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From broadcasts to podcasts in a couple of decades, the simple reality is that businesses still want to get their spoken message out on the airways to their target audience. Only the method and venue has changed.
The “podcast” got its name from Ben Hammersley who suggested a whole range of names for the new device. The “pod” is a takeaway from Apple’s iPod digital media player and the “cast” portion of podcast is taken from the term of “broadcast” for radio.
If you want the official definition, a podcast is “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device.”
Podcasts can be stand-alone programs, but are more commonly provided in series formats. Readers often “subscribe” to series so they can be notified each time a new installment comes out.
How podcasts help your business
A podcast is not like a traditional news broadcast. Instead, it can be less formal and on any topic that you want to talk about and that you believe would be of interest to your readers.
Some podcasts are continuing stories, others are a collection of news stories or simply someone sharing their opinion or knowledge about a specific topic, and still others are interviews with thought leaders about interesting and trendy topics of the day.
Podcasts can be beneficial to your business for a number of reasons, with the primary one being that you get to engage directly with your listeners (read potential and current customers) and they are great for sharing high quality content you may be producing.
Your followers subscribe to your podcast through such services as iTunes for iOS users, or Google Play Music for Android, and they get a notification when your newest episode becomes available.
For many people, podcasts are their travelling companion on commutes to and from work; for others they are a designated break in their day.
According to Edison Research who looked into the audio habits of American podcast listeners, people who follow podcasts are super-engaged. They listen intently to podcasts and podcasts account for more than a quarter of all their audio time of each day.
For businesses, popular podcasts center on talk about your industry and what is happening at your company that would be of interest to people.
Not difficult to get started
Another advantage of podcasting for small businesses is that they do not require a huge outlay of cash to get started. You may wish to use a studio, but lots of people produce good-quality podcasts from their home offices or garages.
The project seems daunting in the beginning, but once you put two or three together, you start to find your preferred method and it gets easier after that.
As an example of how it might work, let’s suppose that you run a small catering service that you hope to grow. Rather than spending the whole time talking about yourself and what you do, create podcasts about quick put-together meals using store-bought roasted chickens, baked ham or deli meats.
Talk about plating food so that it looks like you made it, quick canapes you can throw together for an impromptu party, or holiday foods to get you through busy seasons. Talk about the best way to transport hot and cold foods when you are on your way to potlucks or how to feed 12 people on a $30 budget or which local supermarket has the best buys this week.
The least expensive way to create a podcast is to use your computer’s built-in microphone. You will also need some editing software with the low-budget choice being the free Garage Band or Audacity apps.
PLEASE NOTE: Although you can certainly begin by using your computer’s built-in microphone I do not recommend it. Good quality microphones are available today for less than $100 and it will make all the difference to the audio quality of your podcast. (The Snowball by Blue Microphones is a great place to begin).
Let people know what you are doing
If you go to all the trouble to create great podcasts, make sure that you promote them properly to build up your listening audience.
Promote them on your website and all your social media sites. Add a link to your podcasts to your email signature.
If you are invited to do interviews on other podcasts, be sure to mention your own. Include information about it as well if you are being interviewed by traditional media or doing public speaking.
Be conscious that your podcast needs to appear consistently to keep your loyal listeners engaged. If you are running low on content, it’s okay to do an almanac program to stay on schedule.
Prepare yourself to be a guest on someone else’s podcast
If you receive an invitation to bring your story to someone else’s podcast, that can expose you to a large number of additional listeners.
But don’t just say yes instantly. Take the time to research the person who will be interviewing you and get some idea about the topic they want to address.
Then consider possible questions and answers so you won’t be caught off guard.
On your own podcast, promote the show that you are going to be a guest on.
If you are calling into the interview from home, ensure that your location is quiet, free from phones ringing, dogs barking and children playing. Even the sound of a dishwasher at work or the lawn being mowed outside an open window can distort your interview.
If you are really new to the whole idea of podcasts and how they are done, here are a couple of excellent ones to serve as examples:
Can’t Lit: www.cantlit.ca is a podcast about all things Canadian and literature and is hosted by Dina Del Bucchia and Jen Sookfond.
Harvard Business Review podcast: http://feeds.harvardbusiness.org/harvardbusiness/ideacast/
This is hosted by Sarah Green, an editor at the Harvard Business Review, who has the ability to bring in some fascinating guests and discuss great ideas.
Other examples of great small business podcasts you might want to catch before jumping in yourself are Tim Ferriss, Startup, Entrepreneurs on Fire and Duct Tape Marketing. Enjoy.
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