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5/24/2006
12:19 PM
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Podcasting Really Is For The Masses

Many of the readers of Desktop Pipeline are small to midsize business (SMB) owners, and as such have entrepreneurial natures. What that means is that you are more apt to take risks, more likely to embrace new technology and, in general, are just more fun to be around than, say, someone from Enron. All kidding aside, it makes a certain degree of sense that small businesses in particular would be faster adopters -- if not early adopters -- of technology than big companies because there's not the s

Many of the readers of Desktop Pipeline are small to midsize business (SMB) owners, and as such have entrepreneurial natures. What that means is that you are more apt to take risks, more likely to embrace new technology and, in general, are just more fun to be around than, say, someone from Enron. All kidding aside, it makes a certain degree of sense that small businesses in particular would be faster adopters -- if not early adopters -- of technology than big companies because there's not the same long, winding path of approvals that need to take place. There are also a significant number of readers who service small business accounts, and who understand the unique needs of these shops. That having been said, are you (or your SMB customers) podcasting yet? If so, boo-yah! If not, it's time to get in the game. I'm serious.I know you're laughing. But please hear me out. Small businesses are always looking for ways to market their businesses in a savvy, innovative way, one that gets them the most bang for their buck. You can literally start podcasting for less than $50, if you or your customers choose. All that's really needed is an external microphone (that's where you'll open up your wallet), recording software (I've used Audacity; it's free and gives good results) and a script (if you write it yourself, it's free. Otherwise, prepare to shell out a few bucks.). If you stick to the script, you'll need very little editing after the fact. If you interview someone over the phone, say, you may have a bit more work to do, and may want to hire someone for that. All of those tasks can be handled by a consultant or a VAR. Our article, "Podcasting In Four Easy Steps" offers some tips for doing it effectively.

So the first question is: Why do it at all? Podcasting is a unique way of getting your name out in the marketplace. Of course, like other means of marketing, you want to be sure that your content is interesting. Equally as important is that your "delivery," that is, the way you present yourself, is professional. It's nice if you can be entertaining (remember everyone does not share your brand of humor), but at first you might simply try playing it straight, i.e., don't be boring, but don't sound as though you moonlight at the circus. You can promote your podcast on your Web site, on your business cards, even in the local paper. You want to create enough buzz so that you are generating curious visitors to your Web site, who in turn will buy your service or product.

Now, the second question: What do I (or my small business customer) talk about? Here you can be creative. Do not discuss your business. THAT is an advertisement, and will turn off visitors who will never download your podcast again. Instead, look for interesting related subjects. If you own a car dealership, have a Classic Cars podcast series. Once a month, interview someone, or opine yourself, on classic Chevys, Fords, etc. Or if you own a hardware store, record a how-to series on fixing things around the house ("How to hang a door," "How to install windows," etc.). I even know of a therapist who has recorded podcasts on marital advice.

Given some thought, the opportunities are endless. Podcasting can be a great, cost-effective way of positioning your business -- and you -- as an expert in your marketspace. So, grab a mic and get talking. (Feel free to send me URLs to your podcasts, too.)

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