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Podcasts: Why Are They the Next Marketing Frontier?

Whatever you’re interested in these days, there’s a podcast for that. From news talk to fitness, entrepreneurism, travel, pets and productivity, you‘ll find a selection of podcasts to please just about any audio preference.

Nearly a quarter of American teens and adults listen to podcasts at least monthly. By the turn of the next decade, some 100 million U.S. dwellers will be getting their news and entertainment via podcasts. What are podcasts, why are they becoming required listening for so many people, and how can you make them part of an effective marketing program?

Radio — Redesigned for a Modern Audience

At their technical level, podcasts are simply audio files that download to your mobile phone, tablet or computer via a dedicated piece of software. Because podcasts are so convenient for people on the go, most podcast enjoyment happens on mobile devices.

Just a few years ago, listening required downloading podcasts to a computer, then manually transferring them to an MP3 player or mobile phone. With fast data now ubiquitous, podcasts download right on your phone — on a schedule you select — and you can automatically save a specified number of episodes based on your available space and listening preferences.

Formerly dedicated radio listeners have, in many instances, switched to podcasts. Rather than being forced to listen at a specific time, these fans can set up their preferences in their preferred podcast apps, and episodes of their favorite shows are ready and waiting at any time.

How Podcasts Became Required Listening

The early days of podcasting featured eclectic — and often amateurish — outliers, followed by veteran journalists, TV and radio talk stars, and popular news and information programming that added podcasts as one more way to reach audiences.

Over the past few years, though, content has expanded to include many podcast hosts who have made names for themselves via this new medium alone. As we finish out the second decade of the new millennium, a variety of innovative programming has entered the podcast arena. In the process, “old-fashioned” forms of information and entertainment — recall your grandmother’s newsreels and serialized radio dramas — are being transformed into something fresh and wholly modern.

Increasingly compelling content is driving the popularity of podcasts, but technological advances also are helping propel the medium to the forefront of cultural awareness. With the overall shift from desktop computing to mobile, more people are becoming aware of podcasts. Search engines, too, are taking notice — and continuing to change their proprietary algorithms to give priority to mobile.

Are You Riding the Podcasting Wave?

Podcasts are becoming a fixture in the media landscape — and an increasingly valuable component of many marketing plans. Why are podcasts the next frontier for marketing?

One reason may be the lack of barriers to entry; it’s easier than ever to get started with podcasting. The medium has now had a few years to mature, with a variety of pioneers paving the way for mainstream marketers to enter the playing field. You’ll need some basic equipment to get started, but as more people take up podcasting, the necessary technology continues to decrease in price and increase in simplicity.

Another reason for the newfound popularity of podcasting may be the ready-made audience. Many listeners already have loaded a podcast app on their phones and currently enjoy one or more podcasts on a regular basis. As a new podcaster, you can focus primarily on producing content that draws listeners — rather than educating your prospective audience about podcasts in general.

Just a few years ago, it seemed new and different — and certainly not mandatory — for businesses to have blogs. Today, most companies include blogging as part of their marketing arsenals. The same shift is occurring with podcasts; what once seemed exotic is now becoming an expectation.

Getting Started With Podcasting

If you’re interested in adding podcasting to your marketing program, work with an experienced agency like Walker Marketing to assess your audience. Before you start recording, you’ll need a content strategy to create podcasts that capture attention, get your message across effectively, and encourage your listeners to share with others.

No matter your topic, your podcasts will need to be both informative and entertaining. By working with creative professionals to kick off your podcast, you can produce valuable content that informs, inspires and further positions your brand. Ideally, your podcasts will become a powerful component of your marketing program — and another effective way to engage your audience