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  • Writer's pictureDusty Weis

5 Reasons Not to Launch a Podcast for Your Brand

At Podcamp, all we do is produce podcasts for businesses. So you’d think we’d be shouting from the rooftops that everyone needs a podcast, and they need it yesterday.

Sweet, merciful cripes, please spare us that fate!

Granted, podcasts constitute one of the fastest-growing segments in consumers’ media consumption habits, and they’re a hot trend in marketing as well. It seems like every brand, from REI to Trader Joe’s, is investing in its own, on-demand branded audio content.

But, truth be told, most businesses ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT waste the time, money and consumer attention span it would cost to produce a podcast.

Hey, I’m just being honest here. Maybe I’m cutting a hole in my own pockets, but I’d rather be unemployed then get paid to do it wrong.

What follows is a list of five red flags that maybe your business is not a great subject for a branded company podcast. It’s nothing personal, but there are dozens of other marketing tactics that might be a better fit, and you’ll find yours.

If, however, nothing on this list applies to you—holy cow, yes then, by all means let’s talk!

1. You Don’t Have a Compelling Story to Tell

If your notion for a branded podcast is describing to listeners, outright, the benefits of your products and services, please step away from the microphone. What you are proposing is not a podcast, it’s an infomercial, and nobody wants to hear it.

Podcast listeners want to hear compelling, authentic stories, told by fun people to whom they can relate. This is what drives a show’s value and keeps your listeners coming back to engage with your brand on a monthly, or even weekly, basis.

Certainly, the subject matter of your podcast should pertain directly to the products and services you sell. REI’s show, for instance, brings to listeners curated tales of adventurers exploring or even surviving in nature’s extremes, engaging customers’ sense of belonging and brand loyalty.

Tangentially-related to these stories is your product itself, of course. But unless you’re able to push past the marketing copy and into the world where your customers live and get passionate about things, you’re just not going to connect with them in a meaningful way.

2. You Won’t Invest in Sounding Professional and Polished

Podcasts started as an underground medium for like-minded communities of people to share ideas. And, to listeners, it sounded… well, underground. Which is a nice way of saying it sounded like it was recorded in someone’s basement on a crappy tape recorder (and sometimes it was).

Plenty of modern podcast content still retains that underground feel, and in some cases, that works for those individual shows.

But it won’t work for yours.

Listeners forgive low production values if they know the producer is doing the best with the resources they have available. But in the case of high-value brands, listeners have high expectations that a program will sound professional and polished—not just better-than-underground, but better-than-commercial radio.

Sure, it can be tempting to turn over in-house production of a podcast to that velvet-voiced account coordinator who’s fresh off a semester-long internship at the local NPR station. But without the right equipment, software, expertise and personnel, your program will sound cheap and unbearable to a media-savvy consumer population—and those are not adjectives you ever want associated with your brand.

3. You Don’t Have Anything Original to Say

Admit it—you die a little inside every time a friend of yours invites you to listen to their new “sports fans arguing about who’s the GOAT” podcast. Not only are you probably treated to those same tired opinions any time the game is on, but there are literally thousands of podcasts that tread that very same ground every single week.

Here’s the Golden Rule of Podcasting: “Be original, or don’t bother.”

There has to be something about your brand that sets it apart from the pack, or some subject matter that you are uniquely-qualified to discuss, or some stunning source of insight that no one else possesses. Find that thing, then launch a podcast on the subject and celebrate what makes your organization unique.

But, hypothetically, if you’re a travel agency, and you want to launch an interview show where you talk to influencers who travel the world, you should know that your podcast is probably going to fail. I’m not being mean, it’s just a numbers game. There are thousands of shows about travel, some of them might be better than yours, and all of them have been around longer than yours.

The internet is a big place, filled with attractions that are competing for your listeners’ attention. Without an original hook to draw listeners in, you’ll quickly get drowned out in all the other noise.

4. You Don’t Have a Clearly-Defined Niche

My buddy Kyle, a perfectly rational person who enjoys normal things, is obsessed with a podcast about wood. Several of them, actually.

Kyle’s an avid craftsman whose woodshop is the envy of anyone who’s ever attempted a project more complex than Ikea furniture. And the podcasts he loves explore topics that are dear to him, but probably baffle anyone who doesn’t own more than three types of sander.

These podcasters who create these shows have amassed thousands of loyal followers, and they’ve done it because they understand what makes their listeners tick. They’ve tapped into a niche of people with a common passion and spoken to them in a way that only a fellow woodworker can. Their shows have thrived as a result.

In order to launch your own successful podcast, you’ll need to eek out your own niche, define your archetypal listener and learn to speak their language, if you don’t know how already.

If the best niche you can come up with is “people who like fun” or “people who buy things,” you’re barking up the wrong tree. Those aren’t niches, and even if they were, you’d be competing against literally every other form of entertainment since the invention of the Gutenberg Press.

5. You Are Impatient to See Results Immediately!

Even if you do everything right, there is nothing you can do to force people to listen to your podcast. Shoe-horning marketing content into your customers’ ears is called a commercial, and we’ve established that they hate that.

Podcasting is a powerful medium for engaging with your customers because they choose to listen to your message—but that means that they have to find it first. That’s why your podcast needs to be part of a broader marketing strategy that includes social media, email and—maybe ironically—perhaps a little paid promotion.

But even then, these efforts take time to snowball and build momentum. Many listeners won’t even bother with a podcast unless they can “binge” it like a Netflix show, meaning you’ll need eight to 12 episodes for them to plow through before they’ll even consider hitting play. And if you’re releasing monthly episodes, that means you might not truly understand how your efforts are performing until they’ve been going on for a year.

Some businesses need results immediately, and don’t have the organizational patience to let a podcast campaign develop. For everyone’s sake, they probably shouldn’t try to force it.

After all, the job of a podcast is to build fans of your brand, not just customers. It may take a little time, but it has a heck of a lot more staying power.

So, Still With Me?

If this list of requirements didn’t scare you off, then your business is probably a good subject for its own branded podcast.

That’s outstanding. Podcamp works with global organizations that have stakeholders across multiple time zones, and can even record podcasts remotely from off-site. We can help you find your niche, tell a compelling story, and sound professional and polished while you're doing it.

Let's start a conversation about how we can help share your brand's story with the world.

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