Recently, I’ve been inundated with one question: “Should I launch a branded podcast?”
Every time I respond, the person who asks seems surprised by my answer: Maybe.
Even though I live for creating amazing audio content for brands, I don’t necessarily think every brand should have its own podcast.21.
Take a breath. Allow me to explain.
Podcasting is an incredible content channel. Listeners lean in while listening and are receptive audiences to brand messaging — so long as it’s done right. As an avid listener myself, my playlist spans from news to culture, music to human stories, to law to business. I even tune into podcasts about the audio landscape. How meta.
So why the precarious response?
It takes more than a show’s existence to prove success — just like in any medium. Creating a podcast is like creating any piece of content, like a new television series. There’s a reason you don’t see many truly branded television shows.
Television production is expensive. Distribution isn’t guaranteed. Show development and production likely aren’t your expertise. This holds true for podcasts, too.
That said, branded podcasts can be an excellent and very successful content play, such as "The Barneys" and "Inside Trader Joe’s" podcasts.
If you’re thinking of launching a branded podcast, I encourage you to consider these four things before jumping in.
Audience Who’s your target? Podcast listening is growing, but the audience is still smaller in the 55+ age group, and it skews slightly male. If you’re looking for baby boomer women, you’ll need to align your goals and promotional support to match.
Goals What does success look like, and how will you measure it? It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised at how often this isn’t considered. If you’re hoping to sell a million widgets from episode one, you may need to rethink your approach. Brand affinity, intent to purchase, sales. They are all possible, but you must be intentional from the start.
Content What story are you telling? While there’s an audience for almost everything within the podcast realm, the content quality remains critical to listenership. If you thought of your big idea in the shower this morning and are already in the recording booth, take a beat and develop the idea and story arc further. And consider getting experts involved.
Try not to think of this as a 30-minute ad, because I can guarantee that approach won’t work.
Investment If you build it thoughtfully and promote it well, they will come. Remember that you’ll need to tell people to listen. Chances are people aren’t just going to stumble across your incredible new podcast, so be sure to pair your great creative with an integrated promotional push to be better prepared for success.
I don’t want to dissuade you from entering the branded podcast space, quite the opposite.
My podcast feed is ever-growing and needs great content. Branded or not, I want new shows to listen to! But, remember: Even well-funded, star-studded, major network television shows don’t make it past season one. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," anyone?