Podcasts Can Be Great for Marketing But Think Content and Interest First

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"As you develop a podcast concept, expect it to morph and change. 'Our original thought with the podcast was to fill a gap in how IBM Cloud educated sellers and partners about new features,' say the hosts. 'We were going to do episodes on the new stuff. We quickly realized that 1) we couldn't keep up, and 2) episodes about new capabilities were really boring; like Ian and Steve fell asleep.'"

That's from an excellent article on Skyword.com by Liz Alton titled The Rise of B2B Podcast Marketing. Ian Lynch and Steve Choquette are with IBM Cloud and co-host the IBM Cloud Podcast. They raise a good point. For as much as we want podcasts to help us market and sell, they must be informative and engaging.

"We morphed to make this about 'interesting things,'" the IBM Cloud hosts continued. "The goal was not to sell IBM stuff, but just to have a chat with our listeners." So they retrenched and developed a content plan that would engage and "play to their own interests as well."

SIPA member Relias Media started a new podcast on healthcare risk management in July. They "checked into vendors and ultimately decided to rely on our homegrown talent and software we were already using for creating online training," Terrey Hatcher, manager, Relias Media Editorial Group, wrote me in an email. "We brainstorm ideas as an editorial team, set schedule expectations and collaborate with our marketing folks."

Relias' challenge is to entertain with very scientific subjects. They accomplish this by using a straightforward approach with diverse, knowledgeable guests. The one I'm listening to now, How to Confront Candida Auris, an Emerging Fungal Superbug, features a woman doctor. The catchy Rounds With Relias is the overall name of the show.  

Spidell's podcasts—California Minute—actually run about four minutes and, not surprisingly, are very focused. I just listened to one titled Guidance on Business Meal Expense Deductions. It starts with a push for Spidell's Federal and California Tax Update Seminars (these are in person) that start in November. Then it gets right into the topic, which is in response to a tax update published Oct. 3. (Timeliness is another great characteristic to have for B2B podcasts.)

"We do the production for the California Minute in-house, but here is some equipment/services info," host Kathryn Zdan, director of editorial, emailed when I inquired about their process. "We use Libsyn as the platform for hosting the archived episodes ($9 per month). Our production team uses Audition to edit the WAV file, and I record through Audacity with an AudioTechnica mic.."

After much research, Sam Spencer, CEO, Modern Markets Intelligence, Inc. (MMI), has stuck with Libsyn as well. He used to be a music recording artist and thus hosts and produces a podcast called the Smart Grid Today.

"I wrote and recorded the theme music and I use Sonar Artist (by Cakewalk) to record, edit and produce the audio program," Spencer wrote in an email. He was using SoundCloud and LibSyn to make the audio available to listeners but now just uses Libsyn. He said that it "feeds all the other apps and streaming services I want to be available through such as iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and literally all the rest."

He considered switching to Zencast, "but they are not as established as LibSyn... One advantage of using Zencast is that they make it easier to get accepted by Apple which I found very frustrating for a while through LibSyn. I have read Zencast is better at that but the issue no longer affects me."

He outputs from Sonar to a high-quality Windows wav file and then uses Online Audio Converter to convert to MP3 "so I don't have to mess with the Ogg Vorbis MP3 conversion add-on in Sonar," he added.

Spencer has developed some "tricks," including getting "splits in the audio to be smooth and silent (cross fading, single-side fade-in or even matching samples at the zero point)—except that sound quality these days is not the highest priority for most web programs. It's the content of what is being said and having good interview instincts that is probably more important."

That's what makes SIPA publishers such natural fits for podcasts—they have the content and the editorial skills. Then it's just a matter of finding the right host and format. "One of the biggest challenges B2B companies may face is finding employees who are comfortable on mic, considering the hosts and their guests are typically experts rather than entertainers," wrote Alton.

The IBM Cloud Podcast chose two hosts, Choquette and Lynch, with a good dynamic and then they strategically feature guests. Spidell was fortunate to have Zdan, who is smooth, informed and entertaining. Matt Priest, president and CEO of Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, was already having "entertaining, informative, off-the-cuff talks with cool people in the industry," so moving those to the airwaves seemed natural. "My host [a longtime friend] is a little off the walls," Priest said. "Who knew two suits from D.C. could be so funny?"

"The one piece of advice that we like to give our guests a few days before is: do not script and be yourself," said Choquette and Lynch. "If you want someone to read to you, it's not a podcast you are looking for; try an audio book. That's why being yourself and just having a non-scripted conversation works best. People relate to people, and most podcasts are just a conversation."

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…