29th November, 2016
Podcasting is growing as a business marketing tool, but it’s not without pitfalls.
Almost all SMEs recognise the importance of building an online presence, but having a website is no longer enough. There’s a smorgasbord of new media through which to interact with an audience, but the one touted as ‘the next big thing’ is podcasting.
At their best, podcasts combine the liveliness of a radio show with the economy of a blog post. People can listen in whenever and wherever they choose – on the commute to work, at the gym or on a plane.
Today’s technology is such that to create a basic podcast, all that’s really required is a laptop and a decent microphone.
Most of the latest smartphones and tablets come preinstalled with a dedicated podcast app, so all many consumers have to do is open the app, pick a podcast and click play.
The average podcast lasts around 20 minutes, which is ample time to share insights on different products, pose questions and start discussions.
You can also test new ideas, interview guest experts and position yourself and business as a trusted advisor within your niche.
Because listening is more immersive than reading, podcast followers have a greater tendency to become customers and brand advocates than casual blog readers.
Podcasting also lets you communicate in your own voice, offering a more personal way to develop relationships with prospective customers.
Podcast content is easily repurposed for e-newsletters and other digital strategies.
Incorporating an up-to-date content library on your website is one way to generate new traffic which can grow brand value, provide a competitive edge, expand market reach, create sales leads and ultimately build the business.
According to US-based Edison Research, podcast listening grew 23 percent between 2015 and 2016, but more than two-thirds of Americans have yet to tune in.
Globally, 80,000 minutes of podcasting is produced every day, only a fraction of which is business-related. There is huge scope for growth in an unsaturated medium that allows companies of all sizes in all locations to tap unlimited new markets virtually anywhere in the world.
Even so, on-demand audio will not be right for every business. According to Edison Research vice president of strategy and marketing Tom Webster, “once people catch the podcast bug, they listen to a lot of podcasts.” But people won’t listen if all they hear are blatant sales pitches.
If you can’t add value, you won’t capture an audience.
The Australian Border Force has just started producing its own podcasts, backed by dramatic music and what seem to be scripted sound bites from the ‘front line’.
Business owners should aim to cultivate a more personal brand. Trying to sound too polished or precise can be off-putting, especially if listeners are hoping to hear someone they can relate to.
If you sound stiff without reading from a script, blogging might be a better option for you.
A great advantage of podcasting is the leeway it gives to go into detail. The downside is that it’s easy to wander off topic and sidetrack to issues that might be uninteresting to listeners, or simply not what they expected and wanted to hear. It’s a guaranteed way to undermine listener loyalty.
Planning ahead to make sure you have a clear direction for every episode will certainly help you stay focused, but it’s also a time sink.
Coming up with a theme, researching and refining it, then recording, editing and posting online can be both time- and labour-intensive – especially at first – and for most of us time is a commodity in short supply.
Software packages can help streamline the editing process and add sound effects and music (beware copyright infringement!) if you want.
The bottom line, however, is that episodes need to be regularly scheduled, either weekly, fortnightly or – at a minimum – monthly. This not only takes time; it demands unwavering commitment.