B2B vs B2C Podcasts - What's the Difference?

The Importance of Podcast Alignment

Podcast success is like landing a plane – it all happens in the approach.

That’s why Alignment is the most important foundation of building a long term, consistent and successful podcast. In this post, I discuss the crucial differences between B2C and B2B Podcasts. Each type of podcast has a different alignment strategy, and to build a B2B Podcast like a B2C media entity is unnecessarily hard and a waste of resources.

Alignment covers your choice of metrics, subject areas and monetisation of your podcast

When we started our B2B Podcast Agency back in 2018, we were simply a “Podcast Agency”. Asia was just getting started, but as you can see, we’ve come along way since those early days. And to some extent, many Podcast Agencies in the world today, still define themselves as such. But in our journey of constant experimentation and employing Podcast Analytics, we found that there were 2 key Podcast models that required different approaches – B2C Podcast and B2B Podcasts.

In this article, I discuss the difference, sharing case studies on each.

If your approach is simply to produce Media Content (the approach you’ll get from a media or marketing agency), you’ll miss the point of what a Podcast can do for your business. This isn’t about producing more social media to stuff your channels with. Podcasts are about producing Conversations that Matter. Importantly, for business, today in the Post-Pandemic world, these Leadership Conversationsare critical.

Many business Leaders look at “Serial” or “Netflix” style B2C podcasts and wonder how they can reproduce that kind of media with their own brand. Chances are you can’t. Better still, you don’t need to.

B2B Podcasts require a specialised approach, customized to the business objectives of Comms and business Leaders. This is a fundamentally different model to creating content.

3 Key Factors that Distinguish B2C Podcasts and B2B Podcasts

The key to B2B success is not building the biggest possible audience……but aligning your podcast with your communications funnel. Many B2B Podcast hosts confuse B2C and B2B Podcasts (or don’t even know the difference). So let’s look at the 3 key differences:

1) STYLE: B2C and B2B Podcasts may sound similar, but once you listen deeper you’ll find there are distinct differences in style. Take a B2C Podcast Show like the one hosted by Tim Ferriss and compare it to, say, an award winning B2B Podcast like McKinsey Future of Asia. In this article, I’ll discuss why they’re different.

2) ADVERTISING: One stark difference between B2C and B2B podcasts can be found in advertising. In this article I’ll discuss who the advertiser should be for each model.

3) METRICS: B2B and B2C podcasts both benefit from using audience metrics; however, the type of podcast model defines which metrics publishers should pay attention to.

B2C Podcast Case Study: The Tim Ferriss Show

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Tim Ferriss is mostly known for his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, but his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, is just as impressive. This show is all about learning actionable tips and techniques from remarkable people at the top of their game.

Ferris mines luminaries like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Malcolm Gladwell, and even Jerry Seinfeld for their thoughts on the keys to self-improvement and achievement. His interview style has an off-the-cuff, informal edge that helps listeners get into the minds of a host of different performers, athletes, investors, and business people.

B2C Podcast Case Study: My Favorite Murder

Hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, My Favorite Murder is a true-crime podcast made by true-crime fans for true-crime fans. The show is a top 10 regular on iTunes’ comedy podcast chart, and while the focus is on grisly crimes, the tone is upbeat and irreverent. The lack of gravitas means this podcast often feels more like listening in on two friends talking rather than a polished and structured show about murders. And it’s this quality that is the key to establishing their loyal listener base of “Murderinos,” who come out in droves for their live shows.

B2B Podcast Case Study: McKinsey Future of Asia Podcast

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It’s no secret that Asia is set to inherit the West’s reins as a world leader this century. Staggering growth and development should see China, India, and Japan — along with a whole host of other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — at the forefront of technology and culture. The McKinsey Future of Asia Podcast looks at these developments and tries to predict what type of leader Asia will be, examining all of this through the lens of technology, diversity, banking, and politics. A must-listen for anyone interested in business or geopolitics.

