Podcast Marketing Strategy and the Myth of B2B Audiences
I started listening to podcasts in late 2004 and launched On the Record…Online in April 2005 to help promote a greater understanding of how social media changed how organizations communicate and how people consume media and information.
In addition to producing podcasts, I run a public relations firm that is equally adept at SEO, digital marketing, social media marketing.
And one thing I’ve learned helping clients introduce podcasting into their marketing mix is that defining audiences by either business-to-consumer (B2C), or business-to-business (B2B) is fundamentally flawed.
B2B Marketing Myth
There’s no clear divide between business and consumer audiences. All business people are consumers, too, and enthusiasts attract business people like bees to honey, so you get an audience defined more by interest than occupation.
Michael Geohagen’s Grape Radio is a podcast for wine enthusiasts, but it also attracts wine business listeners as well.
And since it’s still so much easier to flip on the tube or radio when you want mainstream entertainment that appeals to a broad audience, I’m beginning to think that podcasting is much more suited to niche-casting, or more specifically, reaching a premium audience of underserved listeners than going head to head with cable, TV, satellite or terrestrial radio.
This is only true for original podcasts.
When existing programming is repurposed and distributed as a podcast, it still reaches a mass audience through mainstream media channels, so the fact that it only draws a niche audience online is inconsequential.
But if your ambition is to reach a broad audience of listeners on par with radio and TV with an original program unavailable anywhere else, podcasting may not be the best media channel.
You still need to be very motivated to subscribe to podcasts. Why would anyone in their right mind compete directly with the mainstream media through podcasting, which is what B2C podcasting is since the networks are focused on luring the same mass audiences to sell their attention in droves to advertisers who only guess at who’s listening?
Until a reliable argument can be made for the value of opt-in versus blind audience CPMs, the MSM has more inventory to sell to advertising agencies, and podcasters relying on the ad-supported model still have a long way to go.
For these reasons, until it becomes mainstream, I think the podcasts that make it will be the ones that fulfill the needs of the unfulfilled.
I’m not sure if there’s a podcast for model train enthusiasts, but if there is, and it’s any good, knowing how fanatical those hobbyists are, I’ll bet they have a very loyal audience.
Not an audience the MSM or advertisers would be interested in. But definitely, a content marketing agency marketing products to that community would be foolish to ignore.
If I’m right, podcasting will ultimately become niche-casting, and successful podcast marketers will design programs that give their most enthusiastic, influential customers something they want that they can’t get anywhere else.
And it will give them that in the context of a compelling, sustainable, and entertaining podcast program.