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Does your company have a blog? Have you ever asked why?
Maybe you started one because someone thought that was what you were supposed to do. Perhaps more went into the decision such as increasing web traffic through search engine optimization. Over time this could have developed to the point that you began communicating your companies message in the way that you want it delivered. Even better still, your vision may have evolved to the point that you have a solid content marketing strategy in which you are providing very valuable information to your potential customers while positioning yourself as the expert in your field.
Congratulations to you if your company publishes a blog for any of the above reasons. It demonstrates forward thinking, the abandonment of a static website and a continual focus on sharing your message and mission with the people you hope to work with.
In the Entrepreneur Magazine article “Why Your Small Business Must Start a Blog” the author describes a business blog as a salt lick. I rather liked this description since my world and the world of those who listen to my podcast is farming and ranching. But putting my own personal bias aside, it was a great metaphor. If you are not familiar with how farm animals utilize salt licks, what the author of the article was saying was that if your blog is providing compelling and useful information, it will continue to bring potential customers back to your site, over and over, exposing them to the other messages you want them to see.
Who are these people who are spending their time on a computer, tablet or smartphone reading blogs? Is this anyone that you know? All of us at one time or another have searched for information on the internet and been directed to a blog post. Probably one that was useful. But, did we really develop a habit of going back, over and over, and reading every new post from that site?
If you did, did you develop a connection with the author? Here is a more fair question, can you tell me the name of the author of the company blog you read? You probably cannot, even if the post is written consistently by the same author, which they frequently are not.
If we count on the “salt lick” blog metaphor to be true, we have to accept that readers are going to want to keep coming back to consume your content, over and over. Why would they want to do this? One answer is compelling content. We are all passionate about our companies, but when you are really honest with yourself, how much compelling content can we come up with if we have a non-compelling business? If your line is tractor sales, you can come up with not just consistent but compelling content about tractors? It is going to be difficult to write one post after another that makes the reader look forward to the next post.
Another reason that a reader might come back, over and over, is that they feel a bond with the blog. But we already know that many business blogs use a collection of authors, so the possibility of creating this bond is diminished. That is a difficult sell already.
93% of communication is non-verbal, but that is when you are standing in front of someone. When you are putting words on paper, there is no body language, voice inflection, volume or pitch changes and no spontaneity. Even if you have just one author for your blog posts, unless your business is involved in a business that tugs at the heart strings, it is going to be difficult to create this “salt lick” type situation.
Even if your company blog is capable of developing a connection with its readers, do the people in your target market have the time to consume it on a regular basis. Let’s take my target audience as an example. I am focused on agricultural people. My ideal listener is already working in agriculture, farming, ranching or hustling to find a way that they will eventually be able to do this. The person who listens to my show is likely not in a cubicle, behind a computer screen all day. If they are, and they are listening to my show, they likely will not be there for long.
The experts say that a blog post can be as short as 200 words, if you can communicate your message that succinctly. However, a better number is 600-800 words. If you want your blog to communicate your message and drive traffic to your website, then a length of 1500-2000 words is ideal.
The average person reads 200 words per minute. Depending on which of these blog lengths that you choose, your ideal reader, will have to devote between 1 to 10 minutes to just reading your blog. This does not take into account going to the page, turning on the computer, eliminating distractions and stopping all other activities.
For my ideal listener, this just is not, well, ideal. My ideal listener is working outside, away from a computer. They are busy and working with their hands either taking care of animals, walking through a field or driving a tractor. For the people who consume my content, if they are going to consume anything, they are going to have to be able to do this while doing something else. They are classic multi-taskers.
How about the people that you want to reach? Even if they want to read your blog, are they going to purposely stop their day for 1 to 10 minutes to sit idle and stare at a computer, tablet or smart phone screen?
It is likely that without very compelling content, or a compelling reason to search for the answer to a problem they are not going to do this. At least they will not on a regular basis.
A blog is a very good way to help potential customers discover you. When they have a specific problem, go searching for the answer and find it on your blog you have just won the opportunity to reach out and shake their hand digitally. For the most part, that is where it ends.
Why Your Company Should Add A Podcast To Your Blog
The reason that I podcast, and the reason that your company should add a podcast to your blog is that it fills in all the gaps that were described above.
An Easier Introduction To Your Company
A potential customer will find your podcast at the same time they find your blog post. I believe you should keep your blog, but you should add a podcast to it. Your IT professional will be able to create a podcast player button for your website. This can be placed at the top of your blog post so when somebody navigates to that post, they have the option of listening to the content as well.
When you create a podcast, you should also publish it on sites like iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud. These are all free, and they all are gigantic search engines.
Podcast consumption continues to double almost every year. People prefer getting their information this way. This means that many of your potential customers are only looking for their information on podcast players like these. If you are not communicating audibly, they are not interested. If you are not podcasting, these people will never find you.
