10 Lessons a True Crime Comedy Podcast Can Teach Us About Branding

Molly McDougalLearn

Here’s the thing.

I’m deeply captivated by the recent true crime fad that’s taken over modern society. What is the number one reason for my obsession you ask? Okay, I know you didn’t ask. But I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s the mega-hit podcast, My Favorite Murder (MFM for short).

First, some background: The Karcher Group is a digital marketing agency, and branding is one of the services we offer. Typically, we work with B2B business, so it might surprise you that this podcast has taught me so many practical lessons about what it means to build a successful brand.

But alas, here we are.

If you haven’t listened to MFM, you should check it out. But stay here for the lessons before you go. Read on to find out the top 10 ways this true crime comedy podcast has cultivated a community of dedicated Murderinos (fans of the show) and how you can create your own beloved brand. 

Know your audience

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the hosts of MFM, just might be the sharpest marketers I know. They started a just-for-fun podcast centered around a mutual interest, but when droves of true crime fanatics began to take note, these ladies galvanized their newfound fanbase and grew it exponentially.

They’ve gotten to know their listenership, along with their motivations and insecurities. Now, they serve up some of the most relatable episodes and catchphrases podcasting has ever seen (more on that later).

The takeaway

It’s not always about you. Sure, you should stay true to yourself, but you also need to create a brand people can believe in.

Play to the trends

It’s no secret; we’re having a true-crime moment in popular culture. The ladies from MFM picked the perfect time (early 2016), when the momentum just began to swell, to start their game-changing podcast. And if the recent Ted Bundy craze is any indication, it’s not slowing down any time soon. 

The takeaway

Don’t just think about what’s happening now. Think about what’s next. And serve up timely content that will capture your audience’s attention.

Dare to be different

Karen and Georgia never let the haters stop them. Sure, plenty of people had something to say about combining true crime and comedy (I admit, it looks strange on paper). But they are clear with their listeners that laughter and levity help them cope with difficult topics, and if you listen to an episode, I think you’ll understand. 

The takeaway

Sometimes you have to do what you’re passionate about and find a niche that gets you. If you want to stand out, you can’t be all things to all people. 

Use every tool at your disposal

Always looking for their next opportunity, Karen and Georgia did not keep their clever quips to just one platform for long. Over the years, MFM has grown beyond the confines of the podcasting medium to become a social community, touring show, podcast network and even a best-selling book. These enterprising entrepreneurs keep trying out new realms, and they are supported at every turn by their large, devoted following.

The takeaway

Use a diverse mix of marketing channels to create an immersive brand ecosystem for your fans. Wherever they’re already spending time, you should be there.  

Speak your truth

The top reason these superstars stand out in the podcasting world is their honest authenticity. They make their listeners feel like we’re all cut from the same quirky cloth. Even though MFM’s popularity has exploded in recent years, Karen and Georgia have never gotten out of touch or lost sight of the community behind them. The podcast feels like a time for friends to check in and chat about their days. It’s like the microphone just happens to be there, so it’s easy to listen and enjoy every word. 

The takeaway

Be authentically you. Not everyone should try for laughs on social media. If straightforward is your jam, there’s no shame in that. 

Foster a sense of community

With their mastery of the spoken word, social media prowess and uncanny ability to resonate with their audience, it’s no wonder this podcast has grown a cult following. Listeners tune in religiously to hear from these relatable and hilarious women, but fans have also begun building relationships with each other offline. From local meet-ups to fan cult forums, MFM has mobilized a wave of true crime enthusiasts just looking for others who share their passion.  

The takeaway

Leverage user-generated content and give love to your customers whenever you can to help curate a shared experience that brings people together. 

Release great content on schedule

I’m a creature of habit, so it’s comforting for me to live life by a routine. Fortunately, MFM posts mini episodes every Monday and full episodes every Thursday. They never miss a week, and the reliable notification bell from my Stitcher app has become a constant in my life that I very much appreciate. Marketers take note. 

The takeaway

Instead of publishing content whenever it’s available, try posting on a pre-defined schedule. You can set expectations with your audience and get them coming back on cue.  

Take your catchphrases to the bank

Okay, no exaggeration. The quotable moments on this podcast are the absolute best. Some of my personal favorites include, “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered (SSDGM),” “You’re in a cult, call your dad” and “Sit crooked and talk straight.” There are countless others as well.

Comments that are blurted out in the throes of conversation become timeless gems that appear on shirts, mugs, sweatpants and even listener tattoos. 

The takeaway

When a campaign tag resonates with your customers, repurpose it in different ways to make it part of your brand.

Make yourself vulnerable

MFM would have significantly less heart and appeal without the deep vulnerability displayed by its hosts. From their struggles with substance use and mental health to loss and love, Karen and Georgia are full of relatable stories and words of wisdom. They don’t take themselves too seriously or hold their audience at arm’s length. It’s the reason Murderinos fall so quickly and stay so long. 

The takeaway

To develop real relationships, it’s important to open yourself up to scrutiny and share your story. It can be scary to put your brand out there, but great risks often lead to great rewards.

Stay sexy and don't get murdered

This is not actually a tip that applies to branding, but it’s the signoff for every MFM episode, and it feels appropriate to end this article with it as well. Plus, it’s good advice.

Have questions or want to talk more about brand strategy? Or maybe you’re looking for great podcast recommendations (I have plenty). Either way, don’t be shy. Send us a message to get the conversation started.