Business owners, brands, and individual entrepreneurs have a comical amount of marketing choices. The scope contains a variety of mediums, platforms, and methods with countless nuances to each one. These options vying for your attention are overwhelming. Paralyzing even.
So how do you decide which strategy to use? One way you can determine where to spend your resources is by considering the scale of competition.
Let’s begin at my rainy night drive back home to Grand Rapids, MI from WordCamp Ann Arbor. I was merging onto Interstate 96 from my Dunkin’ Donuts latte fuel-stop and had The James Altucher Show on my podcast player. On this episode, Alex Blumberg joined Altucher to discuss building his podcast company, Gimlet Media.
It’s no surprise I love podcasting. Branded company podcasts help grow your company and have large returns on investment. They have helped both myself and our clients. So even though I’m well-researched in podcasting, Blumberg said something around the 16-minute mark of the interview that caused me to stop in my cognitive tracks. Here is what Blumberg said (paraphrased to remove conversation filler):
“Podcasting…is protected in this way because right now, if I was launching a video service or a tv channel or a magazine…I’m competing with everything else that’s out there that people use their eyes to consume. Right? That includes video, YouTube, games, Facebook, Twitter- it’s all competing for the same time. Podcasting exists in a different sphere. It’s the one medium that you consume while you’re doing something else so you can do it while you’re commuting. You can do it while you’re jogging. You can do it while you’re doing the dishes or cooking. And so a lot of people use it that way. In that sense, it’s the one thing you consume on your phone but with your phone in your pocket, it’s protected. Basically podcasts and music are the only things competing with each other… compared to everything going after your eyeballs, there are few things going after your ears.”
I paused the episode and began to contemplate the weight of what he was saying.
Podcasting is protected because it’s audio. It has a fraction of the competition a visual medium has because of the way they are consumed. Compared to everything going after your eyeballs, there are fewer things going after your ears.
Marketing directors and business owners- this should have your attention. Every blog post, article, case study, infographic, company video, and other visually-consumed assets you have is in competition with every other visually-consumable platform, medium, and asset out there.
Hold up. Wait a minute.
I know. You’re probably thinking something like, “Whoa. My blog post revealing our software’s latest benefits isn’t competing with entire social media networks,” or “My promotional college magazine doesn’t have New York Times bestselling books as competition.”
They are completely different mediums or genres. They aren’t in competition, right?
What if you’re wrong?
Peter Theil discusses this idea in his book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. In the chapter, All Happy Companies Are Different, he has a section called Competitive Lies.
Theil explains it this way on page 28, “Entrepreneurs are always biased to understate the scale of competition, but that’s the biggest mistake a startup can make. The fatal temptation is to describe your market extremely narrowly so that you dominate it by definition.”
He goes on to say on page 30, “Non-monopolists (most entrepreneurs) exaggerate their distinction by defining their market as the intersection of various smaller markets… Monopolists, by contrast, disguise their monopolies by framing their market as the union of several larger markets.”
For example, let’s say you own a food-allergy conscious, European bakery and coffeehouse.
It would be tempting to think your competition is only other health-centric cafes when Theil argues your real competition is every other breakfast place out there (yes, that includes behemoths like McDonald’s).
So how can we as marketers benefit from framing the content we produce in this context?
Would you rather your next inbound-focused blog article compete against all of the similar articles in your space AND every other way we spend time visually or would you rather dominate a less crowded space?
In comparison, podcasts have roughly 3 competitors:
- Other podcasts
Would you rather market where you have 3 primary competitors or tens of thousands of competitors?
I’m not suggesting you should abandon all visually-based content. Plenty of companies use it and see results. What I am saying is producing a branded podcast is a great option if you are considering new avenues for reaching your target audience.