Monday Mornings with Madison

The Power of Podcasting, Part 2

Word Count: 1,584
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

A Plethora of Podcasting Benefits

The Penchant for Podcasting

Podcasts are everywhere.  People love them!  But why?  Let’s start by defining exactly what a podcast is.  According to Podcast Insights, “a podcast is an episodic series of spoken-word digital audio files that a listener / subscriber can download to a personal device for easy listening. Streaming applications and podcasting services provide a convenient, integrated way to manage a personal consumption queue across many podcast sources and playback devices.”  So it’s like a radio program that can be listened to anytime, anywhere, and is specifically about a topic of interest.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of different podcasts and millions of episodes.  Topics range the gamut from the completely commonplace such as the foody-focused show titled Gastropod hosted by Helen Walters and Nicola Twilley about cooking through the lens of science and history to the incredibly niche such as entomology-focused podcast called Dr. Tim’s Spineless Wonders about “the fascinating life of insects.”

While the upsurge in remote work because of Covid has given people more time at home and more “free time”, podcasts were soaring in popularity well before the pandemic.  Stay-at-home orders and telecommuting may be adding rocket fuel to this type of transmission, but the podcasting fire was already burning for a number of years before 2020.  On the other hand, while podcasts have been around for 15 years, they really only gained in popularity in the last handful of years.  So what’s driving this recent growing obsession with podcasts for both listeners and podcasters?

Why Listen to a Podcast?

For listeners, the reasons to jump on the podcast bandwagon are many.   To quote Shakespeare, “how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”

1. Podcasts deliver convenient audio content.  Audio content is consumable even when a person is actively engaged in a task or chore.   A podcast engages the mind when the body might otherwise be occupied doing “physical but mindless” tasks such as riding a bike, getting those daily 10,000 steps in, running on a treadmill, washing the car, folding laundry, running errands or commuting to and from work (for the essential workers who still have to do their jobs face-to-face).  And even some jobs can be done while listening to a podcast, such as gardening, painting a wall or tiling a floor.  A podcast is perfect for when the body is busy but the mind is idle… the quintessential multi-tasking that doesn’t force the brain to toggle back and forth between tasks.  It is like having someone read an article to you or listen to two people have a conversation while you are just a passive listener.

2.  Podcasts are portable and easy to consume thanks to technology.   Audio content has been around for over a century since the creation of radio, but new technology has made podcasts much easier for the consumer to devour.  Apple Air Buds and other wireless headsets have made it easier than ever to have sound channeled directly into the ears without pesky wires or cords restricting movement or freedom in any way.  And data plans on cell phones allow people to download and listen to podcasts even when they aren’t within range of WIFI.

3.  Podcasts are flexible.  They can be listened to whenever the person has time… day or night.  Unlike radio programs or webinars which air at a particular time, podcasts can be downloaded in advance or played on demand.  For an insomniac, listening to a podcast using ear buds can be the perfect past time that neither bothers nor wakes anyone else in the home.

4.  Podcasts are highly-tailored to a specific interest.  As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks.  Some people like to carve wood.  The Woodshop 101 Podcast speaks to them. Others enjoy solving mysteries.  There are many podcasts for them.  Still others are fascinated by birds.  There are several podcasts for ornithologists.  Listening to a podcast that provides a wealth of information about a specialized topic of interest is not only informative, but a great way for a community of like-minded people to engage and connect.

5.  Podcasts offer a deeper dive of content.  The typical podcast offers a bigger chunk of concentrated information on a topic than a typical article (about a 5—7 minute read), blog post (1-3 minute read) or YouTube video (currently 4 minutes, 20 seconds in length).  That makes podcasts a great resource for learning and professional growth, as well as personal growth.  The average length of a podcast is roughly between 36-41 minutes.

