Podcasts Provide Marketing Potential
The future of marketing, where any business can market a product cheaply and effectively to potential consumers, may be in podcasts, which companies can employ to establish expertise and draw online users to their Web sites.
Even though they are relatively new to the local marketing scene, podcasts may soon rival blogs as an important go-to source of information for consumers. Forrester Research Inc. reported that in 2006 only 10% of online users downloaded podcasts, but projected that number to climb to 12.3 million households by 2010 with an estimated market of $317 million from subscriptions and advertising.
Podcasts are similar to public speeches and can focus on a specific, specialized topic, said Shoshanna Szuch, account executive for Charleston-based The Bosworth Group and founder of Charleston Marketing. Like public speeches, podcasts help establish a business or person as an expert in the field, she said.
Podcasts can offer the same interactivity as a blog or public forum, allowing listeners to post messages about the content of the podcast on a discussion board.
“People need to be connected with others, and the whole Internet allows them to do this,” Szuch said.
Many Internet search engines rank sites by popularity and freshness. Discussion boards for podcasts and blogs help businesses produce updated content and thus draw more traffic, Szuch said.
Blogs and podcasts tantalize consumers with information in the hope they remember the presenter’s name, said business marketing consultant Stephen Kerr.
“Podcasting and blogging works as long as there’s a need to know,” Kerr said.
Ginny Carson, owner of local marketing firm Decorum LLC, and Lyn Mettler, owner of Mettler Public Relations, create monthly podcasts about the world of marketing and public relations. Similar to mini-radio shows, podcasts are audio, and occasionally video, recordings posted on the Internet. Interested audience members can listen to podcasts on the Web site or download them to a personal music device such as an iPod.
“It seemed like everybody had a blog,” said Carson, who chose to work with Mettler in the podcast format to highlight their companies’ abilities to use up-and-coming technology.
With a shared $20 microphone, Carson and Mettler hope to reach their targeted audience: businesses in the Charleston area that need help with marketing and public relations. The audio podcasts disclose an insider’s guide to marketing and public relations.
Is their podcast a marketing ploy? Mettler said it is a total effort to get the attention of prospective customers.
“My end goal in this is to create more awareness about Mettler PR,” Mettler said. The podcast highlights Mettler’s and Carson’s professionalism, she added.
Currently, Charleston’s podcast market appears more centered in the entertainment realm, with only a few businesses offering them.
Carson and Mettler aren’t alone on the local podcasting scene, however. WCBD-TV has set up podcasts for viewers to download. Many television news stations post daily articles, but podcasts offer an easier way to take in information, Szuch said.
Businesses toying with the idea must weigh whether it is worth taking the time to create and post podcasts. Mettler admitted she has yet to see a measurable effect on increasing her clientele as a result of podcasting. The podcast, ultimately, spreads the word about her and Carson’s firms and their capabilities, Mettler said.
“(Blogs and podcasts) are effective ways of reaching people interested in what you do,” Szuch said, adding that if the interest isn’t there or people are unaware of the services, podcasts and blogs won’t be effective.
With blogging and podcasting, there needs to be practical information discussed that potential customers will want to hear or interact with, Szuch said.
“(Podcasting) certainly is a lot more efficient and less expensive than spending $2.5 million, for example, on advertising for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl,” said Chuck Carder, managing partner and founder of Charleston Marketing Group.