Podcasts, like blogs and Webinars, can be yet another piece of a larger content strategy to service readers’ anywhere-anytime needs. And, as new product initiatives go, podcasts can be launched fairly cheaply and quickly with minimal risk exposure to the brand. Expo, an Ascend Media b-to-b title targeting the tradeshow market, launched a podcast to push magazine content to its often travel-bound readers who can’t always access the magazine in print or online. Close to 300 readers have subscribed to RSS feeds and consistently tune in to the weekly programs.
While not a smash hit just yet, the podcast has, in three months, attracted 282 regular subscribers who download and listen to the weekly 30-minute program. It’s a commitment level that works out to about 15 percent of the magazine’s weekly newsletter subscribers, which is where the bulk of the marketing has been.
Danica Tormohlen, Expo’s editor-in-chief, works with ShowChannel in a barter agreement to produce each episode and manage the podcast Web page on the magazine’s site, Expoweb.com. Normally, production costs vary according to the number of downloads and the production level of each episode, and number of people interviewed. But a podcast the size of Tormohlen’s would typically cost around $400-$800 per week, says Steve Brown, CEO at ShowChannel.
Tormohlen gave herself a one-month trial period before a formal launch. In that time she determined that content could simply be repurposed from the magazine, as long as it was breaking news and heavily tip-oriented. The weekly frequency keeps the podcasts fresh and the 30-minute time limit is just long enough to maintain a lock on a listener’s attention span. "You have to have several different segments, ours are about five to six minutes long each. We usually do two stories from the current issue, one feature and one department. We try to make it how-to, more tip-oriented and useful for our readers, which mirrors Expo. We’re a how-to publication," says Tormohlen.
Tormohlen spends about an hour preparing the material for each show, and is "interviewed" by Brown following a quick, breaking news recap. "He reads the breaking news and the he interviews me for the rest. I set him up with a question beforehand, so it flows easier and it doesn’t sound like I’m reading," says Tormohlen.
So far, says Donna Sanford, publisher, sponsors are charged a nominal fee that’s less than a weekly e-newsletter banner ad. However, Sanford is putting finishing touches on packages that include four podcasts, online banner ads and special e-newsletter sponsorships.
For now, however, Tormohlen says that the podcasts are a great way to give readers wider access to the brand, and the personalities behind it. "It’s another community-building tool," she says, "another way for me to give them insight from my perspective on a particular subject."