Podcasts and prospecting

For 25 years, my business partner and I have hosted a financial topic radio program that, for the last five years, has also been available via podcast. For many years, our radio show was our No. 1 source of new leads for the firm. But that’s all changed.

Last month, I wrote that our radio program listenership has gone into decline (as most radio listenership has), but that we had surpassed 1 million downloads of our podcast. 

Yet unfortunately, despite its popularity, when it comes to attracting new clients, our podcast is no substitute for the halcyon days of our radio show (or for modern digital marketing, for that matter). 

Here’s why.

While we certainly have folks who are loyal to our broadcast radio show, most listeners are people in their cars who tune in simply because that is what happens to be on the air at the time. Over the years, a person might catch a few minutes of the show dozens of times. Perhaps they liked what they heard, or realized that they needed professional financial help, and so one day they’d take out their phone (or go to our website) and schedule an appointment. 

But a financial topic podcast is generally much different than radio because listeners must actively seek out that specific topic and format, and that seems to result in a different type of listener.

Case in point: According to Forbes, there are over 700,000 podcasts available today. With so many choices, it’s unlikely that a person who isn’t steeped in knowledge about financial topics would pursue that specific a category of podcast.

As our radio listenership continues to decline, and our podcast audience grows, we’ve come to realize that the callers the podcast generates have become more sophisticated about investments and planning, and typically are only seeking validation of their approach.

But the news isn’t all bad. Despite not generating as many leads as the radio show once did, relatively speaking. the podcast is still a valuable tool for our firm in a few key areas.

The first is client retention. Podcasts are a great way for us to communicate information on newsworthy financial topics such as the CARES Act or a sudden market decline. When something dramatic or notable happens, we’ll go into the studio and produce a special podcast that addresses the topic, and send that to our clients. (The “open” and “read-through” rates on such podcasts are excellent.)

Of course, the same goes for prospective clients who have already subscribed to our emails and newsletters and come to learn of our approach and philosophy via the podcast.

And while many podcast callers are well-versed in finance and don’t generally make great prospective clients (unless they get tired of doing it themselves), these sophisticated callers make for a quality podcast. They ask good questions that illustrate to listeners how complicated the overall investment and financial planning process can be.

In short, while podcasts are a great tool for serving existing clients (and nurturing those who are already interested in our firm), when compared to the number of leads radio generated 10 to 20 years ago, podcasts are a comparatively lousy tool for locating new assets to manage.

[More: Do you care about the mass affluent?]

Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with $8 billion in AUM.

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