Recently I was visiting with a client who is considering a website. I know...it is 2023. It's a story...believe me. Anyway we were talking about how a website works, content and search engine optimization. For years these folks have had a weekly blog and he was asking why, if they have a blog out there, would they need a website.
The answer is pretty simple but often hard to understand for some folks.
I explained that a website could offer some history of the company, what the mission is, how to make contact with decision makers, offer a calendar of events, etc. He asked me, "So can't we just put that information in a blog then we would not need a website?" Trouble is, that a blog is...rotational. Yes, we could put that information in a blog but in a matter of weeks we would have to do it again because that particular blog would drop several issues down and many people are not going to scroll through several editions.
So, Why Not Do Both?
It's important that information on a website change from time to time otherwise The Google, or other search engines may not pick up the site because there is "nothing new". When you incorporate a blog on the front page of the site you are actually changing content and, for a host of reasons, that's important. In other words "static" can be bad for search engine optimization (SEO).
Of course there are additional SEO tricks and tools but if you are already doing a blog why not incorporate that on your site? Or, conversely, if you have a website why not add a regular blog? You don't have to do it weekly...maybe twice a month? Not only will it refresh your website but you are now giving voice to what you do.
Back in the day we were early adopters of the business blog. It's a great way to tell your business story outside of somebody else doing the work for you. And, we've always believed that organic is much better than hiring outside help...unless you don't have the time or interest.
It's the same for business podcasting.
Let's be clear, with more consumers being mobile and listening to "spoken word" on their devices the business podcast makes sense. And, while you could invest in radio or television why not become your own broadcast facility? But, we get it. You may not have the equipment and or experience to create the content or edit the finished product. Totally understand and that's why we've launched our new business podcast service.
If you've followed our work you know we've been in the broadcasting and podcasting world for over a decade. Recently we added the equipment necessary for us to assist our clients in creating their own branded podcast. Our work includes the recording, editing, dubbing in your branded music/jingle and more. We'll even help you create your social media channels to distribute your content. Just like we're doing for a new Minnesota based client.
OK, so let's say your business isn't using social media (which, we think, is a mistake) perhaps you've been doing email marketing or direct mail marketing. Did you know that you can use those tools to also distribute your business podcast?
There are many ways a business podcast can be helpful in telling your story. And, if you've been doing a business blog for some time turning those stories into a podcast gets even easier.
So, let's visit. That conversation won't cost you a dime and you may come away with some great marketing ideas.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a Lunch & Learn for the Carlisle, Iowa Chamber of Commerce about effective communication. How the vast majority of what you "say" isn't as impactful as your visual and vocal skills...or lack of them. It's true. While we might like to "think" content is king in communication in reality that content amounts to only 7% of your ability to connect with your audience...be it one person or one-thousand.
So, where am I going with this?
Every day an individual or a company launches their podcast often without really thinking about the two items that truly impact a listener: Visual & Vocal. Now, it's true that with an audio podcast visual can often be taken out of the mix unless you, as we do, incorporate some video teasers as to the content.
That leaves the impact of your vocals. At the Lunch & Learn an attendee asked this question, "What if you are not a trained broadcaster or public speaker, what are some of the hardest things to overcome?"
We talked about the use of "filler words" and vocal inflection and projection. Which brings me back to podcasting.
This week three new podcasts came to my attention. When things like that happen I like to click through to listen...just to hear what others are doing in the podcast world. All three of these new podcasts we're created by fairly large companies and/or non-profits and they were all...awful. Using the formula regarding Content, Visual and Vocal each of these new podcasts missed in the two most important categories with "vocal" being really bad.
Podcasting is the new cool way to connect but if you fail to think it through and your work sounds like you recorded it over a speaker phone...you are done. Stick a fork in it.
