Should I Start My Business Podcast?

I get this question from clients and non-clients every week. Businesses from start-ups to established corporations are often, just now, Insight-on-business-news-hour 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?"

Linda  Harmon MPL Feb 2 2011I'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. 

Your thoughts?

 

 

 


Feeding the Beast

We tell all our clients how important it is to stay current with your social media efforts. Current and Consistent. That lesson came home last Man Angryweek as we closed the office and went on vacation. We do that from time to time...everybody needs a break. Sure, we did our daily business news broadcast Insight on Business the News Hour from Anna Maria Island and yes we did do some Tweets and kept up (sort of) with our broadcast Facebook Page and we (sort of) fueled my LinkedIn Page and, yes, we posted "some" to Instagram.  

However...when we looked at the numbers upon our return we saw we were lagging. Not as much interaction, re-tweets, Facebook comments and loving gazes toward LinkedIn or Instagram. 

It was a great lesson in Feeding the Beast.

Once you are in that space, no matter what platform you use, you've got to be consistent. And that, my friends, is where so many businesses (product or service) fall off. It takes time. And, if you are on vacation or away to a conference and YOU are responsible for the social media activity of you or your brand...you've got to stay on your game. You've got to find the time.

If not, individuals that have come to expect a particular amount of social interaction go away or disconnect. Remember, our attention span is less than a goldfish. Staying current and being consistent is just another demand of The Beast.

And, The Beasties. (Meet my grand-daughter Jovie...pretty good huh?)

 

Thanks for coming by and your comments are always welcome!

Michael

 


Hobby Lobby - A Missed Opportunity - The Horses Mouth

There is a new, sort of, social media trend out there. It's where teens are flocking to Hobby Lobby stores across the country for the Hobby Lobby Challenge. What's going on?  Young people descend on the local craft centric store and then use everything from fake flowers to ferns Hobby Lobby Imageto other items as props to create Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat images. They then challenge friends and family to take up the challenge and do the same.  Cool?

Nope, Hobby Lobby staff and workers don't like it. In fact many store employees have used social media to rail against the trend.

They complain that they have to clean up and fix the shelves that some might disturb.

But..what it... What if Hobby Lobby embraced the trend, no matter how short lived. Think of the free publicity!  Hobby Lobby could:

  • Welcome teens to their store and encourage them to use their products as prop for social media posts;
  • The company could then actually re-tweet or share those images to connect with a youthful demographic;
  • Hobby Lobby could, in just a few weeks, ditch the "old school" label and become (sort of) cool...even for a short time.

What a missed opportunity. Any idea what some companies might pay to have their name shared across thousands, if not millions, of images sent to a demographic that may not mean anything today...but how about tomorrow.

It's a gift.

But then there is that horses mouth... 


The Power of Repeating Stuff

Who doesn't like repeat customers? Who doesn't like being told...a couple of times...that you've got a great logo or uniform or...heck a great haircut? Just as much as we enjoy repeat customers and repeated complements so too should we learn that when we repeat Repeat Customer something over and over it has real power.

In marketing and advertising it is what is called "Top of Mind Awareness". Making sure your product or service is at the top of mind when it comes to somebody buying what you are selling. In other words, "One and DONE" doesn't cut it. It takes an effort to make sure you repeat your message over and over.

Here are a couple of examples and, while they are for national brands, we think you'll get the message:

"Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" - Winston has been out of television and radio for decades...yet we remember the tag line;

"The Champagne of Bottled Beer" - Miller used this slogan for years, abandoned it and this year brought it back...for good reason;

"A Diamond is Forever" - DeBeers debuted this way back in 1948 and they are still using it because...it works;

"Breakfast of Champions" - Who doesn't know this 1930's Wheaties slogan;

"It's the Real Thing" - CocaCola hit it out of the park with this from 1970;

"Say it With Flowers" - This will surprise you, the slogan dates back to 1917!

You get the idea... True, each one of these slogans had real dollars behind them to push the idea and the brand. Maybe your business doesn't have that sort of advertising budget but you don't need all that cash to accomplish much the same thing.

Think of your value proposition and what you bring to your customers and then put that in words. Not a bunch of words but short and sweet. We know of a law firm that has the tag line, "We get things done!" because the number one complaint among legal clients is that far too often law firms don't get things done and clients have to wait...and wait. The firm went so far as to register the slogan and they use it...everywhere.

Find your value proposition and then repeat it...often and everywhere. The goal is to have your customers hear or see those words and identify you and your unique value.

It very well could bring you…repeat customers.


