HomeSpecial ReportPodcasts Are More Common in Today’s Sales Conversations

Podcasts Are More Common in Today’s Sales Conversations

How would you feel if a prospect or current customer reached out to you with an offer to spend half an hour talking about your brand, having you share insights about industry trends or seeking your thought leadership? It may sound too good to be true, but it’s being accomplished routinely — possibly by your competitors — through B2B podcasting.

A critical step in sales is getting the right information to the right decision-makers. According to a report from Sapio  Research, virtually all business decision-makers in the U.S. spend at least an hour per week consuming business-related content. Among the 502 B2B and B2C decision-makers surveyed in the U.S., approximately 43% reported getting their business-related or thought leadership content from business podcasts. That ranks podcasts atop the list of business content sources, equal to three other sources of business information — email newsletters, webinars/virtual calls and social media influencers in their respective sectors.

Clearly, podcasts have become a part of the sales conversation. “Over the last four years, the sentiment regarding B2B podcasts has shifted from ‘Is it going to be a thing for branding?’ to ‘It’s absolutely a thing,’ ” said Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co-founder of Casted, a SaaS platform that helps clients amplify the reach of their in-house podcasts.

Tjepkema said 40% of the Cloud 100 companies, the top privately held cloud companies in the world, now have podcasts, and nearly half of all B2B decision-makers in the C-suite are using podcasts to make buying decisions. Notable brands such as Caterpillar, HubSpot and Salesforce create podcasts targeted to their business clients.

The ‘Why’ of Podcasts

“As a marketer, you’re always looking for the eyeballs: Who is my audience? Who are my customers? Who are my prospects? In this case, those earbuds are in podcasts,” Clayton Ruebensaal, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of global business-to-business marketing at American Express, told Fast  Company. “Sixty percent of our small business owners that we target listen to podcasts — and over half of the 60% are listening to business podcasts.”

American Express expanded its content marketing strategy during the Covid pandemic, introducing podcasts aimed at small-business owners. “The Next Chapter” is a six-part podcast featuring interviews with top business book authors, including Priya Parker, author of “The Art of Gathering,” and Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”

Backers of B2B podcasts tout the intimacy they provide with listeners. Podcasts are frequently consumed while listeners are multitasking. That may seem like you’re getting only part of a listener’s attention, but Tjepkema says neuroscience data shows that passive consumption of content hits the brain in a different (and positive) way. “Your guard is let down and your trust tends to go up, especially when it’s a conversation between two thought leaders,” a common format for B2B podcasting, she said.

Making Sense of Metrics

Podcasts can work similarly to other types of marketing content, expanding brand awareness, engaging prospects through education, and establishing your executives as thought leaders. By featuring satisfied customers who you have helped, podcasts can also build trust and serve the same purpose as referrals.

Tjepkema emphasizes that producing a podcast is merely the initial step in a comprehensive, multiplatform marketing campaign. Introduced in 2019, the Casted platform helps podcast producers amplify the effectiveness of podcast episodes. This includes posting episode transcriptions on your website so that content can be found by search engines, as well as sharing audio clips from the episode in social media posts.

Sales reps can send the same audio clips to prospects and customers, and a podcast episode archive becomes a one-stop content treasure trove that sales reps can point prospects to when they have questions that have been addressed in-depth in podcast episodes.

“If you produce a podcast, the next questions become how are you going to activate sales with it? How are you going to create those human connections with it in a way that actually impacts the brand and impacts the business? How are you going to use it to maximize your reach and to generate measurable impact through brand growth and revenue impact?” Tjepkema said.

In the crowded world of consumer podcasts — there are over 5 million podcasts and 70 million episodes — only one-quarter generate more than 100 downloads in the first week. Because podcasts are long-form content that require an investment of time, generating thousands or even hundreds of downloads is not the key objective, the experts agree.

A niche podcast that draws a hyper-targeted audience can be tremendously successful. Remember, podcasts can drive listeners to your website to gather more information or generate additional interaction. As the team at The Podcast  Host, a podcast consultancy, states, “Asking the question, ‘What’s a good number of downloads for a podcast?’ is similar to asking, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ ”

Casted created what it calls the B2B Podcast Maturity Curve to help business leaders better understand the stages of incorporating podcasts into the marketing mix. The five stages of the maturity curve begin with channel experimentation — creating a few starter episodes — and ends with marketing amplification — maximizing podcast content to produce measurable business value.

Editor’s note: Sales & Marketing Management produces a podcast on a (mostly) biweekly basis in which we talk with B2B sales and marketing thought leaders. The episodes are 30 minutes or less and designed to inform sales and marketing professionals on trends, innovation and strategies that will help them excel. You can find our podcast episode archive here.


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Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan is the editor of Sales & Marketing Management magazine.

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