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Branding’s brave new world: podcasting. Episode 2

Producing content but failing to promote it is no more effective than shouting into the void.

In the first article of this two-part series, we explored the importance of selecting the right hosts and formats for engaging storytelling. Here, we will discuss audio’s critical role in creating emotional connections and share some practical advice for launching and promoting your branded podcasts. After all, producing content but failing to promote it is no more effective than shouting into the void.

Building ear candy: immersing your audience in soundscapes.

We have all experienced an earworm — a song, riff or audio snippet that works its way into our brain and lodges there, stuck on repeat. While bad ones are noisy irritants, great ones shape both the buyer’s journey and their emotional connection to it. Great audio becomes ear candy, which is modern marketing at its finest: messaging so delightful it imprints on our brains, calling us to action.

Making ear candy isn’t as simple as placing royalty-free music beneath an interview. Creating a compelling soundscape that creates a vivid experience in your listener’s mind often requires custom on-site audio recording. And that requires additional planning and investment, but the specificity it brings to your content will linger in your customers’ minds long after they’ve taken off their headphones.

While every podcast is different, the best audio storytelling combines a powerful mix of sound effects, music and audio vérité that brings background conversation and location sounds to the fore to create a deeply immersive experience.

While recording our award-winning podcast The Growing Debate for Corteva Agriscience, our team spent days collecting on-site audio of running tractors, mooing cows and boots trampling gravel. This helped connect our primary audience of urban sophisticates to the lives of farmers and ranchers. Instead of simply telling a narrative, the sounds took them there, painting a vivid portrait of rural America in their imaginations. By investing in production value, this series makes the issues surrounding how and where food is produced relevant to people who’ve never stepped foot on a farm.

Launching your podcast: distributing and promoting your content.

So you’ve finished recording and producing your podcast — now what? First, you must get it hosted. Podcast hosting platforms store and distribute your podcast’s audio files. They provide RSS feeds that list all of your episodes, which you can then submit to a podcast directory. Happily, podcast hosts like Buzzsprout, Captivate and Simplecast are pretty affordable. Hosting ranges from $5 – $100/month, with pricing based on the number of episodes, downloads and bandwidth.

Podcast directories are essentially the Yellow Pages for podcasts. These sites read the RSS feed from your hosting provider so listeners can find your podcast in the vast array of listening apps. Being listed on podcast directories is the easiest way to distribute your content and reach more listeners. Importantly, there is no cost for listing your podcast on a directory. And while there are many directories, iTune/Apple Podcasts and Spotify are by far the largest. Together, they account for 62% of unique devices and 70% of unique downloads.

But the biggest challenge with podcasting remains finding an audience. Before anyone can engage with your podcast, they must know it exists. According to research from PodcastHosting.org, there were over 1,000,000 podcasts with a combined 29 million episodes as of July. Without promotion, branded podcasts quickly disappear. Strategic promotion makes the difference between influencing your customer’s journey and just being clever behind closed doors.

The simplest, most affordable way to promote your podcast is across your own social channels and platforms like e-newsletters or blogs. You can also add a link in your email signature or on your packaging.

But if you want to build a new audience, you must advertise. Spotify, Overcast and Podcast Addict all feature banner ads that reach their already active podcast listener audiences. You can also target specific industries or B2B audiences with programmatic banner ads to build awareness of your podcast with the right listeners. And there’s always SEO/SEM that identifies individuals interested in your specific content. If your content is good enough, you can also leverage earned media.

Recap: harnessing the persuasive power of sound.

Podcasts represent another evolution for marketing. But they are also a throwback to the most fundamentally human communications: the fireside story, the dinner table conversation, the late-night talk that lingers in your mind for a lifetime.

By selecting the best sounds, stories and speakers, brands can harness podcasting’s power to re-create intimate moments on a grand scale, sharing a singular story to thousands at once. Done correctly, the right podcast will convince your listeners to slow down, engage with your brand and, above all, really listen.

Interested in exploring more ways to harness the power of podcasts?

Let’s talk. We can share lots of experience and ideas to set your podcast up for success.

About the Author

Allison’s career has specialized in food communications, with a focus on food commodities and producer marketing programs. She has created strategic integrated marketing campaigns for high-profile commodity accounts, including The Incredible Edible Egg, The Pork Board, The Mushroom Council and Got Milk?  ​

At Bader Rutter, Allison led the teams that developed breakthrough content for Corteva Corporate Communications, including the millennial moms blog, Platewise, and the popular podcast, “The Growing Debate.” Bringing narratives to life through dimensionalized and differentiated content is what makes her happiest.​

After work, you’ll most likely find her on her spin bike or cooking for friends and family.​