Note to readers: Hello world is a program developers run to check if a newly installed programming language is working alright. Startups and tech companies are continuously launching new software to run the real world. This column will attempt to be the "Hello World" for the real world.
Podcasts are big now. There are nearly 57 million monthly podcast listeners in India, according to one report. That makes us the third-largest podcast consuming nation in the world. The report by PwC, released in 2020, also says that monthly podcast listeners will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 30.5% over the next five years.
If you’re a marketer, it is impossible to ignore this channel. Big entertainment platforms like Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, and several others have added thousands of new podcasts to their repertoire over the past 18 months or so. Like blogging, podcasting started off in the remote corners of the interwebs. But by now, it is pretty clear that podcasting is no longer the struggling medium of the past. Several million users consume podcasts; advertisers are spending on podcasts; celebrities, big media and platforms have all jumped into the game.
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That begets the question, if you are a marketer, should you start a podcast? Or at least have it as part of your marketing mix? I’ve been podcasting for about three years now and the answer is really an emphatic yes, even if I say so. Marketing usually revolves around two things: raising awareness of your brand and driving growth. These are not mutually exclusive but there are things you do that play off each other. Podcasting is a great tool to raise awareness, not so much as a lead generation tool. Your target group is typically older millennials who are quickly becoming decision makers and influencers in their workplaces. With your podcasts, you give the audience what they want: easy, consumable, and accessible ways to get smarter or entertain themselves.
If you, or your company, have deep expertise in a field or have a unique spin to your craft, podcasting is a great medium to grow your brand. Here’s why: For typical podcast consumers, it’s an avenue to define either their learning path or find content that is entertaining to them. Podcasts sit in a sweet spot. They don’t need your complete attention like when you are watching a video, like Youtube, nor force you to be completely passive like radio where you have no control over programming. The medium does not allow a lot of distractions and if you deliver value, listeners will form positive associations with your brand, and help raise awareness for you. Brands are also currently underinvesting in this channel. Which means that if you do it right, you don’t have to deal with too much noise to get mindshare.
Moreover, the barrier to entry is low. The effort needed to produce a podcast is lower than producing most other forms of content. It requires very little investment for equipment and minimal work, say, to configure a bedroom or spare room to create a great audio experience. But that’s not all. A few self-service websites offer podcast management services and tools to help manage your podcasting work without you having to do everything by yourself. It is also a great format that can be sliced and diced to be used in other platforms like social media or packaged into books in the long run.
So there are more listeners than ever before, and entry barriers are low. And you probably want to create your own podcast. But before you go there, ask yourself these questions: who is your audience, why should they listen to your podcast, what insight will you deliver and how will you differentiate. This will help you find your niche. Being another me-too podcaster in your space, industry- or expertise-wise, will not cut it if you are serious about building your audience. As content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi says, you need to find your “content tilt”. This tilt is a differentiated or unique perspective on a broad topic that your audience will find interesting and clutter-breaking.
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