Podcasts are one of the latest (and some believe greatest) ways to promote your business. Even Forbes recognizes the inherent value of podcasts for today's businesses. Do you want to join the ranks of Stanford and New Yorker? Here's what you need to do. Get the right equipment, make sure your web server is up to the job, and start podcasting.
A quality podcast is only possible when you have quality equipment. You'll need a portable recorder (quality ones are available for $80 to $250), editing software, a host to publish your podcast (LibSyn is one of the best and most used by professional podcasters), and a feed, such as FeedBlitz. Avoid the cheaper recorders sold for less than $20. The quality would be so poor your listeners won't take you seriously.
A podcast is essentially an RSS feed with an enclosure tag. FeedBlitz supplies this tag. Those more comfortable with their technical skills might prefer Amazon S2 or Azure Blobs over FeedBlitz. Your current web host might be able to support the podcast without the intuitive help available in this software.
This step is only necessary if you don't already have the web hosting necessary to support a podcast. If you've already established a website, you can skip this step unless your current host doesn't allow you enough broadband to support a podcast. Shop for a service with flexibility and customization options that offers competitive pricing and good customer support. If you do have web hosting in place, make sure you have the bandwidth to support your podcast.
A blog is necessary for podcasting, even if a blog isn't already part of your overall marketing strategy. This is because you'll want to supply your users a place to get your notes from the podcast and post links to articles and websites you discuss during the podcasts. You'll want to be able to offer them links to your white papers and other literature relative to the podcast discussions.
Regular blogging also establishes you as an industry expert, which helps drive even more traffic to your podcast. Some readers will stumble across your blog, even if they aren't looking for a podcast to follow, and decide to subscribe.
The feed is how your users will subscribe to your podcast and view the podcasts when they become available. Feedburner is ideal for creating a podcast without having a lot of technical skills. It's free and allows you to create a description for each of your podcasts to tell your viewers what each episode is about.
These descriptions are how users will find your podcast and recognize it, so be sure to write coherent descriptions and use keywords that users ordinarily use to search for information about the information you offer in your podcast.
You'll want to make your podcast available on iTunes and in other app stores. You can learn how to get your music on iTunes, but you'll also want to do your own marketing through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking and media sites. The more buzz you generate online for your content, the better your podcast will be viewed and received. Be sure all of your social networking accounts link back to your blog so the marketing efforts you do in social media actually drive traffic back to your blog.
Podcasts are best received by listeners when published weekly. More than this, and your busy audience will simply not have time to view all your podcasts. Less than once per week means you don't have much to say. Just be sure to make it clear to new viewers how often you post and when to expect a new podcast in their RSS feed (say, Monday afternoons or Wednesday mornings - you don't have to be punctual to the hour). Then, they'll know to be looking for a new podcast when it's time.
If you're completely new to the world of podcasting, it's a good idea to look at some other successful podcasts before you decide on a format for yours. Freakanomics Radio, Pardon the Interruption, and Anderson Cooper 360 are well-done podcasts worth emulating in style and format. Don't be deterred if there are already podcasts out there discussing the same topics as you are. Just put your own spin on the topic, and make sure your podcasts are the best available in your genre.