4 April 2012 By Northern Lights
by Jon Buscall, head of Jontus Media, a digital marketing agency in Stockholm, Sweden. He hosts the weekly Online Marketing & Communications Podcast. He is also the author of an ebook and video training series Launch a Podcast and Grow Your Business.
Despite the regular calls that podcasting is dead, let me assure you that it’s very much alive and kicking. Just recently The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts recorded that 80 percent of America’s Inc 500 companies claimed their efforts using the platform had been “successful” – up from 71 percent in 2010. Staggeringly, this was only 2 percent less than those who felt their use of the social media juggernaut Facebook had been successful.
So Why Podcasting? I stumbled across the potential of audio after posting a short tryout podcast on my site back in 2010. I’d been listening to the likes of Mitch Joel and thought I’d give it a go. Although the sound quality of my first recordings wasn’t great, and I wouldn’t listen to it now (!), very quickly I won two new major clients who, on the basis of what they’d heard, invited me to do some training for them.
As a former university lecturer I was used to getting asked to speak at conferences and business events, but no one had actually ever contacted me about this through my site even though I regularly made it clear on the site I was available for speaking.
The audio as it turns out enabled me to show first hand just what I could offer much more than a few lines of copy on a webpage.
Understandably I was hooked.
A Key Channel for Integrated Marketing Since then podcasting has become a central feature of the content marketing I do for Jontus Media, the company, I run from my base in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s helped me win customers as far afield as South Africa, Italy and the US.
It’s not just my own business that has profited. I started producing a podcast for British canine behaviour consultant Karen Wild. The podcast helped her connect with British TV personality Marc the Vet, who has since been on the podcast twice, and has been a stepping stone to book deals, new customers and being more known in her profession.
“Podcasting has opened up a direct, friendly channel to my potential clients, building trust in my brand and delivering it straight to their ears,” says Karen.
To cap it all The WildPaw Dog Podcast just won the Best UK Business Podcast at the European Podcast Awards, gaining Karen further recognition in the business community.
The Vital Steps to Your Podcasting Success The entry level to podcasting isn’t huge. Essentially all you need is a computer, free editing software like Audacity and a USB mic. But just as you wouldn’t turn up to a meeting with a client in your pajamas, you shouldn’t produce poor, badly planned audio full of rambling content, hissing backgrounds and your voice echoing around the room so you should tread carefully at first before rushing to market.
Producing a quality show takes a bit of know-how, but it’s easier than you think.
The 1-Minute Geeky Stuff:
1. Record your show on your computer or a digital recorder. Record it at between –12 DB to – 6 DB, then raise it to –1 DB in your software prior to release. Trust me. This is what you need to do to stop your sound from spiking and distorting.
2. Make sure you record in WAV format and then export to Mp3 when you’re done editing. Don’t publish your recording in ACC format even if Apple tells you to because ACC isn’t compatible with all Mp3 players.
3. If you use a dynamic microphone instead of a USB mic or condenser mic you won’t get so much background noise.
4. Add your music and effects either as you record using applications like SoundBoard or mix them in during post-production.
5. Add ID–3 tags to the finished file: these should contain the name of the episode, the show name, any notes you wish to include and your picture art.
6. Make your show artwork 600×600 pixels. This is important.
7. Host your podcast with a dedicated media host or you’ll end up paying masses for bandwidth if your show gets popular. I recommend Libsyn (no affiliate).
8. Add your RSS feed to iTunes.
9. Then add your RSS feed to all the other directories like Stitcher, Blubrry, Blackbrry and the Zune network.
10. Buy good quality cables if you decide to try recording a show with a dynamic mic and a mixing board. They should be no longer than necessar. If you hear a hum, by a ground loop isolator.
The 1-Minute Strategy Stuff:
1. Make your podcast highly targeted so it addresses the burning issues your target audience go online to find answers to.
2. Choose a title that makes it clear exactly what your show is about if someone glanced at it for no more than a second. The fictional “Improve Your Golf Swing Podcast” and “Lean French in 5 Minutes a Day” are self-explanatory amidst a list of random shows, for example. “Green Fees” or “Garlic and Onions” are not.
3. Don’t ramble with lots of umm and ah, particularly if you run a solo podcast; similarly, don’t read a scripted show unless you’re sure it won’t sound formulaic; or worse, dull.
4. The average commute to work, according to the boffins, is 18 minutes in the US, 22 minutes in Europe. This is a typical time to listen to a podcast. In other words, don’t make your show too long.
5. Consider interviewing thought leaders. It’s easier than talking by yourself. And interviews are a great way of bringing news, information and a new perspective to your audience. Interviewees will also help spread the word about your show.
6. Start every show with a bang. Make sure any listener knows what your show is about within the 60 seconds or less.
7. Don’t advertise anything too much. Your content is your advertising.
8. Invest in professional show artwork. It will help your show stand out in iTunes and encourage people to subscribe. Don’t forget: it should be 600 x 600 pixels to look great on every device.
9. Remember your podcast is part of your integrated marketing strategy. Talk about it on Twitter. Give it a Facebook Page. Give it its very own blog. Put its URL in your email signature.
10. Podcast regularly so your audience know when to look out for you.
11. Have fun when you podcast or you’ll pod fade and never make it past episode 7.
So take my advice: go start a podcast or two!