For Panasonic’s B2B division, podcasting has proven to be a fruitful form of lead generation.
Although it’s usually not possible to tie listens to specific sales – the B2B sales cycle is notoriously long, and podcasts sit way up at the top of the funnel – Panasonic has seen an increase in time spent on its website as a result of people tuning in.
“It’s helped us with our overall bounce rates,” said Brian Rowley, VP of marketing for the unit within Panasonic responsible for mobility, food services, retail, manufacturing, automation, welding, robotics and factory line components focused on the enterprise public sector space and the federal government.
Panasonic launched its podcast, “The Big REthink,” before COVID hit, but the subject matter has proven highly germane to the post-pandemic environment. The purpose of the podcast is to examine how technology is impacting the future of work in conversation with thought leaders from outside of Panasonic.
The most recent episode features an interview with futurist and Georgetown University scholar Bryan Alexander about the evolving landscape of education technology. Other episodes zero in on disability in the workforce, the rise of AI and how technology is reshaping the food takeout business.
“For this to work, it can’t just be about us,” said Rowley, who co-hosts the show with two of his Panasonic colleagues. “We’ve made a conscious effort from the beginning not to make this into an advertisement for Panasonic.”
Rowley spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: What role does podcasting play in Panasonic’s B2B marketing strategy?
BRIAN ROWLEY: Even before the pandemic, we came to the realization that the audience in the industries we serve is changing, both in terms of demographics, the material they consume and the platforms they use to consume it. We have a responsibility to show up where people are, and that is what podcasting has become for us.
It’s a flexible touch point. We want to give people the opportunity to consume when they want to. You can’t read a white paper when you’re riding your bike, but you can listen to a podcast.
Do podcasts replace any of the more traditional touch points?
It’s an add-on rather than a replacement. We view podcasts as a complement to our white papers, videos and blogs that gives people another opportunity to engage and go a little deeper. It’s also a way to reach a wider, younger audience that doesn’t want to start with a white paper.
You need to understand what your audience is looking for and provide it. Sometimes that’s through a white paper and sometimes through a podcast, but both play a role. We have some very technical white papers, and although you can have highly technical conversations on a podcast, no one wants to listen to 17 minutes of someone reciting facts about a product.
What are your KPIs for the podcast and how do you measure success?
Obviously, we love looking at the download numbers, but to me success is about broadening our reach to new audiences and touching markets we might not have touched before.
We always try to tie this back to our digital advertising or engagement on our website where our more traditional assets sit. Podcasts, and also video case studies, give us traction. People are spending more time on the site. And then we look to see where they go afterwards, whether they get what they need and if they raise their hand to be contacted later.
Other than the Panasonic website, where else do you distribute the podcast and how do you promote it?
It’s all the places you’d expect to find podcasts, including iTunes and Spotify, and we also advertise the show. We just started doing some podcast promotion on Spotify to get the message out, and we’re seeing a lot of listeners there.
Spotify works even though you’re targeting niche B2B audiences?
There’s an increasingly blurry line between consumer and B2B. Although the business consumer is our target, at some point during the day they’re also just a regular consumer.
And now, if someone is going out for a jog and wants to listen to a podcast, we have a way to engage with them.
This interview has been edited and condensed.