Does your business or brand have a podcast? Bob Pittman thinks it should. If Pittman's name doesn't immediately pop into your mind, you probably didn't grow up in the early 1990s. He's one of the co-founders of MTV and is now the chairman and CEO of iHeartRadio. So he knows a little bit about what makes audiences tick and how to connect with them

According to Pittman, who recently  launched a podcast of his own (Math and Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing), podcasts are such a valuable brand tool because they "let you go in-depth with your audience on topics they are passionate about, and most listeners are engaged, committed and loyal--and become super-fans of the host and brand."

It would be hard to argue that podcasting isn't quickly becoming big business, and it has big implications for brands in the same way that blogs democratized content creation over the last decade.

In fact, I'm convinced that if done right, podcasting could be one of the most effective ways for your creative businesses to grow your brand and reach your target audience--and that most of you should absolutely start a podcast for your business. 

So, in addition to Pittman, I talked to a few podcast hosts and producers about starting a podcast for your brand. Here are a few of the reasons you should:

1. Podcasts are still unique.

Once upon a time, blogs were a big deal. Businesses started them to better connect with their customers, and it worked.

And sure, there are still a lot of people blogging, and there are still a lot of great brands that are creating amazing content on their blogs. But that's the thing--everyone is doing it. It's not unique, and it doesn't set you apart.

That's not true with podcasts. 

According to Erin Youngren, a photographer and the host behind the Creative Rising podcast, "Podcasts are currently in a heyday, very similar to when blogs were rapidly growing 10 years ago, but the barrier to entry is somewhat more difficult for content creators. So the number of podcasts is still a little limited, while audiences are growing."

Podcasting isn't particularly complicated, but there are just enough barriers to entry that most brands won't even bother. You, being the smart entrepreneur that you are, absolutely should.

2. Podcasts are a growing audience.

Right now, research shows that half of American households listen to podcasts, and that number is growing. 

Pittman says that "podcasting continues to experience tremendous growth, and what we've seen is that consumer engagement with podcasts is similar to broadcast radio--the kind of unparalleled engagement that is the direct result of the companionship and loyalty relationship between listeners and the medium."

3. Podcasts are portable and personal.

Unlike many forms of brand building, podcasts go with people wherever they are. And, unlike other forms of content like blogging or video, people can listen while they're doing other things, since audio doesn't require you to be looking at your device.

"The beauty of podcasting is there is more time in the day to consume an audio podcast. When your audience is in the car, working out, walking the dog, doing yard work--or even at work--they can be listening to a podcast," says Rob Walch, the VP of podcaster relations at Libsyn, a podcast hosting provider.

Walch also said: "Since most people listen with earbuds in, you literally get in your audience's head. It is a much more intimate medium than the colder, disconnected world of looking at a screen."

4. Podcasts connect your audience to your brand.

Since podcasts are serial, they keep your audience returning over and over. That means they become more invested in you and your brand as they start to become a part of a community. 

"Podcasts are like any other form of media, in that they can be used to help bolster nearly any part of the customer journey, from awareness to loyalty," says Christopher Penn, one of the co-hosts of the popular Marketing with Coffee podcast. Adding that, while "podcasts generally aren't good at direct response by themselves, they're excellent at building both brand and community,"

Pittman adds that "there is also a level of creative freedom which allows you to go deeper into storytelling on topics and discussions with your audience than we could otherwise."

Here's how to get started.

It might be time to take a real look at what podcasting could do for your brand. If that's the case, you'll find plenty of great articles that walk you through how to start a podcast, but here are a few things to get you started. 

  • An idea: Keep your podcast idea simple and focused on the audience you plan to target. The best podcasts don't try to do too much and understand who it is they're trying to reach. 
  • Gear: Fortunately, it's not hard to find recommendations online for the type of gear you need. Basically, that includes a microphone, audio interface, and recording software on your laptop.
  • Hosting service: There are countless podcast hosting services available, including Walch's Libsyn, which offers an affordable starter plan. Podbean, Buzzcast, and Simplecast are other popular services that also include resources to help you get started.