GLOUCESTER – Michael Kimball enjoys podcasts. When he was the vice president of marketing at Williamsburg Winery, he was the producer and host of “Cellar Sessions,” a podcast devoted to wines.
It ran for just six months (January through June 2019) and consisted of only ten episodes before he became a partner at Consociate Media, a marketing firm based in Gloucester. He’s still a big advocate and fan of the format.
“I believed very strongly at that time, and I do now even though I don’t host a podcast anymore, in the power and the influence it can have for your brand,” he said.
He is not alone in that thinking. According to Demand Sage, a data collection firm, more than 60 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast, the industry has an estimated worth of $2 billion this year in the United States alone and is projected to double that in 2024, and the U.S. has the most listeners at more than 100 million.
“It’s a great way to share your story in this age of marketing,” he said.
The benefits seem endless.
A good marketing campaign inspires action, shares a story, creates awareness, and is entertaining.
“While you’re selling and promoting, a great podcast offers a great opportunity to entertain and to engage and to connect,” he said. “And so, for that perspective, I think it’s valuable.”
Surveys have shown podcast listeners often are engaged in other activities at the same time, which increases their focus.
However, it’s not all about creating a podcast. For businesses that don’t, they can benefit by being on one. At Consociate Media, Kimball has helped clients share their voice that way.
“You as a thought leader can go on a podcast and be a featured guest on a podcast,” he said.
Your message doesn’t have to end when the podcast does. The content offered on a podcast also can be shared by the business through its newsletters or social media channels. Recording your podcast on a video camera is another option, providing added content for your marketing materials.
“You can also cut it up into quotes and do social graphics,” he said. “There’s a lot of content that can be spun off from it.”
As with everything, there are things to consider. When Kimball started “Cellar Sessions,” he didn’t realize how time-consuming it was to produce and maintain. It can be expensive depending on the equipment, especially if you want good editing software. Having the proper microphone and the right infrastructure also are important, and can drive up the costs.
“I never want to make it seem like it is something that you can just flip the switch and turn on and off,” he said. “It’s not without a great effort.”
That doesn’t mean it can’t be simple. Kimball said many successful and effective podcasts consist of just the host and a microphone. The shows need not be unscripted, although he often sent his guests questions beforehand so they could be prepared.
“I would encourage anyone to not overthink,” he said, adding it’s okay to learn as you go. “There are so many different styles of podcasts.”
Another thing to avoid is doing a podcast just to do a podcast, which is not effective.
“It has to have an authentic voice and a strong reason for doing it,” he said. “If you can find your angle, your why behind doing it, I think it can be very powerful.”
With the Williamsburg Winery podcast, he did just that.
“My why was I wanted to have an authentic and genuine conversation about the realities of growing grapes and making wine in Virginia,” he said. “I also wanted to talk about the stories and the partnerships and the relationships with food producers and other farmers and other wineries.”
Despite its short run, it was successful.
“The reaction was great because not a lot of small businesses were doing podcasts,” he said.
He doesn’t see podcasts as a fad. After all, the format has been around for years.
“It’s like a talk show that you’d normally watch on TV. It’s like an audiobook and everybody is listening,” he said. “It’s a proven way to communicate and entertain. It just so happens to be called a podcast. In other arenas, it’s called the talk show.”
When done right and with the right intention, it’s a valuable and entertaining way to communicate your brand, Kimball said.
“Podcasts allow you to share personality. They allow you to share stories. They allow you to sort of humanize your business, which helps with authenticity and relating to your customers or your clients,” he said.