3 Tips for Using Podcasting for Your BusinessElance_Keith | Jul 21, 2011
How do you connect with your customers? Social media has been all the rage, but alternative methods like podcasting can give you a presence that you may have not thought of before. Experienced podcaster Paul Clifford offers his insights to help get you started from strategy and creating value to content.
With all the emphasis on social media, we often forget that there are other methods of connecting to clients, customers, and business associates. How do you reach the road warrior whose most-used chair is behind a steering wheel? How do you connect with people who can listen at work, but who have been blocked from Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In by their IT departments? How do you share without coming across as an infomercial, intent on selling and selling only?
The answer might just be podcasting. Podcasting is to radio or television as blogging is to the newspaper. It provides an audio or video platform on which you can deliver you message. Gone are the days when you needed to rent time on a radio or television station to reach a geographically limited audience. Now, for very little money, you can reach the ends of the globe and people who've never heard of you or your business.
1. Plan Your Show
Start by planning your show. Answer these questions. What kind of show will you make? Will it be a panel or a single person? Will it include the audience or be a lecture? Will it be daily or monthly? How long will each episode last? What will it be called?
Each answer affects the next and potentially changes your audience. A five-minute show might appeal to a busier person than a two-hour show. A panel discussion might be easier to sustain for thirty minutes than one person talking. A daily two-hour show is much harder to sustain than a daily 5 minute show (that can be recorded once a week and released each day).
Some companies answer these questions by simply repurposing content that they've created for other mediums. This is sometimes a viable solution, but often results in a show that seems wrong somehow. A recording of a radio talkshow might have been broadcast live to a limited area and had the possibility of interaction at that time, but once time-shifted, loses that ability. Discussions of interest to people in Los Angeles might not appeal to people in Louisville.
Time limitations in other formats, might seem artificial on a podcast. Since it doesn't need to fit into a small window, a discussion can continue.
Learn about the audience you're trying to appeal to and do a show for them. Unless your product is geographically limited, don't limit your audience geographically. Unless its availability is limited by time, be careful about adding limits artificially.
2: Create Value, Not Spam
It's tempting to create a commercial that touts your product and continually adds a call to action to buy, buy, buy. This is almost never the right plan.
Start by asking yourself, "What value can I give my audience?" I want to create a situation where when they're ready to buy my service, they feel like they should buy from me because I've already given them so much.
The first time I noticed this principle in practice was right after college. I was in the market for a cell phone. I looked and looked and looked. Finally, I found two places with the same phone, same plan, and same carrier. At the first, they weren't able to give quite the same deal, but I really liked the sales person. She treated me like a friend and was trying to give me all she could, but she couldn't give me quite the deal I wanted. The second place seemed hesitant to answer my questions and help me with the phone, but was offering everything that the first offered plus free accessories. I bought from the first place--a decision that surprised me.
A wise business person might mention their product or service from time to time, but won't be pushy. They'll instead offer things that make them likable. Each time that someone listens to an episode, they'll leave thinking, "Good information. I really like him." The next time that an audience member needs goods or services that I provide, I want them thinking the same thing.
3: Make It Regular and Communicate When It's Not
Content drives traffic and regular content drives regular traffic. Get in the habit of recording your shows at the same time, each time. Once the habit is built, it will be difficult to miss more than one.
I think this is the mistake that's cost me the most. I've taken off for long periods of time because of life getting in the way. I never communicated that I'd be back, but just left it unsaid. If this is part of your marketing efforts, I don't think it's a mistake you can afford to make.
Building a loyal following for your brand is too hard to risk it on being too busy. If you miss a week in a weekly podcast, come back and pick up where you left off. If you miss two, communicate.
Following these tips, you'll be able to build a loyal audience that looks for opportunities to repay your kindness by purchasing from you or hiring you. Podcasting can be a powerful tool for any building a brand and building a customer base. It also provides you a way to stand out amongst the others in your field who only want Twitter followers or Facebook friends, but provide nothing in return.
About the Author
Owner & Chief Creative Officer
Author of "Podcasting Church" at http://PodcastingChurch.com