What the Heck is Podcasting and What Can it Do For Your Business?

Do you ever feel like technology is passing you by, no matter how hard you try to keep up? Like you’re peddling your bike as fast as you can down the middle of the business super highway, but still cars whiz by you so fast that the breeze just knocks you into the ditch?

Now I’m a pretty high-tech kind of guy. I pride myself on having all the latest and greatest techno gadgets for my personal and business life; including multiple laptop computers, the most modern cellular phone, and a Global Positioning System in my car to always tell me where I ain’t. I know, it’s supposed to tell me where I am, but my brain doesn’t work that way.

But only recently have I cemented my position among the true entrepreneurial technorati by adding a podcast to my business marketing repertoire. What’s that you say? You have no idea what a podcast is or how it can help add dollars to your bottomline? Then peddle faster, my friend, and I’ll explain it all while you catch up.

A podcast is a digital audio file that you record using your computer, recording software, and a microphone. You then upload that file to a podcasting web service so listeners can download the file or subscribe to the podcast feed and listen to it on their computer or audio player.

If that’s too techno-babblish for you, try this; a podcast is like an internet radio show that you produce and post to the web so people interested in what you have to say can listen to it on their computer or download it to an mp3 player.

Now the big question: why should you care to know what a podcast is? Because used wisely, a podcast can become a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal. It can help establish you as an expert in your field, drive traffic to your website, bring new customers in the door, open up new opportunities, and create a new revenue stream that you might have otherwise missed.

Why am I so excited about podcasting? Trust me, it’s not because I love the sound of my own voice. As my Mama says, “Some people talk just to hear their head rattle.” I believe she was looking at me the first time she said it.

I’m jazzed about podcasting because podcasting is today where email was ten years ago. Many people ridiculed email as a geeky fad and refused to believe it when the experts predicted that one day we’d all be using email to communicate with everyone from our bosses to our grandmas. It was also hard for the average Joe to imagine how anyone could make money with email. Now, not too many years later, entrepreneurs who understood the potential of email marketing and got onboard early are generating millions of dollars a year selling to customers around the globe; all through the magic of email.

I believe that podcasting actually has more potential than email because of what I call, “The Passion Factor.” With a podcast you can hear the passion in a person’s voice and get excited about their message. And podcasting is much more user friendly than email. You don’t have to read or deal with mountains of spam and you don’t have to be in front of a computer. All you have to do is listen; and you can do so anywhere by using an iPod or other portable audio player.

I started producing a weekly podcast for my Internet Marketing business about six weeks ago. The point of the podcast was to drive traffic to my websites and customers to my sales pages and eventually use it as a platform to promote my book. My podcasts are generally 20 to 30 minutes long and consist of me talking for a few minutes on a business related topic and an interview with an expert in the field related to that topic. I record my portion of the show using a headset microphone and a computer. I record the interview with the expert using a cable that connects my telephone to my computer. Once recorded and edited, the podcast sounds much like a radio show (on an amateur scale, of course). I then upload the podcast to a website called Podomatic, which makes the podcast available to the world via RSS (real simple syndication). Listeners can download my podcast to their computer or iPod and take me with them wherever they go.

What has the podcast done for my business? I have averaged 50 to 100 new subscribers to my podcast each day and have noticed a nice spike in traffic to my website. I’m seeing increased sales and getting more inquiries from potential customers. I am establishing my credibility as an authority on small business and I’m having fun doing it. And isn’t fun the best thing to have?

Here’s an example that illustrates the potential of podcasting: I met a couple at a recent seminar who have a counseling practice for divorced men dealing with child custody issues. This couple started a podcast on the topic of father’s rights and posted it to several podcast feed sites. Before long their podcast was being downloaded by hundreds of listeners each day. And at the end of each podcast they prompted listeners to visit their website to learn more about their products and services. As a result their little counseling business added over $100,000 in new revenue in just a few months. They are on track to do several hundred thousand dollars this year, thanks to the attention their podcast brings.

How could you use podcasting in your business? If you’re a dry cleaner you can record a podcast on getting tough stains out of clothes. Have listeners mention the podcast to get a discount on their next visit. If you’re a car dealer do a podcast describing the new models. If you’re a CPA do a podcast on tax tips. If you’re an attorney do a podcast giving legal tips. The possibilities are endless. You are limited only by your imagination.

