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  • Writer's pictureBrady Hummel

Build the Connection: Why Coronavirus is an Opportunity to Start a Podcast

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Uncertainty is like kryptonite: it can cause anxiety about what the best next steps are and wreak havoc on a brand’s ability to set and execute a strategy.

The coronavirus has introduced an enormous amount of uncertainty for brands and consumers. It’s forcing us to drastically change our daily routines, to stay home and not go out. The global economy is experiencing extreme volatility in its wake. This is a monumental moment, and it will have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on our lives and how we interact with each other.

And brands of all sizes across all industries are having to adjust and recalculate both in response to the short-term changes and in anticipation of the long-term shifts that will take shape after the quarantine is lifted.

What we’ve learned from previous recessions and moments of uncertainty is that marketing isn’t optional. There’s an old adage: “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.” Many marketing budgets are the first to be trimmed or cut substantially in the face of the uncertainty we face today. But that’s a mistake. Rather than cutting budgets, the coronavirus provides brands an opportunity to pivot the way they communicate and connect with their target audience.

As most of us shelter-in-place for the foreseeable future, we’ll lean more on digital and on-demand content in order to stay up-to-date and connected in the absence of in-person gatherings and events. We’ll have more time to binge watch Netflix shows, read the books stacked up on our bookshelves and nightstands, and we’ll turn more towards podcasts to be entertained, inspired, educated, and informed. Over time, even after the quarantine lifts, we’ll see podcasts become one of the universal staples in our day-to-day lives across demographics and audience segments.

That’s why now is the perfect opportunity to start producing and publishing a podcast.

Stabilize the Brand

“It’s more important than ever,” John Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “to remember that loyal customers are the primary, enduring source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing isn’t optional – it’s a ‘good cost,’ essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others.”

As public events and gatherings are being postponed, offices closed, and travel minimized, the normal touchpoints that many brands rely on in order to connect with those loyal customers have been disrupted. Organizations are scrambling to not only get their teams set up to work remotely, but also to pivot and find new ways to consistently reach their audience in order to continue to operate.

Some brands are better positioned to make that pivot than others – some by preparation and foresight, and others as a byproduct of their business model and value proposition (look at Zoom and Amazon as current examples). For those that have relied on in-person touchpoints before this crisis, the foundation upon which their brand was built has been shaken.

And brands that struggle to adapt to these new circumstances or choose to pull back on their marketing initiatives and budget will begin losing “share of mind” with its audience as they fall out of regular contact. That’s the first step towards losing market share and putting the bottom line and the brand’s future at risk.

Stabilizing the brand immediately is essential in order to adapt to these new circumstances, and that can come with some bold new directions and trying out new ways of sharing the brand’s messages. Quelch and Jocz wrote:

“When survival is at stake, it is easier to get company-wide buy-in for revising marketing strategies and reallocating investments. Managers can defy old mindsets and creatively search for superior solutions to customer needs instead of relying on the next line extension. The challenge is to make well-defended, case-by-case recommendations about where to cut spending, where to hold it steady, and even where to increase it.”

With the reallocation of budget lines for in-person events and outreach in response to this crisis, directing more dollars to digital content marketing initiatives is a smart and strategic move that achieves the short-term goal of stabilizing the brand while also setting it up for growth and success down the line.  One effective way of achieving this is to produce a podcast and leverage it towards a full digital campaign.

Position for the Future

As scary as the coronavirus is now, it too shall pass. The quarantine will eventually be lifted. Stores and offices will reopen. Airports and bus stations will hum again. While we don’t know exactly how long it will be before we see that, we know it is coming eventually.

The impacts on the way that we work, live, and engage forced on us through this crisis will carry through after it passes. And while we’re not entirely certain what all of those impacts will be, we can make educated assumptions given the data available and what we know about human and consumer behavior.

Even though podcast downloads have decreased since the start of the crisis, a Statista report showed that, during the first week of the quarantine (March 16-20):

  • 43 percent are watching more news coverage than before the quarantine

  • 42 percent of Americans are watching more on streaming services

  • 42 percent are watching more TV

  • 32 percent are spending longer on social media

  • 29 percent are spending more time on the computer

  • 25 percent are reading more books or listening to more audiobooks

  • 10 percent are listening to more podcasts.

The big takeaway here is that, as we’re quarantined at home, we’re consuming more content in its many forms.

And before the coronavirus crisis, podcast listenership was growing consistently year-over-year and across demographics. Many regular podcast listeners have built podcasts into their commute and work routine, though. According to The Podcast Consumer 2019 report:

  • 64 percent of monthly podcast listeners consume podcasts in the car

  • 43 percent at the gym

  • 37 percent at work

  • 37 percent while riding public transportation.

Because of the disruptions to daily life stemming from this crisis, many of those regular podcast listeners need to adjust the way they incorporate podcasts into their new day-to-day routine. And more people who had not been regular podcast listeners before the crisis are now looking for and consuming more content while in quarantine.The long-term prospects of podcasts continuing that year-on-year growth are strong, and we might even see an explosion of new listeners because of it.

That’s an invaluable opportunity. Now is the time for brands to take advantage of it.

Build and Strengthen Your Connections

In this new normal where digital and on-demand content is king, podcasts provide an opportunity for brands to continue to share their message and connect with their audience.

People are scared and anxious about the impact the coronavirus is having on our lives and our futures. Anxiety is an isolating experience, and we’re looking for validation and connection in new ways that can help us feel less alone.

More than any other marketing channel or content available, podcasts have an innate ability to connect, inform, and promote. They are a great antidote to the stresses and anxieties of our time, quarantined or not. And brands can bridge the digital gap and build an emotional connection with their audience through a podcast series.

Once the quarantine is lifted, the brands that took advantage of this opportunity will reap the full value and continue to strengthen and grow. Those that do not will struggle to keep up.


Originally published on Ambedo Audio's blog on April 6, 2020.

#business #podcasts #contentmarketing #podcast #coronavirus #brand #marketing #digitalmarketing

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