The best entrepreneurs provide their client base with an array of avenues for communication. With the emergence of streaming platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud, business owners have found new ways of reaching out to and engaging customers with their products and services.
With this emerging direct-sales approach comes the power to completely bypass the keyholders of the world of traditional communication, like network TV executives and radio program directors. This has huge implications for small business owners, as they no longer have to worry about their mission statement being distorted or mischaracterized as they align themselves with big media corporations in exchange for access to a broader national or global market.
One of the most powerful of these burgeoning forms of media is podcasting. Essentially an on-demand radio talk show available to be downloaded or streamed, the top podcasts have millions of listeners all over the world. Many business owners and entrepreneurs have turned to podcasting as a promotional tool, like Tony Robbins, Dave Asprey, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, and more. As far as marketing methods go, podcasts are cheap to produce and can yield incredibly high engagement, which, for a small business, is crucial. (Not to mention the fact that a popular podcast can be a revenue driver on its own with advertising.)
Here are a few tips on what you need to get started in podcasting, as well as some examples of small businesses that have excelled due in part to their podcasts and their willingness to engage their customers in conversation, as opposed to just talking at them.
Mic, Camera, Action
One of the keys to running a successful business is having a clear and concise mission statement. When using a podcast to reach your intended audience, this refers to more than just the quality of your message, but also the sound and picture quality of your broadcasts.
For under $600 you can purchase the Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera and 16-piece Deluxe Accessory Kit Bundle that comes equipped with EOS 1080P full HD movie mode, allowing you to take flawless videos that can be enhanced with its built-in flash, creative filters and feature guide.
While the sound quality is lacking, the Rebel T5 is a good single-kit solution for intermediate video bloggers and podcasters alike. To compensate for the poor audio quality of the Rebel T5, you’ll need to purchase a quality audio recorder. The Olympus DS-9500 provides superior audio clarity and comes equipped with WiFi capabilities that allow the seamless transferring of files without the need for a computer. It can be purchased for the same price as the Rebel T5 and, as its product description states, “is designed to be a strong and dependable workhorse in heavy use environments.”
Other brands and products such as the Zoom series of recorders are in a similar price range and will also provide professional quality audio. Adobe Audition is the program of choice for audio editors, and costs $34 a month for businesses. Audacity provides a similar level of quality with the added bonus of being a free program. For around $1,000, your business will have professional-quality podcasts and video streams that will engage and impress your audience.
When you share your content across multiple platforms you help maximize your reach and potential audience. This means more potential customers and a higher ceiling for profit.
The IdeaCast podcast features Harvard Business Review editor Sarah Green interviewing business leaders like Google’s Eric Schmidt, clinical associate professor at Kellogg School of Management Nicholas Pearce, and founder of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani, and can be listened to or read as a transcript. As a subsidiary of the Harvard Business Review, Ideacast also promotes and works with Women at Work, a podcast featuring conversations about women’s place in the workplace, and Dear HBR, an advice show that answers questions about workplace dilemmas and seeks to provide positive solutions. With three different business programs running on multiple media platforms, HBR has entrenched itself among the upper echelons of business reporting through podcasting.
Shopify’s TGIM [Thank God it’s Monday] posts inspirational stories of people utilizing their creativity and passion to create unique businesses. It features an array of entrepreneurs offering advice to help you expedite your success in the business world. Shopify itself has an array of customizable themes that allows total control over your branding and cross-promotion. From retail locations to ads on Facebook, Shopify allows businesses to become entrenched in the lives of their customers and provides different pricing tiers for companies at different stages of development. With fraud prevention software, discounts on company shipping, a personalized online store, and tiered pricing, Shopify is an example of online software designed to help both small and large businesses expand and stabilize across multiple media platforms in an ever-volatile market.
With reasonably priced hardware such as SLRs and Audacity, and website tools like Weebly, WordPress, and Shopify, there is no reason for small businesses to stagnate or lag behind the bigger fish. The advent of free-to-use video-, photo-, and document-sharing sites has levelled the playing field for anyone looking to break out as the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk. With audience engagement at an all-time high, the difference is no longer necessarily in the amount that a company spends, but rather the amount of time that you as an entrepreneur are willing to put into your business and how seamlessly you promote your brand across the different channels available to you.
Joshua Cooper | Contributing Writer