If you have valuable knowledge or information to share with your marketplace, podcasts are an excellent way of reaching large numbers of people and making a positive impression, writes Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom.
Think about it. Every single day, your customers, prospects, and employees are inundated with information from e-mail, voicemails, spam, and memos. So how do you get your important messages across to them in a way that doesn’t get lost in all of that noise? The answer is podcasts.
So what is a podcast?
Podcasts are the new way of distributing audio content. A podcast is an audio or video recording that your prospects and customers can subscribe to, receive, download, listen to, or watch using a their computer, iPod, M3 player, iPhone, iPad or smartphone. Your customers and prospects can therefore listen to or watch this information whenever and wherever they wish—in their cars, during lunch, in the evening, at the office, at the gym, while jogging, at the beach, up a mountain, by a lake or even on their day off.
A podcast resembles a TV programme or radio show, but is much easier to create and distribute. And it costs nothing to do so. Podcasting requires you to create an audio file, then make it known and available, as described below.
Why podcasting might be a good idea
If you’ve never considered podcasting, let me give you some more reasons why you should. For one thing, tens of millions of people around the world already subscribe to podcasts on virtually any topic you can imagine, and that number is growing exponentially. Even 9 year old schoolkids in the UK are now taught podcasting … which means that it will soon be ubiquitous.
Today’s college students get recordings (podcasts) of their professors’ lectures to play back later. Some company CEOs send out monthly messages to their workers via a podcast. Thanks to groups of dedicated podcasters, you can also take self-guided tours of several museums and landmark buildings by downloading an audio tour before you leave home. The potential uses for podcasts are only limited by your imagination.
Most people think of podcasts as audio files, if indeed they even know what podcasts are. But that is no longer necessarily the case. Podcasts today are a vehicle for many types of media that individuals can use as a means of delivering standalone content, or easily integrated into social media.
It’s easy to add music, digital photographs, company logos, animations, videos or anything else it takes to get your message across.
Thousands of hours of audio in your pocket
The ability to download, organise and carry thousands of hours of songs, audio recordings, podcasts and other programs on a device you can slip into your pocket is amazing. And with the convergence of technology, Apple’s iPhone and iPad also have iPods built-in. Most smartphones also offer broadly comparable capabilities.
Audio is particularly appealing to people on the go, and it has certain advantages over text-based tools and even video. It’s unlikely that you’re going to read something or view video while you’re exercising, but audio is the perfect companion.
Why do you suppose so many car manufacturers are rushing to make their cars iPod-compatible? Because so many people who drive—especially those who spend a lot of time in their cars—like to listen to music, news, sport, politics, weather, and other forms of audio information.
Historically, this was the exclusive domain of radio, an industry that was built upon finding ways to entertain, inform, and then sell stuff to a captive audience of drivers during the highly lucrative drive-time hours. But that was then.
Car manufacturers today know that iPods and iPhones have become such ubiquitous and indispensable devices that people want to integrate them with their in-car hi-fi systems. And now you and your business can be there too, and in all of the other places people take their iPods and smartphones, provided you know why, when, and how to make podcasting part of your business strategy.
Creating and sharing audio
If you’re in any way daunted by the prospect of recording and editing audio, don’t be. Creating and sharing audio is a doddle. There’s even a good chance that all the tools you need are already built in to your computer or iPhone. In any event it doesn’t take long to get up to speed with audio recording, editing and sharing. And once you’ve created your audio content it’s easy to host it on your blog, or use any of a number of sites that are dedicated to hosting podcasts.
It’s also quick and easy to upload your podcasts to iTunes. Since 85% of all podcasts globally originate on iTunes, being featured there potentially exposes you to millions of prospective customers or advocates. And a percentage of them will be searching for exactly what you offer, however exotic your line of business.
OK, that’s the theory. What about the practice?
In the top 10 on iTunes at my first attempt
Encouraged by Ian Scott, who interviewed me for one of his podcasts a few months ago, click here, I recently had my first attempt at putting together two podcasts and submitting them to iTunes, the world’s largest distribution channel for such recordings.
I merely recorded the content of a couple of blogs I’d already written because I needed to work out a step by step process to pass on to participants in my Eureka program so that they could gain hands-on familiarity with the process, as part of a much wider social media strategy. This was one of fifteen familiarisation exercises, each one using a different social media tool.
I had no particular expectations of success. It was just an experiment that took an evening from start to finish. But to my utter amazement the two podcasts reached the top 10 best selling marketing and management titles on iTunes exactly three weeks after submission, and were also featured in the top 3 new and noteworthy podcasts. This was completely unexpected, and I probably wouldn’t even have even known had Ian Scott not alerted me. Click here to hear the podcasts.