Is Podcasting a Viable Medium?

Today’s Myatt on Mondays question comes from a Chief Marketing Officer of a professional services firm who asks: “Is Podcasting a Viable Medium?” I have answered questions like this each time a new medium comes to market. Over the years I’ve commented on fax machines, infomercials, e-mail, e-mercials, CD-ROM’s and DVD’s, Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), Instant Messaging (IM), Webinars, Blogging, and now in this post, Podcasting…

I’ll start by defining podcasting for those not familiar with the term. Podcasting was created by former MTV VJ Adam Curry. The term (meant to rhyme with broadcasting) describes the technology used to push audio content from websites to end-users of the content who prefer to use iPods or other mp3 players to listen to said content. Podcasting is simply a new content delivery method that combines audio content delivery with RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Instead of reading the new content on a computer screen, you listen to the new content on an iPod, iPod-like device or via your computer.

Now that the term Podcasting has been defined let’s address the issue of viability. Most of you familiar with my work know that I am a big believer in being an early adopter. I am always a proponent of being a market leader vs. a market lager. Those that move quickly in today’s market (see “The Need for Speed”) increase brand awareness, mind-share and market share while those that move slowly face increased barriers to entry, increased competition and reduced margins. Few consumers like (B2B, B2C or B2B2C) to work with companies that are behind the times. Once there is validation of proof of concept it is time to move aggressively.

So the question remains are podcasts viable? The answer in my opinion is a resounding yes. According to Nielson Analytics about 9 million Internet users have downloaded postcasts in the last month alone. If the previous number doesn’t grab your attention you might want to consider the following statistics taken from a white paper produced by KnowledgeStorm, Inc in which almost 4,000 respondents comprised of business and IT professionals across a variety of job titles, vertical industries and company sizes weighed in:

41 percent of survey respondents claim they have listened to podcasts on more than one occasion, while 13 percent stated that they “frequently” download or listen to them.

32 percent of survey respondents stated their usage of podcasts has “Increased” or “Significantly Increased” in the last six months.

72 percent claimed that they have downloaded or listened to podcasts on technology topics on more than one occasion; 23 percent do so “frequently.”

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said that information on business or technology topics, currently delivered as white papers or analyst reports, would be more interesting as podcasts.

55 percent of respondents would be more likely to consume white papers and analyst reports if they were delivered as podcasts.

57 percent of the frequent podcast users stated their biggest challenge with podcasts is the scarcity of interesting content.

65 percent responded that they listen to podcasts for both personal and business interests.

Bottom line…Podcasts are here to stay and I’d suggest that if you are not utilizing this channel that you begin to do so immediately. Happy Podcasting!

Is It Possible to Stream a Podcast Live?

Let’s say that you have a podcast that you’re hosting on libsyn or some other service, but you want to start experimenting with creating a “live” show. Usually, podcasting services do not allow you to live stream your podcast, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. You just need to use a service that specializes in livestreaming content.

You can use sites like USTREAM, justin.tv, and more recently YouTube to stream the live recording of your podcast.

Personally, I like ustream for livestreaming shows. The reason for that, is that ustream has real time chatting tools that allow you to interact with your audience as the show is being recorded.

What that lets you do, is that it lets you ask your guests questions on the fly, from the audience. If you don’t have a guest, then it gives you the opportunity to interact with your listeners in a way that was not previously possible.

The downside to using a livestreaming service, is that you may need to purchase additional equipment. You may need to setup a video camera, or get an additional cable or two in order to make your recording rig be able to send your voice up to the streaming service.

Another potential issue, is that you need to have high speed internet access in order to ensure the best possible quality. No one wants to see squares moving around and talking on the screen. Make sure that your internet connection is fast enough to send the voice and video upstream.

There are other alternatives to using livestreaming services. You could also use a telephone conference line and just have people dial in to the line, just like you would with a teleseminar, and they can listen to you record your podcast live.

Just about any teleseminar service could function like this, the biggest caveat, is that you need to be able to record the call, so you can distribute it as a podcast later on.

A word of advice on the whole livestreaming thing, you may want to have someone monitor and moderate the chat for you so that you can concentrate on your content. It is really easy for trolls to get into the chat channel, specially if you’re advertising your live shows, and start to disrupt things. Nothing pleases a trol more than knowing that they have gotten under your skin.

