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Using Podcasts to market your business


Introduction

In this article we’ll be looking at virtually all aspects of the advantages of using Podcasting to advertise your business, how to promote your Podcast and the technical process for both online, software and hardware.

Promoting your business can be very expensive, in research for this article I looked up a few of advertising statistics;

  • The average cost per click (CPC) in Google Ads is between £1 and £2, dependant on the industry (Google and Facebook are still the largest digital advertising spend)
  • A Quarter Page in the The Daily Telegraph is £22,000
  • In a magazine, let us take GQ as an example, a Half Page costs £8,450
  • On a national radio station a thirty second add will cost about £2,500 for 30 seconds
  • To advertise on ITV peak time will cost about £30,000 (Channel 4 is a lot more reasonable, a peak time ad £6,400)

However a lot more content is consumed using a Smartphone these days, rather than reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, watching the TV or reading a magazine. The question is how can your business tap into this new method of media consumption? One answer is Podcasting, and it’s virtually free.

iTunes Podcast icon

Here’s a quote from Peter Jukes a professional Podcaster;

“We wanted to get a story out that nobody in the mainstream media was taking on, I asked a lecture hall full of students how many read a daily paper – three said yes. But when I asked them how many listened to podcasts, about 70% raised their hands.”

Defining a podcast

What is a podcast? Here’s a definition drawn from the Oxford Dictionary;

“A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

Interestingly the OD states that the origin of the work Podcast comes from early 21st century from iPod + broadcast.

Although in that definition the OD states that a Podcast is an audio file, it can quite easily be a video file. Apple’s ubiquitous iTunes cleary divides between both audio and video versions of a Podcast, with separate charts for either type.

A quick note on file types, I would recommend .mp4 or .m4a for video, or .mp3 for audio.

RSS and XML

Let us for the moment pretend you have recorded an audio file and wish to distribute it to your subscribers. The secret sauce that makes the magic work, that facilitates the automatic downloading of a new episode is called an RSS feed, RSS feed are created by a XML file. Sounds complicated doesn’t it, but it’s not. Here’s a definition from Wikipedia;

“The RSS formats provide web content or summaries of web content together with links to the full versions of the content, and other meta-data. This information is delivered as an XML file called RSS feed, webfeed, RSS stream, or RSS channel. In addition to facilitating syndication, RSS allows a website’s frequent readers to track updates on the site using an aggregator.”

RSS feed icon

So it’s basically a file stored on a server. When a new audio or video file is uploaded the ‘podcatcher’ client e.g iTunes or the many other clients that are available know that a new audio or video file has been uploaded, and the computer or mobile device that is subscribed to your Podcast downloads it automatically.

However the good news is you don’t have to worry about any of that, there is plenty of software available that take care of all the technical stuff for you, such as https://anchor.fm.

Podcasting has hit the big time

Here’s a few examples of high profile and large organisations using Podcasting to promote their business;

AWS Podcast – Amazon Web Services
https://aws.amazon.com/podcasts/aws-podcast/

Azure Friday (HD) – Microsoft
https://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Azure-Friday

Google Cloud Platform Podcast – Google
https://www.gcppodcast.com/

IBM Investor Relations – IBM
https://www.ibm.com/investor/

All of these examples are drawn from I.T, however we could take a few other examples from different industries and groups; IKEA, RSPB, UK Parliament, National Theatre, The New York Times and hundreds of others. Not forgetting the mighty BBC of course, who have done more than any other organisation to spearhead Podcasting. A lot of media streams repurpose the content for Podcasts, especially, and not unsurprisingly, Radio.

Podcasting though can used as a medium to promote any business of any size.

Engaging your audience

One of the main advantages of Podcasting in engaging your audience and promoting your business is the almost laser focussed targeted audience. An example is I’m interested in learning Italian (I’ve been trying to Italian for about twenty years, I’m terrible), a quick search in iTunes brings me ITALIAN FOR TRAVEL AND BEGINNERS from REAL LIFE LANGUAGE (not my capitals). On their free Podcast it gives me some basic Italian, but also invites me to buy their book.

The example of giving content away is a valuable one, and establishes a trust between the listener or viewer to explore and hopefully commit to paid content or an interest in the services of the company.

If you’re looking to use Podcasting as a very cheap method of promoting and advertising your business, then I would always recommend a free Podcast that covers the nature of your business and links back your website. However, it is possible for a Podcast to earn money in its own right, not just work as a promotional device.

Making money from a Podcast

There are two ways of monetizing (horrible word I know) a Podcast;

  1. Advertising on your Podcast
  2. Paid for content

If you’re seriously looking at using Podcasting as a vehicle to promote your business, unless of course you want to make Podcasting your business, I would seriously not recommend either. The beauty of a Podcast is it’s highly focused, and gives the business the opportunity to both promote their business and build a loyal following.