Podcasts can be located on conventional search engines like Google. In the same way that people used to find just your blog post, now they can find your blog post and your podcast. Shouldn’t we all make it easier for prospective customers to find us?
Your company can make a true connection with its potential customers through a podcast. Once listeners get introduced to the concept of podcasting, they understand that they are not looking for professionally trained, radio broadcasters. They are looking for real people who are sharing information that informs and entertains them, who are just like they are.
This is where the connection is made. Podcast listeners love their hosts because they are their peers. If you listen to a nationally syndicated radio show such as Dave Ramsey or Rush Limbaugh, do you feel like they are your peers? The answer is “no”. They are so polished, so powerful and so well paid that there is a huge chasm between the host and listener. The listener never realistically imagines a relationship with those hosts.
A podcast host is just like you and me. The fact that they are unpolished, not as well produced and occasionally make mistakes is endearing to the listener. This is a person who you could see yourself having coffee with. And because the listener can realistically imagine themselves in that kind of one on one, equal conversation with the podcast host, the episodes they listen to feel as close to a personal conversation as you can get without really having one.
When your listeners develop this bond with the host, a true connection is made. This is the type of connection that will keep them coming back to hear more and not wanting to miss an episode. This is the connection that will make them download and listen to your past episodes. And this is the connection that will get them to tell their friends about your show and grow your audience for you.
When a potential client finds your blog, you get the chance for that metaphorical digital handshake with them as you introduce them to your company. But, when they find your podcast, you get the same handshake and more….
As they listen to a podcast they begin to develop trust and rapport with the host. Of course, the host is not standing in front of them, but they are able to use a lot of non-verbal communication with the listener.
Through inflection, volume changes, pitch changes, cadence, etc. the podcast host can come across in a more sincere manner than with words written on a screen. The listener can get a feeling from the host based on the tone of their voice. They can begin to empathize or really trust based on the non-verbals that they consciously or subconsciously are hearing.
Intuition is a powerful and mysterious force. If your host is sincere and has the best interests of the listener at heart, the listener will know they can trust them without knowing why. There is no way to overcome the natural human need to protect itself through your writing style. No matter how many times you have read an authors words, you always still wonder what they are really like.
When a person hears another’s voice the barriers of trust and rapport building come crashing down. The listener can physically feel their subconscious protective instincts loosening up.
A podcast takes away all the excuses that those same people might have for not reading your blog regularly. Think about all the time during the day that your potential customer is incapable of reading your blog: driving, exercising, showering, cooking dinner, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, working, feeding, driving tractor, etc., you get the point.
With a smartphone and free podcast subscription, they can consume your content, learn about your company, connect with your host, develop rapport and enter your sales funnel when doing any of these things – and they will.
A lot of what we do in our daily lives are mundane activities. Mowing the lawn does not require intense concentration or study, but it does require our eyes. Our eyes cannot be diverted lest we run over the garden hose and slice it up. But our ears and mind can be focused elsewhere as we push the mower around the yard. And with a player like iTunes, if you missed the last three sentences for some reason, with the click of a button you can rewind 15 seconds and make sure you absorb it all.
You want your company to be known as the leading expert in your field. Broadcasting carries weight when this is your goal. There are millions of blogs in the world, and some have very bad reputations which drag the whole concept down with them.
Podcasting on its own carries the weight of expertise. It was not that long ago that only the best of the best were on either television or radio. When we had limited radio stations people would scratch and claw to get that platform. This was good if you were looking for talent on the radio, but it was bad if you were looking for shows that interested you.
Podcasting has broken down this wall. Now you can go to iTunes and find a show that is all about what you are interested in. You can find a group of people that have the same interests as you. And even though the podcast host did not have to get anybody’s permission to make the show, the fact that they are broadcasting still carries the weight of expertise from days gone by.
This is not manipulation, this is just the way broadcasting is perceived. So, it is the obligation of the host to provide the best information possible to live up to this perception.
Very few companies are using podcasts yet. This is in spite of the fact that podcasting has proven to be much more than a fad. Podcast listenership continues to skyrocket, and people who already have incredible platforms continue to start their own podcasts. This is obvious just based on the number of celebrities that have devoted themselves to sitting down once per week or even five times per week to create their own podcast.
Any company who adds a podcast to their blog not only sets themselves apart as experts in the field, but they are getting in on the front end of an unprecedented opportunity to lead their respective industry. You have a chance to be on the front end of what will soon be standard practice. At your industry association’s national conference next year, you will be speaker chosen to talk about best practices in the field, highlighting how you are connecting with your customers.
What Is Needed To Add A Podcast To Your Blog?