So, before you launch here are just a couple of tips: (Image is of our "mobile studio")
Get A Good Microphone - There are loads of options available. If it is just you or one other person you can get by with a USB mic like the one I use. It's the Blue Yeti and the quality is superb...broadcast quality. It allows you choose several options from picking up the entire room to picking up one voice direction or two. Here is a link to Blue...we love their products and their service is top notch.
Microphone Tip Two - We do a ton of remote recordings so we invested in some great equipment that we can take with us. Now, you may not be moving around but you might consider, if there are multiple people on the podcast to get mics and a recorder that can handle several inputs.
Recording Device - When on the road I use a Zoom H4nPro for my recording. Simple to use and set up and the quality is amazing. It has two microphone inputs and you can also record using the built in microphones but, for podcasting get a couple of good mics. It's worth the investment. Here is a link to my favorite audio/visual store that has great service B&H New York City. And they have dedicated professionals in each area so you can ask your questions and some smart people will be able to answer them.
Microphones - I use the Audio-Technica AT8004L for my remote recordings. I like that the mic body is a bit long. When using just one for a quick interview, rather than a "sit down" conversation I think my subject appreciates that my hand isn't in their face. You can pick those up at B&H as well.
Post Production Software - We've used the open source Audacity program for years it's easy to learn and you can add so many touches to your podcast...like a pro. Here is the link to Audacity. Yes, there are more expensive programs out there...but for our use this has worked just fine. And, remember we're also sharing our podcasts on various radio broadcast outlets.
Visual Use - Make sure you take a photo of your podcast session and identify the people involved. It helps create a human touch. Likewise create a logo for your podcast so people know what it is that you are doing.
Plan & Be Informative - Sure you can have fun with your podcast...we do a weekly piece about "Stuff to DO" with our friends from Cityview Magazine but the majority of our news and interviews are things that many people simply don't know about. So plan your work to be informative.
Know When to Stop - People listen to various lengths of podcasts. We've found, over the years, that for us the best length of our interview segments is between 16 and 20 minutes. Anything over that and we create a Part One and a Part Two.
Share Your Podcast - We recommend that you be active in the social media world. If you simply post to your company website it's highly unlikely others will find you. Get social and watch your work get traction.
I truly hope some of this helps. But, if in doubt let us know. We're more than happy to answer your podcast questions.
My bet is that just five years ago that would have been the response of many who had never heard of a "podcast". Today it's so much different. Today, according to a recent survey of 16 to 64 year old internet users, 39% consume podcasts each month. Here is that data.
That's a big number and it continues to grow. The reason? Convenience.
And, that is why more and more radio stations are starting podcasts. You read that correctly. radio stations starting to do podcasts.
It's all about the time crunch that faces everybody. No longer do you have to sit and wait for the news or information. You can subscribe to a podcast and get it delivered to your inbox on your time. And if the host is knowledgeable and engaging so much the better.
One other quick fact. We're seeing more dollars being spent advertising on podcasts. Back in the day when FM radio started I remember sales people having to carry a small portable radio to clients so they could prove to them that FM radio existed. No, really! Today it's podcasting. People who are not informed about the power of podcasting are having to learn a whole new way of advertising their products/services.
On a podcast the traditional thirty-second "ad" doesn't work like it does on radio or TV. Listeners want what they want and don't wish to wait through several minutes of commercials. So the savey podcaster knows that embedding the message into the stream makes more sense.
One other thing about podcasting is quality. The quality of the audio is critical to a successful podcast. If the podcaster puts out lousy audio that distracts from the content all is lost. It's one of the reasons professional audio and those who are experienced in audio seem to have better response to their efforts.
We've been in the podcast space for over 10 years starting with something that was way ahead of it's time at WebcastOne Live to our current business news podcast, "Insight on Business the News Hour". Sure it's about business and it's not as sexy as a murder mystery or a political rant...but's it's effective and it seems to deliver content that is appreciated while also garnering financial support.
