Sometimes dubbed the ‘dark horse of online marketing’, pod-casting has enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years. In the US alone, the percentage of the population that regularly listens to podcasts grew from 9% in 2008 to 21% last year.
This is a fascinating trend for a form of content that is, when stripped bear, simply pre-recorded radio, hosted on the internet.
Despite this, pod-casting has successfully caught the attention of businesses and can now be found nestled deep within marketing plans. This is for good reason: they represent a unique, compelling way to reach a sizable audience and keep them captivated.
I’ve been an avid podcast listener for many years and the way with which businesses can leverage the power of audio fascinates me. With that in mind, I decided to speak to a business that uses pod-casting as part of its marketing strategy to find out how small organisations can take advantage of the medium.
This led me to Slinky Productions, who publish a regular podcast called ‘Backlight’, which focuses on video and digital marketing.
“The reason we use pod-casting is to develop real-world connections,” said Scott Ledbury, Managing Director of Slinky. “We produce ours by heading out to interview people and feature their thoughts, advice and best practices on the podcast.”
I decided to quiz Scott further, and his answers will hopefully inspire you as much as they did me.
How long should business podcasts be?
“In my opinion, a business podcast should be around thirty minutes. A lot of business people have limited time, and to have a podcast with hours of waffle (which some do), you’ll only put people off. Also, thirty minutes is ideal for commuters.
How do you encourage people to be guests on your podcast?
I’ve tried ‘cold outreach’ to guests through social media and have had little success. It’s always best to start with your existing networks and link through mutual connections, which in the long run can lead you onto bigger, more prolific guests.
What tools do you use to produce the podcast?
You simply need two microphones (one for the host, the other for the guest). It may sound obvious, but you don’t want to end up with an echoed ‘bathroom’ sound by recording six feet away from the guest, so close mic technique is essential. In terms of recording devices, you can invest in laptop-based recording software, but even an iPhone can be used to capture and record the audio with the right microphone adapter.
Is podcast hosting expensive?
Hosting is quite affordable and the pricing plans are usually based on the amount of data you upload during a month. It isn’t advisable to host the podcast yourself. Using a third party hosting service takes care of the all-important XML feeds and standards you need to adhere to in order to be accepted on the iTunes Podcast Store.
How do you promote your podcasts?
Podcasts can be promoted through various channels, including your guests themselves and specialist interest groups whose themes your podcast episodes may touch on. I would advise transcribing your podcast, too, for publication on your website. This will make the content Google-friendly and searchable for anyone interested in the topic.
What’s been your most interesting or surprising discovery since you started pod-casting?
To do get it right, it takes rather more work that you think! Everything from researching and approaching guests to planning the questions, editing, sound mixing and the eventual publishing requires a fair deal of time. It’s worth it, though – podcasts can help you become an authority within your industry and should offer a great return over time.
Scott’s enthusiasm for pod-casting is infectious and is identical to that of the growing number of small business owners that invest time in this form of content marketing.
It’s not for every industry, admittedly, but if you work in a sector that responds well to rich media and creative marketing, a podcast could be the perfect addition to your strategy.
Mark Ellis is a freelance writer who specialises in copywriting, blogging and content marketing for businesses of all sizes. Mark’s considerable experience at director level and deep interest in personal and business success means he’s ready to comment on anything from freelance writing to workplace dynamics, technology and personal improvement.