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.
A couple days ago, I was doing a pre-interview for an upcoming Polycom on Demand podcast. The topic revolved around a new resource Polycom has placed on their website that provides a one-stop location meant to help their customers better implement (or propose) a video conferencing environment. As I was learning about this resource, I discovered that within their “Tools” area, they had included links to a couple previous Polycom on Demand podcast episodes.
I thought this was a great idea.
To help their customers better position the Return On Investment (ROI) delivered by a Polycom solution, they included links two of our Determining Your ROI episodes:
By integrating their existing podcast content into this new customer offering, they’ve enhanced both the podcast’s standing as a valuable educational tool for their customers and the ability to deliver timely, helpful content via their online presence. This is a great use of their podcast.
If we turn our attention towards you, I’d suggest that if you are already producing a podcast for your company, ask yourself,
“What am I doing to help my other marketing efforts by
leveraging the content in my podcast?”
And if you haven’t begun podcasting yet, don’t forget that there is more to it than just creating a new MP3 file for your customers.
With the release of each new show, we provide each customer with a long list of ideas on how to promote/leverage that particular episode. I’d suggest that besides simply posting your latest episode on your server, think hard about how else your podcast can help move your story forward and shorten your sales cycle.
Now, I have a looooong list of other uses for podcasts. But I’d like to hear from you. How do you put your podcast to work for you? Let’s take turns sharing some ideas!
About a year ago, I wrote that a great podcast (and now, live streaming video production) will drive more traffic to your website. This would have to be considered an obvious benefit of a well thought out production. But, I pondered, what if your website isn’t ready for that additional traffic?
Huh, that’s a good question.
Here’s what I wrote:
A great podcast, when done well, will drive traffic to your website (and vice-versa). But what happens if your website isn’t ready for that additional traffic? What happens if the search engine juice a podcast provides is wasted on a corporate website whose search engine strength is weak?
Furthermore, what happens if your website’s old, static design fails to match the more connected vibe created by a well produced podcast/live streaming video production?
What happens? A disconnect–that’s what happens. If you’re going to spend the time developing a great show, it stands to reason that you’d like your call-to-action to point to an online presence for which you can be proud. If you fail to do so, the success rate of your efforts are certainly at risk. (Trust me when I say this. . .I have seen “social-based” content that was very compelling, but that drove me to a website that made me want to put toothpicks in my eyes. As a result, I didn’t return.)
To date, PodWorx has designed, developed and deployed two new blog-based websites for customers that plan to do much more with their website than just throw up a bunch of static electronic-brochure pages.
And, I’m happy to report, it goes beyond the design of the website.
Both QBS Research and LASIK of Nevada have committed to communicating with their website visitors more often via their blog. Additionally, each has a very unique card up their sleeve that will radically differentiate themselves from their competitors.
(Truth is, I’ve seen their competitor’s websites. . .they’re already way ahead. . .but what we’ve got in store for their customers and prospects (or patients in the case of Dr. Rothman) will change the way folks look at how to break down the barriers every website creates.
Fun stuff, this is!
Stay tuned for more on each of these customers. We’re in pre-production for both companies. . .and from what we’ve developed so far, it’s going to be outstanding.
How about you? What are you doing today to improve the approachability of your company via your website?
p.s. I’m an eat-your-own-dog food kind of guy. This means that if it’s good enough for our customers, it’s good enough for us. As I type this, a brand new podworx.com is in development.
In the previous post about the criteria for a successful business podcast, we approached it from the listener’s perspective. Today, let’s look at the company’s side of things.
The Criteria for a Success Corporate Podcast: From the Company’s Perspective
For a podcast to be deemed useful by the company that is either producing or funding their own podcast, one of two things must take place:
- It must either make them money
- Motivate listeners to take action on their behalf
Simple enough, don’t you think? (You might be surprised how many podcast experts are unable to articulate that simple fact.) Yet the reason most business podcasts fail to fulfill either of those two criteria goes back to what I wrote about in the previous post. That is, before your listener will separate himself from his money or do something you ask them to do, you have to establish your credibility in such a way as to influence that listener to want to follow your call-to-action, whatever it is.
First, by proving you are familiar with the problems your listener is going through. You’re going to have a hard time getting me to buy your widget if you spend your whole time pitch, Pitch, PITCHING me without showing any indication that you know (or care, for that matter) about what motivates me. It might be because I’m trying to relieve some pain OR it might be because I’m trying to achieve/strive for something better, but regardless of what it is, if you can’t explain it, I’m not buying it.
