If you run a small business, whether online or brick and mortar, you might see some of your competitors starting their own podcasts. But what is a podcast and is it right for your business?
What Is A Podcast?
Simply put a podcast is self-published audio content that is put out on the internet for people to consume. Large podcast directories like iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud act as a storefront for the various shows that people like you or me put out. The number of podcasts are growing each year. More importantly, the number of listeners is growing too.
Over the last 12 months big players in the industry like Apple and Google have made deals with car companies to place podcasts just a touch away on several new car models beginning in 2015. Apple’s new “CarPlay” will go into the dashboards of selected Chevy, Honda, Audi, Porsche, BMW and many other cars in the very near future. What will this mean? It means that thousands of podcasts will be available to new car buyers the minute they get in the drivers seat.
The barrier to access is extremely minimal as anyone with an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad can easily access thousands of different podcast shows (several of which are in YOUR industry I’m sure). Add to that the mainstream availability in new cars and you can see the potential of a podcast to reach your customers both old and new.
How Can A Podcast Benefit Your Business?
Easy… You have direct access to the ears of your customers. Unlike radio, podcast listeners pick and choose the programs they want to listen to. If you are putting out compelling and interesting content that relates to your business and speaks to your customers, it should lead to more sales. Minimally, it leads to a better relationship with your existing customers and builds trust and brand recognition amongst potential customers.
Another difference between conventional radio shows and podcasts are that they can be consumed when the listener chooses. Meaning, they can start, stop, pause, rewind, or replay your podcast any time they choose. Try that with your favorite radio station. Also, when a listener subscribes to your podcast, the individual shows are “pushed” to them when you release them. They will get a notification that you have a new show and it is available to listen to.
The last benefit I want to touch on is the amount of time you will be spending with potential customers. Let’s assume that you have a blog as part of your business. I want you to go right now and check how long the average visitor stays on your site. Got it? My guess that number could be as small as 3 to 5 minutes on average.
Now, if you put out a weekly podcast, and the listener is truly interested in what you have to say….you are going to spending 30 to 60 minutes PER WEEK with that person. They are going to be actively listening to what YOU have to say as opposed to going to your blog and leaving in 3 minutes.
Think about that for a minute…
See the power of a podcast now?
Things You Could Include In Your Podcast
The biggest question for most small businesses, when they consider staring a podcast, is this:
“What in the world would I talk about?”
I can answer this question for you very simply:
“What would your customers be interested in learning?”
A podcast is a great way to both interest and inform you customers about your products. For instance, if you were a personal finance blog (like this one), you might have a podcast that covers the following topics in any shape or form:
- How can I reduce my debt?
- How can I increase my income?
- How can I start a small business?
- What are the best credit card offers right now?
- What are some considerations when investing in commodities?
- Should I consider a home equity line of credit or a home equity loan?
- What software should I use to manage my money?
- How does the price of life insurance change as I age?
- How can I lower my tax burden?
The list of topics you could cover just go on and on! The point is, I can almost guarantee that you won’t run out of ideas for podcast content.
What about your business? What topics would interest your customers, your industry, and could incorporate your products or services? I’ll bet you could make a list as long as my arm. In fact, regardless of whether you plan on starting a podcast or not, go ahead and make that list right now. You could always address those topics in a blog post on your website.
How Do You Start A Podcast?
The beauty of starting a podcast is that the barrier to entry is so low. Really, other than the time it is going to take you, there is no reason you shouldn’t start one. You know you need to market your product or service right? Consider this as another leg in your marketing plan. Along with advertising, blog rankings, radio ads, and whatever your other marketing channels are, you could ad podcasting.
A big positive to starting your own podcast is that it is virtually free. You need the following equipment to start a podcast:
- A computer (the one you have likely would work just fine)
- A decent microphone (good choices can be had for as little as $50.00)
- Editing software (if you are a Mac user you already have Garageband for free)
Most businesses have these bare necessities that can get them started on the road to podcasting right away.
The process of actually producing the podcast is downright simple:
- Record a “show” which is basically the topic you want to cover
- Edit the show and export as an MP3 file
- Upload and tag your show to the media host of your choice (Libsyn, Soundcloud, etc)
- Schedule the show to go live
This might sound rather simplistic and I’ll admit that it is. However, the small details outside of these few steps are fairly minimal. Also, there is some good free training on how to start a podcast if you look around (John Lee Dumas’ free podcast startup course for example). The point is that the process of creating, starting, and managing a podcast shouldn’t scare you.
Wrapping It All Up
As you can see starting a podcast for your small business can be a very simple process. More importantly, I hope you can see how investing some time in putting out a podcast for your business can reap great rewards. You can almost certainly count on increasing your audience, as well as building your credibility as an authority in your space. The cost of putting out a podcast is very close to zero so there is really no reason not to get started today.
What do you think about starting a podcast for your business? What questions do you have? Just drop any questions in the comments and we’ll be sure to get them answered.
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