Earlier we mentioned the cost of the equipment needed to get into podcasting, but there is also the labor cost to account for. When calculating the cost of doing the podcast, you also need to figure out how long it takes and add in the hourly cost of producing the show. A good rule of thumb is that most shows will involve at least two people and take about 5 hours of time from each to do the prep work, show recording, editing, and posting (this would be for a 20-to-25-minute show released once a week). Based on that and the employees' time and benefits, you are looking at about a $500 cost in labor to produce the show each week.
There is also the issue with how your podcast sounds; this will reflect well or poorly on your company. Many companies prefer to contact experienced podcasters who can produce the show for them. You can expect to spend between $300 and $3,500 per week, depending on the workload you unload on this third party. If all you want them to do is edit up the sound, edit the ID3 tags, and upload the file, your costs will be on the lower end. However, if you want them to conduct interviews and edit those interviews, provide voice talent, and do all the other production work, the cost can move up quickly toward that $3,500 mark or even higher.
Just like with the company newsletter, it is often very possible to find someone in the company who will volunteer to do the podcast. Obviously the larger the company, the more likely you are to find a willing participant to take on this job in his or her spare time (that is, off the clock).
There are many different reasons why a business would want to podcast. The following is a list of some of the more common business goals for a podcast:
Let's look at each of these in a little more detail.
Obviously anything you can do to build up the brand image of your company is going to be a good thing. Countless numbers of books have been written about the importance of brand building. Podcasting offers a new way to help build your brand. You can use this new medium to go out and advertise or sponsor podcasts. Or you can create your own podcast that talks about the market you serve and use the podcast as a way to show people your company is a solid player in that market. How many people really think Dr. Phil is the best or even one of the best psychiatrists? But because of his show, it now costs a lot more to lie on his couch than it did when he first started practicing. How many people have heard of Dr. Matthew? Now how many have heard of Dr. Ruth? They both do the same thing; the big difference is that Dr. Ruth had a nationally syndicated radio talk show and has written books. Thanks to podcasting, anyone or any company can have their own worldwide distributed show.
Promoting a Service
Let's say your company offers tax-preparation services. You could use a podcast to talk to different tax accountants from your company about common mistakes people make and other tax issues. If you make the show entertaining and informative, you could use the podcast as an infomercial for your company. (Of course, if you can make a show about tax issues entertaining, you need to pack your bags and head to LA; there are a few shows on the WB that need some help.)
There is nothing that will limit you on the type of service you could promote. You could do a show on electrical wiring, massage therapy, dog grooming...whatever. Do not think just national; think local too. As more and more podcasts come out, there will be more and more regional directories. Check with the folks at your local paper about having them add a section on their website for local podcasts.
When you do the show, offer up coupon codes to those who listen or simply say, "Mention that you listen to our podcast when you call and you will receive X% off." This is one of the best ways to measure if your podcast is generating revenue. Additionally, by doing a podcast on a specific subject, you are presenting yourself as an expert on that subject. Whether you state that or not, that is the impression people will get. This goes back to brand building; in this case, the brand can be you.
Promoting a Book, Movie, DVD, or CD
If you are a book author and you do not have a podcast about that book, shame on you. How well a book sells is highly dependent on how well the author promotes the book, and here is a way for you to get personal with potential readers of your book. If you have previous books, especially out-of-print books, you could possibly podcast a previous book as a way to promote a new book (check with your publisher on audio rights first, though). Tee Morris did this very successfully with Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana, to help promote the upcoming print release of Legacy of Morevi.
With a movie release today, success seems to be all about the initial weekend for the big movies and viral marketing for the smaller releases. Podcasting can help both groups. With a major release, you can generate good buzz for the movie by creating a podcast series where you interview all the major stars in the podcast. Then a month or so before the release you start releasing episodes, helping bring hype to the release date. One of the first movies to attempt using a podcast to help the movie was House of Wax. Unfortunately, they chose Paris Hilton to do the podcast, and the podcast was dismaland that's putting it nicely.
Other movies have decided to start promoting during the actual filming by releasing podcasts from the set. Small-budget films that engage with a potential audience from the point when they start filming can potentially increase ticket sales by over a million dollars.
Just because you record some audio, link it to an RSS feed, release it upon the world, and hype that you have a podcast does not mean it will automatically help you. The podcast still needs to be something of value to the listener for it to be of value to you.
