10 Business Benefits of Podcasts for B2B Brands

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

Half a Billion Listeners and Growing

Did you know that over 50 percent of households in the U.S. are fans of podcasts?

It’s not just the US anymore though. 500 million people listen to podcasts every week globally.

Data from our Podcast Maps Report shows just how prevalent podcasting has become.

But, what was considered to be the prerogative of Western audiences has now widely transformed into a global phenomenon. The next frontier opportunity for growth is Asia…

(For more data, see our latest Podcast Statistics page.)

Asia represents a significant opportunity because it lacks the legacy communications frameworks developed over generations in Western Economies. This pattern of “leapfrogging” incumbent industries and practises, and going straight to digital is currently playing out in Asia with fintech (WeChat) and social media (e.g Tik Tok). Where countries lacked existing infrastructure, they started with a blank slate and built their own, customer first.

Similarly, we’ll see the limitations that made Asia a slow starter in podcasting convert into longer term advantages. Companies in Asia are freer to try new communications strategies and their audiences have different expectations of how companies connect.

Today, there’s a podcast for just about everything and what started as a B2C phenomenon in the media space, is fast becoming a B2B one in the business space.

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

What are B2B Podcasts?

Before we start, let’s define B2B Podcasts (as opposed to B2C).

Define: B2B Podcasts

B2B Podcasts: podcasts designed specifically to appeal to business partners, clients, employees, potential employees and regulators. B2B Podcasts have fundamentally different measures of success and therefore Podcast Metrics to B2C Podcasts

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Business podcasts can be both B2C and B2B: Tim Ferriss – B2C, Future of Asia – B2B.

2 Models of Business Podcast B2C & B2B

There are 2 common models for business podcasts – B2C Podcasts and B2B Podcasts. Each has its own unique take on style, delivery and metrics. b2c vs b2b podcasts

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For this article we focus on what we know best as a B2B Podcast Agency – B2B Podcasts. This isn’t creating podcasts about B2B Sales or B2B Marketing, as most misunderstand B2B Podcasts. B2B Podcasts are using Podcasts to help a Business communicate with other Businesses. This can mean communicating with partners, clients, employees, potential recruits, industries and industry regulators. These are all B2B.

The key B2C vs B2B Podcast differentiator is the business objective:

In B2C Podcasts, the goal is to create advertising real estate to sell to an advertiser. Take Tim Ferriss’ podcast as an example, full of ads.

In B2B Podcasts, *you* are the advertiser. You have already paid to invest in a podcast series. Now your Podcast Metric is less about the size of your audience, but its potential value. If you use good Podcast Analytics tools like our Pikkal Analytics platform you can measure the ROI on your project.

The following 10 key benefits B2B comms leaders should think about for their podcast series. If you’re interested in learning more about the steps to achieve B2B Podcast Success, get a copy of our Podcast Guide.

For now, here are 10 pointers to consider.

1. Podcasts are Authentic B2B Marketing

In the age of the Machine, be more Human!

In my Podcast career, having recorded 600 and produced over 1000 episodes (with 500 on just one podcast series alone – Asia Tech Podcast), I’m constantly reminded of this fact. It’s a lot harder but far more valuable being authentic than it is being perfect.

As a comms leader, you know that authenticity matters in your communication. Podcasting is a great tool that helps you to show people a different, more human side of your brand.

Looking at the Top 10 Business Podcasts globally you’ll see that these are brands that don’t traditionally struggle for Awareness. Gary Vaynerchuck, Tim Ferriss, HBR, TED etc are all household brands. So, why then should they invest in Podcasts? Because Podcasts are channels which they own, that allows them to tell their story in their own words, rather than manipulated or at the subject of other people’s editorial agendas.

For those who are looking to be more “real’ and vulnerable in their marketing strategy, podcasting is a valuable channel that scales with the intimacy of a coffee conversation.

And podcasts engage. Looking at the data, we can see that audiences connect with authenticity.

