Why Would You Encourage Business Owners to Incorporate Podcasts and Videos into Their Marketing Strategies?
Last week, I was interviewed by Crystaltech, the company that hosts all our websites/blogs/podcasts/live streaming video productions, for their latest newsletter and blog. The interview covered a few different topics, but I felt the answer to one of the questions posed during the interview would be helpful to readers of this blog.
Why would you encourage business owners to
incorporate podcasts and videos into their marketing strategies?
My answer had less to do with podcasting and video specifically and more about the problem all websites have created. For me, rolling out a podcast/live streaming video production isn’t about how cool either of those things are. It’s about whether you recognize the problems traditional websites have created and if you are interested in solving those very same problems.
Here’s what I said in the interview. I welcome any comments!
First, I don’t think podcasting and live streaming video is a fit for every company [emphasis added]. I think a certain type of embedded video is a fit across the board, if done correctly.
That said, when considering your online marketing strategy, you first need to take a hard look at your website. Truth is, the websites of today aren’t performing any better than the websites of the mid-nineties. The reason is because we’re still creating what amounts to a bunch of electronic brochures…and nobody cares about our electronic brochures. And the numbers bear this out. The average amount of time somebody spends on a website is one minute, and half those people only last eight seconds. Unless you have a story that can be told in eight seconds, you have to figure out how to keep people engaged longer so you can speak to the problems you can solve, and separate yourself from the competitive herd.
As we say on our website, what’s really needed to increase the connection between you and your prospects is to stop producing yet another bit of written marketing collateral, and try something better–and much more impactful. You can turn the day-to-day efforts of your company into an ongoing story that gives your listeners a real sense of who you are, what you do, and how you are solving the problems facing your customers and prospects. That’s why our customers podcast.
Video, regardless of whether it’s live streaming video or on-demand, when done correctly, solves a major challenge most websites unintentionally create when it comes to a company’s perceived approachability. Remember, with a website, I never have to speak to a human. If you recognize that your employees are among your most valuable assets, not providing a window into these important people is bad business. Our customers use live streaming and on-demand video to improve their approachability in the eyes of their prospects and customers, thus shortening the sales cycle.
1. Nobody Cares What You Do.
Time and time again, I hear corporate/business podcasts go on and on about how great their latest widget is. Here’s the truth – nobody cares what you do, they only care what you do for them.
Instead of speaking from a company-centric perspective, speak from the customer’s point of view. What are the problems they face? Why are they in trouble in the first place? What have many of your customers done in the past to try to solve their problems (but have come up short).
You bond with people on their problems, not your solution. Before you offer me a solution to my problems, prove to me you know what problems I’m dealing with in the first place.
2. Adding Video to Your Podcast Will not Help if Your Audio is Poor.
I’ve written about this before. If the sound on your video podcast sucks, nobody is going to watch. Those developing video content must recognize that the most important component to your video is not the video. It’s the ability the hear the story being told. If I cannot hear that story, or if the quality is so bad that it is distracting, you’ve lost me.
3. An Un-Prepared Guest is a Boor.
If your podcast consists of interview employees and partners, take the time to prepare them for the interview. It is VERY difficult to listen to somebody who stutters, hems and haws, “uhhs”, “errrss”, “you knows” through an interview because they simply aren’t prepared to answer your questions.
We solve this problem by pre-interviewing the guest ahead of time. You want the guest to know what to expect before you hit “record”. Learn before the interview what’s important to them. Help them understand the point of Scary Fact #1. Then, prior to the recording, let them know what the questions will be (and, depending on the guest, remind them of what they felt would be their important answers).
4. An MP3 Link is Not Enough.
I would guess that over 90% of all podcasts I’ve come across only provide an MP3 as a means of listening to their show. This is not enough if you want to increase the probability of listenership. Besides providing an easy way to access your RSS feed (for those who want to subscribe to your podcast), do not forget to provide a Flash Player for each episode. Failure to do so ignores the fact that many people dislike having to click. . .then wait. . .for the MP3 file to load in their browser. Instead, adding a simple Flash Player for each episode gives a new visitor a chance to audition your show. . .something he may otherwise not be willing to do.
