Random Marketing/Advertising Thoughts

Every so often stuff happens that business people need to better understand when it comes to marketing and advertising. Here are just two items that should get you to think about your approach to consumers. Pepsi bottles

Pepsi Wins

Even in light of downward pressure on Wall Street Pepsi this week posted some impressive gains as the company posted third-quarter gains that beat expectations. Analysts had expected revenue of $16.93 billion however Pepsi turned in revenue of $17.19 billion. What does the company say contributed to the unexpected increase in revenue? Advertising. Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnson said, “The increased advertising that we have is causing consumers to shop us more aggressively, and our customers are rewarding us with that [grocery] space because they know that we can help them grow."

Yeah....advertising.

Podcasting

Podcast MicRemember when people said social media was a fad? Sure you do. I remember traveling around the country giving presentations about the power of social media and many times attendees came up to me and told me, in no uncertain terms, "Social Media is going to go away. It's a fad and we'll get over it."  And, to be honest there are still some folks out there who believe that...even though social media platforms continue to grow.

Now it is podcasting that some say is a fad. However, consider this piece of news: "The Interactive Advertising Bureau/PwC forecast predicts $678.7 million will be spent by advertisers on podcasts this year. And revenue will top $1 billion in the next two years." And that, my friends, comes to us from the publication Inside Radio.  So if radio is paying attention to podcasting...shouldn't your business?

Marketing and Advertising thoughts...it's what we do...every day.  And, if you want to check out our Insight on Business the News Hour podcast you can find us on your favorite podcast platforms:  Google PlayPlayerFMPodbeaniTunesSpotifyStitcher or TuneIn Radio. And you can catch The Business News Hour Week in Review each Sunday at 2pm on News/Talk 1540 KXEL.

Thanks for reading...now go sell something!

 


Think Before You Launch That Podcast

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a Lunch & Learn for the Carlisle, Iowa Chamber of Commerce about effective communication. Man Thinking 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?

Think...Podcasts.

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?"

Great question. 

We talked about the use of "filler words" and vocal inflection and projection. Which brings me back to podcasting.

Mobile Studio in Mobile 2019This 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.
  • 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.

Here is a LINK to our Radio Blog for Insight on Business the News Hour so you can get an idea of what we do...there.  

Thanks for reading! 


"Podcast? What?"

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. Online Content Use July 2019

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.

IOB LOGO BWOne 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.

Podcasting...yep...it's here to stay.

Thanks for reading. 

  


Twitter for Business - It's Frustrating

This summer marks the 10th year our agency has been doing Insight on Business the News Hour a daily business newscast which first Ben McDougal MPL Feb 8 2011 appeared on the web, moved to terrestrial radio and now is a combination of both radio and podcast. (Photo from 2011 with a younger Ben McDougal from our studios at Webcast One.)

During that time I've interviewed thousands of business people about the who, what, where and why of their business. Each long-form interview is then placed on our Radio Blog and shared across several social media channels multiple times over the course of several weeks or months...depending on the story.  We also send out the interview link along with a one-page "How To" so our guest can then share their story on their own social media channels.

In other words, we have a long and proficient history when it comes to social media, especially Twitter.

I tell you that because, over the years, I have searched for and found hundreds of Twitter Profiles connected to the businesses we've featured. We do that so we can link our story to their feed and help them get more traction.  

Man ConfusedHowever, more often than not, those business Twitter feeds have been abandoned or, worse, so sparsely cared for that I see one or two Tweets a month...if that. And, what is even more incredible is that even if our guest has a fairly active Twitter stream they may fail to retweet their own story and the content we have freely created for them.

Often I'll reconnect with a business we've profiled and ask the question, "I see that while we've shared your story a dozen times on Twitter over the past two weeks and tagged you. Yet, your Twitter stream has never carried your content. Can you tell me why?"

Crickets.

They don't know. Or worse yet I get, "Gosh, I'll have to ask our social media specialist about that..."

In other words they simply don't understand the power of Twitter. They may have relegated it to an outside source or have an internal person who simply doesn't understand how the platform works. Finally, I believe, they think..."Hey, it's free. How valuable can that be?"

It's frustrating.

Business has, in front of them, their own media company that, if they work it, can pay huge dividends in the form of referrals and sales and building a positive brand.