For several years I've offered up a seminar on "Five in 24 - Five Things Any Business Can Do in Twenty-four Hours to Re-Brand and Sell More Stuff". It's been the most requested piece I do. Has it changed? You bet! Each time I go out, as I just did with the New York Press Association Annual Meeting, I refine it to match the needs of the audience I'm speaking to.
And, that is one of the Five Tips that is included in "Five in 24".
Know Your Consumer
It doesn't matter if you are selling a product or a service the basic metric of success is knowing your customer base. That's why, before I head out to do a presentation I adjust the guts of the seminar to match the needs of the people I'm speaking to. For example the publishers and editors of the New York Press Association are struggling with new ways to connect to their readers outside of the printed product.
To be sure the community based newspapers that are represented by the NYPA are doing pretty well. They are not daily papers but hyper-local papers that laser focus on their town, city, community. That they've got. But, what other things might they use to connect with their target audience?
One of the new additions to "Five in 24" is Podcasting. I've been in that space for over ten years, long before it was considered cool and when it seemed like you were "talking to yourself". But today it's a thriving media option for busy people who may not have time to sit down and read. Want to check us out? Here is the Radio Blog for Insight on Business the News Hour.
And so, I tailored my presentation to reflect that reality. Was it well received? Yes...and while the reviews are not in I'm confident that I was able to peel back the onion a bit and introduce them to the power of podcasting.
The bottom line is you must know who your target customer is, where they hang out, how they buy what they buy. Once you've got that down all you need to do is create a story to move from "customer" to a lasting relationship.
Not long ago we were asked to look at the website of a new client. The business is in the professional services sector. They were concerned about their homepage traffic...which had declined over the past couple of years...and wanted a total new site and redesign. Yeah, they were...worried.
Now, they don't do e-commerce but they do a bunch with their business blog. (Clearly they had been listening over the years that business blogging is a great way to secure solid content and project a strong voice let alone be helpful in search engine optimization.) We knew...and they didn't...that visits to homepages continue to shrink and that happens because of a good reason...
So, we dug in to take a look and in the end made the professional recommendation that what they needed to do was stop worrying about their website and continue creating original content that drives people to their business.
Here is how it works: A consumer does not go looking for the XYZ Legal Services Company...unless they get a recommendation. It is more likely that a consumer is searching for something. Perhaps they are looking for "Business Succession Issues". They plug that into their search engine and get lots of places to go so they can learn more. And, because this client has written, several times, about that issue their legal blog came up on the first page of the search. And, because they used the right keywords and tags in their blog, the consumer was able to tell the company was in their metro area.
Today it's all about content and changing content at that. So, if your homepage is static don't expect much. However if your homepage content always changes...and if you are creating content on a regular basis it all adds up.
Content, content, content. And today you've got more places to share that content than ever before.
Create valuable information that people can use and the rest will follow.
It's a valid question and the answer is a resounding, "Yes"! We have so many demands on us that to give more than a few minutes to consider a decision is tough. Time starvation is one of the reasons convenience rules. Consumers are more than happy to buy products at a corner convenience store and pay 20% more than wade across a parking lot and roam the aisles of a grocery store even if there is a "friendly smile" everywhere.
Consider online shopping and business.
I know of a professional business that just purchased all of their officer equipment and furniture from Amazon.com. You read that correctly...all of it. And when they need paper or ink or whatever, they push a button and it is delivered to their door. Do they get to "touch" the products. Maybe but what they did do was research, online, and then made their purchase.
I've just given you two real world examples of how convenience seeks to play a role in time starvation.
Here is another one: Podcasting
Broadcast outlets are learning that people want news and information on the go and on their time. Rather than sit and wait for the specific time a broadcast is on consumers are consuming content when THEY are ready. That reality has led to a massive number of podcasts being created. Once again, playing into the reality of time starvation.
The podcast industry is still in it's early years. Our company has been in the space for at least ten years with Insight on Business the News Hour and we've watched the podcast effort continue to grow. Once again, people want good content delivered to them on their terms.
It makes sense and we believe it will only continue to grow. How about you? Thoughts?
