Podcasts — like a DIY radio show but delivered via the internet — provide another way of connecting to your customers and social media audience: but are they worth doing and do they get results?
This month a Kiwi-made podcast, IMTalk — which is solely about Ironman triathlons, posted its 400th episode. The podcast has more than 20,000 listeners in around 100 countries. It’s a great example of how to be successful with podcasts — choose a niche topic you know heaps about and keep publishing!
According to online comment from IMTalk producer and fitness instructor Bevan James Eyles, the podcast makes money through advertising and is praised by its advertisers for its effective returns.
Bevan was commenting under a Stuff blog post a year or so back that asked if the podcast trend was dying. He disagreed, and — funnily enough — while that blog post no longer seems to be on the Stuff website (so I can’t link to Bevan’s comment), the IMTalk podcast is going from strength to strength.
Bevan said that with 20,000 listeners his podcast show would be “a waste of time” to mainstream media, “but for myself and the other guy I produce the show with we have been able to make good money from the show. Being niche is our advantage… our advertisers know that they are talking directly to people who love the sport. All of our advertisers have told us that we are where they get the most effective return from the advertising they do with us”.
I think, that like IMTalk, podcasts have the potential to deliver business owners real immediacy and cut-through with targeted audiences. Below, to give you more information, we’ve pulled together a range of tips for successful podcasting from a bunch of clever, online experts.
You are an expert
There’s a good chance that if you run a business, you are an expert on the products or services you sell and have a lot of useful knowledge your customers would find useful. You would not be using your podcast to directly market your products or services but to provide information that the the people who use your business could use to their advantage. If you sell gardening products, for example, then using your podcast to provide tips, hints and examples of how to garden better would add value to the products.
Jon Buscall of Jontus Media says, “it’s crucial that your business podcast is highly-targeted to cater for your audiences needs and interests… The idea is to make your show an invaluable online resource that listeners subscribe to and return again and again.”
Read more from Buscall at How to make your podcast stand out.
The niche advantage
The people who listen are already favourable towards you because, as Dave Thackeray, AKA The Podcast Guy, says, “when someone tunes in to your show, they’re already committed”.
Thackeray says the one thing to remember with podcasting is it’s fundamentally “narrowcasting”, not broadcasting. It’s not about mass. He says you should “be as specific as possible to the kind of people who will get the most value, entertainment, inspiration and motivation from your content, and focus like a laser on their communities“.
Read more from Thackeray at How do I grow my audience?
What could I talk about?
The Small Business Podcast Directory has numerous ideas for businesses looking for podcast inspiration, including: interviewing an expert on a relevant topic; discussing case studies on how your service has helped your customers; reviews on third party products or services that enhance what you do or offer.
“It all comes down to speaking about your passion,” says Zachary Sniderman on Mashable. Read more from Sniderman at Top 4 tips for creating a podcast for your small business.
How do I make a podcast?
Good quality mics and recording equipment are not expensive these days. You only need the basics to make a start.
Jeff and Rich Sloan of StartupNation say you do not “necessarily have to produce a podcast with slick audio effects in a professional studio”. For example, you can “use a podcast to create an impression of immediacy by, for instance, recording one on the floor of a trade show that you’re attending to remind your customers that you’re on top of the latest developments in your industry”.
Read more from the Sloans at Startup podcasting: how podcasts can help your business.
How do I let poeple know about it?
Using your website to post or link to your podcast is a good starting point in promoting it. (Make sure you have enough space from your webhost to post lots of episodes.) And, if you are active in social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc – you have the perfect channels to let people already connected to your business know about your podcast.
If it’s good, word-of-mouth in your particular niche community will soon pass on the message, and bloggers and directories such as Podcast Alley and iTunes may pick up on it and so do some marketing for you.
And don’t forget traditonal offline marketing activities as well.
Here are some good, straight-forward, podcast promotion activities.
But, most importantly, do it because you enjoy it and believe in it. Listeners and subscribers may not be there at first, but over time as your valuable content grows, people will get to hear about it and like-minded people will drop by.