There’s something intrinsically zen about listening to podcasts on the way home from work. Maybe it’s that we know the workday is over, and we can safely retreat into the story without being disrupted by ruminations of tasks that lie before us. I like to think that it’s because our brains are wired to be soothed by the ancient art of oral storytelling. That could be why there are some 67 million monthly podcasts listeners.
The more likely case is that podcast listeners love this type of content because it’s free and they can ingest it passively. The fact that it’s on-demand radio also helps. You can listen to podcasts pretty much whenever, wherever. Plus, unlike old marketing strategies, podcasts are a two-way street: You can use podcasts to bone up on the latest trends or create your own to position yourself as an industry expert.
Marketers who want to hone their skills on the train, in traffic or during a lunch break can benefit from the hands-free, screen-free and, hopefully, anxiety-free act of listening to a well put-together podcast. That’s why we’ve decided to pull together a list of some of our favorite marketing podcasts, and give you a small taste of each. Plus, we hope you’ll learn something that helps you improve your own marketing strategy. We’re all about sharing the wealth when it comes to marketing tips.
(And if you’re a beginner to podcasts, rest assured, it’s a short learning curve. Just open up the Apple Podcasts app on iOS, or Google Podcasts (formerly Play Music) on Android. The rest is pretty self explanatory.)
As far as titles go, this one is pretty literal. Hosts John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn sit down at cafes and facilitate free-flowing conversations with some of the best marketing minds in the world. The pair really runs the gamut in terms of their themes, striking the right balance between pragmatic and thought-provoking.
Take the example of an episode featuring guest Julian Treasure, author and TED talk speaker extraordinaire. Treasure posits the simple but powerful idea that brick-and-mortar businesses can actually reduce dwell time (the amount of time spent inside the store) with the wrong choice of music, in turn, lowering sales by up to 25 percent.
“Good sound is good business,” Treasure said, adding that not enough businesses ask the question “How does our brand sound?”
Treasure has struck gold here; he surfaces a more existential question about what branding is. Really it’s about creating an identity for your business – one that has a personality, and one that you should not hesitate to personify from time to time. Don’t stop at what your business sounds like. You want to know what it smells like. What it looks like. What it feels like. Heck, what it tastes like.
We’ll give you another example: an in-depth interview with the very first chief content marketer, Anne Handley, who takes the time to explain the fundamental difference between “ridiculously good marketing” as opposed to “ridiculously great marketing,” a topic she explores in greater depth in her book “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.”
But we don’t want to ruin the reveal. Listen to Marketing Over Coffee for yourself to learn more.
Duct Tape Marketing is a weekly themed show, in which John Jantsch interviews thought leaders, industry experts, authors and others about the marketing topic du jour. Each segment runs between 15 and 30 minutes long, but packs in enough wisdom to keep you sustained for months, if not years.
In one episode, online marketing expert Justin Sturges extrapolates some of the ways that a website defines your brand. He provides the example of a custom home-building company. Its website should ideally accomplish two high-level goals at the same time:
- Positioning its unique philosophy and views on what it does (we could call this a form of branding).
- Helping answer questions that actual users are typing into search bars with carefully crafted landing-page copy, blog posts, articles, infographics and other original content (we might call this latter aspect on-site SEO).
It’s a very simple but important reminder to content marketers everywhere: People search for answers to questions. Google tries to match the question to the answer. Help Google do that with branded content.
In another episode of Duct Tape Marketing, Kyle Gray of The Story Engine discussed the ancient practicality of storytelling. For many millennia, it’s how we’ve shared our values. Not surprisingly then, storytelling in branding can be a powerful tool. In fact, it’s quite possibly the fastest way to create a connection with your audience, especially those who are ready to buy your product.
Surely you’ve heard of the Harvard Business Review, but did you know that the Ivy-League publication has a stellar business marketing podcast that you should definitely be listening to? And that they actually interviewed Bill Clinton about his new novel on the show?
HBR IdeaCast covers general trends in business and media in 20-minute long episodes, during which Sara Green picks some of the sharpest, most creative brains in business and marketing.
To give you a small taste, in the episode, “How AI Can Improve the Way We Work,” guests Paul Daugherty and James Wilson, senior technology leaders at Accenture, ask some hard questions about the impact that AI has on the workforce, and how decision-makers can forge responsible human-machine collaborations.
If nothing else, the discussion is a reminder of the fact that AI is huge part of content marketing. SEO, after all, is basically an exercise in helping one of the world’s smartest computers connect your web content with your audience more effectively.
