Using podcasts as a brand vehicle: A Q&A with Dr. Lewis Tennant

In recent years, podcasts have become a powerful tool for brands to connect with their audiences and establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. Here, Lecturer Dr. Lewis Tennant, of the popular Dr Tennant’s Verbal Highs podcast, shares his thoughts on the impact of podcasts on brand awareness and tips for creating successful podcasts that resonate with your audience.

How does New Zealand’s podcasting landscape differ from international landscapes? 

The two things that spring to mind are size and cultural proximity. Unless a local show finds an international audience, the potential audience size for a New Zealand podcast is small relative to countries with far bigger populations. And seeing as it’s cheese and Sauvignon Blanc we’ve taken to the world (rather than pro wrestling, hip hop, and late-night talk shows) a global audience for our media is not a given. But… there are local podcasts that find large global audiences, like Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery’s ‘The Worst Idea of All Time’, which got a mention on a big US film nerd podcast and has since been downloaded millions of times. For anyone unfamiliar, said worst idea of all time was to watch Grown Ups II every week for a year, and record a podcast episode after each viewing.   

Dr. Lewis Tennant.

Are there any trends you are noticing cropping up in the podcasting world, whether that be topics, styles, platform preference etc? 

The big shift over the past few years has been the move to monetise podcasts and podcasting. For example, the commercial radio industry in New Zealand, who have long been reliant on formatted music radio, are now focused on growing and marketing podcast content.    

In terms of using podcasts as a brand vehicle, what benefits can this medium offer to advertisers?

Richness over reach. The notion of reaching a mass audience is increasingly an anachronism, and Joe Rogan’s audience size is an anomaly. Most successful podcasts have relatively small audiences drawn to specific subject matter (podcasts for specific hobby communities as one of many examples). So, unless you’re a big box retailer selling general goods to the general public, tapping into a very specific podcast audience who are also the target audience for your product or service is a powerful thing. If you supply goods or services to the equine industry, then working with an independently produced podcast about horse care that has 1000 dedicated listeners is surely more desirable than running a more costly catch-all advertising campaign with a much bigger media outlet? 

 Are advertisers utilising podcasts enough in New Zealand or do you think there is some opportunity for growth in this space?

No I think there’s huge opportunity for innovation, growth, and support of the kind of shows I outlined above. Most businesses in New Zealand are SMEs and most podcasts in New Zealand are what I’ll term SMAs (small to medium audiences). For every Australian bank promoting itself on a commercial radio network’s podcast there could be 100 SMEs promoting themselves on 100 independently produced podcasts for a fraction of the cost.  

What are your top three tips for using podcasts as an effective brand vehicle? 

  1. Understand podcasting. Listen to a bunch of them and do some reading about the world of podcasting. Know there’s way more out there than what our largest media outlets are producing. Know the differences between radio and podcasting. 
  2. You can break the mould. Podcasts don’t have to follow the ‘content ad break content ad break’ one size fits all model of old. For example, your company could elect to be the main patron of a podcast project or independent production company.   
  3. If you take the route of the brand producing a podcast, there are people and businesses that can help you make it great. Work with the experts, from audio equipment retailers to small podcast production companies who can assist you on all aspects of the project.  

We have two single passes to give away to the NZ Podcasting Summit 2023 held at Auckland University of Technology on Saturday, May 13. To be in to win email [email protected] with a couple of sentences on why you are interested in learning more about podcasts as a brand vehicle.

Check out the speaker and session lineup here and for more information visit the website here.

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