May 18, 2022
More content, connections and creative control – a branded podcast can deliver all three of these things, plus the ability to showcase yourself as a brand leader. Whether your podcast is short or long, entertaining or informative, it’s all about the content that will resonate most with your audience. Make your podcast specific, make your podcast valuable and, with these tips from Podcast Professor and Learning/Development Expert Heidi Kirby, make your podcast now.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:00] This is The 19, a podcast that delivers marketing insights from Orange Label in 19 minutes or less. This year, the agency is celebrating 50 years of working with established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset. What does this mean for you? It means enriched stories and conversations with marketing and leadership experts aimed at improving lives.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:29] Hello and welcome to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition! I’m Rochelle Reiter, President of Orange Label. In the five years that we’ve hosted The 19, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with experts on a variety of topics, from company culture to brand photography and how to deliver the best experiences for your brand. The one thing I love about podcasts is that they can teach you something new very clearly. I’m not the only one who loves podcasts. Statista estimates that listenership will reach 160 million in the US in 2023. Our Social media Specialist, Samantha, is studying to get her Masters in Mass Communication and social media marketing, and she connected us with a professor who shares the team’s affinity for podcasts and has a deep understanding of the opportunities that they hold for brands. Without further ado, here’s Learning and development professional and University of Florida professor Heidi Kirby. Heidi, welcome to The 19. We’re so excited to have you here today!
Heidi Kirby: [00:01:25] Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:01:32] So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience with podcasting?
Heidi Kirby: [00:01:37] Yeah, so podcasting comes to me by way of my working experience. And so I started my career as a college professor and eventually, after several years, moved into still learning and still education, but in the corporate space, right? So corporate training. And while I was making that career shift, I was listening to a lot of industry podcasts. But then as somebody who is creating learning experiences for people at organizations, I quickly recognized it as a method to help my learners and another way to deliver information. And so I think it was at three different organizations where I pitched with varying levels of seriousness, a podcast at those different organizations. But it was for a small pre-seed startup that was building a mobile learning management system that I finally had my, my podcast, my podcast baby was born. And so we were trying to build and promote this mobile learning management system. And I said, Well, we need to hit the people in the industry who are going to buy this. Let’s do a podcast and then just have the product be an ad spot. But in the podcast, just talk about learning and development so that people know that we know what we’re talking about. So that’s how my podcast was born, and I ended up not continuing my contract with that startup, but I ended up keeping the podcast. And so it’s now become like a personal thing and it’s still going. And recently one of my colleagues in the field, TA, is an instructional designer for University of Florida, said, Hey, will you teach podcasting at University of Florida? And my first reaction was to me, yeah. And then I thought about it and I was like, Well, I do have a podcast and I have taught college before and I do have a grad degree. So yeah, I guess so. And so that’s how I ended up then also teaching podcasting.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:03:41] So podcasting has opened up plenty of doors for you?
Heidi Kirby: [00:03:44] Absolutely. It’s really allowed me to create a personal brand. I have my day job in customer education, but I also do like learning culture and learning strategy consulting on the side. I’ve done coaching for new instructional designers in the field on the side, and so it really has helped me not only build my network to a global level, but also to keep up with trends in the field, right? Like I get my professional development from recording episodes with different experts in the field. So yeah, absolutely.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:04:19] What have you seen are the benefits for brands that start a podcast?
Heidi Kirby: [00:04:23] With so many different ways to consume information out there? You think of just all the different methods through which you can communicate with your audience. And there’s just so many, you know, email newsletters, social media, like all of the different kinds of social media, right? Conferences, webinars, video, YouTube channels, all these different methods to connect with your audience. Podcasting is just one more channel for content creation that is lower, lower production time than, say, videos or YouTube or something like that, but also like more engaging than emails or some of the other other webinars. Right. And so it’s a relatively low effort, high impact way to get your content out there.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:05:14] What would you say are some amazing best practice podcasts that come to mind as great examples for our listeners?
Heidi Kirby: [00:05:22] I want to talk about three different brands. Some you’ve probably heard of, one you may not have, but Duolingo is just killing it in branding across all media. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Duolingo TikTok, but it is a sight to behold.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:05:40] Oh, I must check it out right after this!
Heidi Kirby: [00:05:43] Yeah, it’s something else. Like, I don’t even have the Duolingo app on my phone. Duolingo is a language learning app, but there are podcasts. They have four separate podcasts. They have Spanish for English speakers, French for English speakers, English for Spanish speakers and English for for Portuguese speakers. And each one of those podcasts is done both in the native language and then also with pieces parts in the language that you’re trying to learn. And so it really creates kind of an immersive experience where there’s enough like narration in your native language sprinkled in, where if you don’t understand everything in the language that you’re trying to learn, you still get the overall picture. But it’s also scripted in such a way that it’s like beginner language. So it’s something that you should easily be able to follow along with. So it takes like that idea of language learning and what we know about language learning, which is the more immersive the experience, the better. And the more you retain the information, it just puts you right into that. So that’s a really great one. And then Zendium is the name of a toothpaste slash mouthwash supplier in the UK.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:07:01] Okay.