Other topics focus more directly on human-to-human relationships, like in the episode titled “Ask Better questions” featuring guests Leslie K. John and Alison Wood Brooks, professors at Harvard Business School. The crux of their argument is that sometimes the biggest benefit in business is listening, and that comes from asking the right questions.
The same can be said for online marketing. The goal should be to listen to your leads, your prospects and customers, and then you can more appropriately guide their actions and better serve them.
“We instinctively go into sell mode” and are “too self-focused,” Woods said, likening the situation to a first date. Really, though, we should be constantly listening and adjusting. In other words, marketers should be asking questions, and following up to answers in a way that shows they have been paying attention. They should also spend time responding to questions that their customers and potential customers may have.
This is actually a core tenet of content marketing – researching what your audience is talking about, and then finding a non-intrusive way to include your brand in those conversations.
CopyBlogger FM by Rainmaker Digital is easily my favorite digital marketing podcast on this list. I get the sense that host Sonia Simone really understands writing, and what it means to be a content creator in this day and age.
For instance, she kicked off one of our favorite episodes of all time, “3 Skills to Master to Become a Marketing Badass this Year” with a classic pair of marketing quotes:
William Maynard: “Most good copywriters fall into two categories. Poets. And killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers as a means to an end.”
David Ogilvy: “If you are both killer and poet, you get rich.”
Simone argues that the “poet” half of this dynamic is too often missing in content marketing. She contends that badly written content is created with too much of that “killer” mentality, in that it’s overtly committed to its end goal and not nearly focused enough on providing intrinsic value to the reader. It’s too easy to assume that your sales pitch should be the punchline of every blog post, when really, that’s just not what content marketing is about.
It’s too easy to assume that your sales pitch should be the punchline of every blog post, when really, that’s just not what content marketing is about.
Content should be created with care. It should be full of effective turns of phrase and useful information. It should be a pleasure to read. Great content disarms your audience, so that in their minds, they subconsciously associate your words not only with your products, but with your value.
In that same vein, high-quality written content for the web should also build trust, and one of the best ways to do that is by empathizing with your target audience. In another episode, Simone coined the phrase “Chief Empathy Officer.” This fictitious title is something that all content writers should aspire to. Unlike conversion copywriters, content writers should feel a little more at liberty to walk the line “between personal expression and self-indulgence.” Simone argues that this emotional license is critical for relating to an audience.
That also required actually knowing the audience and listening to them. You need to understand your audience in order to relate to it, and to be able to speak to them in an honest, conversational tone.
But enough from me. Listen to Simone tell it in the full episode, available below.
This weekly podcast by Earnworthy is the first on our list that focuses almost exclusively on marketing tools and technology, and it’s an absolute must-listen for any B2B marketing expert or entrepreneur. Earnworthy is a marketing consultancy, meaning its podcast is actually a form of content marketing in its own right – and a good one at that.
Each episode of the Marketing Toolbox runs about 30 minutes, and usually focuses on a particular online marketing channel, resource or tool.
For instance, one episode explores a solution called “Zapier,” which host Nicholas Scalise calls “marketing glue.” Essentially, Zapier is an automation resource that integrates multiple marketing tools so they can seamlessly pass data between one another.
Another episode discusses “JotForm,” which is a simple drag-and-drop form builder that simplifies lead generation. The episode before that explores some of the reasons many businesses fail to use YouTube effectively in their marketing strategies.
The Growth Marketing Toolbox also regularly features in-depth interviews with marketing technology experts, such as Derek Champagne, founder and CEO of The Artist Evolution and author of the book “Don’t Buy a Duck.”
What exactly is a duck and why shouldn’t you buy one? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out.
Just as no content marketing discussion is complete without social media, no list of marketing podcasts is complete without “The Science of Social Media,” by Buffer. Each episode of this social media marketing podcast is typically between 10 and 20 minutes, and there’s a good reason that it has more than 1 million downloads: Hosts Hailley Griffis and Brian Peters cover all things social media marketing with timely, well-researched segments.
For example, pretty much as soon as Instagram revealed how its feed-ranking algorithm works in 2018, the crew was ready with an episode on the topic. And when a Databox study revealed that nearly 46 percent of marketing agencies struggle to sell clients on the value of social media marketing, Griffis and Peters were quick to extrapolate on the findings. In particular, they zeroed in on the two main methods for measuring return on investment – conversions and social metrics – and what those actually entail.
The content in this free podcast is valuable for content managers and social media marketers who would seek to improve their trade, and more effectively track the fruits of their labor. For those days when you just don’t know what to post on Twitter, this podcast has everything the struggling digital marketer needs. Incidentally, it has the added effect of showing the value of what Buffer does, which means this is yet another example of using the podcast medium as a form of content marketing.