Industrial Age communication provided Scale but lacked Authenticity. Big Ideas ads used celebrities and mascots. When soap powders featured “housewives” they too were inevitably actors. If you sold for your company, you knew a single coffee meeting with a client could bring you enough business for that month, but it wasn’t scalable.

Traditional communications has always been a trade off between Scale and Authenticity. You had to choose one.

Define: Conversations at Scale

Conversations at Scale: business conversations that have the authenticity and intimacy of a coffee meeting but can scale like traditional mass communications. conversations at scale

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The challenge for the modern organization today is they need Scale *and* Authenticity. People hate fake, so ads don’t work like they used to, and how do you have a coffee meeting with all your ecosystem partners?

The answer lies working a scalable, authentic format like podcasts. Rather than use this format to sell, use it to capture coffee conversations with your ecosystem partners. Showcase stories of people doing it right.

Take a look at that word “AUTHENTIC” for a minute, it comes from the Ancient Greek “Autentikos” meaning original. The root “AU” is the same root for “AUDIO”, “AUTHORITY” and “AUDIENCE”. There is no literal translation into modern English, the closest we have is “to feel” or “to perceive”.

Define: Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership – the word “Authenticity” stems from the Greek root “au” which has no direct translation but means “to feel” or “to perceive”. “AU” is the same etymological base for “Audio”, “Audience” and “Authority”. It’s no coincidence that in the Era of the Machine, audiences increasingly want authentic, human audio conversations, raw and unpolished.

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Data: Authentic Leadership

data authentic leadership

Consider CEO Linkedin Reid Hoffman’s podcast “Masters of Scale”. For Hoffman, he has all the reach he needs on Linkedin with 100s of millions of users, so why start a podcast?

Audio is the most powerful medium to influence. Audio is the root of authority and authenticity. Audio is much harder than video, and that’s why you should do it. Audio plays to your advantage of possessing 10-20 years industry experience. Any 13 year old kid can create a video.

For Hoffman, while the podcast isn’t an official Linkedin marketing channel, its impact is significant. By humanizing the Linkedin brand with a known and familiar voice, Masters of Scale increases reach and depth. Beyond the obvious application in business development, these podcast conversations are highly effective recruitment tools.

Podcasts create coffee Conversations at Scale.

Horizontal: Leaders create Conversations at Scale. Leaders start podcasts that turn community and conversations into evergreen scalable content.

Vertical: Leaders create Leadership at all levels of the organisation. Leadership is not a job title, it’s anyone who stands up and Earns our Attention.

Jessi Hempel, for example, hosts the Hello Monday podcast by Linkedin. The CEO Reid Hoffman has a separate podcast. These aren’t “Linkedin” podcasts per se, but a communications channel for the authentic 99% within Linkedin. Hoffman isn’t part of Hempel’s podcast, but it’s clear he gave Jessi the green light to make it happen.

Leaders need to unlock the human potential of their organisations by turning Gatekeepers into Enablers. Give your people a voice.

To be an authentic brand, you need authentic people, not authentic marketing.

But aren’t there too many podcasts right now?

In 1998 there were a recorded 2,410,067 websites. By 2018 there were 1.6 billion, a 700x increase. If you measure the number of users per website, the numbers have gone up from an average 2.5 users per website to 78 today. The podcast market is far from saturated.

Define: Human Communication Interface

In the early days of the Internet, businesses learned they could communicate more effectively and efficiently with their audience. Rather than call a switchboard to get the store opening hours or map, you could look it up online. You could also later on order online. That gave Amazon and Ebay – companies that understood communication wasn’t limited to the physical proximity of your customers – massive scale.

And podcasts are fulfilling this role now for the people within those businesses. Podcasts are to business leaders what websites are to businesses – a more effective human communication interface.

2. Podcasts Create Human Connection

Podcasts are Conversations not Interviews.

Podcasts are Conversations not Interviews

Modern audiences want authentic conversations, raw and unpolished. Efficient, rehearsed interviews fail to engage an audience that increasingly places a premium on trust, vulnerability and connection.podcasts are conversations not interviews

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Have you ever listened to a podcast that made you feel like you were sitting at the table with the speakers? If so, you know that they make it easy to feel as though you have a connection if done right. After all, when you have your favorite podcaster’s voice in your ears every week (or even multiple times per week), you start to feel like you know them.

