As an online marketer, I spend hours each week trying to keep up with the latest technology and learn ideas to use multimedia like video and audio to reach audiences more effectively.
One of my favorite sources of marketing advice and resources is Copyblogger.
For years, I’ve built WordPress sites using their elegant and powerful Studiopress Genesis themes. I’ve tried some of their other products, such as Scribe to do better SEO or Premise to build landing pages. I’ve joined their membership site, Authority. And of course, I’ve subscribed to their various blogs.
So, a couple years ago, when Copyblogger started pushing podcasting as the next must-do activity for online marketers, I started to take note. And when more of their own blog posts started to arrive in the form of podcasts, I started to listen.
You can never have too many podcasts
I listened to Brian Clark tell war stories of his own transition from attorney to successful online entrepreneur on the “Unemployable” podcast.
I listened to Sean Jackson cheerlead for LinkedIn as a great way to generate sales leads on “The Missing Link” podcast.
I listened to Jim Kukral give advice on how to use book writing to increase your other business on the “Authopreneur” podcast.
And I listened to Sonia Simone, Demian Farnworth, Jerod Morris, Stefanie Flaxman and other smart Copybloggers tell me how to write better content and get more traffic on another half dozen shows.
This was good stuff. But an embarrassment of riches, no?
Each one of Copyblogger’s podcasts seemed to be cranking out new episodes every week or two. And there were still a dozen or more shows I hadn’t gotten around to trying yet on their rainmaker.fm network.
If I didn’t listen to more of their podcasts, I was going to miss out. But when was I going to find the time?
If I spent an hour or two in traffic every day, I’d be glad to forgo radio news or books on CD to use my commute improving my marketing skills by catching up with Copyblogger podcasts on my phone.
But I work from home, and my home is located in a very walkable downtown. My daily commute is down a flight of stairs and I go to most business meetings on foot.
Not wasting a big part of my life in a commute is lucky for my lifestyle.
But it’s unlucky for having time to listen to podcasts. The only time for that is sitting at my desk. And that’s when I try to do client work, market my own agency, or keep up with professional development by skimming blogs and e-books and watching videos.
After Copyblogger’s big podcast push, I feared that I would have to fit podcasts in there too.
The main problem is, you can’t skim a podcast. If a podcast is 18:46 long, then that’s how long it takes to consume that content.
But that’s not efficient. In that same amount of time, I could look over five or ten blog posts.
It would take at least an hour a day to keep up with even 20% of Copyblogger’s podcast shows. And what about all those shows I’d still be missing?
To quote the title of an e-book from LinkedIn, attention is a currency. And it seems that with all their free podcasts, Copyblogger may not be asking me for any money, but they were certainly asking me for a lot of my attention.
Yet, with all the talk about how podcasts were the next thing for online marketing, I began to wonder if I was the only podcast doubter out there who thought that keeping up with half a dozen podcasts each week might not be worth the time.
And then I came upon a piece by marketing guru Seth Godin warning of a “coming podcast surplus”:
As of now, there are more minutes produced by the podcasts I listen to each day than there is time to listen to them.
I can’t listen to something new without not listening to something else. Which makes it challenging to find the energy to seek out new ones. Rebroadcasts of radio shows rarely keep my attention any more, because the podcast-focused audio is so much more focused (but they are still popular on most lists, because they’re initially more well known).
Godin makes his own appearances on various podcasts, so he’s certainly not saying that podcasts are a total waste of time. He even offers a list of podcasts he tries to keep up with:
99% Invisible, On Being, The Moment with Brian Koppelman, Mystery Show (particularly episode 3), The Gist, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Bullseye, Radiolab (of course), SDCF Masters of the Stage, and Cool Tools. There’s also a fun Gastropod episode about my aversion to cilantro. And I just found out Christopher Lydon is doing a podcast, so that’s now on the list.
After I get over my podcast burnout, I’ll have to make my own list. But I’m pretty sure it will be a short one.
Meanwhile, I’ve also done guest appearances on podcasts and I’d be happy to do more. And someday, I might start my own podcast.
Of course, only after I learn to do better videos, create infographics, and expand my drip email sequences.
Connect or disconnect?
Copyblogger claims that the single most important reason you should start your own podcast is to connect more effectively with your audience:
First, podcasts have a voice. Not the “voice” of a blog post, like we often talk about. But a real, live, human voice, with subtleties of inflection, emotion, and emphasis.
It’s this voice that breathes life into the content.
Second, podcasts go where you go, when you want to go there. You don’t have to plan your life around podcasts. You plan podcasts around your life.
Podcasts are convenient. Which is why you invite them places other content cannot go. Which is why podcasts connect in ways that other content cannot do.
Convenient? Sorry, I don’t see it.
Unless you have a lot of time to kill in a long commute, when are you going to want to give a half hour or hour to listen to people talk about online marketing?
It’s not like you’re listening to Garrison Keillor or, if you taste runs to the other side of the radio dial, Rush Limbaugh. Even business podcasts with the liveliest hosts just aren’t that entertaining.
Be honest — If you didn’t think you needed their information for business, would you listen to marketing podcasts at all?
As far as online marketing your own business goes, if you want to do podcasts, I can’t imagine that you’d want to use podcasts to replace text blogs, graphics or even (short) videos.
Podcasts seem like something that should be about #18 on your marketing list.
Number one should still be an excellent website. Number two should be a regular blog. And number three should be a way to convert visitors to leads and prospects using contact forms, a lead-tracking system such as LeadIn and a premium content offer such as an e-book or white paper.
Podcasts could help with your lead-generation strategy, especially if you know that your audiences are willing to make the time to listen to a podcast.
And if you have the staff time and expertise to create podcasts and if you also have the resources to host podcasts — such as a website built on the Rainmarker Platform, which comes from the Copyblogger folks — then if you’re already doing the basics of online marketing well, podcasts could be a nice add-on.
But online marketers need to remember that podcasts are a tool and not an end in themselves. And other tools may offer you better results with less hassle, especially for businesses with smaller marketing staffs.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group