Podcasts may seem relatively outdated, even low tech, considering recent developments in multimedia marketing, such as apps. However, for small businesses, they are still an effective, low-cost means of communicating and building relationships with customers.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, a podcast is a prerecorded audio (and, increasingly, video) program that companies can create on subjects that reinforce your marketing message or increase your image as an expert in your industry. Your customers can download these programs to a personal computer, smart phone or MP3 player and listen to the content when and where they want. If you feel you have enough content and can distribute your podcasts on a regular basis, you can use a subscription model through which customers receive automatic downloads of your podcasts.
Besides their low cost, podcasts are particularly useful to small businesses for a number of reasons:
- It is a natural way to build a personal relationship with your customers. You can use podcasts to demonstrate that you are committed to anticipating customers’ needs and initiating a two-way conversation with them.
- Small business-to-business companies may have customers who allow a podcast to feature case studies on how they use your products or services.
- In a large company, creating a podcast featuring the expert opinion of a senior executive may require an extensive approval process. By contrast, small business owners can disseminate their opinions on a wide variety of industry issues without having to run their copy by anyone else.
- Using video podcasting to demonstrate innovative uses for your products can help small businesses increase foot traffic. You can also offer consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your shop.
It has never been easier to start podcasting. First, brainstorm a list of topics. These can include industry trends, tips and advice that enhance your leadership and commentary on news related to your business. Give some thought to the style in which you’re most comfortable speaking. Are you conversational, instructional, formal, or lighthearted? Practice reading copy with clear enunciation. Also, decide if you want to use a script or just a list of talking points.
When it comes to the necessary technology, most podcasts do not require professional help. All you need is a USB microphone; a computer with a sound card, high-speed Internet connection and audio editing software, such as Audacity for Windows or Garageband for Macintosh.
Also, be sure that the design of your company website supports your podcast. Keep the site professional and easy to navigate.
Podcasting is a proven and inexpensive means of communicating with customers. As such, it should continue to be an integral part of a small business’s marketing mix. Have you ever created a podcast? Do you have any lessons learned or tips you’d like to share with the SBOC community? Please do so below.
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