It's official: The number of active mobile devices now exceeds the number of people living on Earth. Technology has become truly ubiquitous -- which is great news if you're an entrepreneur trying to raise your awareness and get your message out to the world.
One of the best ways to tap that opportunity is through podcasting -- delivering your insights and call to action via Internet-based broadcasts. Podcasting lets you expand your reach like never before. Traditional channels like TV or radio simply can't compete.
I recently asked Paul Colligan, a pioneer in the field of podcast marketing and author of How to Podcast and Podcasting Strategies, about the bottom-line benefits of podcasting. Here are his six key reasons why all entrepreneurs should be leveraging the power of podcasts right now.
1. You can reach a whole new audience -- anytime, anywhere. One-to-one marketing doesn't work anymore. You've got to do one-to-many, and that's exactly what podcasts let you do. By offering your podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker and other providers, your product, service and messaging -- essentially you and all you have to offer -- become available anytime and anywhere. One of the most successful podcasters today, Joe Polish, is being downloaded as far away as Turkmenistan. I realize many of you are not looking for customers in a former Soviet socialist republic, but you get the idea -- podcasting puts you in front of clients and potential clients like no other technology out there. Or as Colligan likes to say: Expand reach, leverage tech.
2. Customers want to hear what you have to say. Many entrepreneurs think podcasting is a useful marketing tool only for business owners with flashy products or high-end offerings. Not so. Every business niche has its devotees who care deeply about a particular product or service. Colligan cites one entrepreneur who was looking for a business with guaranteed repeat sales. So he started a mail-order scented candle company. His podcast discussing various types of candles and their histories was a huge hit with a surprisingly large number of people who are passionate about scented candles, and it drove significant new business to the website.
The message is clear: "If the world of scented candles deserves a podcast, you do as well," says Colligan. "More than 97 million Americans commute to work by themselves every day, and they all have a topic that fascinates them. If you told them 'On the way to work, you can listen to a program about that something you love', they're going to tune in."
3. Podcasts are easy and inexpensive. Podcasts can be accessed by virtually everyone on virtually any mobile device. Colligan figures you can set yourself up with a computer, camera and microphone for $500 or less, and many free versions of podcasting software are more than adequate for entrepreneurs' needs. You can even use apps that allow you to record podcasts using your iPhone (Colligan records one while he's driving called Thinking Out Loud). What's more, podcast hosting and publishing companies charge as little as $5 per month. "Podcasting is primarily a free distribution medium that you use to bring people in to higher level products and higher level services," notes Colligan.
4. Podcasts help create long-term value. Podcasts don't just help drive one-time sales. They create deeper connections with customers that increase their lifetime value to your company. That's exactly what happened with the candle business. The podcast helped create an economic "glue" that made the business significantly more valuable than the competition. When the entrepreneur eventually sold, he commanded a premium valuation.
5. Podcasts give your marketing "legs." Podcasting helps ensure that your messaging is always available to be discovered. This approach gives your marketing longevity that other channels can't match. Colligan cites one podcast that's been running for seven years. Every week during those seven years, episode number one has been downloaded by new listeners. "As an entrepreneur, can you imagine creating a piece of content that is still being seen and engaged with seven years later?" asks Colligan.
6. Podcasts give your marketing scale. As important as podcasting is to getting your message out, it become significantly more powerful when you leverage your podcasts across many channels. The technical term for this is multicast marketing, or as Colligan succinctly puts it: Create once, publish everywhere. By repurposing your podcast content into posts on your blog, articles in trade magazines, videos on YouTube as well as ebooks and white papers that you self-publish, your marketing achieves scale -- allowing you to reach even more people with very little additional investment.
Ultimately, it's a can't-lose proposition: You need to gain the attention of your market, and podcasting helps you generate a buzz like no other technology out there. So go get what's yours by attracting a steady stream of prequalified clients and customers to your doorstep -- even the ones who may be several continents away!
You can find actionable business-building strategies and insights from today's top entrepreneurs every day at AES Nation.