As with any new technology, there is a wait-and-see approach to whether or not that technology is going to be valuable. For those of us with a marketing background, we’re familiar with Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Life Cycle, which divides technology users into the following categories:
Technology Enthusiasts / Innovators = 8%
Visionaries / Early Adopters = 8%
Pragmatists / Early Majority = 33%
Conservatives / Late Majority = 33%
Skeptics / Laggards = 16%
For companies that started podcasting in 2007, I would say they would comfortably fit in the Technology Enthusiasts/Visionaries category. (According to Forrester Research, they may be moving toward Pragmatists…but that’s another post.)
The good news for these companies is that they’re ahead of the curve. . .first to market. . .a leader in their industry. The bad news is that podcasting might not give them what they had hoped for and ended up wasting money, hurting their brand, or both.
I am happy to report that all of our 2007 podcasting clients have chosen to continue podcasting with PodWorx in 2008. And as I thought about why this is the case (which makes me quite proud, I must say), it really came down to two things:
First, we recognize what a podcast must do.
There are two groups that must be satisfied if a podcast is to be a success—the listeners and the organization providing the podcast. For the listeners, they must be entertained and/or educated. For the organization, the podcast must either improve sales or motivate the listener to take action on their behalf. We made sure that if an episode idea didn’t meet these criteria, that episode didn’t get produced. (This explains why many ideas to re-purpose existing content, either written or otherwise, were rejected.)
Second, we delivered on each and every element of the Four P’s of Podcasting®:
Developing a great podcast is like being asked to develop a new TV or radio talk show. It can be intimidating. Before we got started with any podcast, we spent a measurable amount of time with each customer planning their podcast and developing a strong Episode Map.
The Episode Map ensures we know the style of the show, the search-engine keywords that are important, what each episode will cover, who the guests will be and who our audience is. Without an episode map, a corporate podcast is almost certain to podfade, which is the premature ending of a podcast due to lack of resources, time or planning. On the other hand, a well-planned podcast will drive show momentum and increase employee buy-in and reduce the risk associated with failing to deliver what is promised to our audience.
The day of the amateur sounding podcast is over. Audio and content issues will kill your credibility. Poorly recorded shows will annoy your audience and content that does not focus on what the audience cares about will do likewise.
With 25 years of audio production experience and 15 years of sales/marketing/positioning experience, PodWorx takes advantage of a technique we use in the pre-interview and interview that immediately establishes the guest’s credibility and makes people want to listen and learn more. Furthermore, because our job is to make smart people sound smart, we remove most umms, errs, stutters, non-words, false starts and filler words (you know, basically) to ensure a show that is tight and gets to the point. (Interesting note: it’s not unusual for an episode to have over 100 post-production edits to ensure a smooth, succinct podcast.) The production of a great podcast will increase the professionalism of your show and remove the concerns associated with releasing an amateurish show that sounds bad, hurts your brand and misses the mark with your audience.
Not being able to listen to a new podcast episode is frustrating and potentially harmful. It is important that we don’t increase any feelings of exclusion due to a listener’s location, computer skills or perceived lack of access to such content.
To increase the probability of listener engagement and reduce the risk of listener incompatibility, careful attention to proper file preparation and hosting is critical. We work hard to ensure each episode is compatible with all audio-player platforms, while at the same time use the integration of a Flash-based media player within our hosting environment so that anybody, regardless of computer skills, can listen to a show. It is in a successful publishing step that a company opens up the communication channels between themselves and their customer/prospects and decreases the perceived barriers between these two groups.
One of the first questions I ask a potential customer is, “How will you measure the success of this podcast?” Without knowing how success is measured, it’s impossible to know how to promote the show! And for those interested in developing a show for an external audience, the “build it and they will come” concept of promotion doesn’t work in podcasting. More effort is required to effectively drive/increase listenership.
Besides adding a new podcast to the various podcast directories, we spend time teaching companies how to further promote their show internally to employees, to their customers and other potential listeners. Some tips are as easy as adding an email footer announcing a new show (a personal favorite), while others include deep linking from their corporate site to their podcast site. With each episode we produce, we send the customer an email with promotional tips.
I received an email from Acutrack EVP Asheesh Barman some time ago that did an amazing job outlining why their Acutrack Podcast was working for the company. The full text of the email was reproduced (with his permission) on our Customer Quotes page. I would invite you to click through and give it a quick read. . .he did an outstanding job explaining how a podcast can help a company sell more, educate their own employees, and continue to add to their own credibility in their market.