Of course, we’re just into it for the insights, and so far, we haven’t been disappointed.
The thing we love most about Marketing Smarts is that they leave no stone unturned. One week the hosts will discuss how the gig economy transforms marketing campaigns. The next, they’ll bring on a guest to talk about how to be a happier, more fulfilled marketer.
Other times, they get a little more philosophical. An episode titled “Selling Isn’t a Game, It’s a Puzzle,” focuses on the overlapping subject of sales, featuring Ian Altman, author of “Same Side Selling: How Integrity and Collaboration Drive Extraordinary Results for Sellers and Buyers.” Altman trenchantly observes that the language used to describe sales tactics is often rooted in battle and competition (victory, wins, finish lines, race, conquers, converts).
Why is this problematic? Because sales is about building relationships by demonstrating the ability to solve a problem. There is no adversary. If anything, a medical analogy is a much more apt description of the sales process.
“Our job in sales, if we’re doing it right, is to seek out symptoms that might be an indicator of a condition that we’re really good at treating,” Altman said.
In other words, the demonstration of an ability to get results forges a relationship. No one gets smitten, slain, conquered or bested. It’s been said that language influences perception of reality. Surely, it can also influence our perception, and our execution, of sales and marketing tactics.
Other episodes focus on more general ideas, like why habit building is so important to just about everything you’ll ever do. Here’s how James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits” puts it in the episode “Transform Your Life Through Small Changes”:
“If you go deep enough, habits are probably behind pretty much any sustained level of success or consistency that you have.”
Listen to the rest here.
Online Marketing Made Easy is unique in that it implicitly targets entrepreneurs. But at the same time, marketing expert Amy Porterfield isn’t afraid to add a personal touch, with episodes like “10 Things I’m Embarrassed to Tell You” and “My Weightloss Journey (Part 2).”
And that’s a big part of Porterfield’s shtick. Her advice is highly actionable, but it comes from someone whose target audience (other entrepreneurs like her) can relate to on both a professional and personal level. It feels like an internet marketing podcast hosted by your friend.
Still, she’s a highly knowledgeable friend with a network of experts who frequently come on the show. In Episode 260, she interviewed Stu McLaren about “membership sites” – something we’ve admittedly talked very little about on this blog. It’s certainly an interesting concept, and one that surely works better in some industries than others. But if you’re intrigued or curious about how this might fit into your business or marketing model, Online Marketing Made Easy is the perfect place for a primer.
Other times, Porterfield will run through a list of tips and tricks that she’s collected over the years or through her voracious consumption of media produced by many an influencer. Case in point: Her episode titled “7 Secrets to Talking About Your Product Like a Pro” provides actionable tips to help you speak on behalf of your products during interviews, in videos, live social media posts and other audio and visual mediums.
How could we possibly create a list of marketing podcasts without including Neil Patel’s?
The man is one of the biggest personalities in content marketing, and for good reason. His blog posts, videos and podcasts cover every corner of digital marketing – inbound marketing, account-based marketing, influencer marketing, search engine optimization, conversion optimization, content creation, social media marketing and much more. Honestly. Neil could probably create his own encyclopedia at this point.
Patel’s co-host, Eric Siu, is no slouch either. He’s the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain, which has worked with some of the most successful businesses in the world.
Marketing School is the only podcast on this list that posts new episodes daily. Each episode runs only about 5 minutes in length, and is packed with tips, tactics, strategies and insights on a particular topic.
Some titles include “Is Pinterest a Good Platform on Which to Advertise?” or “How to Uncover Your Competitor’s Facebook Strategy” and “How Long Does It Take to Rank in Google?” (Hint: It’s probably a lot longer than you would have hoped).
Check out a few episodes below or visit the Marketing School website to learn more.
What’s your favorite marketing podcast?
We’re aware that there are plenty of excellent internet marketing podcasts we left off this list for the sake of not writing a novel. And we’re also aware that there are plenty of excellent marketing podcasts we’ve probably never even heard of.
So, don’t be a stranger. Give a shout-out to your favorite podcasts or favorite episode in the comments section below. There’s no shortage of podcasts aimed at entrepreneurs, so there’s a good chance you know of a series we haven’t heard about yet!
And if you’re short on ideas, feel free to check out Brafton’s very own podcast “Above the Fold” – available on iTunes or Anchor – where homegrown industry veterans Jeff Baker and Francis Ma talk all things content marketing.
Editor’s Note: Updated February 2020.