Based on what I learned from the exercise, I wrote up around 3-pages of notes on podcasting and incorporated them into the Social Media Roadmap manual I was creating for participants in my invitation-only Eureka program. That manual is one first of four such publications I’ve been developing on social media and online marketing, and much of this article has been extracted from it. Click here to view the curriculum for the first three years of the Eureka program and where social media fits into the picture.
Creating a podcast step by step
Step 1: Download iTunes. If you don’t already have iTunes on your computer, go to www.Apple.com, and download it for your Mac or Windows PC.
Step 2: Try iTunes. Try it, even if you don’t plan on buying and downloading music. See how the interface works.
Step 3: Prepare a podcast. Creating your own podcasts is easy, so don’t be daunted if you’ve never created one. Think about WIIFM (What’s In It for Me?), from your customers’ and prospects’ point of view. What can you tell them in 10 minutes or less that is important to them?
Gather information. Write an opening explaining who you are, what your subject matter is, and what you will be talking about.
Write a script for your content based on your area of professional expertise or other subject matter of interest to you. Or prepare a few bullet points so that you can just talk spontaneously on the subject, without sounding too rehearsed or rigid. And if you don’t want to plan out your podcast—then it’s fine to just wing it!
Write your close or sign-off, reminding your audience who you are; what your subject matter is, and where they can find out more.
Step 4: Download your sound editing software. Plenty of inexpensive or free sound editing software is available to record your podcast. A lot of podcasters use Audacity. It provides easy-to-use, high-quality tools. You can download it from the internet and it’s free! If you have a Mac, GarageBand is probably the best choice as it has an entire podcast studio built in and can handle every aspect of Podcasting for you with ease.
Get your head around the software. Read the instructions and/or go through the tutorials so that you know how to use it.
Step 5: Record your podcast. Once you know what you want to say, it’s time to record it. Use your computer’s built-in microphone or connect an external microphone for better quality. I used an decent external microphone for mine because I found the built-in one was picking up sounds from the computer. Open Audacity or Garageband, hit the record button and let your thoughts flow!
N.B. Most people only have about a 7-minute attention span for audio. Taking any more time than that will likely lose your listeners’ interest.
Step 6: Edit your podcast. Sound editing sounds scary, but it is really easier than you think. It’s as easy as copying, cutting, pasting, and deleting. In most cases, you will at least want to eliminate gaps in your recording and paste together your intro, your recording and your sign-off. I used Garageband which also made it easy to blend a bit of music into the start and close of the piece.
Step 7: Save your podcast to disk. Be sure to save your podcasts in a usable file format. Most people want your content in an MP3 format that is compatible with their digital music players. Be conscious of file size too. Most music tracks runs at about 3-5 MB each, so try to keep your finished files in the single-digit MB range.
Step 8: Upoad your podcast to your blog. Add your podcast to your media library on your WordPress blog. Create a “Podcasts” (or equivalent) post category. Create a new post for each podcast. Add a title and describe your podcast in the post. Somewhere in the post add a link to your podcast file. Select the “podcasts” category and add tags as appropriate. Click Publish, and your podcast will be published as a post in the “podcasts” category.
Step 9: Download and configure Podcast Channels plugin. If you’ll be hosting your podcasts on your WordPress blog, add a Podcast specific plugin. I tried Podcast Channels and Blubrry, and settled on the latter. Configure the settings to work with your “Podcasts” category.
N.B. You don’t HAVE to host your podcasts on your blog. You can also use services like Podbean to host, syndicate, and distribute your podcasts for free.
Step 10: Create an RSS feed for your podcasts. By RSS feeding your podcasts, you are making them available to literally millions of potential listeners. Go to your blog’s home page. Go to the “Podcasts” category and go to the RSS feed for that category and copy the podcast feed URL.
Step 11: Upload your podcast to iTunes. Tens of millions of people search iTunes every day looking for content that might be similar to yours. Be sure to follow their guidelines to ensure your podcast’s success. And keep in mind that if your podcast falls under the “educational” category, you should upload it to iTunes’ “iUniversity.”
To submit your podcast to iTunes, click here. Paste your podcast feed URL into the relevant box. Click continue. Check that the details on the next page are correct and hey presto, once your content has been accepted, your podcasts will be available to millions of people worldwide.
I enjoyed my first attempt at podcasting, am still amazed at the results, and will now regularly be publishing podcasts. It is so easy, and so many people like it, that it would be a shame not to. How about joining me in that adventure? It’s easier than you think.
What’s your experience with podcasting? Has this article been useful? Please leave your comments and thoughts below?
Please share your thoughts and add your questions to the comments below. I’ll try to provide as many answers as possible in my future online videos, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and blog posts.
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