Launching a podcast can pay dividends for brands: author

Businesses can’t expect to necessarily host a viral podcast, but it can be a useful marketing tool as the growth of podcasts has exploded in recent years, said the author of an upcoming book on the subject.

Michael O’Connell, author of the upcoming book Turn Up the Volume: A Down and Dirty Guide to Launching a Podcast, said podcasts are popular because they are niche-driven stories accessed on demand.

“How the DVR changed the way we consume video — podcasts have given us a platform where we can listen to very specific content”, O’Connell told What’s Working in Washington.

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“A lot of people, when they think about podcasts, they think of the famous ones like Serial, or someone like Adam Carolla, but those actually make a fraction of the number of podcasts that are produced,” he said. “There are millions of … episodes, thousands of different titles on all types of things.”

This niche orientation is something only just starting to be tapped by businesses.

“I don’t want to give the impression that if you just start a podcast, you’re suddenly going to become famous,” O’Connell said. “But it’s something you can make a part of your business strategy that can grow that, and sort of give a face to what your business is.”

“One of the first truths you have to come to understand is that you’re not going to have a large audience. Period,” he said.

O’Connell said that on average, any given podcast has an audience of about 150 people. “If you’re a businessman, you’re saying, ‘I can go to my local radio stations, my local TV station, they’re going to promise me thousands of listeners! Why should I invest in podcasting?” he said. The answer is that a radio station cannot offer the niche audience that a podcast can.

“Podcasting isn’t necessarily the thing that’s going to make you money, but it’s something that helps you build your brand,” O’Connell said.

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O’Connell also said that a podcast can be fantastic for figuring out who your audience is. “You really develop a one-on-one relationship with your listener. Audio consumption, this type of entertainment, is very personal,” especially because the platform is carried by almost every mobile device. This personal relationship, O’Connell said, can be leveraged for effective advertising.

“If the host says something, the audience is going to respond to it,” he said.