Is Podcasting Right for my Local Business?

5 min read

Local business owners need to have a strong marketing plan if they want to succeed. As you study different ways of marketing your business, you’re going to see a lot of suggestions that you start a podcast. Podcasts are fun! Podcasts are simple! Podcasts are a great way to get yourself and your product in front of millions of people, who will then track you down and hand you their money!

Okay, let’s back up a little.

Podcasting can be a significant part of marketing a business. However, you can’t just assume you’ll talk about your product for a little while, then put it online and have it reach the people you need to reach. There is a lot that goes into podcasting and, despite what you might have heard, not everybody listens to podcasts.

A Brief Overview of Podcast Listeners

When you advertise via podcast, you are going to reach a particular group of people. While anybody can listen to a podcast, listening patterns show that certain groups are more likely to consume podcasts than others. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, the country with the highest number of podcast listeners is the United States. While only 34% of the United States population listens to podcasts, compared to 54% in Sweden and over 40% in both Brazil and Ireland, the size of the population in the United States means there are more individual listeners to target there.

Meanwhile, within the United States, certain groups are more likely to listen to podcasts than others. According to Edison Research, men are bigger podcast consumers than women, with 41% of men over 12 saying they listen to podcasts versus 36% of women. Podcast listeners are also more likely to be young, with 50% of those between the ages of 12 and 34 listening regularly. When it comes to race, podcast listeners are 59% white. While these numbers only reflect a portion of podcast listeners, they are the majority of your potential audience. So, as you consider the possibility of creating a podcast for your local business, you need to consider whether these demographics reflect your target audience. 

When Shouldn’t You Start a Podcast?

While there are benefits to having a podcast, it is not a solid business move for a lot of local companies. You should think twice about starting your own podcast if the following is true of your business:

Your Business Has to Be Done In Person

Many types of work have to be done in person. You can’t offer massage therapy, construction work, or medical treatment, for instance, over the internet. While your podcast might reach your local community with enough of a splash that you’ll grow your customer base off of it, it isn’t likely. This is even more true if you live in a community that doesn't fit the typical podcast listener demographics. While working a face-to-face job doesn’t mean you should never make a podcast, you might want to put your marketing focus on other, more local methods of getting your business’s name out there.

It Would Take Too Much Time or Money Away From Business

As a local business owner, you’re likely doing the jobs of multiple people. Do you really want to throw “podcaster” on top of the pile? Podcasting takes a lot of time and resources to do effectively. You need to buy the equipment, then take the time to record and edit the podcast, or spend money on hiring someone to do so. From there, you’ll need to set up marketing specifically for your podcast, while keeping up with the other marketing you need to do for your business. When your budget and schedule are tight, adding this type of intensive work might not be worth the potential gains. If you think a podcast would benefit your local business, but you don’t have the time or money to put toward it, set the idea aside for now. Get more established, then revisit it in the future. 

You Don’t Want To

That’s the only reason you need. If you don’t want to make a podcast for your local business, don’t make a podcast. Not every aspect of marketing will be enjoyable, but you’re going to sink a lot of time and money into your podcast, so you want to have some fun with it. Someone who doesn’t want to make a podcast isn’t going to be motivated to keep it fresh or consistent. Podcasting is just one way to market your business. Even if you have the ideal market and business type for it, you are not required to start a podcast.

When Should You Start a Podcast?

For certain local businesses, a podcast can be extremely beneficial. It can deepen relationships with listeners, allowing you to make the types of connections that lead to loyal customers. Consider starting a podcast if your business does the following:

Targets a Market that Listens to Podcasts

As a local business owner, your primary market is your local community. Does your local community listen to podcasts? Before you hit record, you need to do some research on your region’s demographics. For those who work in a well-off area in the United States that’s filled with young urban professionals, for instance, the same people listening to podcasts are just as likely to walk past your business’s front door each day. Creating a podcast to target these people is worth the investment that would go into it.

Has a Way to Connect Storytelling with Your Product

Roxie Zwicker of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, runs New England Curiosities, a local business that offers tours of haunted areas in the busy coastal city. She also offers tarot readings and hosts themed events in local spaces. Because her business is built around local ghost stories, her radio show/podcast, Wicked Curious with Roxie Zwicker, is a great way to market her business. The podcast involves Zwicker sharing both famous and obscure ghost stories from throughout the New England region. While listeners can enjoy this podcast on its own, it is also a great sampler for potential customers. Whether someone is a New Hampshire resident or planning a trip to the area, they’ll be more likely to book a tour with New England Curiosities after listening to Wicked Curious.

Offers a Range of Services and Products

For the owner of a local business that solely sells a particular type of cookie, podcasting might not be a brilliant marketing move. However, if you run a full-fledged bakery, you might consider it. Podcast listeners expect fresh material, with new and exciting episodes coming out regularly. They want to hear your stories and connect with you in new ways. When your business can provide you with the material you need in order to create these stories without getting boring, podcasting is a great way to share those stories with your customer base.

Would Benefit From Non-Local Coverage

Podcasts can be recorded or listened to anywhere. When you create a podcast for your local business, there is always a chance that it will be heard across the world. Will this type of exposure benefit your business? Many local businesses can also sell their goods and services online, so they can use a worldwide audience to their advantage. 

Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC, is a California-based psychotherapist. She sees clients in California only, but also offers services that can be done remotely, like consulting and freelance writing. Her podcast, A Date with Darkness, is all about hurtful and abusive relationships, which is Dr. Jones’s area of expertise. Since this is such a universal topic, people listen to this podcast all over the world. This means Dr. Jones reaches a large target audience, some of whom may hire her in the future.

For local businesses, a podcast could be either an asset or a drain on your time and money. As you consider your options, think carefully about whether it is worth doing. If it isn’t, you could put that energy toward other types of marketing. However, if your local business is a good fit for a podcast, you could have a lot of success with it.