Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Business

Bring on the podcasting

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Business

We are a fantastic proponent of podcasting and its many, varied benefits to business.

We believe it makes good sense to take early-mover advantage of what is a powerful, emerging medium and technology, even if the market is purportedly small and narrow.

(I should note that proposed applications for podcasting vary from client to client, and like any other medium and technology, we recommend it only where we see a useful purpose, and working towards the objectives of the client.)

Often when we propose podcasting to clients (either producing client podcasts or sponsoring podcasts), we receive the sort of look from the client that says “sounds great in theory, though too early, my audience isn’t ready, I’m not ready and I am a little surprised that you didn’t appreciate all that.”

To a large extent, the client response is to be expected: to date, metrics on podcasting tell us that typically the audience is small, white, male, wealthy and early adopting. Why take the podcast plunge when the market isn’t there?

Furthemore, our clients have the perception that podcasts are expensive, technical and time-consuming to produce; a lot of effort for little return?

According to a large article in the January/February edition of Revenue Magazine, we’re all wrong.

Not only is there a very established audience for podcasts, but the audience is ready to “explode”.

According to the article by Lisa Picarille, “a November report by radio and media market researched Bridge Ratings estimates that 4.8million people have at some time during 2005 downloaded a podcast from either a radio station or other source.”

“By 2010, conservative estimates say that 45 million users will have listened to at least one podcast. Aggressive estimates place this closer to 75 million by 2010.”

Most interestingly though, “The study shows that approximately 20 percent of current users who have ever downloaded and listened to a podcast do so on a weekly basis, this group downloads an average of six podcasts per week and spends approximately four hours a month listening to those podcasts.”

And that is sort of the point.

Not only are users of podcasts significant in number, but they’re growing in number and are loyal to the medium.

By some definitions, podcasting is already a mainstream medium.

Anyone with MP3 player (e.g. iPod) is a potential user, including drivers of vehicles from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz, among 16 other brands currently supporting MP3 player integration with their vehicles.

Certainly, there are few technological barriers to entry; podcasts are very easy to produce.

In fact, the only thing holding back podcasting really is broad user understanding of how to find and download podcasts onto their MP3 players; this issue will be easily solved in time. Already, Apple’s iTunes provides easy access to a growing 15,000+ library of podcasts, allowing an iPod owner to subscribe to a podcast in less than 5 clicks.

Knowing that the audience is there and growing, it is important for businesses to understand the benefits of podcasting; in general terms, there are two core benefits.

The first is that podcasting provides an avenue for wide-reaching passive and active customer communications, below the radar of PR and marketing-spin; smart companies can educate, excite and steer their customers and potential customers.

Podcasts allow companies to surreptitiously define the agenda and topic, and to communicate intelligently and thoughtfully on their products and services, explaining the benefits and reasons for purchasing them.

Selling low fat milk? Looking to connect to customers interested in low fat cooking, fitness and health?

Talk about the benefits of a low fat diet, the benefits of low fat dairy products, low fat milk recipes and tips and hints on staying healthy.

As long as the message is not gratuitous or shameless and users gain benefit and knowledge from the podcast, users will connect the dots and leave with a favourable impression of low fat milk, especially from your brand.

Better still, if you attract a large and loyal audience, other companies will sponsor the podcast: The Top Ten Low Fat Milk Recipes brought to you by Fitness First Gyms.

Travel Agents talking up the benefits of cruise travel; car companies and the top ten drives in your new car; web design companies and why you should optimize your website for search engines; banks, and the different investments available and their respective qualities. The list goes on.

The second important business case for podcasting is simple.

Podcasting is very direct, and very targeted; businesses are not wasting their message on anyone but potential customers and clients that are interested in learning more.

Users do not download podcasts on rocket ship design if they’re uninterested in rocket ship design. The flipside is that if a punter is interested in buying a house, they’re likely to listen to podcasts helping them to buy a house.

Podcasts aren’t merely relevant and clever tools through which to promote a company’s products and virtues, but the audience is captive and interested.

This compares to some other forms of marketing that rely on enormous numbers of punters to get the message through to the few interested.

Bring on the podcasting.