Is Podcasting the Next Big Thing in Personal Branding?

The modern podcast, as the rightful successor to old-fashioned radio shows, taps into the innate human tendencies that propelled radio’s popularity in the early 1900s. #MichaelsWilder #podcast Click To Tweet

In the 1930s, when the radio started to gain popularity, entire families would gather in the living room, bathed in the light and warmth of the fireplace. Grandma would knit. Dad would read the evening paper. Mom might be patching some of the kids’ clothes while they played underfoot. All the while, the radio would play in the background, uniting the family in a shared experience.

Radio allowed people to multi-task, working on chores while still being part of a larger community and spending time with their families.

As years went by and technology evolved, televisions took the place of the radios in the center of the family room, and today, nearly a fourth of Americans don’t own a radio (down from 4% in 2008).

That, however, doesn’t mean that auditory media is dead.

While radio ownership declined, smartphone ownership has risen and has produced a new opportunity for content creators. The modern podcast, as the rightful successor to old-fashioned radio shows, takes advantage of the portability of the modern smartphone while also tapping into the innate human tendencies that propelled radio’s popularity in the early 1900s.

Transistor radio

Why We Love Auditory Media

There’s just something about switching on the radio and taking a long drive on a summer day or closing your eyes, leaning back in your recliner, and losing yourself in a good audio book or a catchy tune. Auditory media is unlike any other form of entertainment, and it connects with us in a different way than, for example, watching tv or reading a book.  

And, although a lot has changed since video killed the radio star, we still love auditory media for the same reasons that once drew people around the transistor set each night:

  1. Ability to Multi-Task: Unlike visual media like television—podcasts, audio books, and the radio don’t require your full attention to absorb. At home, at work, in traffic—podcasts are available anywhere you have access to your phone, and you can work on other tasks while you listen.
  2. Intimacy of Audio: Auditory media force you to create your own mental image to accompany the words you hear. Jad Abumrad, host of the podcast Radiolab, explains, “In a sense, I’m painting something, but I’m not holding the paintbrush. You are. It’s this deep sense of co-authorship, and in that is some sense of empathy.” By becoming a sort of “co-author” in the story, listeners are more invested in the story and its storytellers.
  3. Education: People tend to retain information at a higher rate when they hear it, rather than read it. For that reason, informative podcasts like TED Radio Hour, Freakanomics Radio, and Radio Lab are some of the most popular podcasts around.
  4. Sense of Community: A fandom is a sort of community. Think of “Dead Heads” (Grateful Dead fans), “Whovians” (Doctor Who fans), the “Beyhive” (Beyonce fans). People form their identities in part around the type of media they consume. Podcasts are an especially useful medium to form this community around (for the reasons listed above). Whether you’re interested in business trends, true crime, law — there’s a podcast and a community of like-minded listeners out there for you.

Podcasting as Personal Branding

Big names in personal branding like Gary Vee and Tim Ferris have racked up millions of downloads for their respective podcasts (The Gary Vee Audio Experience and The Tim Ferris Show), and it’s no wonder why these personal branding powerhouses are drawn to podcasting. In just one year, the number of podcast listeners has grown by 12 million, and as smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home make home listening even more convenient, this number will surely continue to spike.

And that’s a great thing.

The reasons that people love auditory media are also the reasons that make podcasting the perfect medium for personal branding. The personal and intimate nature of podcasting allows you to truly connect with your audience and form a community of loyal and dedicated followers who are excited to tune in and hear what you have to say. That intimacy also lends you a certain authority on the topics you’ll be discussing and helps you to build yourself up as a leading voice in your industry.

While not everyone can be the next Tim Ferris, podcasts are definitely a promising medium for anyone who wants to grow their influence and spread their message.

Why Podcast Marketing Works

Just like other methods of content marketing, podcasts provide audiences with value by making them laugh, teaching them something new, or engaging them in dialogue with a larger community. This kind of “value added” approach may be more time-consuming, but it’s certainly a fantastic way to build an active and committed audience that you can leverage for your business.

Unlike other forms of content marketing, however, starting a podcast has certain inimitable advantages that set it apart from most other media:

  1. Podcasts are surprisingly easy to get off the ground: You can record an entire podcast on your phone. Seriously. Although better quality recording equipment will get you better results, you don’t need a lot to start. Depending on your level of comfort with the medium, it could even be less time-intensive than blogging (which many companies already do) because the delivery can be more casual and off-the-cuff. This is great for people who want to get the most bang for their buck since dedication and creativity are far more important than funds when launching a podcast.
  2. Podcasts reach an especially affluent audience: 45% of monthly podcast listeners have a household income of over $75K vs. 35% of the total population. Simply put, higher income level=more disposable income=more likely to buy what you’re selling.
  3. Podcasts have the potential to reach a very large audience: 44% of Americans have listened to podcasts, and 50% of all US households are podcast fans. While traditional TV viewership among younger generations is plummeting, podcast consumption seems to be on the rise, so it’s no surprise that marketers are turning to new media to fill the gap left by the decline of traditional adverting.
  4. Podcast listeners are especially receptive to advertising: Podcast listeners are more likely to follow brands on social media, and 69% of listeners agreed that podcast ads made them aware of new products or services. Owing to the aforementioned “intimacy of audio,” podcast listeners tend to form a connection to podcast hosts. They grow to like and trust the people they listen to for hours on a weekly basis. That reputation works wonders for persuading people to buy your product.


Microphone setup for podcasting

When marketers talk about personal branding, they typically focus on the usual suspects—Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and so on—but what about iTunes and SoundCloud? Podcasting often gets overlooked and dismissed as a sort of “niche” medium. But that just isn’t the case.

As I mentioned, podcast consumption is on the rise, and there’s a podcast out there to suit every interest, from sports and gaming to real estate and investing. You think people won’t tune in to hear you talk about your job, your life, your business? Think again.

As long as you can give people a reason to tune in, it doesn’t matter what you talk about. Tell a story, share your knowledge, or just make people laugh—that’s all you need for a winning podcast.If, however, you’re looking for a partner to help you set your podcast up for success, check out our Wilder Podcast package. This “podcast in a box” gives you all the tools you need to take your vision from inception to a fully functioning podcast, including a website, consulting, and editing. Contact Michaels Wilder for more information.

Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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