A Primer On Podcasting
Podcasting is exploding as a content delivery vehicle with thousands of podcasts being launched every year. Everyone from comedians to retailer Trader Joe’s to local libraries are harnessing this exciting technology to create branded media platforms for themselves. What began in 2004 as a cottage industry has now become a major player within the digital media world.
For those unfamiliar with podcasting, think of a podcast as you would other on-demand services, such as Netflix and YouTube, where content is accessible 24/7 by anyone with a connected device. Much like what Netflix is to TV, podcasting is to radio. On-demand service providers have been major disrupters in the way content is being delivered and consumed. In the past, viewers and listeners alike were held captive to stations and networks that carried their favorite shows. All this changed with the advent of the internet and the associated technology that came along for the ride.
Thanks to on-demand TV networks, viewers can access hundreds of commercial-free TV shows and movies for a small fee. Likewise, podcast networks such as Podomatic, iTunes, Spotify and Google Play offer listeners thousands of podcasts 24/7, most at no cost.
Podcasts are a game changer for those looking to deliver content and for those wanting to consume it, and the legacy media industry is scrambling to adapt to these new ways. Some of the legacy networks, such as CBS, have already joined the fray by offering subscription-based channels exclusively online to compete with Hulu and Netflix. For example, CBS launched a new Star Trek TV show but it’s only available through their subscription online channel. It’s the network’s way of saying they are in this race, so don’t count them out. Podcasts, on the other hand, were the first on-demand media platform and will continue to grow in popularity, especially with the 40-and-under crowd.
If you want to separate your business from competitors, share your keen expertise, align your brand with a value-added bonus and educate your clients and prospects on a range of related topics, you may want to consider offering podcasts. Here are five reasons why podcasts could make sense for your business.
1. It creates a positive PR platform. In a media-saturated world where bad news travels fast, you need a way to offset the negativity and build up your reputation among your customers. What’s a better way to tell your own story than by hosting a weekly podcast where you’re in charge of what gets shared?
For years Mobil Corporation sponsored Masterpiece Theater on PBS. Why? Because the company wanted to put a positive spin on their brand to offset any blowback related to such issues as high prices at the gas pump, oil spills and geo-political issues. This was a simple sponsorship mention that was paired with a much-loved media franchise. Your podcast can act in the same way, but on steroids as the whole show can be a positive reflection of your brand profiled in its best light.
2. It creates a trust-building platform. By hosting a podcast you build credibility, which equates to trust. People tend to trust those they spend a lot of time with (think talk-show hosts) more so than strangers. Taking a cue from the radio world, who do you think hosts the most popular infomercial show today? Dave Ramsey. He is king of selling his products and courses to millions of Americans because of the familiarity he has created by being on air for three hours a day helping people with their money problems. Again, people tend to trust those they listen to on a regular basis. You are no different. Do you trust your favorite talk show hosts? Of course, or you wouldn’t listen to them. That’s the power of hosting your own show.
3. It creates a powerful communication device. This differs from the first reason as it’s about having a unique platform that serves your customers. What better way is there to keep people informed, inspired and educated about issues and opportunities than a weekly roundtable discussion produced as a podcast? Keep in mind that most people are time-constrained, so there is a far better chance they will listen to a weekly show than read your blog or newsletter.
4. It creates a powerful marketing tool. Marketing builds brand awareness and gives people something to come back to again and again. Companies spend a lot of money to stay top-of-mind with prospects and customers whether they use promotional products, traditional advertising, social media or a mix of these. Podcasting takes marketing to the next level. If you have a great show, not only will your current clients listen but so will your prospects, many of whom will be introduced to you via your podcast. Keep in mind, just like great newsletters, great shows are not about selling product, they are about building trust and familiarity through great content.
An example is Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shop that produces a weekly podcast covering the outdoor/sportsman lifestyle. Their audience is passionate about all things outdoors: fishing, hunting, etc. So, when they discover a show that feeds their passion, they listen to it. Of course, the company can leverage their email list to advertise their shows and the shows always contain advertising specific to the products they sell.
One more thing: housing a podcast on your website can act as a lead-generation tool. People who enjoy the show will likely return to your site to listen to more podcasts which means more traffic to your website. They will also stay on your site longer, and both are good for analytics. Additionally, when you post your shows on podcast networks, people are pushed to your website.
5. It identifies you as an expert. Thought leadership is a buzz term in today’s consulting and business world. Hosting a podcast is a wonderful way to build expert status as a thought leader. Ask yourself the following question: Why do people instinctively flock to see their favorite TV personality or radio show host when the opportunity presents itself? Why do trade shows book well-known personalities to be at the show? It’s because these kinds of celebrities draw attendees. Most of us like to be around successful people, especially if they’ve been featured on a show we love watching or listening to. Much like other media platforms, hosting a podcast is a way to position your business above the competition and elevate your status as an expert—much like hosting a radio or TV program, or writing a book. People assume by your presence as a podcast host that you are a knowledgeable professional. This means they will more likely want to do business with you. And, if you ever dreamed of hosting a radio or talk show, producing your own podcast is an affordable way to fulfill that dream.
Podcasting is here to stay and there is no better time than now to consider launching your own podcast. Keep in mind it takes a lot of work to create and produce podcasts and to keep a series fresh, but it is well worth the effort and if done right, it will pay out long-term dividends for your business.
Part 2 of this series in the January 2019 issue explores how to make educated decisions before starting your own podcast.
Steve Johann is an award-winning podcaster, speaker, author of The Podcasters Cookbook and consultant who helps companies, organizations and individuals launch branded podcasts. He also produces and co-hosts the Horsepower Chrome and Rust Automotive podcasts. www.stevejohann.com