5. If You Don’t Plan Your Podcast, You Will Hurt Your Brand.
It’s shocking to me how many podcasts get started with their first episode (or dump a few episodes all at once), and then stop producing any more episodes. Developing a great podcasting is like being asked to develop a new radio/TV talk show. It takes work and can be overwhelming. This, more times than not, leads to “podfading”, which is the premature ending of a podcast series due to lack of time, resources or planning.
Frank Sinatra had a great line. He said that he had his whole life to record is first record but only six months to record his second album. In podcasting, you have your whole life to record your first podcast episode. Guess how long until the next episode is expected?
Of course, if I was talking about an amateur podcast, this wouldn’t matter. But because of the subscription nature of podcasts, this is poisonous for a corporate podcast. By podfading, you’ve told all those subscribers that their interest in your show doesn’t matter to you. . .and that their vote doesn’t count. From a branding perspective, this is bad new.
A well-planned podcast will drive show momentum and increase listenership and reduce the risk associated with failing to deliver what is promised to your audience.
As I started the day, my Google Alert for “Podcasts” told me that InformationWeek (and more specifically, Alexander Wolfe) thought that podcasting was dead.
His article had several reason behind this theory, most of which I thought were poorly researched. (Funny thing…he spent much of the article bashing podcasting and then went on the recommend a book. . .on podcasting.)
I commented on the article…here’s what I said:
Nice “linkbaiting” headline!
I agree with many of the comments above…podcasting is far from dead. It is, however, too difficult to listen to in most cases.
Our customers at PodWorx have all appreciated and benefited from their podcasts. More to the point, 100% of our 2007 corporate customers signed up for 2008. I can assure you this would not have happened if podcasting was “dead”.
Clearly, if done correctly, a podcast can be entertaining and/or educational for the listener and help a company make money or direct a listener take action on their behalf. It can be done if the effort is there. As Robert Allen said [another commenter on the page], a great deal of work is required to deliver a strong podcast. . .and most podcast fail in that department. But for those that DO make the effort, a podcast can be an outstanding component of a company’s customer loyalty efforts.
What do you think? By reading this post, I would guess you believe in podcasting. . .but maybe not. Let me know!
PodWorx customer Interwoven put out a press release announcing their new podcasting, Intersections by Interwoven. I was especially impressed with the content of the press release because it hit on many key issues that I believe should be addressed in such a press release. Here’s what I mean:
1. First of all, they wrote a press release about their podcast! I’m all for a soft launch of a show to get the bugs out but once you’re ready to go, TELL PEOPLE. I am surprise by the number of corporate podcasts that never go to the trouble of getting the word out.
2. They explain the problem they are trying to solve with the podcast “how to leverage content to maximize online business growth..”
3. They explain who the podcast is for: “provide valuable insight to line of business and IT executives responsible for delivering an engaging and profitable online presence, as well as those interested in streamlining business processes and addressing business risk”
4. They give a preview of what’s already been produced, with links (that are trackable) to each individual episode.
5. They demonstrate their interest in making access to the show as easy as possible by listing all the ways a listener can enjoy the show:
6. And finally, they gave PodWorx credit for producing the show!! (Okay, that’s not an important component, but it sure is cool.)
If you’re company is preparing to launch a podcast, be sure to tell people. And when you do, it’s a good idea to touch upon all the points Interwoven did in their press release.
For those convinced that having a podcast will help your company, here’s the rub–if you can’t explain why it’ll help your company to your boss, there will be no podcast under your Christmas tree. To improve the probability of getting the podcast flag up the hill, this will be the first of a series of posts that will arm you with a list of reasons why you might want to try your hand at podcasting.
Reason Number 1 — Humanize/Personalize Your Company
“There’s more to words then what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with the shades of deeper meaning.” — B. Flowers
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Think about it this way…which has more impact…a written note saying, “You did a great job, Fred.” or having your boss pick up the phone and express his enthusiasm while saying the same thing?
Our corporate tagline is “Give Voice to Your Business”. There is no question that a corporate/business podcast done right does just that…gives the people who make the company go a chance to express verbally what makes your company tick.