Heidi Kirby: [00:07:01] But what they’ve done is they’ve started two minute podcasts on health and wellbeing and so there’s like little meditations or little stretches you can do that are specifically designed to be listened to while you brush your teeth.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:07:18] Brilliant!
Heidi Kirby: [00:07:19] Yes!
Rochelle Reiter: [00:07:20] That’s brilliant!
Heidi Kirby: [00:07:21] Yes and then they’ve also now started a kids version as well. So like just on kid friendly topics, telling stories that again, 2 minutes long, just intended to be listened to while you brush your teeth. And if you’re like me, I have a Google home in my bathroom specifically to listen to podcasts or music or whatever while I’m getting ready. So yeah, definitely that’s another one that even though the brand is not as popular. So clever, right?
Rochelle Reiter: [00:07:50] A branded experience for sure.
Heidi Kirby: [00:07:52] Absolutely. Yeah. And so for then, probably the most well known brand, Trader Joe’s, we recently got a Trader Joe’s in my area. And so their their podcast has become somewhat relevant to me personally because it just goes through and talks about all the new products that they have in their store. And it’s hosted by two people that actually work for Trader Joe’s and they tell you about how they choose the products that they sell in stores. They have like live tastings on the podcast of different products, and it’s just a really cool take on the grocery advertising, right? Because if you think about it, when’s the last time that you looked at like a weekly grocery circular?
Rochelle Reiter: [00:08:43] Right, right. What is it about these branded podcasts that sets them apart?
Heidi Kirby: [00:08:49] I think there’s two main things. I think that they really understand the podcasting medium, right? Like they really understand how they can customize a podcast for their specific brand and audience. And then the other thing is that audience piece, right? They are speaking directly to their audience and they really know who the audience is. And I think that having both of those things in place is really why they’re crushing it.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:09:15] Yeah, I agree. We see this question come up a lot. How can a brand determine and measure the success of their podcast in a meaningful way?
Heidi Kirby: [00:09:24] So it can be a little bit difficult, right? Because there’s not the same level of tracking for podcasts, but there are some quantitative things that you can measure depending on your hosting platform and what kind of statistics they provide. So you can look at traffic, where your downloads are coming from, which devices your downloads are coming from, how many downloads you’re getting per episode, how many people are subscribing to the podcast. So different things like that. And then my hosting platform provides me those statistics that then I can break down further by time period episode, I can kind of just splice the info as I need it. And that’s actually helped me to make some tweaks in the way that I produce content, right? So for instance, I was noticing that my episodes that were longer than 30 minutes, we’re getting a lot less downloads than anything, 30 minutes or less. So I was able to just make that small tweak of wrapping up conversations that like the 25 minute mark. And so that’s one way. And then also if you have an engagement survey for your product or service, like how did you hear about us? You can go ahead and follow your leads from the podcast that way. But there’s also a lot of qualitative ways that you can measure the success of your podcast to right? So if you’re releasing to platforms where people can provide reviews, you can ask people to give you reviews, and then you can take kind of that qualitative feedback and use that to make some changes. But also, are there industry leaders who are listening to providing reviews for subscribing to or even offering to be a guest on your podcast? That’s another indication that you’re doing a good job, right? For me, a big milestone was when I was able to stop asking all of my friends to come on my podcast. And when people started approaching me who I’d never met and said, Hey, I’d love to be on your podcast.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:11:30] Right. That’s always a good feeling.
Heidi Kirby: [00:11:32] Yeah, absolutely.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:11:34] Are there benefits for brands to start their own podcast versus just appearing in another podcast on an ad or a commercial? What are your thoughts on that?
Heidi Kirby: [00:11:42] I think the number one benefit is creative control. Right. And, you know, if you’re running an ad spot on someone else’s podcast, like, yeah, there are probably some parameters that you can set up. Like, okay, what’s the podcast about? What are you going to be talking about? But you can’t truly control the message of the podcast where your ad appears, or even necessarily that episode on which your ad appears. You also can’t control the longevity of the content, right? So you might have agreed to guaranteed 30 days, but will the podcast go away after that? Will it stop being hosted? Is it something that just kind of floats off into the ether and nobody hears it anymore? Right. So it really allows you to take that control and control the message and control the branding and the guests and how long the content exists. So I think that that’s the biggest piece is that control over the content and creative control.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:12:47] Right, that’s so important. In your course, you talk about brand archetypes as a means of inspiring your students when they create their podcasts. Can you share a little bit more about this?
