Posts tagged with ‘podcasting’

Is Your Content Telling YOUR story? (Part 1)

The Plight of the Joker

I say it all the time – I can create a variety of tones and writing styles for every client. The reason this is necessary is because no two businesses are alike. Some businesses may have similarities and commonalities, but the true core of what makes each business is intrinsically unique (and one of the reasons I LOVE writing web content!)

It’s important to realize your uniqueness as a business, and how you wish to exhibit that in all of the content you create. From emails to web content, brochures and podcasts, you must always be true to your business and your story. By this, I mean, analyze what customers and clients like about you, and what keeps them returning to you. However, you must also realize that finding a balance between professionalism and personalization is the key to standing out, while becoming a trusted voice in your field.

Do clients compliment you on your upbeat sense of humor? Then talk with your content developer about appropriate ways to bring that out in your email blasts and other distributed content. Humor is a great way to put clients at ease, and make you relatable. However, there is a fine line between an email blast peppered with corny jokes, and an all out roast of your receptionist on her biography web. If you’re using your sense of humor, don’t get personal, and keep it G-rated. Your content developer should be able to tailor a content strategy that is honest and funny, while engaging and professional.

Find a balance, and reap the rewards.

Podcamp Nashville Session

Thanks to everyone who turned out for my session at Podcamp Nashville! You were a great audience, and I really enjoyed the questions and the conversations. Here’s the slide deck:

I have also uploaded my slide deck called Top Ten Reasons Podcasts Fail, so please feel free to download, use and share as you like.

Thanks again, and please let me know if I can help you.

Are You a Content Consumer or Creator?

The title probably says it all, but let me unpack the “why” behind the question.

Internet 101 time… The reason people get online is to find things. In a word, content. Whether it’s Google or YouTube or blogs or traditional media outlets, the web serves up content. Content is KING.

So. We all consume it. But how many of us produce or provide it?

Being a content provider is really about adding value. Participating in the information economy is the first step toward proving your expertise in your market. It’s also the most viral way of telling others about what you know and what you do.

ladder_3

Where are you on this ladder? Have you added a blog comment or a review lately? Have you started blogging or podcasting yet?

The ones at the top of this ladder know something you might not know yet: Content isn’t as hard to produce as you think, and the rewards are often quite large.

The Expert Economy

In economic down times, businesses have more and more to do to generate the same levels of revenue, with fewer and fewer resources allocated to those tasks. It’s no secret that marketing activities are usually one of the last areas to be affected, because marketing is (correctly) viewed as the one activity that can still have a bottom-line impact.

But not just any run-of-the-mill marketing activities. After all, marketing dollars have to be stretched too. The holy grail of recession marketing is figuring out how to separate the most expensive, least profitable prospects from the prospects who are eager and willing to do business today, perhaps even at a premium. So how does this happen?

Stand up and be the expert in your market.

It is generally accepted that recognized experts make more than others for the same basic work. It is also generally true that experts stay busier, with fewer recession-related dips in business.  With such compelling reasons to demonstrate your expertise, what steps can you take today to begin doing just that?  Here’s our list:

  1. Start Podcasting. A simple, sustainable, 5-minute podcast production every week with one central point that touches on your area of expertise; that seminal item that you get paid to know or do for your clients. Use the podcast as a teaser to demonstrate the many solid reasons your prospects should be calling you today.
  2. Release regular Video Tutorials that address the most painful problems your prospects face. If done artfully, the unspoken conclusion of these short, pointed video productions is that you are capable of providing the solution they desperately need.
  3. Create a Blog. If you do either or both of the items above, then you will be using a blog to do it, anyway.  A blog post twice a week builds a record of authority, both for human visitors and (perhaps even more importantly) for Google.
  4. Get your best customers to go on the record by testifying to the value of your expertise. A written testimonial, or better yet, a video testimonial can be a compelling badge of expertise.
  5. Begin Publicly Speaking. Anywhere. Anytime. In front of any audience with your market’s focus. This is a long-play strategy, however.  If you signed up today to speak for a group, it might be 5-6 months before the actual engagement.