People follow People not Brands.

People don’t connect with Brands.

Especially in the post-Pandemic world, after spending almost a year staying home and social distancing, people are hungry for genuine human connection. Podcasting can help you meet your audience where they are and establish relationships with them.

The new normal on the other side of Covid-19 is going to be different. Perhaps we won’t be enjoying a handshake or a beer in a crowded bar together for a long time, but we will still need ways to connect and create trust through vulnerability and authenticity.

Like Podcasts. Because a podcast is a connection, not an interview. A podcast is a way of showing you are not perfect, you have broken down the walls, you can be trusted.

Relationships and meaning are based on audio communication. If you want to build a relationship with someone in your network, talk. Create that conversation with them for a Podcast.

Looking for Podcast Case Study Examples?

10 business podcast case studies

3. Create Podcasts Conversations that Matter

When you launch a B2B podcast, you create new opportunities to have conversations that matter. You get a chance to talk to other B2B professionals and share their experiences.

Create conversations that matter with people who care.

McKinsey Asia won an award for its Future of Asia Podcast, specifically for the episode “Parity in a Pandemic: an Asia Perspective” featuring Lareina Yee, Chief diversity and inclusion officer for McKinsey and Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director, UN Women. This episode was hosted by Chairman of McKinsey Asia, Oliver Tonby.

Example Award Winning B2B Podcast

McKinsey Asia won a Platinum Marcomms Award, the first ever awarded for a single podcast episode. The winning Episode featured an interview between Asia Chairman Oliver Tonby and the United Nations. More in depth analysis in Case Study: Award Winning Podcast. Podcast Soundbites below:

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With your podcast conversations, you can also inspire a new generation of B2B leaders. You never know who might be listening to your show, but you can rest assured that the conversations you have will have a powerful impact.

4. Invite your Clients and Partners as Guests

Podcasts are a Platform to curate conversations.

Think of traditional comms as a Pipeline, designed to tightly control the flow of information and protect reputations.

In the Platform Era, you need a channel that allows you to communicate at scale but within the guard rails and guidelines of the organization. This is where your network of guests comes in…

“Who will I interview if I launch a podcast?” This is a common issue that project managers run into when they first start thinking about creating a show.

With B2B podcasts you already have a built-in network of potential guests who have knowledge and experience to share. You don’t need to chase “influencers”. Your most authentic influencers are your own people.

For example, you can invite your clients on to talk about their journeys experience building a brand. You can also bring on your business partners and members of your team to shed more light of the thinking and lessons learned from within your own organization.

By creating a conversation with partners, clients and prospects, you consolidate that relationship. A podcast is a conversation that stands the test of time. Think about that, you can create conversations around the world that will continue to build audiences and connections… forever. Podcasts are Communication Assets that continue to yield dividends over the long term.

5. Build Brand Authority

The Award Winning Future of Asia Podcast establishes McKinsey as a leader across a number of vectors:

  1. McKinsey introduces its Future of Asia report series & thought architecture
  2. McKinsey showcases its network and connections
  3. McKinsey speaks to the major concerns and big issues facing its partner community and clients

The Future of Asia podcast strengthens their Brand Authority.

But what is Brand Authority and why does the world’s most prestigious management consultancy need it when everyone knows who they are?

Define: Brand Authority

Brand Authority – According to Forbes Communication Council, Brand Authority is…”a company’s perceived expertise within an industry or topic.”

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If you need a Data Analytics Consultant, you’d probably find them through a series of online enquiries. In a world where attention is limited in supply, the demand for the most authoritative voice far outweighs the others. Very few people, for example, venture into page 2 of Google Search results.

Which means that getting to number 1 in your category is the most important communications goal for any organization in the 2020s.

If you’re looking for new ways to build brand authority and maintaining your brand reputation in an ever changing communications landscape, a podcast is a great option.

