I like to think of myself as an “outside the box thinker” and I have built many businesses in my life by marketing via as many non-conventional ways as I can think of. While newspaper, magazine, radio and TV might work for some companies, I feel that there is too much “noise” on those mediums. Everyone is competing for the same space and you have to struggle to get someone’s attention. My experience has always been to offer and deliver things that my customers and prospects do not expect. Give them value anywhere and any way you can.
The Conventional Marketing Landscape
Take a few minutes and think about the places that people consume marketing messages. Television commercials are one that comes to mind, but unless you have large marketing budgets, even local TV advertising can be expensive. Newspapers and magazines are another. They can also be pricey depending on the publication, but beyond price, you have only a couple seconds to grab someone’s attention and if you do, there is really no easy way to track results. Radio is another popular option which, if done right, can be effective. However, for me, it is hard to invest in radio because I can not control when the commercial is played so I am counting on the fact that I am catching the consumer at the exact time he/she is in the car or near a radio. It is a lot like gambling to me, and while I know it works for many companies, I like things that I have more control over.
Email marketing was my favorite for a long time. I had a lot of control over my message and who received it, but with all of the anti-spam initiatives going on in the online world, I find that a large percentage of my emails never even make it to the consumer. I used to see 40-50% open rates a couple years back but now I am lucky to see 10-15%. I still use email a lot because it is essentially free to utilize, but I make sure I deliver a lot of value in my emails like free content, tips, etc. and not just have every email be blatant advertising. I find my interaction with the emails is much better that way. Email marketing, when done through a service like MailChimp, can provide you with valuable statistics as well, which no other conventional marketing can really offer. The problem is that email is not enough. I am always looking for more ways to reach new people.
The Quest To Be Different
In my efforts to provide the unexpected and offer value to the consumer any way I can, I have successfully created podcasts in my businesses and use them as not only a way to market and promote my company, but to engage and put myself out there as an expert in my field. A podcast is a great way to build credibility and a strong foundation within my marketplace. Once people get to know you and build trust with you, then it is much easier to get them to buy from you.
If you think about the online landscape and where you can market your company, if really comes down to large search engines and social media sites: Google, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. You can post pics and articles on these platforms as well as purchase advertising and even work some creative SEO to get ranked on Google higher than your competition. But let’s not forget about some other very large search platforms – Google Play and iTunes (Apple). These are two of the largest mobile search platforms around and the only way you can access them is if you are a recording artist (music), author (ebooks) or a podcaster. By launching a podcast, you have the ability to been found by millions of people every day and your content can be consumed how and when the consumer wants. Maybe they want to listen to you at the gym, in the car or on a walk. Podcasting is a huge marketing opportunity.
What Is Involved To Start A Podcast?
Starting a podcast is simpler than you think. All you really need is a microphone, a computer, website and podcast host, so the investment is minimal.
There are a wide variety of microphones out there starting at around $50 and ranging to several hundred. One particular one that I recommend is the Blue Yeti USB microphone. This mic is less than $100 and can work with any computer. It has a very good sound quality which is the number one most important thing when making a podcast – have good audio! Never use the computer mic or your cell phone mic. Just like you would not use a poor quality camera to make a video or take a photo, podcasts are an audio-based medium so you need to make sure the quality sounds good.
My setup is a little more complicated because I use a two different mics depending on what I am doing and I run both of my mics through a mixer. But when I started my first podcast about 8 years ago, I started with one of the early versions of the Blue Yeti mic and I still have it today.
You do not need much for a computer to create a podcast. The computer you use for email and web browsing is probably more than enough. Audio does not take up a lot of resources like video does, so you can get away with a simple laptop.
In order for the podcast search engines, like iTunes and Google Play, to find and index your podcast, you need to create a simple WordPress website and use a podcast plugin on the site. I use a plugin called Blubrry. Basically what happens with podcasts is that you do not upload your audio and info to the search engines. Rather, you create a post on your website and the podcast plugin generates what is called a RSS feed URL. You take that URL and submit it to the podcast engines one time. Once they approve your podcast for listing on their service, all you do is create a new post for every new episode and then usually within a couple hours the episode is live on their sites. This is really nice because you have full control over when you release an episode and what information is given about that episode.