Expertise is currency. And those that can demonstrate it to their market stand to reap rewards far greater than money alone.

9 Low Cost Opportunities in 2009

Happy New Year! Some of you no doubt would like to put last year far behind, but if there was one word to sum up what this new year holds for all of us, in my opinion, it would be: OPPORTUNITY.

As a small business person, opportunity has always been found in the places where there is real need. In our case, those needs have centered on companies who are branding and creating marketing messages in various digital forms. We are so proud to have worked with such a great client roster during the past year, and hopefully met some pressing needs in web design, print design motion graphics design and video production. Thank you all for making last year such a fun one for us!

As a feeble thank you, here are 9 Low Cost Opportunities for Your Business in 2009.

  1. Determine the stress points of your customers, and develop legitimate marketing that positions your product or service as the immediate relief they seek. Acute economic stress can become a great motivator to solve a nagging problem.  Do you know what your product or service addresses in today’s buying climate?
  2. Down time during the first quarter? There is no better time to revisit your web site strategy and make sure it is really working for you. Some of our clients saw exponential growth occur in their business, simply by optimizing a few pages of text for search engines, or adding intelligent, descriptive video!
  3. Take advantage of the holes in your market left by competitors who couldn’t weather the recession. Many competitors are thankful when a business offers to step up and take over a client roster, to support their orphans instead of leaving them in a lurch.
  4. Position yourself as an expert in your market. Write articles. Take speaking engagements. BLOG! Much of the “getting to know and trust you” phase of new client development can be taken care of in this way.
  5. Twitter. Share valuable links to solid, relevant information aimed at people in your marketplace.
  6. Organize a small social event for people  in your client list who need to know each other.  Ask them to invite some of their best customers as well.
  7. Revamp your business card. It’s an inexpensive move that can have a transformative effect on your first impressions.
  8. Start a podcast to cover industry news, or tips and tricks, Q & A, how-to.  Offer the audio in a player on your site as well as a downloadable, and get your feed listed in a dozen or more podcast directories where people often look for information related to your area of expertise.
  9. Has the economic news spooked your customers and made them overly price sensitive?  Find ways to redefine your value in terms that make sense to them in this light.  An example: KFC started a video commercial campaign that more or less dared people to try to cook a 7 piece dinner with two sides for less than could be had in their stores.  No one was paying attention to the fact that it used to be an 8 peice deal for the same price, because the focus became the value of the deal they were offering, compared to the time and expense of making it yourself.

Well, from the team at Harkins Creative, we sincerely wish you a prosperous New Year full of ripe opportunities! Let us know how we can help.

Is Podcasting Dead?

Chris Brogan, another respected Social Media guru and consultant, mused recently about the current state of Podcasting. He makes some good points, which prompted me to begin thinking about what is working and what isn’t with regard to the way businesses can effectively use podcasting, as ascertained from our own client consultations.

I disputed a college professor once, who said that broadcast media is all about distributing content. It never has been. It has always been about advertising, and the content exists just to get enough eyeballs or eardrums assembled together to justify the high ad rates.

In the broadcast industry there has always been a distinction and separation between content and advertising, between content producers and advertisers. Podcasting, at least insofar as a valid business model goes, is quite different. Podcasting has been able to successfully fuse the two. Content creators are now their own advertisers.

Professionals and brands are regularly creating valuable content aimed specifically at their target markets, and using that content as the “bait” to introduce them to their product or service. The content-as-advertising model is not new, and certainly has existed in broadcast media as well over the years. But podcasting represents the first time that smaller businesses and individuals have been able to access a wide distribution platform to deliver their targeted messaging.

