When a business is evaluating its online marketing tactics, the checklist it goes through can probably be found at almost every other successful business in the country: website, social media, and a blog with intriguing custom content, along with pictures and infographics.
How do you make yourself stand out? You’ve carefully curated your Facebook page, engaging fans and offering interesting tidbits. Your business’ blog with custom content by professional journalists has pulled in great numbers for your website.
Is there a new, low-cost, engaging vehicle for engaging consumers? Yes, although not necessarily new, but slightly under the radar.
Meet your new marketing platform: the podcast.
Many a big-city commuter can tell you the value of podcasts and will rattle off their favorites. Since 2004, podcasts have revolutionized the spoken word. Commercials are non-existent and the listener controls the lineup. Consumers can curate their commuting experience with a playlist including the news, how-to-guides, and short stories.
The slim overhead is appealing to businesses of all sizes, from large corporations to one-person businesses including entrepreneurs, writers, and artists.
Pat Flynn was a laid-off architect who started his own podcast, Smart Passive Income, which has quickly climbed to the top of iTunes. He recently spoke with The New York Times about his podcasts’ success and the appeal of the medium:
‘The idea of learning as you go really intrigued me,’ he said, ‘and so each week, in the car to and from work, at the gym, and even on train rides, I’d listen to 15 to 20 hours of audio, and I was always learning something new.’
In business terms, Dave Thackery made the case for podcasts to Content Marketing Institute:
Audio marketing and podcasting are gaining traction because they allow customers to go beyond the static web page and see the person behind the business. Podcasting is engaging, creates a sense of trust and builds customer loyalty. When you combine these three benefits, you have a strong foundation for growth.
Of course, you want a good marketing tactic to be worth your time and overhead. Luckily, podcasts require relatively little of both once you have a strategy in place and learn a bit about audio editing.
For example, Storytime Hour with Erica and Jolenta is a podcast by two artists, Erica Genereux Smith and Jolenta Greenberg, recorded on the floor of their closet in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Their podcast, in addition to entertaining, also serves as a method of self-marketing in order to stand out in a city full of artists.
Regarding overhead, Smith says:
Our podcast is fairly cheap to make considering we already had most of the equipment that we use (laptops and an external mike). We pay $5 a month to host our files with libsyn.com and we advertise using mainly social media and guerrilla techniques, so our budget is pretty minimal.
In terms of setup, Flynn notes that there can be a learning curve at the beginning:
It’s a bit technical to set up a podcast… What’s nice is that once you set it up, all you have to worry about is creating new shows. The directories, such as iTunes, will update automatically when you publish a new episode.
Thackery has some great tips for finding content:
- Go through your existing content and see what can be repurposed…
- Make your podcast a roundtable or panel discussion…
- Take a camera around your office and conduct 60-second interviews with your employees… This shows viewers your organization’s personality and your team’s passion for the organization.
- Share stories about how your business began or how your products came about…
- Interview your customers for on-air case studies…
Impact on Consumers
The benefits of creating on-the-go listening for consumers can be substantial, especially given that podcasts are a relatively untapped resource when compared to, say, Facebook.
A key is to direct your listeners to your website and additional content:
Mr. Flynn often tells his podcast listeners to go to his blog for additional information, links or show notes, the blog now has more than 50,000 subscribers. The podcast has helped build an audience for Smart Passive Income videos, an e-newsletter and an e-book.
According to The New York Times article, Flynn made $203,219 his first year running his business. Financials aside, podcasts are a unique method of delivering content beyond the screen to consumers.
Smith’s experience reiterates what other podcasters have discovered:
It is a way to brand yourself by creating a consistent online identity and producing content that people respond to.