How small businesses can use podcasts to boost growth

Business Insights

Matt Eastland-Jones, the founder of Oxford’s first podcast studio Story Ninety-Four, explains how podcasts can be used to drive growth for small businesses.

How small businesses can use podcasts to boost growth

It’s no secret that marketing has changed greatly over the last decade. With marketing channels more heavily weighted towards the digital landscape, the use of audio and video content online has become more prevalent. One of these content formats is the podcast.

In this piece, we will be taking a look at the benefits of not just how all businesses can use podcasts to boost their brand awareness and growth over time, but more specifically how SME’s can use them to progress.

Building brand awareness with podcasts

A key challenge that all small business owners face is that of building their brand awareness. If you don’t have anyone entering the top of your product or service funnel, then it’s clear no one will ever make it to the purchasing stage.

This isn’t rocket science at all, but it’s a key factor that should always be at the forefront of marketing. The way you solve this problem is through building brand awareness. Developing the kind of trust with your potential customers and clients, before even attempting to sell them anything, will lead to strong foundations being built.

Podcasts are a fantastic way of producing long-form content that doesn’t require a huge amount of effort from the target audience to consume; they can listen to podcasts on the way to work, at the gym or just about anywhere! If you compare this to a 10,000-word blog that could take hours to read (which you would perhaps produce more for the consideration stage), you can clearly see which option a person who had never heard of your brand before would choose.

Building audience trust with podcasts

Another aspect of a podcast that builds rapport with your audience is the ability to really show your personality through the spoken voice. Words on paper (or the screen) do provide value, but there is another level of communication that can only be expressed through speaking. It’s far easier to pick up on the nuances such as sarcasm and subtle jokes that would be far more difficult to pick up on if you were reading the transcript of the same conversation. Listening to a human voice makes it far easier to build a relationship, which will only build trust over time.

As an industry, podcasts are fantastic at doing this as a whole; this has lead to the subscribe culture that actively sees users become dedicated fans of a channel and or brand. How many other marketing channels do you know that can present this kind of engagement? However, this potential benefit should be used carefully; in order to build a solid engagement with listeners, your business should minimize any sales talk or reference to the product or service you provide.

Prospects in the awareness stage should be given as much value as possible for free, so think about sharing your expertise in your relevant field, funny anecdotes and relevant guests that would provide entertainment.

For example (usually a classic for business discussions), a window cleaner would discuss the best tips to clean your own windows, the best products to clean your windows with, and share any interesting or comedic stories they have experienced during their time as a window cleaner. They should not instantly go into detail about their own pricing, exactly the services they provide or any content that would be presented from the discovery stages down.

Networking with business podcasts

Finally, let’s discuss the networking benefits of starting a podcast for your small business. There are two main ways of building bridges using a podcast: mentions of other businesses or people that you want to connect with, and then (potentially after you have mentioned them), inviting them to guest feature on your podcast.

Both of these will usually lead to your guest, or mentioned person, sharing your podcast through their own channels, which again adds another level of free brand awareness. The main reason for this...well, let’s face it, who doesn’t like being talked about, especially in the business world! It’s a basic ‘I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine’, but one that is genuine and mutually beneficial.

The next stage after a mention would be inviting them to speak as a guest on your podcast about their own experiences. In terms of networking, you can go one of two ways on this: invite guests from your own industry to speak, or invite relevant guests from another industry that would add value to your audience.

By inviting guests that work in the same industry as you, you are positioning yourself as an industry expert and leader. It shows you’re not afraid to mention your competitors, and even talk to them so long as it adds value to your audience, which is something that they will pick up on. The obvious downside is that it will also build brand awareness for your competitor, so it could be a risky move.

Boosting your business with podcasts

Podcasts were once a thing of the future for businesses. They are now a very crucial part of the present, and they should be seriously considered for engaging with your target audience to drive awareness and engagement for your small company. With the combination of entertainment, informative value and ease of listening, podcasts are a fantastic tool that can drive amazing results.