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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Podcasting for Small Businesses

Small businesses have found their perfect marketing method – podcasting – or have they, really?  Podcasting may be the next best thing since sliced bread but it isn’t truly that different from other marketing methods.  Podcasting, just like any marketing method has a good, a bad and an ugly side.

The Good:  Make Your Mark
Podcasting is a great branding tool for small businesses.  Big businesses have huge marketing and branding capital so they can buy TV and radio airtime, full-colour ads in local and national dailies as well as magazines, lease billboard space, and launch a comprehensive internet marketing campaign.  Small businesses have no such capacity, so unless they find an innovative branding method, their target customers will forever remain oblivious to their existence.

Podcasting can give small businesses stature in their customers’ eyes.  By choosing your podcasting content really carefully, you’d be able to build a positive image in your audience’s mind.  Through repeated exposure to your marketing message, moreover, your podcast subscribers become more familiar with your services and products.  And in marketing, familiarity breeds not contempt but trust – at least until you do something to forfeit that trust.

Podcasting also offers you a way to acquire your customers’ loyalty.  By podcasting content that repetitively and consistently assures your customers that you care for them and their needs, you’d acquire a loyal customer base.  Furthermore, podcasting interviews of your key and important personnel – for instance, interviews with you, the business owner – will give your consumers the feeling that they know you personally.  This personal touch is what mainly gives small businesses an edge over bigger and more anonymous corporations and businesses.

The Bad:  Can They Hear You?
Podcasting gives you a pulpit where you can preach and be heard, but it does let users choose whether or not they’d like to hear what you’re saying.  Users have ultimate control over what content they want to receive or if, in fact, they would like to subscribe to your podcasting feeds.  In a nutshell, podcasting lets you reach only those who want to be reached.

Some would say that this is, in fact, an advantage and not a drawback.  After all, if people chose you and your podcast, then it stands to reason that you gain interested and motivated listeners who would be much easier to covert to clients and buyers.  However, the fact remains that if you can’t convince people to subscribe to your podcast, then you simply don’t have an audience – and there’s nothing that your podcasting prowess can do to change that.

The Ugly:  Can You Afford It?
If small businesses want to gain the benefits of podcasting, they would have to invest in professional recording equipment and media editing software.  Such tools cost thousands of dollars which you may not have or are unwilling to spend on podcasting.  Then, you have to pay for hosting services and podcasting technology (you really don’t want a free host).

Some would argue that you don’t need expensive equipment to start podcasting.  They’d be right if we’re talking about personal podcasts; home-made podcasts do have quaint charm.  However, amateur recording just wouldn’t cut it for small businesses.  The truth of it is, if you want to be perceived as a professional outfit, you’d have to be, seem and sound like it.

3 comments

  • John Taylor said on October 1st, 2007 at 7:11 pm :

    Podcasting certainly provides a media, which provides a level playing field for small players. It is less costly and can be easily managed for the scales small business can afford. It is targeted and focused. However, the key to win customers through this media is keeping them interested and engaging as they can choose to unsubscribe at any stage. The creativity and innovativeness in sending across the correct marketing message is a skill and small businesses need to develop this skill to make best use of this media. Then only one can say that Podcasting provides an edge to the small players.

  • Joan Akins said on October 2nd, 2007 at 7:13 pm :

    I am not too convinced about the ugly part of the article. What is more important for the subscribers of the Podcasting is genuineness and honesty of the message. Instead of making tall claims in our messages, which may result in post purchase dissonance for the customer, if we can deliver what we can promise the loyalty of customers can be attained. Thus, even a amateur but creative message can have desired effect on the brand loyalty.

  • Claude Allen said on October 4th, 2007 at 7:14 pm :

    Podcasting is certainly a tool for the small business to send their messages to the their existing and prospective customers at a relatively lower cost however I am doubtful whether it can really make or break a brand. There are four layers of brand loyalty – cognitive, affective, conative and action. Podcasting can act at the cognitive layer of the branding exercise, which makes customers loyal to information such as price, features and so forth. However, as a customer can have access or subscription to multiple information sources, any information about the actual or imagined better competitive features or prices can deteriorate this brand loyalty.

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