3 Examples of Brands Using Podcasts to Increase Sales, Offer Value & Build Audiences
By Debbie Friez
[Note From Ashley: TopRank Marketing team members Debbie Friez and Joel Carlson recently attended a Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) event in Minneapolis and collaborated to bring you the insights below from the event.]
Long gone are the leisurely evenings and weekends where people disconnected from the outside world and made time to relax. Today’s consumers are ALWAYS connected and constantly consuming information from a variety of sources.
The question for marketers is: how can you capture the attention of your audience while they’re on the go and multi-tasking constantly? One of the solutions that has surfaced in recent years is incorporating podcasts into your digital marketing mix.
Below we’ll dive in to three case studies MIMA social broadcasting event that uncover how different brands are working podcasts into their marketing strategy.
First, Why a Podcast?
- Mobility is key. You can listen on the go in your car or the train.
- It’s personal. The information can be directed at the consumer.
- Drives Engagement. Podcast subscribers can be the core of a community who move to other key assets and channels.
Insights for Busy Salespeople
Busy salespeople don’t have time to read a newsletter or possibly an email. This was the dilemma for the Medicare and Retirement division of United Health Group. They wanted to share tools and ideas with their sales agents during enrollment period.
Within the healthcare industry, communication is heavily regulated which means there are lots of things that they can’t do or say. Kendra Klemme, Associate Director of Communications, United Health Group, says everything has to be cleared through lawyers. So the question comes up, “How do we work within this system?” and still accomplish what we need to get done.
Once cleared by the lawyers, the communications team decided a podcast was the right route to take for communicating with sales, and production happened quite quickly. The focus of the podcast was on providing the sales team with information to help them improve their approach and results. The key was providing a method for getting the sellers excited to start fast out of the gate during enrollment period.
Early podcasts were produced to be anywhere between 10-15 minutes in length, making them easy to listen to for sales people in between their customer visits. From the initial podcasts that were done in 2015, UHG received positive feedback from sales leaders and agents, having reached 7K+ listens overall.
Moving forward for 2016, the plan is to produce two podcasts per month – one on highlights from the monthly eNewletter, lasting anywhere from 3-5 minutes and another longer one on areas of interest to their audience.
What UHG learned from producing podcasts:
- Continue to refine the topics
- Work to promote the podcasts in multiple ways
- Leverage the leadership
- Bring the sales agents into the mix and harness some of that information. Provide best practices.
- Look to create additional touchpoints.
- Move forward with a heavier focus on LinkedIn
Information for the Modern Farmer
If you grew up on a farm, you know that harvest season is CRAZY BUSY! Despite that fact, the Mosaic company wanted to talk to farmers during harvest about raising yields.
On today’s modern farms, you will find farmers checking social media and listening to all kinds of media while they bring in the crops. In order to capture that audience, they wanted to create a podcast around “A Prairie Home Companion” meets “Twin Peaks” meets “Serial”.
The result was “The Great Yield Mystery”, a 10 episode audio drama, which included a website, gamification, prizes and a trailer poster. And the result gave their existing audience something they could use.
The podcast had a longer tail than they expected and exceeded interaction goals by 379%.
A Taste of General Mills
Kevin Hunt, Social Media Manager, General Mills, and an experienced podcaster provided insights into “A Taste of General Mills”, a brand website for consumers. He shared that General Mills wanted to provide a deeper look into their brand through an interview style podcast hosted on the website and modeled after “This American Life”. (Clearly NPR is winning in the podcast idea segment!)
The first podcast produced featured the creator of Cheerios. Recorded during a commercial shoot, it provided a behind the scenes perspective. This was followed by podcasts covering their monster cereals, celebrating 50 years of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, focusing on a cookbook editor and interviewing people with cooking fails, and then celebrating the 150th anniversary of General Mills. In February of 2016, the podcast will be quite topical by focusing on Super Bowl appetizers.
Kevin emphasized the need to make a plan for setting-up interviews, recording, scripting, and promotion. Their posting strategy includes iTunes and SoundCloud for searchability. General Mills doesn’t make a separate show page for the podcasts, but instead includes it as a part of the blog.
Audience growth takes time, so promotion is key. General Mills creates special graphics for promoting on their social channels. They also email subscribers of the blog.
Does Podcasting Have a Place in Your Marketing Strategy?
Podcasting in both video and purely audio forms has become an increasingly popular digital marketing tactic. Before venturing out on a podcasting endeavor, consider the following:
- Would a podcast from your brand create value for your busy audience?
- How would it fit into your content mix?
- What format and length would be the best fit for your audience?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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