Podcasts for Marketers That Will Open Up Your Thinking

All work and no play will get any marketer stuck in a rut. One way to open up your thinking is to step away from it all with a good podcast. But, to be honest, a lot of marketing-centered podcasts are just plain boring and often focused on specific strategies and tactics. Save those for the workweek.

If you’re looking for some brain candy that will trigger creative ideas, you’ll want to check out those not-so-obvious podcasts that will entertain you, educate you, and up your marketing game.

So, here’s a weekend podcast playlist for all of you marketing junkies.

How I Built This with Guy Raz

If you love hearing the entrepreneur stories behind your favorite products and brands, How I Built This hosted by Guy Raz is a winner. One great example is an episode with Jerry Murell, the founder of Five Guys.

This is a case study for creative low-cost market research and strategic planning ideas. Get this: to prove their concept, they rented an out-of-the-way place where no one could see it. “The idea was that if the place was hard to find and we can get people to come there, then we’ve got a winner.” And that’s not the only one, there are at least another ten awesome marketing ideas stuffed into 34 minutes.

While you don’t have to, you’ll probably want to keep a notebook with you to jot down some ideas that you can use in your next marketing campaign.

Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is an author, journalist, and social scientist. In 2010, he published the book Hidden Brain and soon after, launched a podcast with the same name. The Hidden Brain Podcast explores how people become influenced by their unconscious biases. While the episodes are timeless and evergreen, they often pivot on a current conversation.

In a recent episode titled “Playing Favorites: When Kindness Toward Some Means Callousness Toward Others,” the conversation is all about feeling special and unique. He interviews psychologists who reveal that we crave special treatment from those who are closest to us.

Vednatam uses engaging interviews with experts to weave together stories and lessons that you can take with you as you craft marketing messages and campaigns.

Imagined Life

Talk about engaging and interactive! Imagined Life is like a game of Clue or 20 Questions. The podcast tells the story of a famous person from their perspective and in their voice. But — you don’t know who it is until the very end!

Your job is to see if you can guess whose life story is being told. If you’re really up on your celebrity biographies, see how quickly you can guess who the main character is.

Imagined Life is essentially a study in personal branding. You’ll experience, first hand, the obstacles, setbacks, and challenges that these celebrities faced and how they overcame them.

Freakonomics with Stephen Dubner

Where can you find answers to questions like “How to make meetings less painful” or “Does creativity come from pain?”

The Freakonomics podcast has the answers. Host, Stephen Dubner, co-author of the popular business book Freakonomics, explores the economic issues you thought you understood, but really didn’t.

Marketers will appreciate the focus on data analytics. You’ll leave each episode with ideas about new questions you could be asking or new ways to look at data that might give you fresh insights or even uncover a competitive advantage.

This is Uncomfortable with Reema Khrais

What’s more uncomfortable than talking about sex? Talking about money! This is Uncomfortable is a podcast about money and all the ways that money creates awkward moments, messes with relationships, and creates all kinds of unintended consequences.

In an episode highlighting the confessions of a shopaholic, marketers will get an insider peek into a young woman’s experience with getting access to credit and her decline into the life-crushing debt.

Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell

If you’re a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s books such as Outliers, Tipping Point or Blink, you will LOVE his Revisionist History podcast. In each episode, Gladwell goes back and reviews something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Usually, it’s something you’ve heard of in the news or know a little bit about, but that either has been misunderstood or where certain details have been overlooked.

One episode looks back at the PR crisis that Toyota went through regarding unintended acceleration. And another explored whether McDonald’s made a good decision in moving to frying with unsaturated fats. If you think you know what really happened — think again.

As a marketer, you’ll experience multiple a-ha moments and lessons that will inspire you and give you ideas about how to look beyond the obvious.

Story Corps

If you’re looking for insightful and powerful examples of interviews that touch, move, and inspire, look no further than Story Corps.

Story Corps is a non-profit organization with a mission to collect and share powerful stories between people in the form of interviews. Their story began with a recording kiosk in Grand Central Station where people would go in and record a short interview. In 2013, they took their kiosk on the road in the form of an Airstream trailer.

As every marketing professional knows, storytelling is a powerful aspect of every brand. And Story Corps interviews are unique in that the questions that are asked in each interview are so powerful, so revealing and so engaging that you’ll want to swipe them for your own podcasts and content. In fact, you can check out 17 years of Story Corps questions here.

99% Invisible with Roman Mars

Roman Mars is a radio host and producer who is known for his commitment to powerful storytelling on the radio. Fast Company even listed him as one of the 100 most creative people in 2013. His philosophy on creating and producing popular podcasts is to focus on simple concepts because they resonate best with audiences. Another strategy he shares is that the best stories center on the things you just kind of notice but don’t really notice. And this is exactly the focus of 99% Invisible.

This podcast is ideal for content marketers because it’s a study in finding topics and content that triggers that “I’ve seen that everywhere!” reaction with audiences.

Where Will Your Next A-ha Moment Come From?

If you haven’t realized it, the pattern that runs through all of these is that they explore untapped, unrealized, or ignored pieces of life.

The lesson that all of these podcasts offer to marketers is the same as that famous line from Ferris Buehler — “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’