Don’t let the idea of having to create a website for a podcast stop you and be the reason you do not consider podcasting as a marketing medium. Even if you do not know how or want to build a site, you can easily find someone to do it for you for very little money on sites like www.fiverr.com.
With podcasts you need a place online to store the audio files for your episode. While you can store them on your own server, should your podcast take off and become very popular, the download traffic can crash your server quickly. The solution is to sign up for a service with a company like Blubrry. This is a hosting company, much like YouTube is for video. Once you upload your audio file, they give you a link that you embed in your post on your website. They also provide download stats which will let you know how many times someone has listened to your show.
Additional Items Needed
In addition to the above items, you will also need to have a cover graphic for your podcast. This should be a 3000×3000 pixel graphic and will serve as the thumbnail image for your podcast on the search platforms and apps on mobile phones. Again if you do not want to design your own graphic there are online resources that you can use to get one made.
You might also want to have some intro audio for your podcast. It is not necessary but can make your show sound more professional. In my latest podcast, The Think It. Make It. Podcast, I got the audio done for $25 from a guy I worked with in the past on Fiverr.com. he created an intro, outtro and audio bumper to use in my shows for this price.
The last thing you need is audio software. If you own a Mac then you already have Garage Band which is all you need. For PC and Mac users, you can also use Audacity, which is completely free. This is the software I use and have been for years. It is very easy to learn and very powerful should you want to do more complex things with your show in the future.
If you decide that you want to have guests on your podcast then you will need a way of recording their audio. The best way I find to do this is with Skype (which is free) and a program called “Call Recorder“, which is about $39. This program puts your audio on one track and the guest on another so you can make volume adjustments if necessary.
My Podcast Journey
As I said, my journey with podcasting started about 8 years ago with a podcast called “Multirotor Podcast” which we then renamed to “Dronevibes Podcast” It was a podcast all about drones and the cool things you can do with them. At the time I was a partner in a drone company called Aerial Drone Worx and the podcast was used to let the world know we were experts in this industry. We focused on high-end cinematography for movies and commercials, so it was very important for us to stand out any way we could. Not only did this podcast help land some major deals, but it also got us the opportunity to be on Good Morning America for 3 days in New York City and I was able to monetize the podcast to a point where it was generating over $5000 a month through advertising with over 65,000 active listeners. I have since sold the podcast when I left the company to start Stepcraft.
The first thing I did with Stepcraft is to create a podcast called “The You Create Podcast“, which is still online now, however I have not updated for a while. This podcast was designed to, again, use podcast engines as a means to market our company. The topics I covered were broad so that I could reach a lot of people and interest areas. Every post for each episode contained many significant keywords so I could be sure that we would rank well in Google as well as in the podcast engines. This podcast cost me a total of around $200 to launch. The sales that we generated from this podcast yielded easily 100 times that amount since its inception. Even though I stopped recording episodes for this podcast, it is still downloaded every day. This is the power of podcasting and their search capabilities.
As I write this today, I just launched my latest podcast, the “Think It. Make It. Podcast“. This show will contain interviews with our customers, tips and tricks, interviews with other industry vendors and experts and industry news. Each episode takes me a total of around 2 hours to create, which is a minimal investment considering the reach that it will have. Ask yourself, “Can I spend 2 hours a week on something that will bring me more business for practically no monetary cost?”
If you have something to say and you are an expert in your particular industry, then you should consider launching a podcast. It really does not matter what industry you are in, the fact is that there is always something you can talk about in podcast form. Maybe you are an accountant. Then launch a podcast giving accounting or bookkeeping tips to other business owners. If you are the owner of a brewery, then launch a podcast talking about beer. Maybe you own a financial investment company – this is perfect for a podcast because there is a ton of things to talk about regarding this subject matter. Consider this… if I met you in a business meeting and asked you about your business, do you think you could carry a conversation talking about what you do and how you could help me or others? If the answer is yes, then you have no reason not to look into podcasting.
Tell me what your business is and I will suggest to you how you can create a podcast around it!