Podcasts: Modernizing Marketing Insights



Since I was commuting to my first job listening to Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story and my discovery of NPR, I’ve been an audio story junkie. I paid for the This American Life app in it's initial iteration just so I could listen to as many episodes as possible. I load up my phone with episodes before a road trip and my kids now know when I’m doing the laundry I can’t hear them because I’m plugged in. 

For the past year and a half I’ve been co-host and producer of a podcast on knitting with Staci Perry, host of one of the most popular knitting YouTube channels. We started with simple Q&A, but my curiosity got the best of me, so I began including interviews with professionals often outside the fiber arts industry who could somehow connect their expertise with knitting. It’s been a fun experience to see all the ways knitting touches the world and our show continues to gain followers and paid sponsorships. 

Recently, I was challenged by a colleague to find a way to combine my podcast experience with my marketing research career. It was the push I needed to add some new energy into my work.

When I thought about it, I focused on the idea that a good marketing research report is a story. It can be a journalistic-style report or an emotionally driven profile piece. We rely on people to share stories of their personal experiences in interviews, in online communities, and video. Why can't we deliver these in audio stories? 

As I dug into the idea further, the benefits of podcasts for marketing insights became clear:

  • Audio stories are engaging. They trigger the imagination with sound effects. They deliver emotion with a change in tone of voice, a well-placed sigh or silence.
  • Audio stories are memorable. If you know any regular podcast listener, think about how many times they say, “I heard on this podcast...” (Guilty.) 
  • Audio stories remove the visual bias. Maybe a customer doesn’t look like what your client expects the customer to look like and they become distracted by that. With audio, they can focus on what is said and the story being told instead of the subject's sense of fashion (or lack of).
  • Audio is easier for participants to feel relaxed to share the sometimes intimate moments we marketers are seeking. When there is no need to look presentable for video or to look at an interviewer, sharing is easier. 
  • Audio is portable. Reach your client on their commute, on a relaxed walk, away from the office and away from distractions. 

Podcasts for insights don't have to be limited to reporting.

  • Imagine your creative team starting each week with the actual voice of a consumer in their ears.
  • Engage your clients throughout a long-term diary study with audio clips instead of a written topline or email update.
  • Explore a theme to through several different stories and points of view on a topic... like an episode of This American Life.

I have as many ways to use audio insights as I have favorite podcasts (that’s a lot). What opportunities can you see?