The Underdog Podcast: A Mega Marketing Opportunity for Small Business

RahRahRahUnderdogPodcastPodcasts continue to grow in popularity as media consumers are discovering their on-demand content. Unlike screen-dependent media, such as videos and blogs, listeners can enjoy podcasts while the do other things. That’s called freedom, baby!  Listeners can now be entertained and educated while commuting, walking the dog, cleaning the house, working out, and at their desks. Listeners have complete control of curating the shows they consume by choosing from hundreds of thousands of podcasts that cover an extraordinary variety of formats and genres.

We’ve started to see some very successful ad campaigns from large companies like Mail Chimp’s famous commercial on the Serial podcast. But you don’t have to be a big business to have advertising success on a podcast. In fact, small businesses have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the marketing value that  the Underdog Podcasts can offer.

How to Choose an Underdog Podcast:

First, lets clarify what I mean by an Underdog Podcast. For the purpose of this blog post, I am referring to podcasts with less than 5,000 downloads per month. Podcasts with over 5,000 downloads a month start becoming attractive to advertisers. However, I see exciting marketing opportunities for small businesses to connect with the Underdogs!

It is important to mention that the number of downloads is not equal to the number of listeners. For example, a single podcast subscriber may auto-download four episodes a month for a weekly podcast. I’m no mathematician, but that is 4 downloads and only one listener. To further cloud the issue, we have no idea when/if that listener is going to listen to those downloaded shows.  I’m really selling this! Bare with me here.

As a small business, looking to advertise on a smaller podcast, you want to look at a lot more than just the download and subscriber numbers. Here are four things I recommend considering before approaching a podcast about advertising:

  Social Media & Web Presence:  Study the podcast’s activity on various social media channels. Are they active on Twitter? Do they have a Facebook page with a decent number of followers? Are they on Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or Vine? The more of an active social media presence I see, the more I am convinced this podcast is serious and committed to their show and its content.

  Audience Engagement: Do they have an audience who is commenting on their show? Are there conversations happening? An engaged audience is a loyal audience. A loyal audience will trust the show hosts to only accept advertising dollars from products and services they believe in.

  Who is Their Audience? Make sure their audience will be potentially interested in what you are selling or promoting. It is important to keep in mind the intimacy of the platform. Show hosts have a relationship with their listeners, often creating a unique community surrounding their show. Some podcasters refuse advertising because they don’t want to dilute or distract from their content. Those that will accept ads or sponsorship, will limit ad time and curate the products and services so they can be confident that they are promoting things their listeners want or need.

Do You Like the Show? Is it a show you would be happy to co-promote with your brand? If you genuinely enjoy the show AND it is a good match to your customer profile, you will be able to take advantage of co-promoting the episode with your advertising–expanding your potential audience even more.

5 Reasons Your Small Business Should Consider Podcast Advertising:

Creative Sponsorship Opportunities:

As a small business, it is almost a given that you also have a small budget for advertising and marketing. Think creatively when working with a podcast on sponsorship ideas. Low on cash? Don’t let that stop you! Most Underdog Podcasts haven’t monetized their show yet and will be more open to non-cash payments than a larger show that is being sought after by advertisers. Also think creatively so that you can add value to their listeners. Here are some examples:

Barter Products/Services:  Are you promoting your custom sticker company? Offer a batch of custom  stickers in exchange for an ad spot(s).

  A Special Offer Just for Listeners: Promo codes are a great way to track the effectiveness of your podcast advertising. They also add value by offering something special that is only available if you listen to this particular podcast. People like to feel special.

Suggest a Show Topic Relevant to Your Business & Their Audience: You can come on as a guest to talk about a topic you are knowledgeable about. The topic will be interesting to the audience and you essentially get a really long, free commercial.

Sponsor an Upcoming Show Guest: There are a lot of options with this idea. Here is a scenario: Lets say you are an art supply store and you found a podcast that interviews artists. It just so happens that they are interviewing a painter who has a big art show coming up. Sponsor the painter!  Maybe you give him/her a box of art supplies or you come up with a unique Twitter hashtag that if listeners use in a Tweet during the show, they will get a $10 coupon. You could even offer something to everyone who attends the art show. The podcast host(s) will love the idea of giving the guest something and the guest will certainly be thrilled. You will get people talking about your cool company!

Reach a Social Savvy Audience on A Social Media Dependent Platform:

People who listen to podcasts are social media savvy and are very comfortable online. Podcasts also rely heavily on social media channels to promote their shows. That means a lot of opportunity for your business to be discovered every time someone shares, likes and retweets the show post.

Sincerity In Advertising:

Unlike traditional radio advertising, podcast ads tend to feel a lot more organic because show hosts have the option to talk about their sponsors in a way that seems native to the show content. This method is less disruptive to the show and the sincerity of the “ad” is appreciated by listeners. As mentioned earlier, there is a built in trust between a podcast host and his/her listeners. Respecting that is important for a successful campaign.

Another aspect of sincerity is the long-term relationship you can develop with the show. Think of it as a team effort and a mutually beneficial relationship.  Continue to come up with ideas and stay involved. Your business and the podcast can grow together. If you’ve done a good job choosing a podcast, you will have the prestige of being an early believer in a successful show.

Evergreen Content:

Unlike traditional radio, podcasts don’t disappear when the show is over. When someone discovers a podcast, it is not uncommon for them to go back and binge listen to old episodes. Your commercial will continue to have some life well after the episode debuts.

A Podcast for Your Audience:

There is a podcast on any subject you can imagine. You will be able to find a podcast to complement your business, service, event or brand. This gives you the ability to easily reach your niche. It may take some research to find the perfect podcast match, but the time spent will be well worth the effort.