When I hear the word “podcast,” I don’t exactly think of cutting edge technology. My mind starts to drift back to the days of the original iPod and dial-up internet (scary thoughts for this millennial!). Or at least that was my impression of podcasts…until I learned better. Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend Social Slam, a fantastic marketing and social media conference. At a pre-event workshop hosted by marketing guru, Mark Schaefer, I was surprised to hear Mark touting the value, and dare I say, resurgence of podcasts as an important part of any firm’s content marketing strategy. That’s right people, podcasts are poised for a comeback!

What is a podcast?

Let’s take a step back for a second though. Some of you may be wondering what exactly a podcast is. In its most simple form, a podcast can be thought of as a pre-recorded radio program that is available on-demand through the internet. More specifically, a podcast is usually a digital media file (these days they can be audio or video) that is downloaded directly from the internet. They are distributed online using syndication feeds, or free websites, and are hosted or authored by a “podcaster.” It’s been suggested that the title “podcast” came from the original intended use of these type of audio files. The intent was that they would be downloaded and listened to like a broadcast on the iPod or other MP3 players. With the recent explosion of mobile phone devices like BlackBerry, iPhone and Androids, podcasts are now even easier to access and download at almost any time.

Why should professional services firms care?

  1. Two words: mobile phones. Reports suggest that over 78% of the adult population in the United States use an Apple or Android mobile device. I’m sure most of you could tell me this without needing the statistic. We see this in action every day. People checking their smart phones at red lights, on the subway, train, or in the grocery store. Podcasts give professional service firms a tool to reach potential prospects when they want to be reached – on the go. By creating podcasts, you are offering helpful content to your potential buyers that they can access on their terms, like on their daily commute or while exercising. Podcasts help you reach your target audience in this increasingly busy and information dense world.
  2. We live in a world where business decisions are increasingly being made online. In fact, more than 70% of B2B executives rely on the web for information when making purchasing decisions. When executives come to your firm’s website, what sort of helpful content will be there to help inform their decision-making? Rich and informative multimedia content, like podcasts, will help to move your potential buyers through the sales funnel by providing them with engaging information that will help with their decision process.
  3. Podcasts allow professional services firms to be authentically helpful to their prospects and clients by sharing thought leadership in a convenient format. Podcasts can be used, just like blogs, to provide helpful information to your clients, or prospects considering your services. Use this medium to answer frequently asked questions, to talk about hot button topics, and to share your unique point of view.
  4. Creating podcasts is cost effective, which is especially appealing for small to mid-sized professional services firms. Aside from investing in a quality microphone and maybe a little IT help to set up as RSS feed to stream your podcasts, this marketing tool does not require a large investment, aside from some of your time and creativity!
  5. Podcasts allow you to take advantage of timely industry topics and news items with immediacy. Because podcasts are quick and easy to record and share, you can easily comment on hot news topics, changes in law or your industry, or even interview an industry expert, and be the first to market.

Do you listen to podcasts? Or better yet, have you created your own? I’d love to hear about your podcast experiences or recommendations of your favorite podcasters below.