What’s working:

  • Tutorials that highlight specific needs and introduce specific solutions
  • Interviews with highly regarded industry leaders
  • Q&A shows based on frequently asked questions from existing customers
  • Idea Casts – Practical inspirations aimed at your customer’s most urgent and felt needs
  • Shows that build a like-minded community through a blog or forum
  • Shows that link to good information regularly


What’s not working:

  • Sponsored shows – Using revenue sharing ad platforms or ad insertion services
  • Shows that are too broadly focused, such as news coverage of multiple industries
  • Unprofessional production values AND commercially over-produced shows
  • Blatant Podcast-as-Commercial tactics
  • Shows with little relevant or valuable information
  • Shows with little organizational thought or direction


The Most Important Part

If you are thinking about beginning a podcast to promote your product or service, be sure you are able to commit the time to generating regular content. Blogging takes time. Podcasting takes MORE time, even with the help of a creative services or production company.

If you have a lot to say, have a friendly manner, a pleasant voice and aren’t afraid to speak or be recorded, then podcasting represents an excellent way to reach people with your expertise and provide value to them on a regular basis.

Most of the time, having a show that delivers solid information from your area of expertise, coupled with a well-designed and directed blog and/or forum, all linked back to your business site and web presence, is all that is required to benefit from using podcasting as a way to build your brand, qualify better prospects, and cement your place among the experts in your market.

EXAMPLE: Optimal Recording Levels

A client of mine in Atlanta, GA recently recorded a phone conversation on her computer. She used an inexpensive phone bridge device, and recorded the signal using Audacity, a very useful free software recording application. The same call was also recorded using an online conference call service. She sent me both of the resulting files, asking me which one would be better to use for its intended purpose (a downloadable MP3 file for her customers). Since I would be the one editing together the file, adding intro/outro clips that help to professionally brand her products, she wanted me to have the benefit of choosing the best source recording.

I loaded up both files in my favorite professional audio editing suite, and examined the waveforms. Before I ever pressed play, I knew which recording I would be using (see illustration below, followed by an explanation).

waveformcomparison2.gif

The top waveform (A) was made using Audacity, and the levels were too high for my client’s microphone and voice, resulting in the distortion of the audio signal. Waveform B was automatically recorded by the web conferencing site, and while the audio is much more consistent across the entire recording, the levels were too low.

So which one did I know I wanted to use?

Recording B, unequivocally. The levels were low, but raising the overall volume is much easier and results in a much more coherent audio track than trying to take a distorted loud track and remove the distortion. Once distortion is introduced into the recording, it is very hard to remove it without creating other nasty side effects. Signal level distortion can happen either because the microphone input levels were set too high or the equipment being used to interface with the phone system was mismatched or unable to handle the dynamic ranges of both ends of the conversation (there is usually a disparity between the level of your voice and the voice of the other party when recording).

So what steps can be taken to find the ideal middle ground, the perfect recording that isn’t so loud it causes distortion, but not so soft that the volume has to be artificially raised or “normalized” (a process that usually also raises the volume of other extraneous noises unnoticed before in the recording)?

  1. Do several sample recordings, and closely watch the recording level indicators. If they jump into the red area of the scale, lower the recording level in the software you use.
  2. It is just as important to listen to the recording, too. Just because your level indicators aren’t peaking into the red area, the phone bridge device you are using might be distorting the signal before it ever leaves the unit on iots way to the recording software. If the device is adding distortion (either when you speak or the other party speaks or both) you will need to see if the device has a way to adjust the signal strength. Some do ($$$$), but most don’t ($).
  3. Another option, and one I would strongly encourage you to explore, is to get off the phone company’s lines and use your high-speed internet connection to make the voice call. This is not an expensive option when you use Skype to place the call, and a simple recording tool such as PowerGramo to record the call. I will cover these two tools in more depth in a later post (let me know in the comments if you would find such info helpful).

Obviously, there is quite a bit more technical information that could be offered here, but I like to keep things simple on the blog. If you have any questions, please let me know!