Do you listen to podcasts on a regular basis? If the answer is no, you’re part of a shrinking minority. The majority of Americans (and listeners in developed countries around the world) listen to podcasts at least occasionally, with many listeners tuning into their favorite shows every day.
The sheer popularity of podcasting has led millions of savvy marketers to try and tap the channel for marketing opportunities. Sometimes, they start a podcast on behalf of their business, interviewing people connected to the industry and talking about new products. Other times, they use it as a content marketing channel to promote and popularize their brand’s archive of content.
Either way, the income potential is impressive, to say the least. Moreover, with a sizable podcast listening audience, you could get millions of additional visitors to your site—and new fans for your brand.
But here’s the thing—podcasting is an environment that’s already saturated with hosts and content creators. And there’s no guarantee podcasting will continue growing as it has in the past decade.
So is it too late to begin podcasting as a marketing strategy for your startup?
Why podcasting? What makes this strategy so unique and desirable in the first place?
- Ease of entry. The simplest podcasts are simply casual conversations between two people who know each other. Even more complex setups aren’t especially demanding. With any computer, a decent microphone, and a bit of free time on your hand, you can create and upload a podcast of your own. This makes the cost low and the barrier to entry basically nonexistent. Because the upside is so significant, this makes the return on investment (ROI) potential for a podcast ridiculously good.
- Potential audience size. There are hundreds of millions of people listening to podcasts on a regular basis. If you can manage to tap even a small sliver of that audience, you’ll have a robust listenership to whom you can market your business.
- Flexibility and topic possibilities. There aren’t really any rules about what you can and can’t podcast. Likewise, you’re not limited by any regulations or platform requirements (for the most part). That means you can talk and operate however you choose.
- Potential scale. If you have a successful podcast and a loyal audience, you can quickly scale up your efforts without spending more money. You have the potential to snowball your audience from very small to very large without fundamentally changing your core operations, meaning you can keep making more money indefinitely without spending more.
- Content diversification advantages. Podcasting is an excellent tool for content diversification. Content marketing strategies often center on written content; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you want to see better results and reach more people, it’s essential to incorporate mediums like video marketing, image development, and audio streams like podcasting.
- Podcast networking and interviews. Podcasts are also advantageous because they make it easy to connect with other podcasters. If your show starts getting attention, you might have the option to do interviews with other known podcasters in your niche; the cross-marketing potential is almost unlimited.
- Connection to other channels. Most people also don’t podcast in a vacuum. As a marketing channel, podcasting can connect to almost any other marketing or advertising channel you can think of; it has tremendous synergy with written content, email marketing, social media marketing, and more.
Why “Too Late” Is a Concern
So why are people concerned that it might be “too late” to get into the podcast game? Are these advantages going to disappear?
Not exactly, but there are some serious threats:
- Podcasts as a fad. Podcasts have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, growing from relatively obscure to a staple of modern existence. But, is this growth going to continue? Is it going to remain consistent from here on out? Or was this explosive growth just a temporary fad? If the latter case is true, podcasts could be in store for shrinking popularity in the near-term future.
- Early risers. Some podcasts benefitted from being ahead of the curve. Many of today’s most popular shows are ones that started before podcasts were a popular forum. Without the benefit of riding that initial wave of popularity, it could be harder to build a sufficient audience.
- Established competition. There are millions of successful podcasts out there, and millions more unsuccessful and struggling ones. So if you want to earn customer trust and new business, you’ll have your work cut out for you. In addition, you’ll be competing with people worldwide, many of whom will have more experience and bigger existing audiences. In this view, the podcasting world is too saturated to be a reasonable marketing opportunity.
- Marketing and consumer fatigue. Using podcasting for marketing and advertising could also be problematic. Because marketing is so common in podcasting, many listeners are growing fatigued of the dense and transparent promotional activity. Pushing your product or business too much could actively turn people away.
Uniquely Defining Your Podcast
You can get around some of the biggest problems with entering podcasting now by uniquely defining your podcast—creating something truly original that stands apart from your competitors.
Here are just some of the ways you can do it:
- Topic novelty. Choose to cover a topic that no one has covered before, or a topic that has been neglected by the most popular authorities in the space. It’s challenging to find something that’s not already been done to death, but if you can find something, you’ll have an easy way to stand out.
- Niche demographic targeting. You can also cover a topic for a niche demographic—one that isn’t being reached by current podcasters. For example, you could specialize in targeting teenagers or retirees, rather than middle-aged adults.
- Entertainment value. Using a unique tone of voice or adopting a sarcastic style could help you make your podcast as entertaining as it is informative. If there’s a unique character to the show or something entertaining about it that’s truly original, you’ll be in a much better position to attract new listeners.
- Genre innovation. You can also try experimenting with podcasting as a genre. Many people go into podcasting with interviews, monologues, or dramatic readings. But maybe you could try something else entirely—and tap into a market that’s been hitherto undiscovered.
Is It Truly Too Late?
So what’s the bottom line here. Is it really too late to start a podcast?
If you haven’t jumped into podcasting yet, you’ve missed the initial surge of the medium’s popularity. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about that. But it’s not truly too late to take advantage of podcasting as a marketing channel, as long as you:
- Know what you’re getting into. Make sure you know what you’re about to face. Who are the biggest competitors in this niche? Who are your target demographics, and what’s most important to them? How much will it cost to keep your podcast operational, and do you stand to make enough money to cover those costs?
- Find a way to be different. Making your podcast both valuable and unique can be tricky—especially when you’re facing literally millions of competitors. So you have to find a way to be different, whether it’s in the topics you’re covering or the way you’re covering the topics — if you want to be successful, change it up.
- Minimize your spending and reliance. Since you can create simple remote setups for voice recording, it shouldn’t be hard to minimize your spending in the early days of your podcast’s development. It’s also a good idea to diversify your marketing approaches, so you’re never too reliant on one channel or approach.
Podcasting remains one of the most accessible and cost-efficient content marketing strategies around. As long as you have a solid plan and a flexible mindset, you should be able to get it to work for your brand.
By Timothy Carter