How to create a B2B podcast series – and why you should
The article is about the why, what, how and where of creating a B2B podcast. Using our experience of producing Creative Covenant’s Marketing for Cybersecurity series, we are sharing our specific tips and learnings for making podcasts an essential component of your wider marketing strategy.
Podcasts are huge – and ubiquitous
Let’s start with some stats: In the US’s population of more than 300,000,000, over 50% are podcast fans. Supply has met demand in this area, with over two million podcasts in circulation. Podcast listeners can be found on every single media channel. Researchers have marked these listeners as ‘loyal, affluent and educated’.
Smartphones, unsurprisingly, are the most popular listening device. Unlike videos, which require active attention, podcasts can be absorbed in a variety of different environments – for example, while travelling, cooking, exercising and more.
While well suited to the consumer space, B2B podcasts are growing. After all, aren’t we all consumers, even when sitting at our desk? Do we not make business decisions based on brand loyalty and perceptions of how our buying decisions will make us look and feel?
A deeper form of brand loyalty
A podcast, especially one that is part of a wider marketing strategy, can generate a complex layer of brand loyalty. It gives businesses the chance to permeate people’s lives in a visceral way. People will follow a specific company if that company offers something that its listeners – i.e. customers – want, whether that is to be informed, entertained or to feel part of a larger community. They will become more loyal still if you can give them something they might not find elsewhere.
What you need
To produce a successful and compelling podcast you need to identify:
• Your target audience
• What they need
• What you can offer that answers that need*
• Your platforms for recording, editing, and hosting (sometimes these are not the same thing)
• How you will promote it and how often.
*This is perhaps the most complex of the tasks, as it must speak to your marketing strategy and the narrative that best supports it.
What did this look like for Marketing for Cybersecurity?
We could see that the cybersecurity industry was on the cusp of explosive growth and knew that a challenge for many of the start-ups entering this space would be to stand out. In our view, it wasn’t features and specs that would help an emerging company win customers; it would be how each company told the story of why they created a particular product or service and what problem that was meant to solve.
We also knew first-hand that there were several potential blockers to marketers being able to do their jobs well. Our goal was to speak directly to this need.
Laying the groundwork
With our podcast, we aimed to talk to those who might work with us by exploring some of the issues they might be coming up against in their own jobs while providing ways to tackle and resolve some of these issues. We never once tried to sell our own services as expert solvers of these problems, but instead tried to lay the groundwork for future conversations by presenting ourselves as knowledgeable, well connected, and – essentially – up for a chat.
We called it Marketing for Cybersecurity: The Good, The Bad and The Factually Incorrect. For us, this best summed up what we aimed to address – to explore what ‘good’ marketing practice looked like and be honest about what made us cringe. We also wanted to call out the industry’s impulse to scare rather than educate, which often led to statements that were at best misleading and at worst just downright false. (This is known in the industry as FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt.)
What we did and how we did it
We sourced our first guests from our network of cybersecurity and started as we meant to go on. Our first episode, among other topics, laid out our most hated marketing buzzwords. From there, we found future topics fell into place – knowing what we wanted to speak to made it easier to tap into both our existing network alongside those we wanted to know.
To give examples of some of our other topics, we:
• Explored the benefits of research-led marketing and how to source it
• Detailed the process of bringing a UK company into the US market
• Talked through the basic tenets of social selling on LinkedIn
• Spoke to a start-up founder, whose company is an index of all cybersecurity companies, to share his insights onto what makes a start-up stand out
• Partnered with a gaming company to discuss how to create compelling online events and tap into the power of influencers.
Our network grew as we went. Making a podcast let us give a voice to those who we respected and provided a way into talking to those we hoped to work with. It turned out to be a great way to introduce yourself without strings attached.
What we learned
To state the obvious, every company is different. However, with that disclaimer in mind, here are some of the basics of how to start and what to do:
Set the narrative
There is no magic wand that can conjure a compelling narrative, but if you start with who you’re targeting, why, and what you want them to think and feel about you, you are almost already there. Go right back to the basics of why your company exists and what problem it was created to solve. Speak to that problem, but not with your product or service. You essentially want to set yourself out as a thought leader in your space.
We knew we wanted to target potential clients – marketers in cybersecurity scale-ups (who) – so that they would associate us with empowering them to perform their jobs well (why) by anticipating and overcoming challenges that were specific to the cybersecurity space (what).
My advice: It’s not necessary to set the themes of each podcast episode at the start. If your objective is clear from the beginning, you might find that subsequent topics emerge organically.
Compile a guest list
LinkedIn is great for this. As I said, we sourced our first few savvy guests from our wide network, then approached potential customers once we had a few episodes under our belt. The more podcasts we did, the more people approached or were recommended to us. It was by far the best (and most fun) way to grow our contacts.
My advice: Start with who you know and then work towards who you want to know. Before recording, brief them beforehand as to what you’re hoping to cover and what your objectives are. Establish a rapport. Ask who they know and respect, and would recommend.
Choose your platform
There are a number of podcast recording, editing and hosting platforms. We chose to do our interviews over Teams, with video – seeing each other made it easier to chat and interact. The audio from Teams was then exported anchor.fm, which provided hosting and editing capabilities and was remarkably user friendly. (You can, of course, hire someone to do this for you.)
My advice: Don’t be afraid to play with a few platforms until you find the one that works for you. The one we started with is not the one we ended up using.
Give yourself ample editing time
Unless you are a seasoned interviewing pro that never sneezes or you have guests that give brilliant and pithy answers off-the-cuff, you’re going to need to edit. A LOT. And it takes time. We always preferred to let our guests talk their ideas through unhindered, as it gave us more to work with. But sometimes we’d have a two-hour interview that had to be reduced down to half an hour or less. Working out which gems were to be kept and ensuring they all fit together was time consuming.
My advice: Producing a podcast takes between 10-20 hours per episode. This includes fleshing out the topic, sourcing and building relationships with guests, recording, editing, then using the content within social posts, as well as in other assets (see below).
Promote, promote, promote – and then milk the content
As mentioned above, podcast listeners lurk on every social media channel. We used Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn for ours, as those are the channels on which we were already active. We posted three times per podcast with a different hook each time, whether that was highlighting our guests or drawing out soundbites from what was discussed.
One of the most beneficial by-products of doing our podcast is that we were able to re-use the content elsewhere, particularly in blog posts, which we then promoted separately. Good content should work hard. Podcasts, we discovered, generate reams of new material.
My advice: Don’t be shy about promotion and repurposing content in different formats. With the podcast itself, make the experience easy for your potential listeners. Put in time stamps on key moments in case people want to skip to what is most relevant to them.
This is just one example….
These are generic guidelines for a specific type of B2B podcast, but there are many other formats. Larger companies can and should consider using podcasts to approach marketing from a completely new and fun angle. To use the cybersecurity example, why not create documentary-esque case studies of cyberattacks you’ve thwarted? Why not present investigative-style reporting of emerging hacker groups?
My advice: Podcasting is ripe for disruption in the B2B space. Could your company be the one that does it?
Gayle Kennedy is Head of Storytelling at Velo