Podcasts

Mastercard’s Marcy Cohen on launching and growing a podcast

  • Mastercard is about to launch season two of its podcast, Fortune Favors the Bold.
  • Marcy Cohen explains how podcasts help with Mastercard's engagement.
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Mastercard’s Marcy Cohen on launching and growing a podcast

We’re experimenting with an interesting new series on the podcast called Marketing Talk. We’re talking to top finance and fintech marketers sitting on the front lines of their business, hustling to bring in the next cohort of customers. As much as TechCrunch makes this stuff look easy, it isn’t and we want to hear from marketers — in their own words — what’s working for them, how they’re structuring their teams, and what channels are delivering.

I don’t know about you but I consume a hefty amount of podcast content. I spend less time streaming music, less time watching videos and more time listening to recorded audio. It’s estimated that 26 percent of all Americans over the age of 12 listen to podcasts. And we’re not just drive-by listeners, either. We’re listening to at least seven podcast episodes every week. This is a huge opportunity for financial marketers who made a living using television and radio to brand their products.

Mastercard has been an early rider on the podcast train. Last year, the payments firm launched Fortune Favors the Bold, a podcast about the unique and changing role money plays in our lives, and about what happens when we take risks, take control and redefine our relationship with it. The podcast was well-received, both critically and among Mastercard’s target audience. The podcast’s audience grew by 55 percent between episode one and five, and the company is about to drop season two any day now.

Marcy Cohen, svp of digital content creation at Mastercard, joins me to discuss the genesis of Mastercard’s podcast activities. She shares what’s worked with the show and the firm’s strategy to use the podcasting medium to market to the firm’s own employees, in addition to acquiring new customers and branding in the market. She also explains how the firm used an agency to strategize and produce its great content.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Let’s talk about your podcast. Can you tell us about the product and how it came to be?

Our global digital communications team is responsible for social listening and engagement, handling our corporate social channels, as well as developing a lot of exciting content out of our newly-built, in-house content studio, Storylabs. We are very close to measurement, making sure everything we do has positive ROI.

We launched season one of Fortune Favors the Bold this past January. It’s a branded podcast series about the unique and changing roles money plays in our lives. We’re about to launch season two November 14. We’re knee-deep in crafting what that looks like with a new host. We loved our first host Ashley C. Ford and unfortunately, she wasn’t available this season.  She’s writing a book and going on a book tour. We loved the work she has done.

Our new host is Mona Chalabi, who’s a journalist and a data visualization artist. So, she’s going to be great, too.

Why did Mastercard launch a podcast?

One of the unique things about podcasts for someone in communications with a PR background is that podcasts enable you to go deeper into a topic with a captive audience. Certainly with PR, when you’re communicating a story idea to a journalist, you have less control over the story as you do in branded content. That’s why I love this medium.

This medium offers an opportunity for brands to share unique content with an audience that chooses to listen to it. There are a lot of podcasts out there and if someone listens to ours, they’re choosing to listen to what we have to say. We have to take that very seriously and not abuse it. I think we do that very nicely by not making it too much about the brand, but instead about the topics we think people care about.

Based on the feedback we received from season one, it sounds like we’re hitting a nerve, getting people to think differently about money, how they spend money and how they save money. Getting dynamic hosts to share their personal stories about money and how it’s affected their lives has been a great recipe for success. With podcasts, we get to spend much more time with our audience than with any other piece of content we would create. It’s a great opportunity for brands.

What should listeners expect in season two of Fortune Favors the Bold?

Mona Chalabi, a journalist and data visualization artist, will be the host and she’ll do some data viz stories around the topics. So, that will be very interesting and something we haven’t done before. We’ll leverage her great skills to help explore some of the assumptions we have about money, in addition to topics like upward mobility, creditworthiness, and financial literacy. She’s going to be talking about the rules around these topics, what we take for granted, and then how these rules are being broken. It’s going to push the limits for what people expect and I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised by what they hear.

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