by: Joseph Mann
While some marketers are finding ways to gain podcasting revenue through advertising (Brandweek & eMarketer/New York claim ad revenue for podcasting will reach $80 million in 2006), in the B2B services sector I believe that the most valuable revenue will not come from selling (or buying) podcast ad space but will come instead through developing a podcasting strategy that cultivates a thought-leadership position for the company among its customers and influencers.
With the proper messaging and tone, podcasting in this way adds another dimension to the marketing and brand channel mix that will ultimately lead to a tangible, financial return on investment.
I discovered this first hand while helping launch a new business unit for a client. As one component of a multi-channel demand creation strategy, we used podcasts of the company leaders speaking about industry dynamics and some of the pain points experienced by customers to subtly let them know we understood their world — and without a single salesy message in the podcast itself. A consistent release schedule of at least one podcast episode per week not only rapidly boosted downloads of the podcasts, but over two and a half months played a role in growing the sales opportunity pipeline from $US 23 million to $US 112 million. Worth noting, is the fact that when management halted support of the overall demand creation strategy (including podcasting) at the end of November, the podcast download traffic showed an immediate and extreme sensitivity to the lack of new content, dropping by more than 62% in less than 1 month. That downward trend continued even though the same number of audio files continued to be available on the web site — there was just nothing new to listen to.
I believe this means that for most B2B companies (especially those in industries with tech-savvy customers and where there is a complicated sell), there is tremendous long-term value potential in integrating a podcasting strategy into the marketing mix — as long as the content is positioned properly to address customer pain points. It should not become an exercise in chest beating to broadcast how great the company is at providing this and that and it needs to be given long-term commitment by senior management to reach that potential.