At the rate that modern technology has been advancing, it has become increasingly more difficult for businesses to stay up-to-date with the next, best way to promote your business. Most recently, the more traditional forms of promotion have been superseded by a constant barrage of Social Media. Networks such as Facebook and Twitter are now being utilized by big businesses to stay in touch with their customer base. In all of the hoopla about social media, I can’t help but feel that some tried and true means of promotion are being underutilized, maybe even ignored. Enter Podcasting. Our previous blog entry, “What Are Podcasts?” described a podcast as a digital audio or video file available for download to either a computer or digital audio/video player. Just like social media, podcasts allow businesses to connect one-on-one with their customer. In the following weeks, we will be detailing a 3-part, step-by-step guide to podcast creation and will hopefully help you answer the question, “Should I be using a podcast to promote my business?”
The beauty of a podcast lies in its ability to target a specific niche or community. Broadcasting, a precursor to podcasting, implies “broad” and is distributed to the masses with hopes that your target audience is listening. Podcasting on the other hand, implies “pod,” which if you know anything about whales or dolphins, implies a small community. Just to clarify, whales and dolphins have nothing to do with the actual origin of the word podcasting, but I’ve found it highlights the major advantage of podcasting very well. An additional benefit of podcasting over broadcasting is its cost effectiveness. Whereas broadcasting requires that you pay based on the reach of your messaging, podcasting requires only that you pay for a domain and web host.
The first step in executing any successful promotion is plan, plan, plan. I’ve never been one to use trite quotes in my writing, but in this instance one couldn’t be more applicable.
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
In fact, plan to “plan a lot”. For every 20 minutes of recording, you can assume many hours went into the planning. There are a few important questions you need to answer before you can decide if podcasting is right for your business. One of these questions is already somewhat answered for you.
- What are you going to podcast about?
If you are podcasting for a business promotion, we can assume that you will want to discuss topics related to your business. I typically recommend that people choose areas of interests that they consider themselves to be experts on or have a particular passion for. Quite conveniently, most businesses ARE either experts in their respective industries or desire to be. It’s also safe to assume that they possess a certain extent of passion for their work or else they never would have gotten involved in their industry. It seems as though business promotion and podcasting were made for each other. Other questions you should ask yourself in the planning stage include:
- What is the goal of my podcast?
Is it to create an additional stream of revenue? If so, what will your show offer that listeners deem important enough to pay for? Is it to open up a line of communication with your customers or potential customers? Is it simply to promote your product?
- Is there demand for the information I will provide?
Podcasting is great for reaching small, focused, and underserved topics of interests, but you need to make certain that your topic isn’t too niche. In a similar respect, you need to ensure that your topic is not too broad. Making the mistake of choosing too broad of a topic, will leave your target audience disinterested in the verbal filler unrelated to their interests. Still, choosing a topic that is too niche, will alienate and exclude potential customers who don’t share similar of interests. Finding the balance between the two is a major contributing factor to podcasting success.
- What will the format of my podcast be?
Format, in this instance obviously refers to the structure of the podcast and not the file type. What will the length of your podcast be? How often will you produce a podcast? How will you present the information? Will you record in real time or edit the podcast in post using audio editing software? Recording on the fly requires a decent amount of skill and is not recommended for someone just starting out, but the advantage is it can save you loads of time. Editing in post allows for a much more professional final product, but it also requires a lot more time and a bit more technical know-how. The possibilities as to how you deliver your information are endless, but listeners appreciate some consistency in your delivery.
With the basic questions out of the way, it’s now time to start aggregating and planning content for your podcast. My advice is to create an outline of the topics you would like to discuss. Your podcast should without a doubt, consist of both an intro and an outro. You may have a section for announcements where you discuss recent developments about your podcast. You may choose to have a news section where you inform your audience about industry trends or recent business gossip. Consider using guests occasionally. Interviews with leading professionals in your industry are a great way to get people to tune in. In addition, engaging with the listener directly is always a great strategy for success. Asking listeners to email you questions and allotting some time to answer those on your show keeps listeners and potential customers, personally invested in your brand. Lastly, you should consider staying away from scripted shows. They sound too rehearsed and take away any hint of personality in your podcast.
The amount of effort devoted to planning a successful podcast will exceed the expectations of most. Invest the proper amount of time and we promise you will stand a chance at creating a traffic-driving, community-stirring podcast. Next week, we will pick back up where we left off and jump headfirst into the tools and equipment required to record, edit, and upload your podcast to the web.