Podcasts continue to rise in popularity as both an entertainment and marketing medium. Fully a quarter of people in the United States have listened to a podcast in the last month, and most podcast listeners fall in the 18-54 demographic.
The podcasting boom, and prominent case studies of podcast success, have led many people and brands to start podcasting. Smartphones make the barrier to entry low, and it’s "easy" to start a life science or healthcare podcast.
But should you?
If you’re thinking about starting a healthcare podcast, read this first.
Who Listens to a Podcast?
First of all, who listens to podcasts? What kind of reach can a podcast have, and who is listening?
Research from Edison Research and Triton Digital shows that the term "podcasting" has risen in awareness, with 60 percent of people now recognizing it (up from 55 percent in 2016 and 45 percent in 2010). 40 percent of people have listened to a podcast, and 24 percent listen to at least one podcast a month.
44 percent of podcast listeners are in the 18-34 range, with 33 percent in the 35-54 demographic. On average, podcast listeners are wealthier and better education than the general US population.
Weekly podcast consumers listen for an average of around five hours per week, and subscribers (27 percent of listeners) subscribe to an average of six podcasts.
All of this is to say: podcasts are popular and increasing in popularity. Their audience tends to be a desirable target for marketers, and listeners spend a significant amount of time listening. Unsurprisingly, many marketers have taken this as an opportunity to start a business podcast.
The Goal of a Healthcare Podcast is Not “Awareness”
One of the most common podcast misconceptions is that business podcasts are top-of-funnel content.
It’s true that big podcasts can generate massive numbers of downloads, and that the most popular podcasts get mentioned frequently by fans online (creating additional buzz). A popular podcast has a high "unsolicited response rate," as well as "true fans" that share the content frequently.
But on the whole, business podcasts are not especially good at reaching new audiences. Podcasting networks and popular guests can help increase downloads, but the discovery process of a podcast can be quite difficult—many popular podcasts became popular by migrating fans from other mediums.
Podcasting as a medium allows for in-depth storytelling and exploration of topics. Rather than using a podcast to achieve breadth, marketers would do well to consider podcasts a method of achieving depth.
In other words, the goal of starting a business podcast is not to make more people aware of your business; it is to move people who are already aware of you further along the buyer’s journey.
As Acunzo said in a Twitter chat with Marketo:
"If I spent 10-60 minutes this week with your B2B company, I’d see the world more like you do and be closer to buying."
The utility of a life science or healthcare podcast in a marketing strategy will depend heavily on your product or service—some business podcasts drive large B2B deals, some are focused attracting investors, some foster customer loyalty, and others drive revenue through sponsorship.
Before starting a business podcast because it’s "the next big thing," consider whether podcasting actually makes sense for your business goals.
Stop Creating Talking Head Business Podcasts
Say you’ve decided that podcasting does in fact match your business goals. How do you execute? How do you start a business podcast?
Jay Acunzo again has a comment:
“'Hey. Welcome to my Medium post. It, um…I write about creativity and content production here, and uh… oh, Jimmy is here too. Hey Jimmy. How’s the weather over there?…'
You’d never start an article that way."
Many business podcasts open with a slow introduction, and lack an effective hook. Many podcasts follow a simple interview format, even if there’s no particular reason they need to.
Part of the power of podcasts is in the editing—good editing can pull together bits and pieces from a variety of places to create an overall narrative that engages the audience right away.
Acunzo argues that narrative structure has three benefits:
- Crafting a narrative allows the creator to insert their own personality and tone, rather than rely purely on the interesting-ness of their podcast guests
- Avoiding start-to-finish interviews can help relax guests, as they have multiple takes to answer questions
- Hooking listeners makes them less likely to hit pause; you can’t skim podcasts, so ensuring that listeners want to keep listening is the podcaster’s principal goal
Acunzo provides more detailed information on equipment and editing practices in this article.
"Please, Please, For the Love of God: Do Not Start a Podcast"
It’s never been easier to start a podcast, and there are currently over 60,000 active ones. But marketer Ryan Holiday echoes Jay Acunzo’s thoughts when he implores us to avoid starting another podcast.
Too often, podcasts start because of people wanting to hop on the bandwagon. Creating a podcast is easy from a technology standpoint, but creating something people want to listen to? Creating something interesting? Creating something good?
That’s much harder.
As Holiday says, "the problem with the gold rush mindset is that it believes that the gold is just there to be picked up."
But you still need to mine it.
So, should you start a life science or healthcare podcast?
If the business podcast aligns with your business goals. If you have something interesting to say. If you understand that results are not going to come overnight, and that podcasting needs to be part of an overall marketing mix. If you are willing to put in the effort to make something great.
Otherwise, it’s ok to take a pass.