’s podcast

One of the greatest, if not the greatest challenge in podcasting, is building an audience. Doing so takes a substantial amount of time and effort, and requires consistent delivery of excellent content to keep listeners engaged.

Appearing as a guest on a podcast episode is an earned media technique that will allow you to reach an audience that a podcaster has grown through their own dedicated efforts. Again, you will want to ensure that if you’re appearing as a guest on a show, it will reach your own target audience. It is worth noting, you will need to have built up enough of a network—or a reputation as an expert—in your industry to be invited as a guest on a podcast. But, once you’ve earned a spot as a guest, you will have the ability to raise awareness and new leads for your brand.

Unland suggests starting here can be a great way for businesses to test out the waters for podcasting. “Just figure out, does it do anything? If your voice is on somebody’s podcast (see if) you get some kind of benefit from that, whether it’s just the experience of telling your story or something that you can share on your social media.”


2. Purchase advertisements on a relevant podcast

Before you enter the podcasting space, you will need to land on a useful topic that resonates with your audience. Once you have an idea of the topics your audience would like to engage with and find valuable, you can work with an agency or an advertising marketplace to get your ads on podcasts.

Your budget will play a huge role in your decision whether to use an agency or ad marketplace. Unland advises that “You can, if you’ve got lots of money, go to an agency like Midroll, and pay $50,000 a month to get your ads on podcasts like Casper Mattresses does—and Audible and all the ones we have heard five million times.” However, if your budget is limited, you can access a growing number of ad marketplaces that match you to podcasts based on your topic and target demographic. Alberta Podcast Network, for example, sells ads for $50 a piece—a great option if your budget is limited.

Podcast advertisements might be worth exploring for your business, as they are the least skipped of all skippable media types. This is most likely a result of listeners being so engaged in this space, as they must actively seek out the podcast episode they wish to hear.

If you decide to give podcast advertisements a try, it’s important to note that organic mentions by the podcast’s hosts regularly perform better than inserted clips or trailer ads produced by your business. You will also want to keep this in mind since podcast ads have the highest CPM (cost per mille).

3. Underwrite an existing podcast

Underwriting is a way of receiving recognition on someone else’s podcast in exchange for funding. This is a method that works best when you can find someone who is creating a podcast in the same space you would like to enter out of passion for the topic.

Those passionate podcasters are very knowledgeable and create wonderful content; however, they may not be able to continue dedicating their time and money to a passion project forever. Your business can help the podcast continue to run by absorbing the costs of running the podcast in exchange for a mention on the podcast that will credit your business for its support.

Keep in mind, you won’t have any control over the content of the podcast. As Unland put it, “They still want their show to be their show and their listeners still want the show to be their show. The listeners did not sign up for a 30-minute ad from your business.” That being said, you will still be able to decide for yourself if the content is aligned with your target audience’s interests before teaming up. Also, underwriting will save you a lot of the time and effort that is required to start your own podcast, so you can focus on what you do best, which is driving growth.

4. Create your own podcast

To grow a successful, thriving business, knowing your audience and market is everything. This is especially true for podcasting. If you’ve considered all the options and still believe the best way to get involved in podcasting is to create your own, remember that your podcast must be worth your audience’s time. “Your podcast should either solve a problem or fill a hole or do something for somebody that makes them grateful to give you their time,” Unland says. With this in mind, here are a couple things you should know about podcasting before getting started.

Podcasting is not expensive

Podcast creation is more accessible now than it’s ever been, because the only thing you need to pay for is a hosting platform, and there are even free options for that now. Your hosting platform will provide you with an RSS feed that you can give to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other platforms to make sure your podcast shows up in the app.

You will also want to invest in hardware that will improve your sound quality, such as microphones and recorders. In the short term, you can borrow equipment or find resources like the Calgary Central Library, which provide a space and all the equipment you will need to record your podcast episodes.

Podcasting is time consuming

Podcasting consists of much more than just recording episodes. Unland boils podcasting down to four essential steps: planning, recording, editing and promoting.

Here are some pro tips for each step:

  • Plan out a few episodes at a time. If you can map out the content for the first few episodes, and genuinely feel that this podcast is worth the listener’s time, you can determine whether or not you really have something worth pursuing.
  • If you record in a noise-free space with soft services to absorb sound, you can ensure decent quality and minimize editing time. If you don’t have access to a studio, there are other budget-friendly methods that you can resort to!
  • You can use free software to edit your recordings, including GarageBand (for Mac and iOS) and Audacity (for Mac, Windows and Linux).
  • Invest in a good hosting platform that will allow listeners to access your episodes on their favourite platforms and give you analytics so you know how many downloads you’re getting.

It is challenging to grow and sustain a loyal audience when creating a podcast, so get ready to roll up your sleeves if you’re building from the ground up. But don’t be afraid. As Unland reminds us, “[podcasting] is really a very small engine for paying attention to people, which almost always ends up being a valuable thing for you.”

For some more helpful and detailed information on effectively starting your own podcast, check out Buzzsprout’s Podcasting 101 Guide and Apple’s Podcast Best Practices.

Podcasting is only one marketing consideration of many when growing your business. To continue learning, read more good advice on marketing strategies. 

To see Karen’s latest projects, check out Taproot Publishing, which helps inform your organization about its community, and listen to Karen’s daughter Elizabeth explain the latest trends in “That’s a Thing?!” on the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB.

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