Podcast gurus Nadjya Ghausi, Karen Burgess and Michael Gilay speak on the challenges brands face cutting through the digital marketing noise, and reveal the creative-bravery formula that makes a successful branded podcast.
As the clouds finally break in Boston, MA for the opening or INBOUND22, everyone is looking upbeat and it's definitely not just from the break in the weather. There's a real sense of renewed optimism following the return to the live conference format post pandemic, but also a realism that almost 3 years of primarily digital communication, often to customers working at home, has resulted in areas of digital advertising saturation for many businesses around the world.
The spotlight is now firmly focused on finding new ways that B2B businesses can renew engagement with clients and "reoil" the Inbound Flywheel. Branded Podcasts present a compelling format for delivering fresh content, but avoiding overt sales and product advertising is critical to establishing trust with listeners, allowing them to connecting with the brand on a deep emotional level and ultimately creating long-term engagement.
We share the Why's, the What's and the How's that make a great Branded Podcast.
What is The Primary Function Of A Branded Podcast?
The purpose of any Podcast is to create a loyal community. The main difference for branded Podcasts is the need to deliver ROI from the community.
The Podcast format provides an opportunity to become part of people's lives, where they'll allow you in their homes and interact with your brand for much longer periods of time than they would typically watching adverts, reading emails, visiting web-pages or taking calls, but unlocking these possibilities requires the building of deep respect and trust with the audience.
Branded Podcasts Suck!
Michael Gilay was absolutely clear that Podcasts that are thinly veiled adverts are a break of listener trust, a massive turn-off for audiences and should always be avoided. Listeners are inviting the Podcaster into their home, their daily life and often committing 30mins or more of their time per visit. A fundamental trust is created between the Podcaster and listener that relies on sincerity and remaining true to the listeners' expectations.
So how is it possible to market, without overtly marketing....?
Defining The "Why" is The First Critical Step to Creating A Successful Podcast
The most important first step in developing a winning branded Podcast is to define the "Why," before the "What" and the "How." The "Why" should be goals driven with specific defined business outcomes for your brand. These outcomes can then be used to measure success and could include things like:
Raising awareness and educating about new processes or technologies, encouraging the listener to visit our website to research related products and convert to marketing qualified leads.
Discuss topics that reinforce our brand values to attract a like-minded / target audience - e.g. early adopters, thought leaders, lovers of innovation, creatives.
Help people solve specific problems that lead them towards our brand and convert as leads.
Involving All Stake-Holders Early Is Critical When Defining "What" a Branded Podcast Should Be
After defining the "Why," the "What" describes the content and topics covered and should be delivered in a way that remains sincere to the listener's expectations. Keeping in mind, the Podcast should avoid overt advertising, the "What" can require serious creative thinking outside of the box to discover themes that are relevant and sufficiently emotive.
Furthermore, the idea that brand will not be centre-stage in a marketing asset can be a challenging proposition for other thought leaders in your business. It is therefore essential that all key stakeholders are involved in defining the Podcast concept as early as possible to avoid the rationale being challenged at later date. This is especially important as Podcasts typically take several months to begin yielding a loyal audience and measurable ROI.
Measures of Success For Branded Podcasts
The ultimate measure of success is delivery of business goals. However, the Panel cited several softer measures of success that relate to fostering ongoing credibility, trust and longevity of the community so that it keeps returning value over the long-haul:
Getting the format right
Getting the presenter right
Delivering high-stakes stories that continually engage the community
Delivering real value and expertise
Creating a seamless illusion that is sincere, yet delivers ROI
Getting the artwork right
Popularising the name of the show
Creating freedom outside of the brand's natural comfort zone.
Differentiate to delight
Be authentic to the brand and listener
Creative - Bravery, The Winning Formula For "How" to Create Branded Podcasts
Ultimately, to achieve successful, your branded Podcast needs to be creative and think outside of the box to find new ways to resonate with its audience. One great example of creative "out-of-the-box" thinking cited by the Panel is BMW's Hypnopolis Podcast - a Sci-Fi cliff-hanger that appeals to an audience of early adopters and technofiles, reinforcing the message of BMW engineering for the future.
Your brand Podcast must also be brave. Brave enough to get behind products you like, brave to market the Podcast to all your available channels and potential listeners, brave enough to be challenging and evoke controversy and brave enough to give a voice to those without a voice in your community.
This combination of Creativity and Bravery will deliver the best chance of successfully meeting or exceeding your goals, while also keeping the trust of listeners and potential customers for future initiatives.