Methods of Growing an Audience
I wanted to talk a little bit about some lenses that I use to think about audience development, and hopefully these will be useful to you as well. The first lens is preaching to the converted versus growing the pie. So ... If we look at podcast listeners in the United States of America, it looks a lot like this. All podcast marketing falls into one of these two categories. You're either preaching to the converted or you are growing the pie, and when you preach to the converted, you are trying to reach existing podcast listeners. A lot of us in this room, a lot of us online, are podcast listeners, and we tend to get inside our own heads and think that everybody is a podcast listener. That is not true. When you are preaching to the converted, you are trying to reach existing podcast listeners, and that is the blue part of this pie chart. Roughly a quarter of Americans say they listened to a podcast in the last month according to the research from the Infinite Dial study. If you are only ...
going after the 25% of Americans who say they have listened to a podcast in the last month, you are putting a ceiling on the number of people that you can reach. It's easier to market to people who already listen to podcasts. You're also vying for a spot in their podcast listening list, which is a finite resource but so you can go after the blue. What does preaching to the converted look like? You've probably heard a promo swap or two. This is just free trades. I'll promote your show on my show, vice versa. Podcast guesting, I'll be a guest on your show, you be a guest on my show. You've probably heard this kind of thing. You can buy podcast ads inside other podcasts. You've probably heard this kind of thing. You can buy advertisements inside podcast apps. Overcast is a really good example of this, where you can spend a couple hundred dollars, and your ad for your show will appear in the app that a lot of people already use to listen to podcasts. These are great things to do, but you're only ever gonna hit the 25% of people who say they already listen to shows. You're never gonna get that majority of people who have yet to hear their first podcast or are not yet regular, habitual listeners. Preaching to the converted is a good thing to do. You need to do it, it's easier. It's the lowest hanging fruit that is out there. If you only preach to the converted, you're gonna grow about as quickly as the industry is growing, which is about one or two percent a year, so if you are content for your show to grow one or two percent year over year, only preach to the converted. As you think about marketing your show, this is a lens that I want you to think about a lot. What is your preach to the converted strategy, and how is that different from your growing the pie strategy? I'm gonna show you what I think growing the pie looks like. Growing the pie means pitching your content and not the medium. (laughs) For a large mainstream audience, the people who are not yet regularly listening to podcasts, a content focused hook is going to beat a medium focused hook every day of the week. Pitch the story that you're telling. Pitch the amazing guest you booked. Pitch the scandalous thing they said. Pitch the surprising perspective or your unique take that you are going to share. Do not pitch the fact that you've got a new podcast or that you've got a new podcast episode. Pitch the content. I want to show you, I mocked this up. This is not real, but I see this kind of thing way too often. Stock photography of a pair of headphones saying hey, we've got a new podcast, right? Don't do this. This is an exaggerated example. I see it all the time. This is pitching the medium. Am I supposed to be excited about your new podcast because it's a podcast? The world is full of new podcasts. New podcasts are being created every single day. I cannot walk out of my house in the morning without being hit over the head with a new podcast. Do not pitch the medium of podcasting. Pitch your amazing content. Tell me what you have that is different than everything else out there, and I will get over the fact that it is a podcast and I'm gonna need to learn to use an app, right? Podcasts are competing for what I would argue is the scarcest resource available, which is people's time and attention. If you want to reach new audiences, you want to grow the pie, you need to give me a reason to give you some of my time and attention, and telling me hey, I have a new podcast, with some stock photography of headphones, is not doing that. (audience laughs) Growing the pie also means hitting people who do not yet listen to podcasts where they already live. Atlanta Monster is a show. It's a popular show. These are billboards on the side of the road. This is not an ad inside a podcast app. This is an ad that appears on the side of a road. Who drives on roads? Lots of people, including people who do not yet listen to podcasts. We're gonna talk a little bit more about out of home marketing strategies later, especially some lower budget options if you don't have billboard money. I think that growing the denominator also means teaching people how to listen to a podcast when that is appropriate, so this is the New York Times. They do this with The Daily. This is a screenshot from their website where if you hit the New York Times website and you land on a page for The Daily, and you do not yet know how to listen to a podcast, or you can't figure out how to do it on their website, they walk you through step by step. This kind of hand-holding is helpful and moves the industry forward for everybody. This is what the New York Times does with The Daily. You do not have to be the New York Times. This is Norene, she's in her 70s. She hosts a show, it is called Norene's Kitchencast. She launched her show a couple of months ago, and she made a little video to play on Facebook.
Here's how to subscribe to my new podcast, Norene's Kitchencast. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, look for the little preloaded purple icon called podcast. It's one click with a button, and you have a search box that comes up with a magnifying glass, and in that box you will type my name, N-O-R-E-N-E. You can put in the apostrophe or not. Norene's Kitchencast, that's one word for Kitchencast. And click search, and the little icon comes up for Norene's Kitchencast. Very simple. Click on it, and then you press subscribe. So I'm subscribed and I hope you will be too. So I hope you'll join us for food, for fun, for reviews of kitchen products, for reviews of cookbooks. I have tons of them here and all kinds of crazy gadgets, and we'll talk about anything and everything to do with cooking so I hope you'll join me soon in Norene's Kitchencast. Happy cooking.
How much did this cost?
Is this preaching to the converted?
Is this growing the pie?
This is the kind of thing you can do if you don't have billboard money. I'm gonna show you another example. This is another cooking example actually. Some friends of mine are launching a new podcast. They made postcards. This was not no money, but this was not a ton of money. What's on the back? Instructions, step by step instructions on how to listen to a podcast. They're inviting people to their launch party. I'm gonna go, and I bet a lot of people who are not necessarily self-identified podcast listeners are gonna find this useful. And people like me, this does not offend me. I've been listening to podcasts for many, many years. I'm not offended that somebody is gonna walk me through how to do it, right? I don't know who loses in this situation. So this is just a couple of examples. The broader point is when you are marketing your show, use that lens, am I preaching to the converted? Am I trying to hit existing podcast listeners or am I trying to grow the pie for everybody? And when you grow the pie for everybody, everybody wins, but those are different audiences and they require different strategies and in some cases, slightly different tactics. Another lens that I want you to think about, series-level promotion versus episode-level promotion. Think about how HBO promotes Game of Thrones. Think about how they promote the new season of Game of Thrones, hey there's a new season coming up, versus how they promote what's coming up on next week's episode, right? They do a great job of series-level promotion as they're heading into a new season launch, and they book all of their stars on the late night TV shows and there's a ton of marketing around it, but that is a very different kind of marketing than hey, here's what's coming up on Game of Thrones next week, or here's the recap of what was on last night. You should watch it on demand, right? Those are different strategies, so another lens that I really want you to think of. You gotta do both of these things and the mix of series-level versus episode-level promotion really depends on the show. In most cases, and in most of the shows that I've worked on, episodic promotion is way more effective because you can be very specific, but series-level promotion has its place. Some tools that you might use for episode-level promotion, social media, email, right? These are very episodic kinds of moments in time that you can use to drive to a show. What does series-level promotion look like? A launch party, that's a series-level promotion, podcast guesting. You're usually coming on to promote your show, not a particular episode of your show. Swag, if you make T-shirts, if you make mugs, you're probably not marketing a specific episode of your show on a mug. You're probably marketing the entire series. I've never seen somebody wear a Game of Thrones season three, episode four shirt. But I've seen people wear Game of Thrones shirts, right? So yet another lens as you're looking at your strategies, and as you're looking at your tactics.