Podcasts are great free tools that allow you to syndicate content for free over the internet. Wikipedia defines a podcast as “a series of audio or video digital media files which is distributed over the Internet by syndicated download, through Web feeds, to portable media players and personal computers.”
Although podcasting has come to mean both audio and video files syndicated over the internet – video podcasting and its benefits are beyond the scope of this article.
As we think about podcasting for business profits we need to keep in mind that this medium is a tool. A great tool for you to build a relationship with your customers because audio programming is a very personable medium. When we listen to talk radio, for example, we perceive the host to be talking directly to us. Audio seems more like a conversation than a broadcast.
This can be useful to businesses and organizations in building a “voice” of the company. A person who regularly records audio content can become part of a listener’s daily or weekly routine and will eventually become a trusted source of information.
This brings me to my next point. Podcasts beg to be helpful. What do I mean by this? Quite simply the best podcasts are the ones that add value to the listener’s life. For this reason podcasting in education is exploding.
One of the biggest mistakes your business can make is to attempt to use this medium as a direct sales tool. Sales may be the final goal and how you will measure ROI, but it shouldn’t dominate the main message of the program.
Let’s suppose you have a medium size printing company. Your ultimate goal is obviously to recruit businesses to to send your shop print work. You decide that you’d like to begin producing a weekly podcast. In the podcast you make a pitch for why your presses are the best in town. You ramble on and on about the quality and flexibility of your digital printing division. Your mouth keeps moving as you discuss the benefits of your in-house mailing department. Who cares? To be honest – no one does. And most likely no one will listen past the first minute.
Now contrast this with the printing company that begins to produce a weekly podcast explaining the benefits of direct mail campaigns. These podcasts are helping the small business owner with his sales and marketing strategies. Each week your short and to the point podcast is packed full of tips and strategies the small business owner can use to gain more customers using print based materials. This owner will begin to see you as a trusted source of information and knowledge. And the next time he needs something printed he’s going to chose the company that added value to his business and life.
Finally, audio podcasts don’t have to be difficult to produce. To begin, a simple USB microphone plugged directly into your computer can do the trick. The key is to add value to your customers and prospects. By adding value you will earn their trust ultimately leading to more sales.
Joel Mark Witt is a producer, speaker, and new media leader who writes about social media and its impact in the business world. He is also the Founding Director of Folk Media. Send him an email: joelmarkwitt (at) folkmedia.org or follow him on Twitter.