podcasting_464cc56910431Podcasting for Business

By Don Lipper & Elizabeth Sagehorn - Technology Writers

Making the business case for podcasting is easy. Next time you travel via plane, train or just walking down the street, count the number of people with wires coming out of their ears. People are listening, but to what? And what opportunity does it present for your business?

THE AUDIENCE


A recent report by Edison Media Research shows that awareness of podcasting jumped from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007. But within the same timeframe, people who actually listen to podcasts only increased from 11% to 13%. Video podcast watchers edged up from 10% to 11%. Even so, that relatively small percentage of people who are watching/listening to podcasts could be a key demographic for you.

They are younger (no surprise there), evenly divided male/female. They are well educated with most having college background (they have twice as many advanced degrees). They are more likely to live in higher income households. They spend more than 50% of their time on the Internet, a quarter of them are on MySpace, almost all of them are blog readers to some degree but 85% aren't blog contributors. They own more HDTVs, DVRs/Tivos than the general population, and are twice as likely to rent DVDs. Nearly half listen to audio on their iPod or their computer. They are very active online shoppers who are 29% more likely to pay for digital content, and are twice as likely to click on relevant advertising. Full details are at:http://www.edisonresearch.com/home/archives/2007/03/2007_podcast_statistics_analysis.php

 

THE TECH YOU NEED


We will assume for the moment that you are not a rock star (we know you're a totally awesome singer in the shower, but the listening public isn't ready for your greatness). If your business is selling goods or services, podcasting is a powerful low-cost marketing tool.

 

The good news is that if you have a microphone and a computer, you have everything you need to start podcasting. Both Mac and Windows have software that will allow you to record audio. By adjusting the audio quality of the recording, you can minimize the file size. Since most podcasts are centered around talking and not musical performances, you can probably get by using the lowest quality setting.

The exact technical procedures for recording and posting your podcast can be found by Googling "podcasting tips" "podcasting tutorial" or "podcasting how-to". You can start with the software that's on your computer, download some freeware or go nuts and build yourself a killer underground podcasting bunker complete with a cone of silence.

THE VALUE TO YOUR BUSINESS


Money isn't the issue, time is. Like its text cousin blogging, podcasting can become the greatest productivity time sink. But for some businesses the payoff can be very attractive.

 

If you are selling a product, creating a video podcast showing customers the virtues of the product in action can help cinch the sale. If you are selling a minivan, you can show every feature in context. You can even sell software with podcasts, showing users how it works without having to download the trial version. Such demonstrations are often the most effective way to encourage people to try your product.

If you are selling a service like insurance or marketing, podcasting requires just a little more planning. You have to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. You need to look at podcasting not as something you want to talk about (I'd like talking about my cats today), but as something someone will spend the time to download and listen to. That means you need to focus on the benefit to the listener.

Many salespeople credit their success with making a human connection. Audio and video podcasts allow you to automate those first contacts. While you can't listen to a prospect's specific problems, if you know what your customers' general needs are you can use podcasts to show them why your product/service is the solution they have been looking for. You can make that human connection over the Internet. People will be able to see your passion for the topic and your integrity.

Don't think it works? What are your impressions of Oprah, Jerry Springer and Pat Robertson? Chances are you've never met the three of them in person, but you have an opinion about them based on what you've seen on TV.

Podcasting's potential value is that for low costs you can improve your visibility as a leader in your field, differentiate yourself from the competition and increase your sales.

Planning your podcast.

  • Decide the frequency: For some, a daily podcast makes sense, for most it doesn't. Some want to comment on every market fluctuation, others should only do it for things like podcast versions of company and new product announcements.
  • Decide on the length: Many podcasts are between three to 15 minutes. Just long enough to cover a specific topic or two. If you've got lots of material to go over, break it up.
  • Look for a model: Find other podcasts that cover the same territory as yours. (Google "podcast directories" to get listings.) If you can't find an exact fit, here are some approaches: you can do a news recap about your industry; interview industry figures; talk to book authors; do a straight commentary, a call-in show, an NPR style audio presentation; etc.
  • Deconstruct the model: They say a translator is someone who looks at a beautiful tapestry and then turns it over to examine the stitching. You need to deconstruct your competition. Note how they approach the topic, their production value, the length of stories, how many topics are handled, what you like and don't like.
  • Decide on your audience: You don't necessarily want to attract everyone who is interested in a given topic. You want people who are considering buying your product or service. So to get the maximum impact, give great thought to where in the decision-making process you want to get your audience, and then design your podcast program to hit those targets.
  • Plan your next 20 podcasts: Make a list of 20 podcast topics. The first few will be easy, the next ten will be stinkers and the last ones may be inspired. Take a look at whether you want your content to be phrased as a podcast (which suggests newsy frequency) or an audio course or a video podcast hands on tour of your product.
  • Plan, Rehearse, Repeat: Plan what you are going to do. Write an outline instead of a script (you'll sound more natural). If you need to plan every word, write it out and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
  • Record it and then trim it: If you don't already have audio software that will allow you to edit the audio, you can download trial versions of high end software. Go to www.download.com and search for "audio editor". When we did this we found 365 editors, of which 66 were free. Editing is the heart of good writing. The old adage is that the second draft is the first draft minus 10%. See if you can cut at least 10%.
  • WARNING: The Internet is forever. It's true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The podcasts you are putting out there will be archived somewhere on the Internet FOREVER. Be sure what you say won't come back to bite you later on.

 

This article is a product of Cybertary, Inc. Please review our policy for reprinting this article on your own site.


   Comstock's   Good Day Sacramento   Sac Bee   USA Today   Working Mother Magazine   PINK Magazine