Pictures and video may be the modes of communication that are easiest for the modern media customer to absorb, but in some cases they are completely inappropriate. People driving cars, cycling or walking usually need to keep their attention on their environment – not on a screen. As a result, we have seen the podcast phenomenon grow strongly over the past ten years. A podcast can be said to be a form of radio chapter that can be shifted in time, i.e., one can listen when and where one wants. There is a broad spectrum of themes and topics, but many are about things like leadership, business and investments. Right now, the are more than 700,000 active podcasts (of which 5,000 on leadership and marketing) and more than 29 million podcast episodes.1
The number of podcast listeners has increased significantly in recent years, and 14% of all Swedes currently listen to a pod at least once a week. The Pod Index was launched toward the end of 2017 as a way of measuring the reach, and creating a list, of the most popular podcasts. On this list we find podcasts that are produced by everything from traditional radio stations to publishing houses to companies and private individuals. It is topped, for example by Swedish Radio’s P3 documentaries, but in fifth place is Framgångspodden by the entrepreneur Alexander Pärleros, who has broadcast over 200 episodes and has over 100,000 listeners.2
The emergence of podcasts probably has two central driving forces: in part continuously-increasing demands at the workplace to be well informed and up to date, and in part an increased perception of a lack of time. There is an expectation that one should be aware of recent trends, technologies, business models and startup companies. Keeping track of the latter creates high status – especially amongst youth where general education tops the status list. Raising an interesting discussion topic at a business lunch or during a work meeting can be good for business. And conversely, being revealed as unaware is amongst the most unpleasant things we can experience in a world that expects that we know more and more.
At the same time, the 24 hours in a day limit the amount of new knowledge one can absorb. Our calendars are overflowing with an endless stream of work meetings, daycare drop offs, car inspections and annual meetings, which makes it a challenge to dedicate time to learning new things. The tabloids are dying, and we don’t want to adjust our routines to broadcast schedules set by someone else. Many people want to utilize every time gap that occurs in their daily life. Just waiting for the bus is a waste of precious time for many.
In this context, podcasts have become an effective way of both ridding ourselves of boredom and at the same time obtaining new insights and personal growth.
Another strong contributing factor is that podcasts are very cheap to produce. Normally you don’t need more than an interesting script or exciting guests, a computer, a recording program and a microphone to produce a podcast.
For corporate marketers, podcasting is low-hanging fruit. | Paul Gillin, author of “The New Influencers”
From a sales perspective, podcasts create two possibilities. The first possibility is to see podcasting as an advertising medium where one can, through others’ podcasts, have opportunities to reach niched target groups with specific interests. The possibility exists to channel-adapt messages and make them really relevant; a targeted form of radio advertising. An entire 67 percent of American podcast listeners say that they are positive to advertising, a big difference compared to opinions within traditional mass media.3 A perhaps more interesting variation of podcast advertising is when it is editorially integrated with the content in a creative way. This is probably less disruptive for the listener and represents a larger opportunity for influence.
Another possibility is to produce your own podcast. One then has the possibility to completely design the content and tone, in order to reach specific target groups. The level of effort required increases accordingly, but so does the chance to build a deeper relationship with one’s customers. A podcast can be a tool for establishing a position as a “thought leader” within a given field. One becomes a knowledge center that provides the latest expert insights. And the listeners are often devoted: an entire 85 percent listen to the end of a podcast episode.4
1 Music Oomph (2019). Podcast Statistics. Downloaded 2019-08-07 from https://musicoomph.com/podcast-statistics/
2 Poddtoppen (2018). Populäraste poddarna på Itunes – alla kategorier. Downloaded 2018-10-22 from: https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/985517492/framgangspodden
3 Lawrence, T. (2017, 28 March). Why podcasts are a secret weapon for B2B marketers. [blog post]. Downloaded 2018-10-22 from: https://desk.thecontentcloud.net/guides/podcasts-secret-weapon-b2b-marketers#.X3nI7ZMzZs9