Simply having a podcast, even if brand new with a few episodes, can enhance brand trust with existing partners.

Podcasting also allows you to provide value and show your audience that you know what you’re talking about and you speak to their main concerns. Podcasts don’t sell widgets, rather, they help showcase both your internal thought architecture and your understanding of the big challenges of the day.

The A16Z Podcast by Andreessen Horowitz covers a wide range of issues tangentially related to startups and investment. Example subjects include the biology of pain featuring conversations with leading neuroscientists. Andreessen Horowitz wants to lead in the startup ecosystem by demonstrating its point of difference – being a Founder-led (as opposed to professional VC) fund.

a16z podminer rankings

Andreessen Horowitz is primarily a Silicon Valley based VC fund that relies heavily on local relationships and networks. Yet, looking at their podcast distribution using these figures from our Podcast Analytics platform Podminer, you can see that their appeal is global.

Podminer: Business Podcast Rankings Tracker

podminer podcast rankings

Imagine you could clone the most talented people in your organisation. It’s not scientifically possible (yet) but it would solve a lot of problems like overstretched calendars and repetitive conversations. The nearest we have is podcasts. Capture those high value conversations and turn them into content.

The most important assets in your business are your Leaders.

For the vast majority of customers, partners and employees, Leaders are the Brand.

How customers Experience the Brand is through their interactions and conversations with Leaders.

The problem with Leaders is that they can only be in one place at one time, and you only have a handful of them. That means a lot of value is tied up in the relationships and interactions of a few highly talented individuals.

Leaders don’t scale but the Conversations of Leadership do.

How do you take those conversations and stories and make them accessible to a wider audience? McKinsey leadership are great storytellers, but often these stories are limited to the McKinsey network. The Future of Asia Podcast can help create connections across industries, partners and clients.

Identify core partners who can amplify your brand story:

* Your top organisational talent who maintain key client relationships
* Authors and industry opinion leaders who are aligned with your meta messages
* Regulatory and infrastructure partners who can influence your business outcome

Conversations are your Underutilized Fixed Assets. Like Airbnb. Airbnb didn’t create new accommodation, it allowed home owners to unlock their UFAs. These already existed, Airbnb simply gave them an interface. Imagine what you could achieve if you unlocked these assets with the right interface.

You need to unlock the high value conversations that take place behind closed doors, on repeat or between small groups of people. Turn those conversations into evergreen content. Podcasts maintain brand reputation and demonstrate to your audience that you take your the meta issues that matter most (and their business growth) seriously.

McKinsey Asia engaged Pikkal & Co to help build Brand Authority and Scalable Conversations around their Future of Asia research series. This thought leadership podcast series is built around anchor host Oliver Tonby, Chairman of McKinsey Asia. We recorded the podcast in-person and virtually across multiple time zones in Asia.

For McKinsey, the challenge is keeping their communications relevant in an increasingly noisy media marketplace. How does McKinsey ensure that their Future of Asia research series reach an audience worthy of the investment of time and expertise that goes into the series creation? In the pre-Pandemic world, much of brand reputation work happened behind the scenes at breakfasts, events, briefings etc, but today, all organizations need to consider how to extend their communication in the digital world.

6. Keep the Conversations Going When There Are No Offline Events

Many B2B brands rely on offline events (conferences, trade shows, etc.) to showcase their products or services and network with potential clients. Podcasting allows you to keep the conversations going even when offline events aren’t happening.

When you have a podcast, you allow people to tune in and hear what you have to say every week (or perhaps more frequently, depending on how often you want to publish new episodes). This ensures that they’ll remember you and will think about checking out your business when they need products or services like yours.

7. Influence Your Prospects

Our Conversation Pyramid shows the interplay of Podcasts and Webinars – they are complementary communication channels for corporates:

Podcast Strategy: Acquire or Influence?