The Inside Marketing Team

There are plenty of reasons big corporations...and small businesses...use an "inside marketing team" or Marketing Department. You know, the folks who work where the product or service is being delivered also do the marketing. The common reason is "They know what we do so we don't have to train Man Shock them." or "Rather than have the expense of an outside marketing specialist we save the money and do it ourselves."

We get it...sort of.

But, when the stuff hits the fan because the "inside marketing team" was too close to the product or service and not connected with the consumer it can be a problem.

Don't believe me?  Ask Pepsi...

They rolled out this hideous piece linking Pepsi to calming civil unrest. But worse, they co-opted the Black Lives Matter Movement and were forced, by consumers, to pull the effort less than 24 hours after launch:

 

Ouch...

Then there is this which started this week from Nordstrom, "Muddy Jeans" for $425. Just how out of touch can a company be? Celebrating Muddy Jeans Nordstrom the rugged American Worker at a price...they (we) can't afford. 

Ya want some muddy jeans?  Come to Iowa...we've got the real thing.

But, on the positive side check this video clip from Heineken. 

 

While it doesn't convince me that Heineken really cares about transgender issues, feminism or climate change it's much more thought provoking than...the other two.  And, yes, it was created by an "outside agency".

So, why use an outside agency? Because we're often the folks who, perhaps, know consumers and can be much more focused on a positive outcome. Truly had Nordstrom or Pepsi come to us and asked, "So what do you think of this idea..." We would have saved them...millions in "brand hurt".

Just a thought....

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Marketing With Original Music

We're pleased to share a new relationship with creative musician and artist James Goodlett. We get it, you have radio or TV ads to produce James Goodlett but you need music that will be new, original and identifiable to your business. We can make that happen. New original music for your online business video, podcast program and more. While many marketers have used royalty free music, which is available, how many other businesses use the same stuff. And...in the end is that music identifiable to your business?

Before we get too far...here is a sampling of some of the music James has created. We think it's top-shelf:

James Goodlett Sample

So, how does it work?  We meet with you to discuss your needs. Learn more about your brand and how you hope to use music to enhance your marketing. Then we'll go to work and produce for you a sampling of original music that you get to review and discuss with your team.

Once we've settled on a theme we'll deliver to you various cuts of different lengths so you can use it across several marketing channels. 

Pretty easy right?

Let's talk soon! 

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It's Nearly Here - Are You Ready?

Let's not "beat around the bush" the critical 4th Quarter is nearly here and for many businesses Time Hour Glass it's make or break time. Are you ready to take advantage of what could be the best quarter of 2016 for just about any business?  Let's roll through some opportunity areas:

Traditional Broadcast Media - As they say "Fa-git about it!" It's an election year and if you have not secured your broadcast slots by now...good luck getting airtime between now and November. Many broadcast outlets will bounce your ad in response to political advertising. Make sure you well understand the conditions before you buy.

Traditional Print Media - Depending on what you are selling and even though traditional print media is in a major slump there are still opportunities here with your newspaper. If you are a local business some of the "neighborhood" magazines are still a buy. Word of caution: Remember "Less is More" when it comes to print advertising. Use color, buy at least a half page and be very image focused with a minimum of words...trust us.

Facebook Specials - Start your planning now for your Facebook Ads and Facebook Rewards for your most loyal customers. Make sure your graphics stand out and that the call to action is clear. And, don't bother with a 10% off reward. People don't really start to get motivated unless it is 20% or higher.

Back-Story Blog - You do have a business blog...right? This week start writing down what you are doing to prepare for the 4th Quarter. Give your readers/customers a look behind the scenes as to what is going on as you prepare for THEM a great shopping season. Even if you are not seasonal but a professional business; people love to "look behind the curtain".

Social Media Efforts - Planning is key. First you must know WHERE your target market is spending time. If your target is young consumers try Snapchat and Instagram. Don't forget about targeted geo-marketing using digital and if you don't have an active social media presence now is the time to start...like today.

YouTube - If you can't buy television time because of the election cycle...create your own television station on YouTube and share your creative videos across several social media channels. You won't get the coverage but...it can build sales.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys - The business that cares about how they meet or exceed their customers needs wins. Look, all you have to do is ask. Use your email list of customers (you have one right) and design a quick survey and in that survey do not forget to have at least one "call to action", "If you were pleased with our service what is it we can do for you now to help you and make your day better?"  Gotta ask for the order.

Website Update - Update your website with images of fall and change some wording around. Remember, even on your website you should have a call to action...

There are all kinds of ways to take advantage of the 4th Quarter but it takes time and effort. This is not an exhaustive list...but it's enough to get you started.

Thanks for reading!