Let's say you have a small-budget film. You create a podcast series about the making of the film. Each week you release a podcast about what happened on the set that weekwhat surprised you, what pleased you, and what made you mad. You then take it through post-production work and on to promoting of the movie, all along mixing in interviews with cast members. This takes a small amount of time and very little editing. You then get an intern to post the shows and promote the podcast on the message boards and other podcasts. By the time the movie is released, you have built up a listener base of 1,000 people, half of which have podcasts of their own. Each of those podcasters then promotes the movie to their audience (average size of 250), and a third of them actually go to the movie. Of course, no one goes alone to a movie, so on average each person brings two friends. This means your podcast generated about $1.28 million in ticket sales.
The numbers are very theoretical, but at $1.28 million, that would at the end of January, 2006 alone put you in 19th place for the past week's ticket sales.
Promoting the release of a DVD of a movie is really no different from promoting the release of the movie in a theater. However, many DVDs that are released are for training, self-help, and exercise. Podcasting offers you a way to promote those types of DVDs. You can create a podcast series where you play some clips in your show from the DVD, but the key is not to make your podcast all about selling the DVD. You need to format the show such that your audience gets added value from listening to the podcast.
Interestingly enough, the new Battlestar Galactica TV series not only released a podcast to coincide with the release of each episode, offering listeners behind-the-scenes commentary from producer Ronald Moore, it also repackaged that commentary as part of the DVD release. This is probably the first time content created for a podcast was then included with a DVD release for a major TV show or movie. If you are a fan of Battlestar Galactica, you really need to subscribe to the podcast from Ronald Moore.
If you are part of a band and you have a CD coming out, podcasting is a great tool to promote it. By creating a podcast series around the album, you can let people know what you were thinking when you wrote and performed each song. You can use it as a way to promote when and where you will be performing. We highly recommend you check out the podcast from The Reverse Engineers (www.thereverseengineers.com/) as an example of what bands should be doing to promote a new album. In addition to music, there are also instructional and self-help CDs you can promote. Brain Sync: Theatre of the Mind (www.kellyhowell.com) is an example of a podcast that is used to help promote a series of self-help CDs.
Promoting a Newspaper or Magazine
Many newspapers are now using podcasting as a way to reach out to new customers. The Roanoke Times, San Francisco Gate, and The Denver Post were some of the earliest newspapers to embrace podcasting.
Newspapers are in a unique position in their community to become the one-stop source for news and entertainment. To offer audio content costs a newspaper as little as $300 to get set up, yet it will cost millions upon millions of dollars for the local radio station to get the equipment needed to print a newspaper. With podcasting, the barrier to entry into audio and video broadcasting is basically nonexistent.
With magazines, podcasts can be used to complement the material in the latest issues and also as a reminder for people to go out and buy the latest issue. With both newspapers and magazines, you already have an established advertising base to pull from to help generate revenue to not only offset the cost of the podcast but to also help bring in some positive cash flow while at the same time building the brand of your journal.
Promoting an Event, Conference, or Expo
Leading up to a conference, you can have interviews with speakers that will be at the conference. At the event, you can record and later podcast different sessions and interviews with guests. After the event, you can have roundtable discussions to talk about the successes and failures of the conference and start planning for the next year. You can even release different sessions recording throughout the year leading up to the next event. You can talk with exhibitors prior to the event and have them discuss any special promotions at their booth and why they are attending. This gives you another way to get sponsorship for the event.
The Balticon Podcast (www.balticonpodcast.org/wordpress/) is a podcast created specifically to promote a sci-fi convention in Baltimore (see Figure 17.3). Paul Fischer, the new media ninja warrior for the convention, mentioned they were getting listeners from all around the world. Essentially, they are helping build the brand of the event with their podcast, while also letting everyone know what will be happening at the con. If you have a comic con, sci-fi con, or knitting con, you should be using a podcast as a way to interact with your potential attendees year round.
Figure 17.3. The website for the Balticon Podcast helps promote the Balticon sci-fi convention in Baltimore.
There are other uses of podcasting in business applications. You can use them to train internal associates or an external sales force. You can use podcasts for a multimedia press release, or as a way to get news out to a specific group of customers.
Podcasting on its own is not going to take a company that is headed for bankruptcy and turn it around so that everyone's 401k gets a big boost. But if used correctly, a podcast can improve and expand the brand of your company, and it can also help generate new customers. The immediate impact to the bottom line will likely be minimal if at all for large corporations, but for a small business looking to sell a book or service, the podcast can give a nice boost to sales. For any business where the promotion of your product or service highly influences your total amount of sales, the podcast is a new promotional tool that can make a significant impact when used correctly.