Are People Tuning into Podcasting? Exploring the Medium’s Marketing Benefits and Misconceptions

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ROI does not only have to be measured in immediate dollars and sense. And podcast technology provides one of the greatest marketing opportunities in decades for three primary reasons:

1) It uses RSS technology which simply means that once people subscribe to your show you’ve got an invitation into their computer/iPod again and again. It’s relationship marketing in it’s purest form, because unless you provide quality, value-add content, people aren’t going to let you take up their server space.

2) You can say whatever you want. There are no FCC regulations on your material, so you can swear and all that. But, more importantly, you can create material for as niche an audience as you want. In this regard, the medium is perfect for the corporate environment.

For instance, why not produce a show for your sales force where your Sales V.P.’s podcast tips and suggestions that the team can download once a week? Provide a digitized phone line for the sales team that they can call during the week to leave messages with their successes and ideas. These can be edited for the show. After a few months you’ve got a treasure trove of intellectual property that can be repurposed, sold, or enjoyed/utilized by salespeople for months to come. Who cares that it may not make it to the top 100 in iTunes? Your salesforce are your diehard fans and they’re your primary audience. How’s that for ROI?

3) It allows you to speak from the heart, seriously. And I don’t mean saccharine messages like you see emblazoned on placards throughout office waiting rooms with people rowing framed by a sunset. I mean that when you sit by yourself and talk into a microphone and try to speak something meaningful to your workforce or clients, you’d better either entertain or speak from a truthful place, or again, people won’t listen for more than ten seconds.

Okay, you’re thinking. Nice sentiment. It’s still not viable for your business.

I disagree completely, and I don’t know your business. But here are some thoughts to show you what I mean:

-On my site, I interviewed a real estate salesperson named Chip Hunnicutt from South Carolina. He uses podcasts (and podcasts with an enhanced feature that allows you to see slide shows) for his real estate clients. He not only shows pictures of houses/properties, he describes them in his podcast with music in the background. People can download the show before they take a driving tour to see the houses he describes.

So what? Well, he’s selling a lot more houses lately than his competitors. And people love his shows. I’ve actually pitched a few real estate folks in the NYC area about creating a podcast for them (I do Podcast Consultation myself) and they all say things like, “our agents are too busy to produce a show like that.” Well, good news-pretty soon you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands because people like Chip are realizing that podcasts distinguish him from his competitors and put them (and you) out of business.

Well, you’re thinking, he’s an entrepreneur who can take chances like that. No business is using podcasts on a large scale in that fashion.

And…wrong again. Sorry. But I am trying to get you to adopt a new technology so I have to play hardball. Check out my site and read my “Cheerios Podcast Case Study.” Cheerios has created what they call a “radio show” (which I think is fine-people don’t need to understand the technology to enjoy the content) which is designed to help new moms get over the hurdles of the early months of having kids. Once the program gets underway, moms are also going to be provided with online tools to leave their own voice and even video clips to help other moms. The initiative is going gangbusters.

Why? Because Cheerios gets that podcasts, videocasts and the like help build a community around a product/service that will only exist/grow if the content provided is:

1) Truthful, or at least valuable
2) Easy to access whenever/wherever you like
3) Entertaining.

And let’s not forget that you don’t necessarily need to create a podcast show (that’s RSS enabled) to benefit your podcast. I once wrote an article on how to create an Audio Press Release. Studies show that having an audio element in your email newsletter can triple your open rates. People are intrigued by this new medium. Plus, they’ll get to hear your voice with sound effects and music talking about a product/service rather than just reading it off a page. It makes your presenation multi-dimensional and helps distinguish you from the reams of other words people are confronted with every day.

Are you starting to see the picture? Or hear it? Podcasting is not about creating a new radio-style program to compete with the likes of Howard Stern. It’s about getting in front of the mic and speaking your truth to get your message to the masses.

So let your customers/employees know your thoughts and Hear Your Voice.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I could not agree more with John. The article provides great insite in the burgeoning podcast industry. I particularly agree with the 3 golden principles:

    1) Truthful, or at least valuable
    2) Easy to access whenever/wherever you like
    3) Entertaining.

    We have discovered that, in order for our content to resonate with its viewers, being truthful is even more important than being entertaining, at least when it comes to user retention versus initial user acquisition.

    While our host is a Latin Supermodel (Estelle Reyna)and hence “entertaining” at least to most male viewers, the primary comment people make about our content (from males and females) is about how down-to-earth Estelle appears and how well viewers relate to her because of that. TRUST is what creates loyal user bases, in any industry. The lifetime value of a customer is what really counts and grows the bottom line. There is no value without trust.

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