According to a review conducted of 18,809,402 episodes published between June 2005 and November 2019 (representing 637,793 distinct podcast series), the mean average episode length was 41 minutes and 31 seconds in 2019.  To account for outliers, the median episode length was found to be 36 minutes and 34 seconds in 2019.   That allows the podcasters to tell a story, explain an issue or share a depth of knowledge that few other free mediums offer.

Why Launch a Podcast?

For podcasters, the benefits of podcasting are just as many.

1.  Podcasts demonstrate subject-matter expertise, thus rising above the information overload, noise and distractions.  With the overwhelming amount of information available to everyone all the time coming from all directions, it is hard for individuals to focus 100% of their attention on one specific piece of content.  But if the topic is highly tailored to a specific interest that resonates with those listeners, then that cuts through all the noise.  For example, while most everyone has teeth, “The Dental Hacks Podcast” is a show that is very specifically intended for folks in the dental industry. Each episode takes an irreverent look at the biting world of dentistry, featuring hilarious dentists discussing the hot tooth topics of the day.  For dental professionals, it is a must-listen.  And if a dental supply company were to host this type of podcast, it would be a highly-effective way to demonstrate subject-matter expertise that is impressive and memorable.

2.  Podcasts help connect with and build a following.  Similar to a blog or a YouTube Channel, a podcast is an excellent tool to help companies or professionals build a following among a targeted audience.  With consistency, a good format and a great delivery, podcasts are able to connect with listeners in a genuine way.  As it grows in popularity, the audience size will usually increase through word-of-mouth.  Not everyone who listens to a podcast will become a subscriber, but those who really enjoy the content will likely become loyal listeners.  It is a way to connect with their audience that is more meaningful than most other sales or marketing efforts.  And in hearing the host’s voice – which no amount of written content can do –  it is more powerful and personal than most other marketing mediums.

3.  Podcasts can provide exposure to new audiences.  Hosting a podcast on a platform like Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts can expose a show to new listeners and a much wider audience.  New listeners can find the show by searching for specific topics on those platforms.  For example, a U.S. Brokerage Firm could host a podcast that focuses on the biggest, boldest and best transactions happening in the commercial real estate market.  Real estate investors searching for podcasts about finance or real estate might stumble across the podcast in a search and become a loyal listener.

As an example, John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of Entrepreneur on Fire, which was awarded ‘Best of iTunes 2013′. John interviews the most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs of the time daily.  He has been featured in Forbes, INC, & TIME Magazine and opened the 3rd annual “We Are Podcast” Conference in 2017 and is considered a legend in the podcasting space.  Through his podcast, Dumas has expanded his network of entrepreneurs in a way that no other marketing medium could have achieved.

4.  Podcasts have a low cost for entry.   It really doesn’t cost much to get started podcasting any more than it costs much to get started blogging.  With just a few hundred dollars, anyone can buy the equipment and subscribe to the service needed to host a podcast.  (More about that next week.)  That means that any individual or company that really wants to get into podcasting can.  The big challenge is not on the hard costs, but in the soft costs.  Much like blogs, YouTube Channels and other social media pages, launching, maintaining and promoting a podcast takes time.  The team must brainstorm topics, create compelling content, and market the efforts… and do it consistently.   It usually requires two or more people to host the show and staff to promote it.  Falling short in quality, timeliness, consistency, creativity or exposure can cause the entire effort to fail.

5.  Podcasts can be a good way to increase network size and value.  For any professional or company that launches a podcast interviewing business-related guests, the show can serve as a great way to expand the organization’s network.  Reaching out to other professionals to invite them to be on the show is a great way to reach rainmakers, trailblazers and other major players that the company might not otherwise be able to reach.  Being invited to be on a “show” is flattering even for the most high-level exec.  It is a connection that can later evolve to other opportunities.

If podcasting sounds like something to try, tune in next week to see what it takes to get started.  Don’t miss it.

Quote of the Week

“There are millions and millions of people that listen and love podcasts that didn’t in 2012.” John Lee Dumas


 

© 2020, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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