Curious About Podcasts, Nervous About a Recession?

How brands should plan their podcast strategy during a recession

How brands should plan their podcast strategy during a recession

The start of 2023 has been full of ominous predictions for a dire year for podcasts, followed by unabashed counters from those working in the industry, claiming there has never been a better time to launch a podcast. This blog post is going to fall somewhere between those two.

Bloomberg’s Ashley Carman and Lucas Shaw recently wrote about the upcoming “Great Podcasting Marketing Correction.” It’s an interesting piece that argues that many large media organizations that previously had deep pockets for podcasts are now tightening their purse strings. Listenership continues to hold strong in podcasting, but with so many amazing podcasts out there (Spotify is now claiming that there are more than 5 million podcasts on the app) each show is getting a much smaller piece of the pie. It’s never been harder for a new show to stand out. And with so much talk around the recession this year, budgets are tightening across the board. So, what can brands curious about podcasts learn from all of this?

Don’t Discount the Power of Podcasts

I’m going to start by acknowledging that with looming recession worries, lots of budgets are tightening. So, just like massive media companies, now is the time to be discerning about where you’re spending your money. But frankly, marketers can’t afford to write podcasts off. 62% of American consumers listen to podcasts, and more than 80% of podcast listeners spend 7+ hours each week listening to podcasts. That’s a lot of time spent with podcasts and a lot of opportunities for brands. During a time of economic downturn, it’s more important than ever for brands to build relationships with their target audiences– and podcasts are a great medium for spending a lot of time with specific audience. When every dollar counts, make sure your dollars are going towards building a lasting relationship with your most loyal customers, who will be ready to engage with you long after the recession ends.

Less is More

So, we’ve established that podcasts present a great opportunity for marketers during a recession. But how should you approach your podcast strategy when your pockets might not be as deep as they once were? My big recommendation is don’t fall into the temptation of going for a cheap show with lots of episodes. Yes, you can make a podcast for cheap. But should you? Let’s take a lesson from the major media companies reeling in their new show launches. There are a lot of podcasts out there and a lot of choices for podcast consumers. Your show has to be good if it’s going to stand out and reach your target audience. Sure, you might be spending less, but if you’re not investing in high-quality content, you’re guaranteeing that every dollar you spend is being wasted. It’s not going towards reaching your target audience– and worse, you could be actively dampening your target audience’s impression of your brand. Frankly, you can’t afford to make a cheap podcast during a recession.

So yeah– money might be tight, but don’t spend your limited dollars on a poorly produced podcast. Instead, I recommend prioritizing quality over quantity. Yes, you might not have the budget to produce one podcast every week this year. But that’s okay. Producing even one season of a high-quality, engaging podcast can build you a larger, more engaged, more satisfied audience.

Spend Less, Invest More!

A common practice in sales is to swap the term “cost” with “investment.” When it comes to producing an original podcast, brands are investing. As opposed to direct response advertising or ephemeral social media content, a high-quality podcast is an investment that will continue working for you long after you’ve paid your invoices and closed out your quarters. I understand the impulse to spend limited dollars on direct response ads or cheap social spots. But consider how fleeting these ads are. At a time when your target consumer likely has less money to spend on impulse buys, these spends are not long-term investments. On the other hand, strategic content marketing, like producing an original podcast, lives long after the recession has ended. Brand marketing helps you build a relationship with your audience, ensuring you’re top-of-mind when the economy bounces back. Imagine the long-term, positive impact on your brand’s reputation if you use this time of economic hardship to build a relationship with your audience, creating content that adds value to their lives, rather than constantly pushing them to spend more money.

Do More with Less

One thing I’m hopeful we’ll see during this period is more cross-platform, integrated campaigns. I think most brands with podcasts are not doing all they can to maximize the content they’re already producing. When I say this, I don’t mean cross-posting the same content across every platform– what works on TikTok is not what works in a podcast. But there are smart ways to repurpose the work that goes into producing a podcast across other platforms. For example, the research done for a podcast episode could be summarized in a TikTok video. A historical story from a podcast episode could make for an interesting Twitter thread. You could have a podcast guest host an Instagram takeover. Not only do you get more content with this strategy, but you also have the bonus of pushing more listeners to your podcast feed. There are so many smart ways to leverage the production work and avoid redundancies across departments. Rather than jumping to make cuts, now is the time to look for efficiencies.

So, as we head into this period of economic uncertainty, here is my best advice for marketers:

  1. Don’t discount the power of podcasts
  2. If you must cut costs, consider producing fewer episodes rather than lowering your budget for each episode– quality over quantity!
  3. Use this time to invest in quality brand marketing, building relationships with your audience that will sustain after the recession ends
  4. Leverage each episode of your podcast to create cross-platform campaigns, getting the most out of every dollar you spend


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