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Ad Blocking - What it Means for Business

Hang on because those of you who are spending money on popup or banner ads on websites Road Closedare in for a bit of a shock. The use of ad blocking is growing rapidly. A full 25% of internet users currently use ad blocking software and that number is expected to double in 2016. Double... Here's the story from eMarketer.

We already know that people are skipping through ads on broadcast television. We already know that people tune out ads on the radio. We already know that click-through rates on internet ads is dismal. We already know that most email marketing has a lousy click through rate IF it gets past the "Junk Mail" folder.

Why?

Because most advertising done on a local level is just plain...bad. There is no incentive to NOT block or skip or open the marketing message because...it's usually done poorly.

What to do?  Here are some solid tips to help you and your business get noticed:

Get Creative - Yes it costs money for good creative but you want your message to be seen/heard...correct? Lousy creative means lousy response. Give consumers a reason NOT to BLOCK your message. It makes no sense to spend $5,000 on an advertising campaign and spend zero on creative. It's called "burning money";

Get Social - If your marketing is not correctly using social media you are not going to be successful in reaching consumers. It takes planning and thought and work and consistency to pull off a successful social media campaign...not some "intern" who "knows the internet". Sit down and think...think about your message, your customers, where they hang out, what they want and then communicate with them...socially.

Get Busy - Reaching out to your current or potential customer requires you to know what is hot and what is not. There are, according to my good friend Mike Wagner, only three reasons why people are not buying what you are selling: 1) Wrong Product, 2) Wrong People, 3) Wrong Message.

There is help available. I know dozens of professional advertising/marketing people in the country. The question to you is...do you want the help or are you blocking this message?

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Best Ad of the 20th Century

Last week we attended the Des Moines Art Festival, named one of the best in the nation, and VW Imagewalked into American Dream Machines a vintage car restoration and sales business that was lucky enough to be on the edge of the festival. (Go ahead and click through, you are in for a treat!)

Tucked inside was this vintage VW sitting in their photo booth. I had to snap a picture. Look familiar?

Whoever thought this up knew about what Ad Age called the best advertising campaign of the 20th Century the 1959 Volkswagen print effort.  The art was directed by Helmut Krone and the copy for "Think Small" was written by Julian Koenig who worked for the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) agency.

Think Small AdI use this visual when delivering "Five in 24 - Five Things Any Business Can Do in 24 Hours to Sell More...Stuff."

Why? Because it is so central to the theme that "Less is More" when it comes to advertising. Even in 1959 they realized the impact had to come from the visual and not, so much, the wording.

People simply don't want to be reading loads of copy or hearing ads full of wording or watching TV commercials that are so complicated it takes thought.

Keeping it simple works.  Just a reminder when you are planning your next campaign. 

Thanks for reading!  

 

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Tips on Scoring Earned Media

It is called “earned media” when you get publicity through promotional efforts. You know, the Earned Media Boy reporter shows up at your business and does a great job in sharing your message/brand/effort.  It happens every day right?

It does but the promotional effort has to be something amazing.

While you think your promotion is really cool and fun and interesting you need to understand media outlets get pitched all the time and they only have so much inventory.  And, remember, media outlets survive on “paid media” or advertising.

Some Tips on Scoring Earned Media

  • Think and Plan – Sure, sometimes a promotional event goes viral on its own but to get to that point there must be some serious planning. You must take into consideration not just “the event” but how it will play with the public. Will they get it and will it make for a good “news bite”?
  • Wacky Works – Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014? It was wacky, different and fun. The ALS Association scored international media attention and even offered up Ice Bucket Challenge 2.0 in 2015;
  • Celebs – Hooking your promotional event around “a name” is always a great way to induce the media to your cause. Some celebrities will pony up their time because they have a relationship to the cause or event but you need to know not just ask;
  • Broad Appeal – Even though your promotion is meant to drive your brand the event needs to be broad enough to garner wide appeal. Otherwise media outlets will ignore you;
  • Social Media – If you fail to get social with your promotion hoping the media will carry the ball for you…forget it. At the same time if you are not NOW working social media for your business but ramp it up for one event…ain’t gonna work. You must be in the space before, during and after;
  • Keep Pitching - Once and done is not a good media plan;
  • Be Timely - If you can tie your event to something that is already hot or something that is starting to bubble up, so much the better; 
  • It’s Not Free – Getting earned media is not free. It takes time, talent, planning, execution and a relationship with the media. All of those factors cost money…
  • The Relationship – I can’t stress this enough…if you and your business has created a media relationship either through paid advertising or personal it is golden. Likewise if you and your business is already seen as a leader in your vertical so much the better.

The bottom line is that earned media doesn’t “just happen”

Now, go think and plan!

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