It's time to re-tool your thinking. Let's start with this piece, "Giving Up On Twitter" from 2015. 

More to come....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Some Hiring Help

Last week on The Business News Hour we had a story about jobs. The Labor Department says there are now 1.5 million more open jobs Hiring Use then there are unemployed people. To put that in context let's say there are 6 million unemployed people in the U.S. yet there are 7.5 million open jobs.

Our business is based in the Des Moines, Iowa Metro where the current unemployment rate is hovering around 2.3%. I am told, by the folks at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, there are 17,000 open jobs in the Metro. Again, just not enough people...

Everywhere you look you see "Help Wanted" signs. HyVee, a chain of over 237 grocery stores in the Midwest, went out and bought flags to plant in their parking lot to announce the obvious. Over the past two years I've watched as B'Bops, a locally owned hamburger chain, has changed their help wanted sign to promote higher wages. Two years ago the sign said $8.00 an hour. Today the sign reads $10 an hour.

Last month there was a high-powered forum where experts weighed in on the employment troubles and offered up some suggestions regarding not only recruitment but also retention.

One of the things that is missing from the discussion is something called "passive recruitment". That's where you use media to target not only your "help wanted" message but also, at the same time, polish your brand. You can use a host of mediums radio, podcasting sponsorships, podcasting, video and social media to do the same thing. 

What is cool about passive recruiting is that word spreads. You may not hit the person who is actively looking for a job but your message may be heard or seen by a family member who then says, "Hey, did you see/hear that Weasels is looking for workers. Sounds/Looks like a great place to work."

Here's a sample, click to listen.

Recruitment Audio June 2019

It's really that easy but, does it work?  I have a friend who works in this field and he has been successful for years. The key is to let people know how really great your business is and then pitch the idea of working there.

Building your brand while building your bench is simply a good stratigity. 

 

 

 

 


Five in 24 - Five Things to Re-Brand & Sell More Stuff

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 5in24_LogoSell 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?

Podcasting

Mobile Studio in Mobile 2019One 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.

Thanks for reading! 


Feeling Time Starved?

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 MPL Twelve Thirty 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?


Podcasting Equipment

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. Mobile Studio in Mobile 2019 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.

 

Great sound...yes?

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!


The Wrong Messenger?

In my presentation "Five in 24" there is a section about the three reasons people are not buying what you are selling. Yes, there are only three.

One of those reasons is that you are using the wrong messenger to communicate with your customer. It may be that your core customer is Megaphone Vintage not in that communication channel or it might be that the channel is antiquated yet still around soaking money from the unsuspecting advertiser.

We see both of those issues all the time. A trendy new restaurant with a focus on young professionals advertising in a regional newspaper or a high-end jewelry store advertising on a cable channel where the viewers simply are not in their demographic.

So, how do you fix it. Better yet, how do you stop the outflow of marketing dollars that's not returning on your investment?

Well, you could ask a professional...somebody that is a trusted source of information. But, you can also do it yourself. Here are some ideas to get you pointed in the right direction:

  • Know Your Customer - Seems pretty simple but not every human out there is your target customer, unless you are selling a commodity. Then you've got other issues. So learn as much as you can about your current customer. What they like, don't like. What they are buying or not buying. This takes some time and some interaction but it can be done;
  • Understand Trends - The newest, hottest social media channel may not fit your current or future core customer. I've seen people spend loads of time and money chasing a trend only to, finally, learn it didn't work;
  • Watch & Read - What are other successful businesses doing that are in your space? What do your association magazines and communications say about how to best reach core customers?  Spend some time thinking, really thinking and learning more about how to market successfully;
  • Trust but Verify - Every media sales person who comes through your door has "the answer". But, remember, what works for one may not work for you. I once had a broadcast outlet tell me their audience was made up of thousands of people but when we went digging learned it was more like several hundred in our client's prime demographic.

Let me offer one other piece of advice, and this came from a conversation just this week. If you are a small business seeking to do business with another small business wouldn't it make sense to market in something that is directed toward small business owners?

Let's say you have an accounting firm or a office cleaning firm or a business law firm and your prime customer group is made up of other small businesses. What the heck are you doing in an advertising channel that is marketing to the masses? Doesn't make an ounce of sense.

It doesn't but, man, that sales person had a good story.

Thanks for reading...

 

 


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?