Over the past year I've had dozens of people ask me about helping them start a podcast. It's all the rage you know and I'm here to help. I've been doing Insight on Business the News Hour in one podcast form or another for about ten years. First as a video podcast and then when I transfered over to radio it became audio only. Today I do the newscast as a podcast, each day Monday - Friday. There is at least 10 minutes of business news and an interview that can go 15 to 22 minutes...sometimes two interviews.
The photo is my "mobile studio". I use two Audio-Technica AT8004L mics from B&H out of NYC. Decided on these longer microphones because when interviewing people who are not used to doing broadcast interviews I've got to adjust them, often, closer to get good sound. There are two mic stands, two 6' mic cables and the recorder I use is a Zoom H4n Pro. I also use a Sony Pro headset to monitor the interviews. If something goes wrong it's easier to stop and re-do while on site rather than in post production.
That's it and it all goes in a roller suitcase.
In my office I use a USB microphone that plugs directly into my computer. It is a Blue Microphone Yeti. I love it so much that I have three of them! It's a great company based in California...and love, love the sound.
In addition, if I'm caught without my recorder and mics I do have Voice Record on my iPhone. You can download from the iStore. The quality is really pretty good. I also carry with me a bluetooth lav mic that hooks up with my iPhone (Thank you Phil K. James!) to do promotional videos with my guests. That system is from Kimafun and runs about $50. Works great. Here is a sample with Georgia VanGundy from the Iowa Business Council.
Of course you need to take your WAV file, create an MP3, edit the work, put in music, commercials and more. I have used, for my post production Audacity. I've used this open source system for years and years and it works great. Best news is it is free. So...go get it.
Finally, you need a host. Someplace to actually PUT your podcast. I have used Podbean.com for years. It works slick, you can share to other podcast platforms like Stitcher, iTunes, PlayerFM, TuneIn Radio, Google Play by giving them the RSS Feed.
I'll share with you that all of this takes work...and some experience. Before launching our advertising, marketing and communications company I spent years in radio and television so I've got a bit of history and experience in those areas. It truly has helped and coming back to newscasting after being gone for several years is sort of like riding a bike.
Finally every newscast and interview is placed on our Radio Blog. I've used Typepad for years. It's a habit I guess. Finally, each week I author an e-newsletter through My Emma to boost my advertisers and the content.
So, that's about it. I'd be happy to help you figure out some other things like original music for your podcast...HELLO James GOODLETT from Jam Good Productions!!! Or anything else you might need. Check his work below.
Final word: Work. I spend, roughly six hours a day doing interviews, travel, production, post-production and posting. And, that is every day. I get it. We do a daily newscast and you might be looking at doing a weekly podcast. Then, the time commitment goes way down. But till you've got to write, edit and create content that is worth listening to.
Now...you know everything!
Good luck and THANK YOU Patrick Rynard for the boost to get me to write this!
Amazon. Blue Microphones, Audacity, Audio, Audio-Technica, B&H Photo, Equipment, Insight on Business the News Hour, James Goodlett, Kimafun, Michael Libbie , Music, My Emma, Newscast, Patrick Rynard, Phil K. James, Podbean, Podcasting, Sony Pro, Typepad, Video, Voice Record, Zoom
I get this question from clients and non-clients every week. Businesses from start-ups to established corporations are often, just now, finding out about podcasting and thinking that it may be the perfect answer to an ever increasing number of media opportunities in which to connect with consumers.
The answer to the question is, as with most answers, it depends.
The number of podcasts that are now being done is stunning. Research from June of 2018 puts the number at 550,000 in more than 100 languages. That is a ton of competition but it also isn't a complete story. However, if you want to deep dive into the numbers like who listens, how often do they listen and more here is a link to PodcastInsights.com that we found to be enlightening.
Bottom line is the people are there and they are consuming hours and hours of podcasts. But, the question remains..."Should I start my business podcast?"
