The huge popularity of websites like YouTube, and the ease with which video can be made, has put online broadcasting into the marketing toolbox of most businesses. BRAD HOWARTH tracks some successes.
By Brad Howarth
The huge popularity of websites like YouTube, and the ease with which video can be made, has put online broadcasting into the marketing toolbox of most businesses.
Getting yourself heard as a small business is rarely easy. But with the rise of broadband internet and the plummeting cost of audio and video production, some Australian businesses are spreading their message by using the tools once only available to much larger companies.
Internet broadcasting is a small but intriguing segment of smaller business online marketing. Numerous websites now offer tools for creating podcasts and videocasts, while services such as The Podcast Network and iTunes provide a place to host and distribute them.
The key however is in having something to offer an audience above and beyond an advertisement for your business.
The Sydney-based executive head hunter Stan Relihan has packaged his expertise in sales, collaboration and business networking into The Connections Show on The Podcast Network.
Relihan’s guests have included senior executives from companies including Cisco and Oracle, as well as Jay Bhatti, the founder of the US-based social networking company Spock.com.
He says the show has surpassed both BusinessWeek and Wired magazine as the most popular business podcast on the content aggregation site Digg, with 20% of his audience coming from outside Australia. In November 2007, the show was downloaded 1403 times, growing to 2207 in December and 5712 by January.
While the pitfalls are practically nil, Relihan says he is careful that the show does not take over from the business it is supporting. The shows themselves take only a couple of hours to produce on a weekend, using a personal computer and some simple audio editing tools. Because he is not reliant on the show for income, there is little danger should listeners move on.
The marketing benefits are hard to quantify however. Relihan expects to sign a sponsor shortly, but even without one, he says the podcast is doing wonders for business development.
“My profile has grown a lot, and I am increasingly being approached by high level clients,” Relihan says. “It’s a great way for me to promote the activities of the industry that I’m in.”
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Indeed, internet broadcasting is a popular tool in the recruitment industry. The Sydney-based consultancy La Volta has also launched a series of podcasts focusing on career development, including interviews with senior members of Australia’s digital media sector.
Australian-born, San Francisco-based, business consultant David Cannington has taken that next step and launched a videocast program based on his experience in assisting Australian start-up technology companies entering the US. The Valley Beat features interviews with Australian technology and marketing exporters and provides information on selling into the US market.
Cannington says the marketing benefits are difficult to nail down, but the show is being downloaded more than 2000 times each month. He says it is also helping to build his profile within his target client base, while enabling him to tell stories about successful Australian technology entrepreneurs.
He says the program has been cheap to produce, using a hired videographer and editor who handles the entire process for a small fee. The San Francisco-based law firm Truman Hoyle Lawyers recently signed on as a sponsor.
Cannington says an important part of the model is distribution. His business partner, Susan Fitzpatrick, promotes the program through the daily newsletter for her San Francisco-based public relations firm DatelineMedia. Without such a means of publicity, he doubts the show would have caught on.
“It was a relatively inexpensive project to get off the ground,” Cannington says. “The challenge when you start something like this is being able to get critical mass in terms of distribution.”
In Relihan’s case, he was able to spread the word through his own professional network, and through the online social networking service LinkedIn (where he holds the position of Australia’s most-linked person). For La Volta, its shows are advertised to its database of clients and candidates.
Cannington chose video because it is now an accepted online medium for his audience. The rise of YouTube has conditioned web consumers to accept a lower level of image quality than they are used to from broadcast media – as long as the content itself is kept compelling.
For his latest podcast, Cannington visited the offices of the electric car maker Tesla, and was able to show viewers the vehicle the company is developing.
“I felt that video had a much bigger impact,” Cannington says. “It’s a very accessible medium now – it is not hard to find someone who can shoot a video.”
Former Austereo executive and new media consultant Mark Neely agrees that it is important to find an audience whose needs are currently unmet by other media forms, and then tailor a show’s content accordingly.
Neely has started a company, Rife Media, to help businesses break into internet broadcasting. The first production, Relationship Matters, is a podcast sponsored by the online dating service RSVP. The next show in development is aimed at small business owners, providing them with information to help them manage and grow their business.