B2B Podcast Case Study: HBR Ideacast

The HBR Ideacast is a long-running marketing and management podcast from the Harvard Business Review. Hosted by Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch, the focus is centered around the contemporary business space but also touches on a diverse set of business and personal ideas. As it approaches its 15-year and 800th episode, the Ideacast can look back at a guest roster full of some of the most well-known names in American business. Some of the most valuable episodes look at ways to reduce organizational drag, how to close the strategy-execution gap and an early episode that explores whether or not transparency is the best policy for your organization.

B2C Podcast Advertising

To monetize a B2C podcast, the most popular model is to build an audience that attracts advertisers. Most podcasts have a typical audience demographic, which might be age, gender, income, and so on. Advertisers and brands can target their desired demographics by partnering with a podcast that serves these sectors.

For example, in this episode of the Tim Ferriss Show with Dr. Stefi Cohen — a world-record-holding powerlifter — the advertisers are Tonal smart home gym, LMNT electrolyte supplement, and Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement. By understanding the make-up and interests of their audience, more generally or for a specific episode, podcasters can connect listeners with relevant brands.

B2B Podcast Advertising

With a B2B podcast, you are the advertiser. Because you own the media, instead of selling advertising space on their podcast, many publishers use their audience reach to promote the products or services they sell. For example, The McKinsey Future of Asia Podcast uses the series to promote their “Future of Asia” research. As a consultancy and management organization, demonstrating their knowledge and expertise leads to greater awareness among their target market of business professionals and governments looking to deal with the region.

B2C Podcast Metrics

With B2C podcasts, the goal is to amass a large number of downloads. To sell their products, brands need to get themselves in front of an audience. So the size and quality of a podcast’s audience is the most crucial metric for monetizing this media. Another similar metric that advertisers might be interested in is the total subscribers. This can be an indication of loyalty and trust toward the publisher.

For example, The Tim Ferriss Show passed 600 million downloads in 2020 and is well on its way to 700 million. With an average of around 300,000 downloads per episode, this is an ideal space for prospective advertisers to reach business consumers.

B2B Podcast Metrics

If you’re podcasting, you better know the difference between B2B and B2C podcasts. Kim Kardashian would boost your B2C numbers but would suck if you wanted to build Thought Leadership.

In B2B, the quality and engagement of the audience are more important. Because B2B podcasts have a very defined target demographic, raw audience numbers are less important than high rankings in the relevant iTunes category. For B2B, establishing authority is crucial. For example, McKinsey Future of Asia performs well in the Competitive Management category and is currently ranked number 1.

Set Achievable Podcast Metrics that Move the B2B Needle

So let’s say you are a B2B Podcast, that means iTunes. My first question to clients is always, what category are you in? If you don’t know, start there. Who are you competing against? If you want to get into the top 20 of that category in that market, look at who #20 is. What do they publish? How often do they publish?

Make #20 your target and copy what #20 does but better.

Here’s what I can tell you with confidence about what most top 20 podcasts do that the others don’t:

  • Top 20 podcasts publish more often
  • Top 20 podcasts stay Top 20 because they regularly track their rankings
  • Top 20 podcasts have a team behind them

Podcasts Offer Leaders an Authentic Channel of Communication

For several reasons, contemporary partners and customers want brands to communicate with a more human voice. They have become more aware — and in some cases, more skeptical — of slick PR and communication. Authenticity and relatability have become cherished characteristics, and the sort of informal conversations podcasts facilitate can connect with audiences precisely because they are casual and unvarnished.

Indeed, contemporary consumers expect more from their CEOs and brands. Research conducted by the global communications firm Edelman paints a clear picture of the perception of CEOs who stay quiet on essential issues. They report that 56 percent of all respondents to the Edelman Trust Barometer survey say they have “no respect for CEOs who remain silent on important issues.”

In the context of B2B podcasts, for example, we use Podcast Analytics to help business Leaders optimize and measure their delivery. That’s like giving a pilot an Altimeter. An Altimeter helps him correct course. Nose up more; nose down more. With that data, he can focus on looking out the cockpit window.

This is clear evidence that when engaging with and purchasing products, consumers want to deal with companies whose views and politics they trust and resonate with their own, underlining the importance of podcasts to help CEOs have a voice that consumers can hear.

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Answered in this guide
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