Did you know that in the past month alone, 39 million Americans listened to podcasts? That’s more than our friendly northern neighbor Canada’s entire population.
If you haven’t heard about the podcast craze (where have you been?!), allow us to elaborate. Episodes of the first two seasons of the podcast “Serial” have been downloaded more than a 250 million times in total, with the first season taking just seven weeks to reach 10 million. It broke records—that is, until the same creative team brought out “S-Town” and blew their own numbers out the water, hitting 10 million downloads in just four days. That’s the kind of reach that every marketer dreams of.
So why are podcasts suddenly all the rage—and what lessons can we copywriters learn from their wild popularity? Here are just three reasons why podcasts have enchanted so many hearts (or should that be eardrums?).
1. There’s a podcast for everyone
The people demand choice—and podcasts deliver! Want an in-depth podcast that takes an investigative reporting approach to teaching you about topics like the problems with the public defender system, medical negligence in private prisons, and who profits from student debt? Check out “Reveal.” Want to enrich your knowledge of the world by taking an unusual trip through the Smithsonian’s fascinating and expansive vaults? Try the museum’s “Sidedoor” series. Only got a minute? Producer Austin Mitchell’s “Profiles:NYC” is an eye-opening and heartfelt series in which random New Yorkers tell their life stories in just sixty seconds.
With podcasts covering almost every imaginable subject—from sex to death to technology to politics—audiences can find a voice that speaks to them. But with over 300,000 podcasts on iTunes alone, it takes a particularly strong voice and a keen understanding of the target audience to beat out the competition and make your audio mark.
That’s something that every copywriter can relate to. Figuring out the audience and searching diligently until we find the right voice is what we do best. It’s not easy, but boy is it worth the effort.
2. Podcasts appeal to short attention spans
Most podcasts clock in somewhere between a minute and an hour. This makes them ideal for listening to during the morning commute, or at the gym. They capture a perfect balance of substance and brevity, using the listener’s time well and leaving them satisfied and eager to hear more. There’s no place for endlessly wordy, Ulysses-esque stream-of-consciousness rambles—a listener who’s trying to follow along while sweating on the StairMaster has no time for that! Instead, the wording has to be concise and digestible, while still being intriguing.
We’ve all got shorter attention spans these days (thanks Twitter). Podcasts are powerful because they can very quickly capture a mood we’re feeling in that moment when we hit download. That could be a desire to be entertained, informed, or just have some background noise as we cook dinner. Unlike most traditional media, like novels and even movies to an extent, they’re really easy to slot into our hectic schedules. That’s a lesson all copywriters need to take to heart. Build your copy around the audience, don’t expect them to adapt for you.
Your readers are busy people. Give them something that grabs their attention from the word go, making them hungry for more. You might have 5,000 things you want to tell them, but that doesn’t mean they want to read them! Tell them one, and let them take it from there.
3. Podcasts capture the imagination, but leave you free to multitask
A good podcast can transport you. Whether you’re the previously-mentioned StairMaster listener or prefer your podcasts while driving home from the office, they provide an opportunity to think and be entertained while doing something else.
But regardless of how distracted the listener is, a really superb podcast will make them stop what they’re doing and just listen. If you’re a regular podcast junkie, you’ve probably had at least one of those moments where you put down the wooden spoon and dissolve into daydreaming… until the bolognese sauce begins to burn, that is.
Marketing copy should do the same. We want to write words that circumvent the part of our brains that says “I don’t need this” and drives us to click “add to shopping cart.” We want readers to fall down the rabbit hole of fascinating blog posts, sharing on social media as they go. We want… Oh, you get the picture.
Bringing the spirit of the podcast to copywriting
With alternative formats like the podcast on the rise, it’s more important than ever to make your blog or marketing copy irresistible. Here at MarketSmiths, we’re dedicated to cutting through the smog of dull writing with our uniquely refreshing words.
Behind all good podcasts is a story. We want to tell the story of your brand, in a way that makes readers stop in their tracks and crane their necks for a closer look. Words (spoken or otherwise) can have a whole lot of power—you’ve just got to know how to use them. Or you can hire us to do it for you.
Need help improving your business’ copy? Get in touch today.