Key to Communications Strategy success in planning a B2B Podcast Series is understanding whether your podcast goal is to Acquire or Influence your audience. Acquisition means creating new business development conversations. Influence means moving existing ones along the funnel. podcasts acquire influence

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Podcasts are effective tools to Influence whereas Webinars Acquire conversations. Influence becomes more important the more conceptual or higher value the ticket items you’re selling are. With traditional communications, the premise is based on a less competitive communications landscape – i.e. if your client is “in the funnel” for a long period of time, chances are they’ll stay there.

But times have changed. The half-life of all communications is getting shorter each year. You have fewer options than ever to communicate. If you want to make a difference, you need stories that will engage us beyond the headline. You need to go deeper, you need a format that makes a difference and keeps the conversation going even when competitors are talking to your clients. Podcasts are the only platform that takes the listener deeper.

Podcasts create a new way for you to influence your prospects and show them what your brand is all about.

You can use podcast episodes to talk about you, your experienced. You can also use them to provide a more in-depth look at the way your organization works and what you have to offer potential clients.

The more opportunities people have to learn about you and your business, the more likely they’ll be to become customers one day.

8. Teaching Sells

Many B2B show hosts use their show as a teaching platform. They might publish episodes that talk about different obstacles they’ve overcome, for example, or they might talk about steps they take to keep their business running smoothly.

Dell sells PCs, but it doesn’t use its podcast for this purpose. Dell’s Luminaries podcast showcases their internal Leaders and their thought leadership in Digital Transformation. Luminaries is one of a number of podcasts Dell uses for both internal and external communication. For example, “The Next Horizon” is a Brand Authority building podcast for Dell that aims to strengthen its services ecosystem and also attract key talent to their company.

The Global Medical Device podcast by Greenlight Guru is a collection of all things medical device related: from news updates on the latest FDA regulations, to practical tips on quality management software, to mega issues like challenges with Medtech innovation, and even talent acquisition advice. As a modern quality management software platform built exclusively for the medical device industry, Greenlight Guru aims to be the go-to destination for all information relevant to this ecosystem. The podcast allows them to better service their partners and help acquire even more partners, as well as educate the customers of their cloud-based solutions in a relatively traditional market.

9. Lead Your Category

Are your competitors podcasting? If they aren’t, launching a podcast is a great way for you to gain an advantage and separate yourself from other brands in your industry.

The Agtech – So What? podcast tells the stories of innovators at the intersection of agriculture and technology to answer the question: what really is agtech and why should you care? This interview style podcast covers a range of topics from responding to climate risk (Ep. 42) to facial recognition for cows (Ep. 54). AgThentic, the company behind the podcast, publishes reports, blogposts and hosts a global database of resources for agtech startups.

Exchanges at Goldman Sachs podcast is one of their longest-running content series, entering its 6 year. The podcast creates discussion around Goldman Sachs Insights which aims to position them as a thought leader. The podcast was nominated and chosen as a finalist for the Branded Podcast segment of the 11th Annual Shorty Awards held in 2019.

If you create a podcast and publish new episodes regularly, you’ll have lots of opportunities to get your name out there, increase awareness, and convince people to work with you instead of one of your competitors.

Define: Podcast Metrics

Podcast Metrics – key measures of podcast success. While the most obvious metric is Audience, this is not the most important for B2B Podcasts. For B2B Podcasts, Category Ranking and Keyword SEO define thought leadership and, therefore, are more conducive to developing highly aligned, quality audiences.

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10. Podcast Audiences Are Young and Influential

Finally, data from our Global Podcast Report shows podcast audiences are generally quite young. One study found that 49 percent of people aged 12-34 had listened to a podcast in the past month, as did 40 percent of those aged 35-54.

If you’re looking to target a younger, more influential audience, podcasting is a great tool to include in your marketing arsenal.

The Time for B2B Podcasts Is Now

Are you convinced to give podcasting a try now? B2B podcasts are amazing for connecting with your audience, building credibility, and establishing yourself as a leader within your industry.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to grab a microphone and start planning your first podcast episode! If you want help I recommend our Podcast Guides. Or if you’re keen to get the ball rolling, contact us to discuss how we can help turn your idea into an award winning Podcast.

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

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About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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