Making branded podcasts original

The term ‘Branded Podcast’ has a spotty reputation in some podcasting circles – ‘large corporates destroying the fabric of indie podcasting creativity.’ But not all branded audio has to be evil!

 

Engaging, original, entertaining storytelling…. and content marketing by brands can co-exist to provide value – for both the brand AND the audience. But there are some rules that make the difference between success and failure.

Be original – be unique

First, it’s best to not think of the term ‘branded podcast’. Instead, think ‘original podcasts’. Like Netflix produces ‘Netflix Originals’ and Stan, ‘Stan Originals’. Try to avoid thinking about yourself, and instead, think first about your audience. This will give you the best chance of creating something original and of true value.

Brands that are successful in creating something truly original will create an opportunity to reach an audience far beyond those that already have an affiliation with their brand.

Produce something different, unique and awesome so you stand out from the crowd. That’s how you’ll grow the biggest audience – and listeners will thank you for it.

Do not create a podcast with the goal of selling more product. A radio ad disguised as a 20-minute podcast will NOT work. It’ll alienate your audience, reflect poorly on your brand and the podcasting medium.

Why should brands invest in producing original podcasts

Podcasts contribute to the brand building efforts of a business in the same way that traditional forms of marketing do, like radio, outdoor, digital ads, and TV.

A podcast is unlikely to be the single source that’s going to transform your business, it’s true aim is to increase brand awareness, build loyalty and trust.

It’s going to reach your audience where they already are, and with listenership increasing year on year, you’re also reaching new audiences that might not have considered your brand before.

Podcasts are an opportunity to surprise and delight listeners in a new and very intimate medium, that humanises the brand and gives it a voice.

And this is nothing new to us at SoundCartel. For more than three decades we’ve been helping leading brands use audio to do all these things – well before the word podcast even existed!

But what we’ve always done is encourage brands to start with an audio strategy, and get clarity on where a podcast fits in to the broader marketing strategy.

‘In the Know’ having a huge impact

We produce the ‘In the Know’ podcast for Magellan Asset Management and it’s been a huge success story for the top 100 ASX-listed company that grows and safeguards the wealth of its clients by investing in the world’s best companies.

On the surface, it’s a pretty dry topic. But Magellan has played to their strengths as a brand. Magellan’s Chief Investment Officer, Hamish Douglas, is not only a very clever man and astute investor, but he’s extremely well connected internationally.

Head of Marketing, Lucy Briggs, and her outstanding team, have used these connections to pull guests with true star power – like former CIA deputy director, Michael Morell and Starbucks President and CEO, Kevin Johnson.

It’s these international heavy hitters that make this podcast stand out from the crowd.

Magellan does NOT sell products or push listeners to their sweet of investment funds in episodes. But the conversations about global markets are truly fascinating, which is why people are tuning in.

And the results? The first 10 episodes have been downloaded 105,000 times – averaging more than 10,000 per episode. According to hosting platform Omny Studio’s downloads benchmarking analysis, it puts ‘In the Know’ well into the top 5% of all podcasts and closing in on the top 2%. Not bad for a little Aussie podcast, only 10 episodes into its first season!

And even more encouraging is that average engagement with episodes is 29 minutes. This length of engagement is unique to podcasts and so much harder to achieve with video.

This success combined with the star power of the guests, including former US Governor of the Federal Reserve, Kevin Warsh, has helped Magellan capture PR opportunities with articles in The Australian and The Financial Review, linking to the Magellan podcast.

Lucy says “The podcast has become a key part of our marketing mix now and is a far more personal medium than other activities we do. Very pleased we took the plunge – it’s here to stay!”

So, the key points of the success of Magellan’s podcast are;

  1. Brand stakeholders value good quality audio, which is why they partnered with SoundCartel, to make sure recording is done at the highest quality (something they couldn’t do themselves over Zoom).
  2. They use their connections to attract high profile guests, that not only bring star power, but incredibly interesting stories and valuable insights, resulting in huge listener engagement.
  3. They’ve fully committed to marketing ‘In the Know’ as far and wide as possible and have embraced the podcast at all levels of the organisation.

5 tips for producing original branded audio

  1. STRATEGY

Why is your brand creating audio? Always start with a clear purpose and do it for the right reasons – not to get rapid sales and not because everybody else has a podcast! At SoundCartel we use detailed strategy workshops to consider all the critical ingredients that go into creating a successful podcast.

  1. AUDIENCE FOCUSED

Your podcast must be audience focused, not brand focused. Understand what interests your audience, what they find entertaining and deliver that to them.

  1. HIGH QUALITY

It should be obvious these days but create your podcast at the very highest quality possible. This is why for three decades we’ve always had an in-house studio. Clients appreciate the effort we go to, to make them sound good. We also spend the time required at all stages of podcast production – editing, noise-reduction, EQ, mixing and mastering, to create broadcast quality audio. And it’s this quality that reflects immediately on your brand.

  1. INVEST

Don’t skimp on the budget. Yes, audio is cheaper to produce than video. But, like anything, to do it properly requires a decent budget. If you have a fixed or smaller budget, consider quality over quantity, and perhaps produce fewer episodes to maintain the highest quality and still be able to stand out from the crowd. That’s how you’ll get the best bang for your buck.

  1. AMPLIFY

Once the podcast production and recording are complete, the next 50% of the workload begins. An audience will not find your podcast if you don’t tell them about it, so don’t forget to leave a budget for marketing and amplifying your podcast.

However, as a brand, you have an advantage – existing email databases and followers across your owned media like websites and social media, provide a ready audience of potential listeners right at your fingertips. But this requires commitment and resources to do properly.

So, plan for it and don’t waste the investment in podcast production by not selling it.

 

My final words to brands thinking about producing a podcast are BE BOLD, BE BRAVE, BE CREATIVE and FULLY COMMIT. If you are going to do it, do it properly, do something different and make something truly memorable.

 

To find out more about SoundCartel and how we can produce a podcast for your brand, call us on +613 9882 8333 or drop us an email below, we’d love to help you out.

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