The Jack Daniel’s team shares a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of its branded podcast, “Around the Barrel.”
Branded podcasts can be a powerful tool for engaging with your audience and reaching new prospects, but how do you know if it’s a worthwhile investment for your brand?
In a session at Podcast Movement 2021, Jack Daniel’s Head of Global PR Svend Jansen and Director of Integrated Marketing Jeff Cole shared their insight into the process of creating a successful branded podcast with “Around the Barrel.”
They also explained why podcasting is a valuable medium for reaching their specific audience.
How to decide if a branded podcast is right for you
When the Jack Daniel’s team first started exploring the idea of creating a podcast, they were attracted to the idea of making space to share stories from the brand’s rich history. That focus informed both the content and the promotion strategy for the podcast.
If you’re weighing the benefits of starting a new branded podcast, Jansen believes it’s important to focus first on creating valuable content.
“I wouldn’t put a podcast out there if I didn’t feel that the content was legit and worthwhile,” he shared. “We have 150 years of stories that we want to tell in a long-form format. This gives us the opportunity to do that.”
Cole agreed that any branded podcast should align with both the brand’s identity and values, as well as the needs of its consumers.
“If you spend time to really understand what the brand stands for and what it’s purpose for being is, you can find a territory that will connect with the consumer,” he explained. “What’s the right fit for your brand, what’s the right objective, and how can you bring it to light for your right audience?”
Cole and Jansen also recommended partnering with an agency that’s experienced with podcast production. For Around the Barrel,” they teamed up with FINN Partners and Relationary Marketing, who helped them fine tune their ideas and suggested a 12 episode per season, 25-minute episode structure that would work well for their concept.
Additionally, they stressed the importance of finding a great host who can represent your brand both on your own podcast and by appearing on other shows.
“Lucas Hendrickson is our host, and he has done a very nice job of just diving deep into the brand,” Jansen explained. “He’s local to Nashville, which I think helped as well, because we knew that we would be recording a lot of the interviews in the Tennessee area.”
With Hendrickson on the team, Jack Daniel’s has been able to gain more earned media coverage with guest appearances on other podcasts.
“Lucas has been a means for us to try to continue that earned coverage beyond just the initial launch,” Jansen shared.
Let your audience inform your strategy
Depending on your brand and the specific objectives that drive your podcast, your ideal audience will probably represent a niche subsection of your brand’s consumers and prospects.
With “Around the Barrel,” the Jack Daniel’s team knew they wanted to focus on people who love the brand and are interested in learning more about the behind-the-scenes process of making whiskey.
“We’re talking to the fans who are getting tattoos of the brand,” Jansen explained.
With that goal in mind, they’ve had to find a balance between wanting to reach new audiences and still creating content that the core audience will care about. Cole explained that other platforms are designed to target new customers, so the podcast is less about recruiting or selling, and more about engaging.
Because of this, metrics like average listening time and qualitative analysis of listener reviews matter more to Jack Daniel’s than statistics like download numbers.
“Other channels and other programs are designed for scale, this is designed for depth,” Cole shared. “It’s not about the volume of reviews, it’s about are we seeing the passion of those connections? A lot of it comes down to knowing who you are as a brand, knowing what your values are and staying true to them.”
Find the promotion strategies that work for your brand
When “Around the Barrel” first launched, they relied solely on organic promotion on social media and earned coverage from other media outlets.
“We’re very fortunate as a 150-year-old brand that has the number one whiskey in the world, we have millions of followers,” Jansen explained. “We have a built-in audience that we knew would gravitate toward this. So that built-in audience helped us not have to spend too much on any sort of paid promotion.”
However, paid promotion can also be a great option for advertising a podcast, and they’ve since expanded to include this in their strategy.
At the end of the day, Cole and Jansen believe that promotion, just like every other aspect of a show, should be driven by the audience and the goals. By identifying what your brand stands for and who it serves, you can build a strategy that reaches the right people and engages them with great content.