Heidi Kirby: [00:12:58] Yeah. So the idea of connecting brand archetypes to podcasts, I can’t take credit for. My fellow podcaster friend Leslie Early introduced the idea to me, but a ton of people have been using brand archetypes for all kinds of marketing for a long time, but they’re based on if you’re familiar with psychology, the 12 Jungian Archetypes. It’s this idea that people fit somewhere within these 12 archetypes, and that’s who they are. And the idea in connecting them to a podcast is that by personifying your podcast, you’re making it more connectable, if you will, and you’re making it so that it’s easier to connect with. But it also, for me personally helps me to focus both my content and the guest who I have on my podcast.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:13:49] Sure.
Heidi Kirby: [00:13:50] To give you an example, some of the different archetypes are like the creator, the sage, the outlaw, the lover, the everyman, the caregiver. Just different archetypes like that. And my my learning and development podcast is very much the sage podcast. It’s very much the expert educational, you know, trying to teach people. But then there are podcasts like the Trader Joe’s podcast I mentioned that’s about that’s the everyman. It’s meant to build a connection, it’s meant to show just empathy. And we’re just like everyone else, right? And then there are things that are like the outlaw who’s like, we don’t care what people say, we’re risk takers, we’re disruptors, we’re revolutionary. And and so depending on the archetype that you choose, you can kind of guide the theme, the brand, the conversation of your podcast.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:14:45] That’s great. What a helpful tool to get started. What are some tips that you have for brands that are just beginning on that journey of creating a podcast?
Heidi Kirby: [00:14:54] The first one is to have a plan, to have an objective, to be clear on what it is exactly that you’re you’re trying to accomplish and to know your audience, to have the audience in mind when you go ahead and start creating, because everything is going to depend on who your audience is, but also realize that you can do a podcast on any budget. So it’s one of those things like buying a car or buying clothing where you can really spend as little or as much money as you want to or as you have. And so with the right recording equipment, the right hosting platform, you can really get started in no time as long as you have that plan. One of the things that is a very specific tip that I have when you first launch your podcast, you shouldn’t launch just one episode, but you should launch two or three episodes so that with the feeds and the platforms where your podcast is going out, you’re going to have like a spike in listenership because you’re going to have more than one episode for people to consume. And it’ll give you like this nice spike of activity right at the start of your podcast. And supposedly, depending on your topic, it can help you get on those top podcast lists on some of like the Apple and Google platforms.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:16:21] Right.
Heidi Kirby: [00:16:22] Just because you’re releasing more than one episode at once.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:16:26] Mm hmm. What are some mistakes that you’ve seen?
Heidi Kirby: [00:16:29] Not having a common theme. So back to the branding conversation. Right? Not having a specific theme in mind. So I’ve seen it work, but it’s only worked for like celebrity podcasts.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:16:45] If you already have… yeah.
Heidi Kirby: [00:16:47] Yeah, yeah. Like, your brand is you, so you can go talk about whatever you want. But if that’s not the case, you definitely need to have some sort of common thread because again, it’s, it’s knowing your audience and knowing what they want to listen to. And if you’re all over the place and if you’re jumping around from episode to episode and just letting people talk about whatever. I’ve listened to podcasts where they go off-topic and they go off topic for a long time and it’s awkward and it’s like, What does this have to do with the reason I’m listening to this podcast, right? And then also just poor quality. Audio quality is pretty easy to do in a decent way. Nowadays we just have a lot more technology, especially post-COVID, than we used to. So the other thing is like bad volume, right? Like the music of your podcast is super loud and then you can barely hear the people talking or what I consider like the cardinal sin of podcasting, which is using your laptop’s microphone so quality. And then just like all over the place are, are the two biggest areas where I’ve seen podcasts kind of fail.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:17:59] Is there any other advice that you’d like to leave our audience with about podcasting in their podcasting journey?
Heidi Kirby: [00:18:06] Just do it!
Rochelle Reiter: [00:18:08] I love it.
Heidi Kirby: [00:18:09] That’s the biggest thing is people tell me all the time, Oh, I’ve always wanted to start a podcast, or I’ve always thought about starting a podcast and I’m like, Just do it. Just go ahead and do it. And that’s kind of what I did. I was just like, All right, well, I got the okay to do this, so I better figure it out. And it took me maybe a week’s worth of planning before I started recording and I’ve just it’s been almost two years now and I’ve just kept doing it and it’s it really is that easy.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:18:39] That’s encouragement for all of our listeners.
Heidi Kirby: [00:18:41] Yeah, absolutely!
Rochelle Reiter: [00:18:43] Thank you so much for joining us today. Great insight on podcasting and I’m hoping that we inspired some of our listeners to start their own.
Heidi Kirby: [00:18:51] Thanks. Me too. I hope so.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:18:57] Thank you for listening to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with learning and development expert Heidi Kirby. To learn more about Heidi’s podcast and services, visit HeidiKirby.com. If you have additional thoughts on the topics we discussed today, send us an email. You can send questions, comments and more to email@example.com. A special thank you goes out to our contributors Studio Manager Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, and Ashley Ruiz, Senior Content Writer. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify and if you like what you heard today, leave us a review!