Marketers like to do cool things. They like to be on the cutting edge, and the rest of the organization often turns to the head of marketing to create disruptive growth. That means we’re all looking for the next big thing. And one question we’re getting more and more from our B2B clients is: “Should we start a podcast?”
Podcasts have risen steadily in popularity over the last few years. The success of NPR’s Serial podcast revived the attention being paid to podcasts after about five years of no one paying attention. According to the Marketing Technology Blog, there were 5,200 active management and marketing podcasts at the start of 2016. In other words, plenty of options but still lots of room to grow.
So, should you start a B2B podcast?
When marketers at B2B companies ask me this, I always respond with a question of my own: “Does your audience listen to podcasts?”
So far, the answer has always been “no.” Which leads me to answer, “Well then, no, you should not start a podcast.”
But then I add a caveat – it depends on your goals. Just because your audience doesn’t listen to podcasts today doesn’t mean that it’s automatically a bad idea to start a podcast.
If your goal is to drive revenue in the near term and your audience does not listen to podcasts, then you’d be wasting time, money and effort by starting a podcast (even if it made you look cool). But if you have a longer-term goal and understand that there might not be a payoff for five years, then it might make sense to start a podcast. Does it benefit your brand to be seen as out on the leading edge, even if no one is actually paying all that much attention? Sometimes, it does.
But let’s dig deeper. At Scribewise, we feel that “should we start a ______?” is the wrong question, whether the blank is a podcast, a video series, or launching on a new social platform. The right question is “does our audience consume ______?” In fact, the first question in every single instance when a marketing team is considering a new initiative must be “what does our audience want, and how can we give it to them?”
The number of choices we have in marketing today is overwhelming. It can make it almost impossible to decide what to do, and what not to do. However, if you think “audience first” you’ll almost always get it right. It’s true that sometimes you’ll want to lead the audience in a new direction, but that is not a path that should be taken lightly; it’s going to take a lot of resources to change their behavior. Some companies can do that, but it’s fair to say that most can’t.
I’m not saying don’t try. I’m saying that if you do try, you need to go all in.
So, if you’re a B2B firm that’s thinking of starting a podcast, it can’t be just one of the many things you’re doing. It needs to be a top priority.
Otherwise, the answer to the question is “no.”