(By Tim O’Brien) Branded podcasts aren’t just for the big consumer brand names and companies with deep pockets. At the same time, they aren’t for hobbyists, either. If your idea of a branded podcast is a few interviews you recorded and produced on your smart phone using free apps, and then posting them when you have time, you’re more than likely hurting your brand even if you only sell products or services locally or regionally.
Two of the cornerstones of all branding is quality and consistency, so these same values should be reflected in all of your communication, particularly your podcast.
To achieve this, start by defining your podcast’s audience and the branding goals before you launch your branded podcast.
Who’s your audience?
If you run a business, the best place to start in defining your podcast audience is to define your ideal customer or client. Where are they? Who are they? What do they like at work? What interests them when not at work?
The more you know about your ideal client, the more likely your podcast content will resonate with the client. But don’t stop there.
If your business relies on word-of-mouth or referrals, who are most likely to refer business to you, do these people fit a different profile than those who actually hire you?
In my business, I handle public relations for a wide range of clients, but since my focus is corporate communications, and often crisis and issues management, attorneys are a common source of referrals for me. Lawyers fit an entirely different profile than some of my clients, yet both are very important to my business. When I create a list of target audiences for my marketing efforts, including my podcast, I consider the full range of people likely to hire me and refer prospective clients to me.
If you haven’t done this, I’d recommend sitting down and writing out a list of the types of clients who are ideal for your business, and then describe in detail everything you know about them, what motivates them, and what matters to them. Then do the same with possible sources of referral.
When it comes to understanding your audience in the context of podcasting, the easiest thing to do is to call or meet with a few, and ask them if they listen to podcasts, what they like and what they don’t like about them. Learn as much as you can about their listening habits so that, as you create or hone your branded podcast, it’s tailored to the people who matter most to your organization. And don’t forget employees. They are always on the front line of your brand and are likely to be your most loyal listeners.
What are your goals?
What will you try to achieve with a podcast? Try to attract new clients? Bolster relationships with existing clients? Educate existing clients on common issues and challenges they may face?
A podcast can meet a myriad of communications solutions — from persuasion, to education, to entertainment (depending on the host, the production, and the writing).
It’s important to know what you’re trying to achieve through the podcast so that all of your decisions point towards your end goal. Know how you will gauge success and whether you need listeners to convert to buyers, or simply to spread word about your firm.
In my case, my branded podcast content is not industry-specific, but it is of interest to some of my more trusted clients and referral sources. They like the podcast because they see it as a break from a day filled with industry jargon and the nuts and bolts of communication. It’s bigger picture, yet it covers topics that interest them when they are driving, working out, or doing something else.
I’ve found that my podcast has helped me build stronger relationships with existing clients and my referral network more than anything. That’s my goal. Not the hard sell, but the audio presence that keeps my firm top-of-mind among people important to me.
Of course, my podcast is only one tool in the marketing toolbox. I produce more than my share of digital long-form and short-form content, along with old-fashioned networking and prospecting to keep the business humming.
But I’ve found that a branded podcast has provided a very comfortable means for connecting in a very personal way, and complementing much of the other more straightforward marketing activities to create a consistent and strong impression. Isn’t that what branding is all about?
Tim O’Brien founded Pittsburgh-based O’Brien Communications and is the creator of the Shaping Opinion Podcast, an award-winning branded podcast that just produced its 100th episode. To get in touch with Tim, call 412.854.8845, [email protected], or on Twitter: @OBrie