If you’re going the phone route, make sure that you have the option to put all of the attendees in “listen only” mode or something to that effect. That way, you’ll prevent people from talking over you and you’ll also not suffer from the background noise from the one person driving home and listening to you on the speaker phone.

Podcast Transcription

In only a few short years, podcasting has become an essential part of creating a solid corporate image on the Internet. From major New York publishers to solo entrepreneurs, businesses are using the power of this new format to get their messages heard by millions of potential customers. Unfortunately, the medium has its limitations, three of which are outlined below. A smart podcaster can surmount these problems, and the solution may be as simple as investing in podcast transcription services.

Undiscoverable Content

When content is easily indexed by Internet search engines, it is considered “discoverable.” This means users can find the content through simple keyword searches, making it more likely to draw visitors. Unfortunately, search engines are not optimized to index audio and video content. Podcast transcription allows podcasters to place a text version of their podcast alongside the audio version, which allows search engines to index the content and drive targeted visitors to the site.

Inaccessible Content

In audio form, a podcast is inaccessible to visitors with hearing impairments. A podcaster can spend a great deal of time creating the best content possible and still miss the opportunity to connect with customers because they literally cannot hear what’s contained in the podcast. By using a podcast transcription service, a content-creator can eliminate this issue and show sales prospects and other site visitors that his/her company is sensitive to all their customers’ needs.

Unsearchable Archives

A successful podcast series may run for hundreds of episodes. In this situation, the podcaster’s show archive becomes an invaluable reference tool for checking past content, ensuring message continuity and recycling material by expanding upon a past discussion in a new show. Unfortunately, it does not take long before an audio archive becomes unmanageable. Without an easy method to pinpoint desired content, the successful podcaster may have to wade through hours of material to find what he or she needs. Podcast transcription makes archives immeasurably more useful. A podcaster simply performs a keyword search. The needed content is pinpointed effortlessly.

With all of these benefits, it is easy to see why using a podcast transcription service after every episode should be considered a best practice in the podcasting industry.

Internet Marketing – Making Podcasting Work For You

The marketing concept of podcasts came on strong in the early years of the 20th century. And as of today, it’s used by thousands of business owners who want to increase their sales and profits simply and easily. Plus, podcasting is a free tool to use that can dramatically help to boost your traffic count, the number of new email subscribers that you have gained, and the number of people who go on to buy your products.

In my opinion, podcasting is a lot like posting videos on YouTube. You have to create the video, display your website address at the bottom of the video, and then hope that someone types in your domain name into their web browser so that they can get to your website. But nowadays with YouTube, you can list your website address in the description portion of the video, and it will turn it into a clickable link.

But podcasting is still kind of primitive if we’re going to compare it to YouTube. YouTube is the number 3 ranked website on the internet entire in terms of website traffic. And the largest podcast directory on the internet (iTunes), is the number 32 ranked website on the internet (according to the traffic service called Alexa).

Nevertheless, you can still get tons of traffic to your website simply and easily using iTunes and podcasting. In the same way that you will want to submit your video to other video sites other than YouTube… you will want to submit your podcasts to other podcast directories other than iTunes. It’s just a great way to get more exposure for your content.

When creating your podcasts, you will want to pick a niche that best suits your personality, knowledge, and potential amount of income that you can make. There are a ton of niches that you can enter into, but you will want to find one that is obscure and low in competition. That way you can attack the market with a variety of different internet marketing strategies, and quickly acclaim dominance in that niche.

Now when signing up to get your podcast marketing strategy together, you will want to get yourself a blog and podcast RSS feed. The easiest way to do this is with a company called “Feedburner”. Feedburner is a great service that can help you to launch your podcast marketing strategy simply and easily.

Luckily Feedburner is free, and you can take advantage of everything that it offers for you today. Once you acquire an RSS feed from Feedburner, you will want to go and submit it to the podcast directories, and also ping your podcast blog on a service like “pingomatic”.

Marketing your products and services using podcasts are a great way to earn the money that you are looking for in your business. I believe the popularity of podcasts will evolve over time, and it’s a smart thing to do if you want to use this medium as a part of your marketing strategy. Use it today and watch how your sales and profits increase.

Good luck with using these podcasting tips to earn the kind of money that you’re looking for in your business.