Let’s face it, with the array of shiny new objects that seem to pop on a daily basis across the Web, podcasts are starting to seem a bit old fashioned. Even – dare I say it – a bit “old media.” Most businesses are much more concerned with getting a Facebook page up or attracting a gazillion Twitter followers than stepping up to the mic and producing some decent pod-friendly content. There are some very good strategic reasons to include podcasting in your Web mix, though. Here are 5 big ones for starters:
1. Podcasts help you connect with auditory learners
An obvious but often overlooked point: not everyone processes information in the same way. And few of us like to learn the same way all the time – our needs vary according to circumstances. Even if you are successful with blog posts, text ads, and 140 character missives, you may fail to connect with a significant slice of your potential customer or member base simply because that slice would prefer to hear rather than read what you have to say. And don’t forget, podcasts can include video, too, if you want to connect with both visual and auditory styles.
2. Podcasts enjoy a killer distribution network
Aside from leveraging the same RSS technology that blogs, Twitter, and other social tools use, there are a wide range of directories dedicated specifically to podcasts. More importantly, there is iTunes. Getting your content set up for free distribution across iTunes is really quite easy (check out the guide I link to below for more on that). Finally, don’t forget that with audio content you can reach your audience in a very important place where no other medium can match it: the automobile. Most newer cars now include an auxiliary jack that makes it easy to plug an MP3 player into the stereo systems. And even for people who don’t have a newer car, burning a podcast file to CD is not much of a chore these days.
3. Podcasts give your brand a voice
I was struck by the power of this one recently when I was in the process of signing up for the mentoring program offered by Alan Weiss, aka The Million Dollar Consultant. I had e-mailed Alan with a couple of questions, and he picked up the phone and called me to answer them. As it happens, I listen to Alan’s The Way I See It regularly, so I have become quite familiar with his voice. The positive impact of hearing that familiar voice on the other end of the phone was many multiples of what it would have been had I never heard the podcast. Admittedly, Alan is already well-known, at least within consulting circles, but I’d argue the potential impact of the “voice brand” is even greater for those who are not so well known. Finally, establishing a “voice” can be a very powerful aspect of building your overall brand. I have no doubt that John Jantsch and the Marketing Over Coffee guys would agree with this statement.
4. Podcasts are a great learning tool
Don’t underestimate or undervalue the personal and professional development aspect of podcasting. Even if you never attract a large number of listeners, the effort of speak intelligently and coherently about a topic that is of interest to your audience will almost certainly make you better at what you do. And interviewing other people in your field or related fields – a staple of podcasting – can also contribute greatly to your learning.
5. Podcasts can easily be mined
Podcasts can easily be the starting point for creating a range of digital products and promotional materials. They can be sliced and diced into shorter segments. That can be sent off to be transcribed – at very low cost – and then transformed into articles, white papers, or eBooks. They can be packaged up into CD-ROM or DVD sets. The possibilities may not be endless, but there are certainly a lot of them!
So, how do you get started with podcasting, assuming you find some or all of the points above compelling? Glad you asked. As it happens, I started up a new podcast recently over at
Radio Free Association Learning Revolution. It’s aimed at association professionals, but even if you don’t fall in that camp, I encourage you to get over there to check out the Podcasting Mini-Guide. It will give you all of the basics for creating and distributing a podcast. And if you happen to launch a new podcast, be sure to let me know – I’ll be happy to mention it here. (Note: I wrote the mini-guide a while back, and it is in need of an update. Until I manage to get around to that, I recommend the excellent “How to Start a Podcast” tutorial that Pat Flynn has put together.
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