Podcasts aren’t new; they were first introduced in 2004, around the time of Apple’s first-generation iPods. Today, 15 years later, more than half of all Americans (14 million of us) are podcast listeners. But while B2C podcasts have enjoyed their spot in the sun for quite some time, companies and their communicators never considered podcasts to be a dominant or valuable content vehicle. Until now. B2B podcasts are having a moment and you don’t want to miss it. If you don’t have a podcast strategy, you should, says Stern Strategy Group Senior Vice President Tara Baumgarten.

A self-described podcast crusader, Tara tunes in daily during her commute and while running errands on the weekend, listening to a variety of podcasts for both personal entertainment and professional development. In the office, she not only educates clients about the whys and hows of podcast opportunities, she oversees numerous programs that benefit from the medium’s continued growth and impact.

Who better than Tara to offer insight into the current and future state of podcasts for B2B brands, and lessons learned from producing and marketing the agency’s own podcast “Minds Worth Meeting”? We asked… she answered. Read on. If nothing else, you’ll have a few new recommendations to add to your podcast queue. But chances are your first move won’t be opening your podcast app; it’ll be writing an email to us, asking to find out more about how your brand can benefit from a podcast strategy.

Are podcasts right for your business? Let's explore how this popular and growing medium can advance your reach.

Why do you believe podcasts have taken off in the last few years, particularly for brands?

People are hungry for on-the-go content and podcasts satisfy those cravings perfectly. Whether you’re at the gym, the grocery store, commuting, cleaning your house, or even on vacation, you’re in a prime place to listen to a podcast. All you need is your smartphone (and earbuds). Podcasts aren’t like videos that require you to visually engage; they’re flexible and go where you go. There’s also a podcast for nearly every topic, interest and taste. In fact, it’s nearly impossible NOT to find a podcast that fills your need, which is one of the biggest reasons I believe they’ve taken off.

For brands specifically, podcasts are an ideal medium for reaching niche audiences – for all of the above reasons and more. The media landscape continues to change and the days of wanting (and needing) a big hit in a mainstream publication that touches the masses are gone. There’s tremendous value in targeting and talking to smaller yet actively engaged audiences.

Why did Stern Strategy Group decide to produce “Minds Worth Meeting”? What value has come from it?

On both sides of our agency – communications and speakers – we work with incredibly interesting people (and companies) whose ideas are shaping business and changing society. We felt a responsibility to offer them a thought leadership platform to share those ideas without solely relying on a journalist or conference organizer, and to further build their brand and credibility. “Minds Worth Meeting” empowers us to “live our mission” of giving voice and access to ideas, individuals and institutions impacting the world.

“Minds Worth Meeting” empowers us to “live our mission” of giving voice and access to ideas, individuals and institutions impacting the world.Click To Tweet

In terms of value, through “Minds Worth Meeting,” we’ve become stronger storytellers and more technically savvy. We’re now perfectly positioned to guide clients on their podcast strategy – whether that’s producing their own podcast and/or pursuing third-party podcast opportunities.

What has been the biggest challenge faced – and overcome?

Although podcasts have been around for quite some time, they’re a still-emerging medium. They’re relatively new to many people. But they’re not so new that they will tolerate poor quality. If we expect someone to spend their valuable “free” time listening to our show time and again, then we owe them a high-quality production. When we started “Minds Worth Meeting,” our biggest challenge was connectivity. The majority of those we interview are remote and the sound quality of the recordings wasn’t top-notch. (Don’t worry… we’ve fixed it!)

As we head into our third season, I’m thrilled to say we’ve worked out the kinks on the technical side. The sound quality is crisp and clear. Now we’re focused more squarely on content and ways to connect our audience with the most interesting guests on a wide variety of compelling topics. In the first season, we were more-so editors; in this upcoming season, we’re storytellers. We’ve found our sweet spot.

Why should organizations invest in their own podcast? Is it more valuable than pursuing third-party podcasts?

Some organizations are more challenged to get their word out into the world. Maybe their ideas aren’t very mainstream, or the subject matter is very complex. Others don’t want to rely on media for one-off pieces. These are the organizations that should consider producing a podcast of their own, which provides a platform to share ideas and insights directly with their audiences without fear of being filtered or edited down. It gives them ownership of their story.

However, every organization needs to carefully consider why they want a podcast, and whether the time commitment and financial investment is feasible and/or worthwhile. If you’re in it for the glory and the possibility of creating a new revenue stream, stop right there.

Regardless of whether producing a branded podcast is right for you and your company, pursuing opportunities with established, third-party podcasts is likely a valuable endeavor. Either way, seeking objective counsel is smart. Experts like me and my colleagues can help you develop a podcast strategy aligned with your goals (and we can put it into action, too).

Besides “Minds Worth Meeting,” what are your favorite podcasts?

Tough question! I listen to a lot of podcasts across a wide variety of genres, and what I listen to and when typically depends on my mood. I listen to business podcasts, music podcasts, light-hearted gaming podcasts, social science podcasts, crime podcasts, and the list goes on. I’ll share a few of my favorites: “Ear Hustle,” “Criminal,” “Song Exploder,” “Someone Knows Something,” “Planet Money,” and my week isn’t complete without tuning in to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” from NPR.

For nearly 15 years, Jen Zottola has helped bring clients’ stories to life – through media opportunities, digital and marketing content, executive presentations, employee communications and more. Fusing creativity with strategy, she crafts compelling, award-winning copy proven to reach and resonate with the right audiences in the most impactful ways. As editorial director, Jen collaborates with clients and account teams to provide counsel on messaging and voice, as well as writing and editing support. Her creativity isn’t reserved only for writing; Jen also gets a kick out of party- and event planning.