This piece originally appeared on Uncubed.com.
Why would a startup that builds ecommerce software — or any startup for that matter — launch a podcast?
“We are very clear with people – if your goal to do a podcast is short term ROI, the podcast is probably not the right fit for you,” Steve Pratt one of the founders of Pacific Content told us. His company produces podcasts for brands like Shopify, Slack, and Envoy, an iPad-based, visitor-registration system.
What podcasting can give you, Pratt said, is “something where you’re going to get a growing number of people to spend 30 minutes with your brand on an ongoing basis in a way that may be very challenging to do with video or Facebook. They’re actually going to put you in your ears and spend 30 minutes hanging out with you.”
Try getting that kind of engagement with a Facebook post.
Pratt, along with most of his team, are CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) alums. They started their company because “we realized that there was a huge opportunity to teach companies to think more like media companies and build their own audiences instead of renting out other people’s audiences and to make things that people loved instead of interrupting the things that they love with things that they don’t like at all,” he said.
For more on podcast, watch this video:
You will, however, need to measure the success of your podcast differently than other brand outreach programs like social media, warns Pratt.
One of Pratt’s clients likes to think about the emotions they are creating by listening to their podcast. “Those emotions get transferred to your brand,” said Pratt. There are ways to track metrics and completion rates and number of subscribers, but don’t get too hung up on those at first. Think of it as a “fantastic first touch point” to your brand, he said.
To find out what works for your brand and your listeners, Pratt suggests taking an “agile software approach. Try things and measure them. Keep going with the things that are working.” Pratt has seen success with breaking up the shows into short segments, as his team does for Slack’s Variety Pack podcast. While a 30-minute show might not do well in the context of Facebook, magazine-style segments do.
“Instead of saying here’s a new episode, we can then have 4-7 different story hooks to promote each episode with, and each one of those things can have its own blog post with a very catchy headline, a photo, and a write up that will lead you into listening to the audio,” said Pratt.
This echoes a larger trend Pratt said he sees in podcasting. Sites like Stitcher aggregate podcast segments. And Otto Radio acts almost as a Flipboard for podcasts segments – users enter their interests and their commute time and Otto creates a playlist. It’s easier than just a few years ago to be discovered on these platforms.
Of course, the best way to be discovered is just by making a great product, which is easier said than done, admitted Pratt. “So much of our work is making really high quality, really compelling, audience focused shows that don’t’ feel like a marketing show; they just feel like a fantastic show you might here on NPR.”
The hard work is worth it, said Pratt.
“It is a bit of Blue Ocean in that premium podcasting space for brands right now,” Pratt Said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of people who are able to make high-quality shows. The ability to differentiate yourself, it feels like it’s easier in podcasting than in some of the other channels that are really crowded right now and relative to the cost of doing video or something like that, it’s not that hard of a decision.”