Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Podcasts are not Audio Brochures

Marketing folk are starting to get the idea that podcasts can be effecting tools for getting the story out about company products and services. They are marching down this path in exactly the same way the major auto manufacturers did over two years ago.

A top-three auto maker was among the first to try out the new podcast format. Instead of letting an executive (or better, a design engineer) wax poetically about the passion built into the new year's model, the company stripped the audio stream out of a webcast and published it as a podcast. Not only could you not see what the speaker was describing, it was exactly the kind of brochureware that doomed those webcasts to deliver lackluster results.

A podcast is not a chance to read your company's latest brochure to people who are presumably illiterate. For most of us, especially those of us working in the financial services industry, our customers are very literate, intelligent and discerning. That's why they've adopted new media as a source of information about the products and services they want to buy. They don't need help reading your sales material. They don't need to hear your brand name five times in the first 30 seconds.

What do they need? Good question!

There are three things a podcast listener needs from you before they can make a buy decision:

1) They need to know you are a real person, not some extremely highly paid executive hired to speak buzzwords in an appropriately animated tone. Not that there's anything wrong with being extremely highly paid. Just remember that people do business with people they know and like. If you can't be likable at your pay grade, get someone else to do the podcast.

2) They need to know you know their business. This is the heart of the podcast! This is your chance to connect with prospects by letting them know that you know their pain. They must believe that you really understand their situation if they are to trust you to provide a solution.

3) They need to know that you have a passion for serving them. I fancy myself a decent wordsmith and yet my best work cannot come close to describing the honest commitment a good company feels in regard to serving its customers. A little honesty here can be magnified into an extremely powerful sales tool. Likewise, a standard sales pitch will provide the expected results.

The podcast is your chance to start an honest conversation with your prospects. Conversations are the gateway to relationships, which is the only thing that leads to a sale.
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