It seems to me that many small to medium sized companies like the idea of having their own podcast and have heard that they are good for business, and as a result, we receive plenty of enquiries about recording and podcast production. However, a lot of work and time is involved in producing a regular podcast and can turn out to be quite daunting for the new podcaster. It is therefore no surprise that a good number of enquiries do not actually turn into podcasts.
I feel that there are some very valid reasons for this.
The cost of professionally produced podcasts can be prohibitive for small to medium sized companies who are new to the world of podcasting. In our experience, a podcast is only really effective as a series, with the recording and production costing anywhere from 150 GBP to 500 GBP for each podcast, depending on the complexity and involvement of professional voice-overs and audio editing services. With an average cost of around 300 GBP for podcast production and a series of at least six shows, the financial investment is significant; however, if you get the content of the podcast series right, you should get a healthy return on your investment. More about this later.
Typical costs can include: –
- Using professional voice-overs
- Location recording
- Mixing, editing and production
- Inclusion of sound effects and music
If done properly, the benefits of your podcast series will far outweigh the costs for many years. Once on the web, it can be accessed and enjoyed by millions of people around the world. The trick is to pitch the podcast content correctly to your target market. If you are business minded and approach your podcast from this point of view, it may make sense to try and cover your investment by selling Podverts (podcast adverts) to potential sponsors. This works quite simply by placing one or a number of podverts within the content of your podcast show. The benefits of this are clear as the sponsor will have their product(s) advertised to all of your listeners. Furthermore, your listeners will be in a particular market group and it makes sense for complementary industry sectors to get on board with your podcast series from the beginning. Initially, this will probably be more difficult as you do not have a proven track record, but once you have a successful series under your belt you should have listener figures that you can impress sponsors with.
Your sponsors can pay a one-off fee for their podvert or you could offer a discount for purchasing multiple podvert slots. In a 10 to 15 minute podcast, I do not think it unreasonable to have 3-4 short adverts / sponsor messages dividing up subject segments. Provided your audio producers are discreet about the placement and number of podverts, your listeners will just accept these as part of the package; we are all used to seeing and hearing adverts.
Once your podcast is established, you can take this concept a stage further by offering an advertisement feature to your sponsor, for example, an interview about their product and/or services. As long as the feature is relevant and offers value to your target market, this too will be accepted as part of the package. This already happens on radio shows and TV. Most of the time we don’t even realise we are being advertised to.
This is probably the biggest reason that a podcast never evolves into a series and is probably the hardest part for most businesses to actually get their heads around. Writing the script for a podcast can be time consuming and quite difficult to start with; however, once you have got a feel for it, like everything else in life, it becomes easier. If you really struggle with this, there is no reason why you cannot employ the services of a scriptwriter and give yourself the position of creative director. Personally, I believe that it is more important to find a subject matter that is interesting and valuable to your target market than creating a perfect script. Brainstorming with colleagues and even clients about potential topics, subjects, features, interviews, and entertainment items will soon give you a rough outline of content that can be the raw material for your scripts.
Once you have the outline for your first podcast and possibly your second, the shape of the series will become clearer and from this, you should be able to create a show template. It is a good idea to test these initial ideas with a few people before going to the expense of having a professional podcast recorded and produced. Once you are happy with the overall ideas of your podcast show, you will need to either script it for a professional Voice-over to narrate (usually more favourable) or host the podcast yourself.
The choice of using a professional voice-over or doing the narration yourself is one that you need to take. There are good and bad points to both of these. If you are unaccustomed to talking into a microphone, the results could be pretty horrific for the listener and as a result many people may switch off and never listen again. On the other hand, if you are good at talking into a microphone and can project the right amount of personality, you may just become a hit with your audience. The clear benefit of using a professional voice-over is that your podcast will sound polished and more like a radio show. Either way, you need to decide which would be more appealing to your listeners / target market.
If you decide that becoming the host is a little bit of a stretch for you, then a company like Media Music Now can organise the services of a professional voiceover. More about Media Music Now’s Podcast Service >
There are various ways that a good producer can incorporate elements of location recording with a studio-produced voice-over to provide a varied and authentic contrast in the podcast production. For instance, it is easy for a voice-over to introduce a 5-minute interview or a 5-minute chat you had in the office with a colleague or business contact. The contrast between the two will create a variation for the listener. For example, I have known podcast interviews to be carried out on trains, planes, bars, nightclubs and even limos.
Don’t be afraid to be creative. Being different can help you stand out from the your competitors and could be the factor that gets you recognition by your target market and industry.
Getting it out there!
Podcast marketing is a big subject, and as a company, the best way to get your podcast to the right listeners is to tell them directly. Use your client list / mailing list, after all, these are people that have an interest in your product and services because they have either used your services or joined your mailing list. If you have a newsletter that you send to clients on your mailing list, you could maybe create an audio version of it or just promote your new podcast series on your newsletter.
Okay, so you have a mailing list of 20,000 people that you have sent your latest newsletter to; you tell everybody that you have a great new podcast and everyone listens to it… not quite. Even though most people have heard of the term podcast and think they know what it is, there are still lots of people that do not know what podcasting is, where to find podcasts or how to listen to them.
When advertising your podcast, direct your mailing list subscribers to a page on your website or blog that clearly explains and educates them about your podcast, the listening options available and how to subscribe to future podcast shows.
In reality, a lot of people do not realise that a podcast can be easily listened to from their computer, iPod or mp3 player, or burned to CD for listening at home or in the car. Many people do not realise that their downtime, especially during commutes, can be used as valuable podcast listening time. You could be the one to educate and entertain them via your podcast; they will be ever grateful to you for this.
Depending on your budget and product, a great business promotion would be to offer your top clients a complementary gift, an mp3 player for example, pre-loaded with your podcasts and even company branded. There are companies that produce branded merchandise i.e. pens, mugs, coasters etc. who could possibly do the same with your promotional gift.
Once you have your podcast subscribers, you need to keep them listening. Asking for listener opinion and feedback will help refine your podcast series in order to keep them engaged and eagerly awaiting the next show and possibly, your new series. You could do this quite simply on your website by asking for feedback or having a comments box on your blog. It is a good idea to offer an incentive for providing feedback, such as a prize draw to win a new iPod, gift vouchers etc.
I highly recommend that you have your podcast transcribed and available as text on your website or blog. The reason for this is that the search engines cannot analyse the content of your audio, they can only analyse and index content that is textual. Your transcript will contain all of your relevant keywords and key phrases that will attract the search engines and attract new listeners and potential new clients. This is an ideal place to have your comment box.
Once your first podcast series is out there, you need to monitor its effectiveness. Time and money has been invested into the recording and production of your podcast so you need to see a worthwhile return on your investment. This can be measured in various ways, however, the key objectives of your podcast should be to: –
- Cement existing relationships between you and your clients and provide them with added value.
- Attract new clients via your podcast on the web and via referrals from existing listeners.
- Increase awareness about your products and services and to spread your message.
- Keep your company ahead of your competitors.
If you can achieve all of this whilst getting sponsors to cover the cost of your podcast production, your venture into the world of podcasting should be highly successful and very profitable.