4/01/2006

From Podcasts to Godcasts, now's the time to get the word out to MP3 owners Lately, half the inquiries I get from clients are about podcasts. They seem to sense that podcasts are a good idea, but they're not quite sure what to do with them. My friend and colleague, Phil Gomes, has suggested that the only people who listen to podcasts are other podcasters. Phil says this because he's s devout blogger with a wicked sense of humor. My Mother would say he's a smarty pants. I don't know that I agree with Phil. I'm seeing podcasts start to really take off now. In fact, they're growing at twice the rate of blogs and no wonder. For corporations, they're easy to control, relatively inexpensive, and can reach audiences in a much more segmented way. Already we're seeing companies start to sponsor podcasts, often shifting money they had originally slated for radio advertising, because they realize it helps them reach people in a more targeted way. Dixie, for example, sponsors the Mommycast at $100,000 a year. Podcasts are a great way for companies to provide something of value that will cause people to want to do business with them, not necessarily because of a specific product or service, but because they trust the company more and want to reward it by throwing business their way. One great example I've seen of this lately is Whirlpool. The company offers a weekly podcast that has nothing to do with household appliances. The podcasts are called The American Family and they cover subjects like homeschooling, positive parenting and even retirement planning. No pitches for a new washer or dryer, and nary a single suggestion that the company's applicances will hold your family together. Rather, Whirlpool is simply sharing good information that demonstrates the company's values as a pro-family organization. Churches are embracing podcasts - often called Godcasts - faster than you can send a prayer to heaven. In fact, religious programming is in such demand, it has spawned a whole new industry of companies that provide it in various formats. Meanwhile, even the National Park Service is getting in on the act. They're using podcasts to educate people about parks and get them excited about visiting. My favorite is Glacier National Park in Montana. I predict we're going to see podcasting really take hold over the next year and before you know it, people will just expect companies to offer them, just like we expect every company today to have a web site. With summer coming up, maybe now is a great time for your company to think about how you can reach out to consumers who own MP3 players and iPods. (Did you know, by the way, that Jupiter Research predicts that 60 million Americans will have these devices within the next four years?). Think about it: people will be traveling in planes, trains and automobiles more than usual over the next few months. Wouldn't it be nice if they were spending part of their downtime listening to your podcast?

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