You will need an IT professional who can embed an audio player on your screen, develop an RSS feed and set up the system to distribute your podcast to players like iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher. Larger companies will have this person on staff. Smaller companies will have a freelancer who can do this for them. I actually was able to do this on my own.
You will need a host. Who will this be? This will depend in part on the format of your show. Will the show be one person speaking and providing information all the way through? Or, will you conduct interviews with professionals in the field with questions developed and asked by your host?
My guess is that you will opt for the latter and use the interview format. This makes sense when it comes to content marketing. You want to provide useful information to your listeners with no sales pitch and no strings attached. This must be absolutely free. In order to provide this wide array of information you will need to “borrow” the expertise of others in the form of interview guests.
I suggest that your host know a great deal about the field in which your company is part. For example, if you are promoting the health benefits of consuming dairy products, then your host should know a great deal not just about dairy, but about agriculture. In this way, when they are formulating questions about a specific topic involving dairy, i.e. hoof trimming they have the background to be able to talk about cattle, feeding, ag business and any other aspect of agriculture that might naturally enter into the conversation.
In a sense, your host should be a generalist. They should be somebody with a great deal of interest in your field. And, they should have knowledge that is born of a genuine and vast interest in that field to the point that they have had many experiences and conversations about that industry. These conversations should not be because of their profession but because of their genuine interest.
Do you have that person in your organization? You might. But if you do not, go find that person and make them your host. Find the person in your industry who freelances as a broadcaster or creates custom podcasts about your field.
That person is out there. They are already talking or writing about your field because that is where their interest lies. Many people will tell you that they are the person you are looking for because they want to be the host of your show. Find the person that was talking about your topic just because they liked it, when nobody was paying them to do it. This is your future host.
These people may already be freelancing as hosts in their particular area of interest already, or they may not have though of doing it. Approach them with the idea. This is the host that you want.
Your equipment needs will depend on who you select as your host. If you select a freelancer who is already broadcasting, they are going to have their own equipment and you will not have to purchase any.
Just a tip here, do not be afraid to purchase equipment to improve your show if you think that is necessary. If you find the right host, but they are working with inexpensive equipment that might just be the proof you need they are the right person for the job. There is no better social proof that they would be doing this for free anyway, and that they found a way to share their message and interest.
If you find your host, but they do not have any equipment because they have not been broadcasting I suggest putting them in school. Do not worry, this is not an exhaustive process. There are a lot of free resources out there that will educate you very well about equipment, getting started, creating content and publishing your show.
When I started I watched a free, 5 part video series, created by Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. I took notes and implemented what he suggested. I have been able to flourish with my podcast ever since.
This is the microphone that I started podcasting with. It is very reasonable.
What should you expect to pay for the right host who is going to develop connections for your company with potential customers, fill your sales funnel and be the voice of your business?
Admittedly, I am biased here as custom podcasting is a large part of my business. However, I can tell you with all confidence that you should expect to pay between $250 and $2,000 per episode for this service. I know because when I began as a freelancer I did my research.
Believe it or not there are not many custom podcasting companies offering this yet, so market research is limited. There were about 5 at last check, 6 since I jumped in. I have seen rates as high as $2,000 per month for just editing and publishing. This did not include the cost of the host.
What you pay for this service is going to depend on a number of factors.
- Who is your host?
- Is your host known in the industry already?
- If your host is already broadcasting and gives you more than just a knowledgeable person behind the microphone they will and should cost more.
- If your host is already a brand in your industry and especially in the podcast space, they are more valuable. This just makes sense.
- Does your host already have a platform, and will they promote your show to their listeners?
- Are the listeners to your host’s podcast in your target market? This is a big factor as the hosts current listeners are likely to follow her or him to the new show. You should consider the value of the advertising you are receiving here as well.
- Is your host going to create content or find guests, or will you have someone at your company do that for them?
- Is your host going to edit, insert music and possibly commercials?
- Will your host be publishing the material for you or just turning the audio over to your IT department?
- Is the host providing their own equipment?
- Are you purchasing any equipment for the host? Is it theirs to keep when the contract ends?
- How long will the episodes be?
- How frequently will you air the show?
Whatever reason you added a blog to your companies website, it was the right decision. Continuous communication with your potential customers demonstrates a commitment to their success.
With the addition of a podcast to your blog you can turn a good tool into a magnificent one. Other than one on one meetings with potential customers, there is no way to develop as strong of a connection to them as you can with a podcast. Will you take the next step and set your company apart?
Matt Brechwald is an agricultural broadcaster who creates custom podcasts for and consults with companies that have a story to tell. Matt is the host of “Off-Farm Income”, a 3X weekly podcast that focuses on agriculture and entrepreneurship; the host of the D&B Supply Show, a weekly podcast and radio show airing in Eastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho; and a contributor to “FFA Today”, a weekly national radio program that airs on Rural Radio, SiriusXM Channel 147.