Marketing & PR

Company branded podcasting network

Companies are always looking for good and low cost advertising, let’s face it good PR is always good for business.  As an avid podcast listener I hear ads from companies all the time, but the ads are always long and right in the middle of the show, which turns me off from the product and most of the time I just fast forward past them.  This has a negative effect for the advertiser and is a waste of money.

I suggest companies set up hosting solutions or even networks.  The average podcast costs around $15 per month to host, which is $180 per year.  By setting up a company branded network you can subsidize the cost of hosting and offer hosting for $5 per month, which is $60 per year.  That is a great selling point for podcasters, and great PR for the parent company.

Considerations

Podcasters and the listening community are skeptical of advertising and corporate owned networks.  To make sure your company doesn’t fall into this trap and end up with nothing but bad PR for this venture, here are a few tips.

  • Set a clear list of rules (human readable not lawyer speak) on the website for podcasts that are hosted on your service.  Make sure to include a clause that if you will be changing any rules you will email them to each customer (podcasters) 60 days prior to the change being made.  Changing a rule quickly before anyone has time to react is always bad for the one making the change, give time for the rule to be read and understood, more than likely by the time the rule is put into place very few will be upset.
  • Decide what you will allow, then stick to it.  Understand that podcasts are unregulated and free to go anywhere they please.  Look at Joe Rogan, he’s all over the place and very often politically incorrect, he’s also the biggest podcaster in the world.  Make sure to put your limits in the rules, but try not to be too restrictive.  If you put all kinds of restrictions on the podcasters they aren’t going to sign up with you.  Try to be as flexible as you can, there’s a reason more competitors to YouTube are popping up, they’ve become so restrictive people are afraid to say or do things for fear of having their channel shut down.  Try to be as open and flexible as you can.
  • Don’t ban discussion of your business.  I’ve always been amazed by HBO allowing John Oliver the freedom to bash HBO on their network, but they do and for that I actually respect them more.  By allowing him to bash his own network it tells me the viewer that they are not censoring him, and I can trust him more.  The end result?  I keep coming back and watching.  Obviously you can put a rule in that you will not host shows that exclusively bash your company, but if your company dumps a bunch of chemicals into a population’s drinking water, podcasters should be free to talk about it on your network.
  • Keep the ads short and only at the beginning or end of the show.  Putting your ad at the beginning or end will make the listeners happy because you aren’t interrupting their show.  By keeping them to 30 seconds you’re playing on human psychology.  Most podcast apps have 30 second fast forward and rewind buttons, by making your ad 30 seconds you are making it more time consuming for the average listener to skip the ad than to just listen to it.  By the time the listener hears the ad and starts to unlock their phone and hit the fast forward button they will be skipping past the start of the show, this makes it easier to just listen to the 30 second ad than to skip and have to rewind.  Also don’t directly sell a product, just say something like “This podcast is brought to you by the ABC Company Podcasting Network, we hope you enjoy” the best advertising is the one that people don’t think is advertising.
  • If you want your info on the cover art, keep it small.  Podcast cover art is just a square with limited room, listeners don’t want your logo plastered all over it.  Just have a small strip at the bottom with “ABC Company Podcasting Network” and leave it at that.

Over all do everything in your power to promote good will with the podcasters and the listeners.  Nothing will hurt your brand more than being seen as the bad guy.

How to not lose money

First and foremost, this should not be a money making venture, this is an advertising and PR venture.  This is spending money to make money.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to lose money on the project, it just shouldn’t be seen as a growth sector.

Most podcasting hosts make their money by hosting podcasts, your company makes money by doing what it already does and as such can settle for break-even margins with lower hosting costs.

Start a “How to start a podcast” course to bring in some more money.  I would suggest not trying this on your own though.  If I were heading up this venture I would set up an online course system on the server and then reach out to someone like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, he’s already proven himself, has a course up and running and would bring a legitimate face to your brand.  All you have to do is offer a 50/50 profit sharing with the course creator and start promoting it.  His “Power-Up Podcasting” course is $799 for lifetime access, now you sell yours for $499 and split the profit, he gets residual payouts without having to pay hosting costs and you get profits and good PR.

You can also use Amazon Affiliates to bring in some income.  Build a curated list of the best podcasting equipment for varying levels of podcasts, from entry level to advanced.  Then put in all in a how-to guide to get up and running (using your podcasting network of course) and you’ve just ingrained your brand in the mind of the podcaster who will be more loyal and more willing to not only stay with your network but more likely to speak highly of your main company.

Conclusion

If done correctly, a podcasting network and be a great advertising route for any company.  The key is not to get greedy or pushy.  If you follow the basic guidelines I’ve laid out above and stick to them you can have at a minimum a break-even advertising platform that can show results.

If all else fails, reach out to podcasters and listeners to find out what they would want.  Start with my basic guidelines and then bring in experts in the field and give them a lot of freedom, nothing good can come from micromanaging creative people, they will speak out and it will look bad for you.  Just set a guideline and set them free, you can adjust as needed, but always try your best to respect their freedom.  Some of the best innovations came from people who weren’t restricted in their ideas, always keep that in mind.

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