With the popularity of video marketing on the constant rise, one category of effective, engaging content often gets overlooked: audio. For both online and traditional marketing channels, if you’re ignoring audio’s potential to build your brand, you’re missing out on an important way to speak directly to your customers, clients and prospects. But just as there are varying levels of planning, developing, and integrating video into a content marketing plan, audio too has different degrees of purpose, quality, and aggregation. Not all are a good fit for all industries or organizations, but here are three pieces of branding audio I recommend every business use in their marketing.
Custom Phone Messaging
Whether it’s a simple voicemail message or a full interactive voice response (IVR) tree, this piece of audio is often the first gatekeeper between you and your customer. With more businesses saving money by not keeping a receptionist on staff, and more companies providing affordable messaging services, there’s never been a more convenient time to be deliberate and creative with this aspect of branding.
The process of scripting and developing this audio can seem a little overwhelming at first. What do you need, and how will you create it? Whether doing it on your in-house or working with a firm or creative that specializes in this type of production, cultivate a mindset that this is a sales script. What would you want the first thing a receptionist, salesman, or customer service representative to say to a prospect that has just walked in the door? There’s your starting point.
No matter what type of phone messaging you’re crafting, it’s important to keep your introduction as short as possible, with the maximum length being 20 seconds. This allows for a small amount of branding (from as simple as stating the name of the company in your greeting, to a fully produced audio logo with music) before quickly presenting the options you’d like your caller to choose from. Remember, this isn’t a full ad! Your caller has already opted in by dialing your number – but that doesn’t mean you can’t lose them. Keep them engaged, and they’ll remember how easy it was to communicate with you.
More people are listening to podcasts than ever before as they become even more accessible and high quality. A listener no longer has to go through a complicated process to find the episodic audio they want to hear, but can simply check them out on demand on sites like Soundcloud and Stitcher, and many still subscribe to podcasts through iTunes. This leads to more listening at home, at school, at work, and where no other form of branding can safely go: on the commute.
So what can your brand do with this medium? Podcasting can be effectively used to open a dialogue with your listeners, to educate and involve them in your story. This could be through scripted training audio if your product or service is one that can benefit from deeper instruction. It could be strengthening your brand by having leadership give mentoring talks on your podcast, thus establishing expertise in your industry. You could produce an interview with other users, members of your team, or strategic partners. Or, you could combine all of the above to form your overall podcasting plan.
Average and optimal length for a podcast currently falls between 15-20 minutes, though many run as short as a few minutes (like an audio version of a blog post) to an hour or more. The key lies in finding the right length for your specific listener base, once it starts developing. As with most things in business, this comes through testing and tweaking what works and what doesn’t as you go.
An Audio Explainer
Explainer videos are now commonplace on homepages and social media, as illustrated introductions to what brands are all about. They are 1-3 minutes in length, and fun and engaging.
It’s great if the illustration helps your viewer understand your brand better, but you won’t always have the visuals to depend on. In-person networking situations rely on a powerful elevator pitch, and your audio explainer should, too. Whether it’s presented in a traditional way or in storytelling form, your explainer is the best way to speak directly right to the heart of what your brand can do for your customer.
This form of content can get a lot of use, even outside of being a great standalone piece of media. Especially around the one minute mark, your explainer can become a traditional spot that can be used for advertising on radio or in podcasts (your own, or with strategic partners). It can become your “on hold” audio for your custom phone messaging as well. And if you’re going to produce an explainer video at a later stage, having this already developed will essentially create your storyboard for your video producer, saving you both time and saving you money.
As more customers and prospects engage with all types of media throughout their day, businesses have the opportunity to use branding audio in both traditional and new ways to speak directly with them. By creating these three pieces of branding audio I’ve recommended here, businesses have a fantastic way to begin the conversation.