Mobile

When looking at the costings described earlier, Podcasts are amazingly cheap to produce, but can sound incredibly professional. 

The difference between audio and video is obvious, and the RSS feed and XML file is exactly the same between the two mediums. Which type of Podcast is the most popular on mobile devices is a little more complicated, watching a video Podcast on an iPhone works very well until you press the lock button, and then the video stops. This doesn’t happen with an audio version.

Android doesn’t seem to have the same problem as iOS, if you lock your Android device and put it in your pocket the video keeps playing.

A lot of Podcasters offer both an audio and video feeds of the same show. My personal feeling is that audio Podcasts offer a lot more flexibility; listen to them in the car, whilst jogging, on the tube, cycling… However my good friend at Screencasts Online offer video tutorials, which of course would be impossible to offer as an audio Podcast.

Prepare your Podcast

Recording your podcast has to be prepared.

Although Apple’s iTunes isn’t the only way to listen to Podcasts, it’s far and anyway the most popular. Apple helpfully provide a guide to publishing and advertising your Podcast on iTunes for free, it can be found here https://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/.

The first stage is to record your Podcast before you submit it to iTunes, this will help iTunes to evaluate the Podcast. When submitting your Podcast you have to choose both main category and sub category you wish your Podcast to belongs to.

These are the current main list of categories in iTunes;

  • Arts
  • Business
  • Comedy
  • Education
  • Games & Hobbies
  • Government & Organisations
  • Health
  • Kids & Family
  • Music
  • News & Politics
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Science & Medicine
  • Society & Culture
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Technology
  • TV & Film

If we take Business as a main category, these are the sub-categories within Business;

  • Business News
  • Careers
  • Investing
  • Management and Marketing
  • Shopping

You have to be careful at this point which category to choose, it’s difficult to change after you’ve submitted your Podcast to iTunes.

Top tip: the amount of non tech related Podcasts listed under the ‘podcast’ subcategory of technology is amazing, so a word to the wise.

Hardware and software

In order to get the best out of the production value of your podcast, the starting point has to be the microphone you use.

The RØDE Podcaster is an excellent choice, expect to pay around £150. You can connect it directly to you computer without the need of an Audio interface. Personally I use a Shure SM58 Microphone, although you do need a audio interface for this mic. If you use a mic that requires 48v Phantom Power, make sure your audio interface or mixing desk supports this.

If there is more than one person on your Podcast then you need a mixing desk, something like the ELM Powered Mixer 6-Channel Compact Mixer, priced about £150 is a good choice.

Show notes

Show notes are an important element, and often overlooked element to a successful Podcast. An unstructured Podcast can work well in comedy, but there has to be boundaries within a professional and focused business Podcast.

Also show notes can be a valuable indexed search destination for Google if they are published, boosting both online search for your company, and search for your business type.

Icon or cover art

An often overlooked or an item given as a second thought is the cover art, it is your shop window and vital to getting the clicks and subscribers.

To quote from Apple;

“Podcast feeds contain artwork that is a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72 dpi, in JPEG or PNG format with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png), and in the RGB colorspace. To optimize images for mobile devices, you should compress your image files.”

Intro jingle

Like your Podcast artwork, it is a very important part of making your Podcast stand out and sound professional. If you’re a Mac user GarageBand and Logic X offer hundreds of royalty free jingles, however PC or Mac or Mac there are loads of sites on the internet that offer jingles.

Podcast analytics

If you are using iTunes as your main method of distribution, then Apple’s free Podcast Analytics is excellent on tracking your audience. To quote Apple’s website;

“Overview. The Overview view displays a summary of your show’s overall performance.

Trends. The Trends view provides a perspective on device and listener patterns over time.

Episodes. The Episodes view provides details about how each episode in your show is performing.

Episode details. The Episode Detail views provide an analysis of listener patterns and locations against segments of an episode.”

More details are available here: https://help.apple.com/itc/podcastsanalytics/#/itc623752a8d

Conclusion

If we compare the cost of traditional advertising to Podcasting the benefits are clear.

Very affordable, focused, scalable, Smartphone friendly and engaging. I look forward to hearing or watching your Podcast soon.

Will Green is a Cloud Consultant, Cloud Journalist and Cloud Architect.
He has worked on some of the biggest Cloud roll-outs both in the UK and Europe, including John Lewis, ITV, Waitrose, National Express and many others. Will has extensive experience working with senior stake holders to deliver successful Cloud projects for Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Posted: 2019-01-02
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