Second, after you’ve shown me you “get” me, DON’T SELL ME. As I’ve said, telling is not selling, teaching is. Spend less time repeating the products name and more time telling me how the product works. If you do a good job in creating curiosity, I’ll pick up the phone and ask for more details.
And speaking about picking up the phone, did you remember to include a call to action at the end of the episode? For the first podcast I ever produced (Great Relaxation Music Podcast), all we did was play some music, teach people about who the artist was, and then we gently invited people to hear more free music at the website.
That gentle call to action improved sales by 23%.
For many of my customers, we’ll include the interviewee’s phone number or email address to make it easy for somebody to take action. And if we have a promotion/special going on, we’ll tease the listener by mentioning the promo in the website and RSS feed text.
These are just a few ideas. What about you? What are you doing today that makes your podcast listeners pick up the phone and call you?
The practice of selecting a corporate podcast to criticize in a public forum is a common one. I’ve had the displeasure of listening to, or reading various "podcast experts" trash other company podcasts under the heading of education.
To me, that practice is just plain hurtful. As I read elsewhere, you can teach without being cruel.
It is unnecessary to tear something (or someone) down to teach others. I haven’t done it. . .and I won’t.
On the other hand, I do think it’s important to point out a collective error that many corporate podcasts suffer. This problem has to do with a persistent disconnect between the majority of corporate podcasts and their audience. The good news is that if you understand the criteria for every corporate podcast in the world, you’ll be better able to develop a show that works for you and your listeners.
The Two Groups We Care About
As I’ve said previously on this blog, there are two groups of people I care about when PodWorx begins to plan, produce, publish and promote a new show.
- The Listener
- The Organization for which the podcast is developed
Today’s post will focus on group #1: The Listeners
The Criteria for a Success Corporate Podcast: From the Listener’s Perspective
For a podcast to be useful in the eyes of a listener, one of two things must take place:
- The listener must be entertained
- The listener must be educated
And if the podcast Gods are smiling, the listener will be entertained and educated.
The Living in Las Vegas Podcast, a Las Vegas Podcast that speaks to the experience of living in Las Vegas, does a good job of doing both. We hear from people every week asking for advice about living in a place where 5000 people move to each month. We’ve developed a nice community that appreciates the dual educational/entertainment nature of the show.
But for a strictly corporate podcast, while it can certainly have both entertainment and educational elements, the key piece is that of education. If you are not educating your listeners, you are not helping your listeners.
Now, educating your listeners does not mean spewing forth a bunch of features and benefits about your latest product or service. This is where most corporate podcasts go terribly wrong. And, this is where it becomes painfully obvious that the marketing department is running the show.
Instead, you must remember that you bond with people on their problems, not on your solution. If you are able to clearly articulate the challenges, problems, concerns, goals, dreams, aspirations and desires of your customers and prospects (ie; listeners), you break down barriers and create an environment that says to your listener, "we understand what you’re going through, and we can help".
If you do spend time speaking to the problems your listeners are faced with (and be sure to recognize that a problem can be the desire to remove pain OR the drive to be in a better place), you further establish your credibility and are looked upon as an expert. Once you’ve done that, your next step is to teach people how to work and/or live smarter.
If you spend time listening to any of the public podcast we produce for our customers, you’ll notice a common pattern to the story we tell:
- We first speak about the problems facing our listeners
- Next, we talk about the ways these listeners might try to fix these problems (and how many of those attempts aren’t working)
- Then, we teach people how to solve those problems
And when we get to the third step, while we don’t disallow the mention of the products or services the company offers, we don’t dwell on them. Instead, we focus our attention on what the products and services do and how they help. Less about the name, more about the action behind it.
The fun fact about selling is people don’t like to be sold, but everybody likes to buy. And for those of you who are dying to use their podcast to improve their bottom line, remember that telling is not selling, teaching is. For me, instead of pushing sales and marketing content down somebody’s throat, I like to explain, in the simplest form, how stuff works. And let the listener decide if it’s helpful or not.
What does this mean to you? When you are preparing your next podcast, ask yourself if you are helping your listener. What’s in it for them? Why would they appreciate receiving this content? How will it make their life at home or at work better? And then keep your eye on the content. Make sure your are teaching your listeners about a better way of getting stuff done.
What about you? What do you specifically do to help educate your podcast listeners? What feedback have you received proving you’re doing the right thing? 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.