I've been in this podcast/webcast world for nearly ten years. We started out in a closet at a local bar (no, really!). We put in a "studio" of sorts and I was one of 60 people doing a podcast/webcast from that location. We moved from there into a real studio and launched something called Webcast One Live. It was all years ahead of its time.
Six years ago we launched Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business news broadcast/podcast that covers national, regional and some local business news plus long form business interviews that run between 15 and 20 minutes. So, yep, been there. Here are some considerations you've got to think about moving forward:
Do you really, really have something to say? - This is an important question because it's really about the long term. To simply launch a podcast and then, within two months you run out of material. Not such a great place to be. So, be honest;
Do you have the talent to carry it off? - This is so critical. To just sit in front of a microphone and talk is a world away from having the talent to make it work. Talent goes to the ability to carry on the conversation, a voice that is listenable and the technical issues that go into creating a successful podcast;
Do you have the technology? - True you can get into podcasting pretty cheap and that's why it's attractive to some. But when you start adding up the costs and the knowledge it can get expensive. So, if you are willing to to make a commitment to and you don't mind learning and working...it can be done;
Do you have the time? - I do a daily business news podcast. It takes me roughly two hours to write the news another hour to record and edit and another hour to polish the finished product and start to share across multiple channels. But in our case we also do business interviews so there is another hour per interview. But if you're not doing that you can figure at least four hours a day. True you can do a weekly podcast and your time will be much, much shorter;
Do you know social media? - Yes, you can put your podcast up on one of many podcast platforms but how do you let people know that you exist. If there are over 550,000 podcasts out there how do you let folks know about yours? Social media is key and you've got to not only understand it but be pretty darn good at the art of engagement;
Do you know how to measure and how to monetize? Measurement is sort of like the "wild west". We do track the number of downloads but some of the platforms we're on don't track them. Also, is this going to be a marketing expense or is there a plan in which you can make a little money and how do you do that? Sponsorship? Pay to Play? If you are investing hours of your time how do you pay for it?
Do you have staff? - Yes, you can DIY your podcast but if you don't know how or lack the equipment and the ability to share the show you are going to have to count on hiring others. That, friends, can be really expensive and cost hundreds of dollars an episode. Who will line up guests, will you do remotes, what new items will you bring to the effort? Us? We find we are always evolving.
Final thought. Podcasting is a bunch like blogging. I've known businesses and individuals that are all HOT on creating their blog for...maybe a year but then they don't see the value or the return on investment so they quit. It's taken us years to be financially secure with our format.
Those of you who follow us know that we believe in the Business Blog for several reasons:
Fresh Web Content - Each time you do a business blog you create fresh content for your website and that is important for what is called Search Engine Optimization so people can find you;
Owning Your Voice - When you write a business blog you are creating a voice for your business. You can explain in a short and direct manner what you do, how you do it and more. But, remember to break it up and not write "War and Peace";
You Are Open for Business - If you blog on a regular basis people know that you are still around and still accepting clients and still in business.
It's that last point I'd like to address. This afternoon we were searching for potential news stories and individuals we might interview for Insight on Business the News Hour. We went back into our files a couple of years to see what stories were out there that we thought might be worth a follow up. We found one on care-giving, Alzheimer Disease and aging. Two weeks ago we had a piece on the Alzheimer Tsunami from Iowa Watch we thought a follow up on an old story might make sense.
So, we went to the website for contact information. (There was none. No phone no email...just a form to be filled out if we wanted to reach out.) Next we looked at blog posts to see what might have been new and, really to check and see if this business was still in business. The most recent blog post was authored well over a year ago.
We are now led to believe this company is out of business. No contact information and an outdated blog post. We moved on...and wrote this piece.
It's critical that potential customers/clients be able to reach you and your business quickly so make sure you have contact information available. If you do a business blog and it is part of your website make sure you continue to do so. It doesn't have to be every week (if you are well established) but at least once a month let's us know you are still...open for business.