Small companies and startups of all shapes and sizes can and should capitalize on the growth of podcasting – big media and content companies are every day, and there's no reason startup podcasting couldn't be a reality for your small business. A podcast is simply recorded audio content that is available through the internet for listening at your convenience.
Why you should be podcasting
A new voice: Podcasting provides a new way to reach out to customers and potential customers. Podcasts help you communicate your passion and personality in a way that isn’t possible with the written word. There is something intimate and intense about your voice going directly into someone’s head through their ear buds!
Precise targeting: This technology provides a way for the quality of a message to rival the quantity of recipients in importance. “You can send fresh and compelling messages out to target audiences,” says Michael Neumeier, principal of the Arketi Group, a small-business marketing consultancy in Atlanta . “You can use it to start delivering educational content to a narrowly focused list of people. Even if it’s only 50 people, if it’s the right 50 people, it’ll do wonders for your startup.”
Industry leadership: Podcasting can help you position your company as a thought leader in your market. If you sell clothes, talk about fashion trends in your podcasts, if you provide coaching, you can offer pearls of coaching wisdom that establish your authority.
Halo effect: Just being involved with podcasting says that your company is on the cutting edge. Your involvement may produce buzz in your industry and even interest in coverage by news media.
Podcasting tricks of the trade
Leap over the low barriers to entry: It doesn’t cost much to get into podcasting, insists Charles Chapman, digital marketing manager at Babson College. “For a few hundred dollars and the web space that any company already has in place, a podcast can be put up,” Chapman says. “If it’s good word-of-mouth, bloggers and directories such as Podcast Alley and iTunes will pick up on it and do the marketing for you.”
Think creatively about content: One of the advantages of podcasting is that the “rules” are still being written. So there is plenty of room for creativity. For example, you don’t necessarily have to produce a podcast with slick audio effects in a professional studio. And 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.
Format it effectively: Podcasts should be delivered in short bursts, from five to seven minutes long, if you’re going to use them as an education and marketing tool. And podcasts should have some frequency – maybe twice a month. “You also want to have your thoughts organized,” Neumeier says. “You don’t want it to sound like an amateur Bill and Ted’s Great Adventure.”
Ride others’ coattails: Maybe your company can participate in podcasts that are already established, Albee suggests. “If your startup has an aftermarket part for Hondas, for example, and there’s a podcast with a small but passionate following that talks about upgrading Hondas, offer to be a guest.”
Don’t count your chickens: Look at podcasting at this point as an innovative and highly focused form of marketing, not as another immediate revenue stream. “I’ve seen some motivational speakers selling subscriptions for weekly podcast content, but why would someone pay for this when there are plenty of no-cost alternatives?” says George W. Daye, of BarServ, a small company that produces a podcast.