Many people, even marketers, don't believe marketing works. Well, of course it works for Britney Spears and Coke and the NFL, but for the little guy? We just can't compete. Either we don't have the money, or if we do have the money, we don't have the name recognition that will make people care. So we have to do other things to get the attention of the worldhence the term guerilla marketing.
"Good to meet you. Here's my card."
Everyone has business cards nowadays. Even if you don't use your corner copy store, your computer probably has a simple paint program. Business cards are easy to create and print.
In addition, most computers have CD-burning capability. So why not mix the two? You could burn a podcast or a promo on the large CDs, but they're a little large to casually carry 10 with you. Ideally, see if you can find the tiny 3.5-inch writable mini CDs (see Figure 16.3). Slip them into a plastic sheath along with your business card and always have a handful on you for when you meet someone new.
Figure 16.3. The mini CD (right) is a perfect mate to your business card, and easily slips into a pocket or wallet.
If you do print your own business cards, be sure to use a heavy cardstock that's already perforated for you.
You can also drop a stack at the counter of your local record store, comic book store, or grocery storeanywhere local where you know they won't mind helping to promote homegrown artists. But always ask before leaving a stack of something on the counter! If you don't, the proprietors of those establishments will almost certainly just throw them in the trash.
Now let's go 180 degrees from the last section. Droplift.org is a fascinating site that encourages people to subvert what they consider strangling copyright law and the recording industry's hold on music distribution.
Caution: More Trouble Than They're Worth?
Mini CDs, although useful and just downright adorable, have created some problems during their lifespan. Many desktop computers have a smaller groove in the CD tray in which to put the little CDs for burning or reading, but many laptops (namely those from Apple) have only a slit to put the disk in (called a slot-based loading mechanism).
If you have one of these types of CD drives, find out if it can handle mini CDs. If you can't find it on the Web, call your computer support center. We're serious; you don't want to get a mini CD stuck in your disk drive with no way of retrieving it. Only use mini CDs if you're sure they're compatible with your computer!
For that matter, make sure the people you're giving it to can read it. It would be bad if you give people a disc that is going to screw up their computer. Granted, they should know what kind of disc their computer can take, but they're not going to be mad at themselves when they call support, they're going to be mad at you.
This will not help you get listeners.
Taking the opposite of "shoplift," the site encourages people to download the free music from their website, print out the liner notes, burn CDs, and carry them into music stores. Instead of taking something out of the store, the people are to leave the CDs there for unsuspecting shoppers to find and take home.
So who says you can't do this with podcasts? Burn a handful of podcasts to a CD and droplift them into the Spoken Word or Music Compilation section of your favorite music store. You might get a listener or two out of that, but better than that, it's a subversive way to get your point across.
Check out droplift.org to find out more about their guerilla tactics.
Some podcasters have taken this a step further and started burning CDs of their show and then putting them in the thin plastic or paper sleeves. On the back of the sleeve they put double-sided tape. On the front of the CD they place a label that says "Bonus CD." Next, they look up in Amazon what books are hot sellers in the category that best matches their show. (If you have a podcast on food, then maybe you want to target Rachel Ray.) Then they go to their local bookstore and find that book and droplift the CD into the back of it, removing the backing on the double-sided tape, thus making it look like the CD belongs with the book. Of course, we ourselves would never condone such actions (wink, wink).
Colleges, Conventions, and Other Groupings of Radical-Minded People
College campuses are a great place to hang flyers. Granted, everyone else will be hanging flyers there to promote their band, to get a roommate or ride to Chicago, or to advertise for a medical study. But these boards are places people do go to so they can check out the latest happenings (see Figure 16.4).
Figure 16.4. Briefly removing "The Cube"the bulletin board for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillfor construction hasn't stopped students from making their announcements seen.
Along the same lines, conventions and expos are often good places to dump business cards or flyers. Take a stack to put in strategic places. Any expo, convention, or conference that remotely refers to the topic of your podcast would be a good place to put your card or flyer. And you don't even have to wait for conferences. Keep an eye out for community areas that allow flyers or cards. Coffee shops with wi-fi hotspots are also a great place to leave flyers, because you know a certain percentage of the clientele are going to be tech savvy. The packaging store near Mur prides itself on being a community area, and it has a business card rack near the counter where area entrepreneurs post their cards. You can find accountants, real estate agents, and marital-aid home party distributors.
Andy Affleck, host of Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac (http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/mac-podcasting/) says this may not work for all podcasts, however.
Your Listeners: Stealth Marketing Tools
Stealth marketing is a term advertisers use to market to people who don't know they're being marketed to. They might send models to bars to drink a new beer, for example.
Using your listeners like this is more honest, because they already listen toand presumably enjoyyour podcast. Put the word out to your listeners to not be shy in telling people about your podcast. If someone looks at them quizzically while they're listening to your podcast and laughing on the bus, have them tell the person why. At parties have them discuss podcasts (notably yours) in conversation.
You could even have a contest and give a prize to whichever listener brings you the most new listeners. Have the new listeners send you an email telling you who got them to listen, and the person with the most emails gets a t-shirt or CD or something.
If the listeners are uncomfortable talking to strangers and evangelizing your podcast, there are other, simple things they can do, such as linking to your podcast from their home page, mentioning you in their blog, or simply telling a friend.
One caveat: Don't lay it on too thick. As we learned during the "Vote for me!" fury in 2005, you can turn listeners off if you ask them to be part of your popularity party every podcast. Mention it once or twice a month that you'd like their help, but don't make it their duty, don't make it seem like you're desperate, and, above all, don't make it the focus of your show!