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Source: Financial Post

Posted on March 2, 2010

While Twitter, Facebook and YouTube grab the headlines, businesses from across Canada are tapping into one technology that deserves more media attention -- podcasts. This cost-effective and convenient form of social media is being used more and more by business people as a learning tool and to deliver their own messages.

Podcasts are audio or video files that are made available for download online. Subscribers receive regular updates automatically. Unlike television or radio broadcasts, which are constrained by specific airing schedules, subscribers can listen to podcasts at any time, in any location and on any device that plays sound files.

Podcasts are listened to during commutes, in the gym, during leisure times and during business meetings. That flexibility and portability translates into big numbers. Research conducted by eMarketer shows that soon over 20% of all Web users will be regular podcast listeners.

Edelman, one of Canada's largest public relations firms, is leveraging podcasts to help its national brand-name clients be heard. Sylvain Perron, Edelman's managing director, notes that, "Podcasts offer the opportunity for brands to engage with a highly targeted audience in a very dynamic way and build real value around what matters to their audience."

For leaders of national brands across industries, the true power of podcasts is the undeniable impact they have on purchase behaviours. The Association for Downloadable Media just announced findings from independent research that 90% of listeners had taken some kind of action as a result of podcast advertising or sponsorship.

Furthermore, 40% reported purchasing products or services. This conclusion is a wake-up call to everyone in charge of marketing or advertising dollars. These results explain why podcast advertising spending is on track to reach US$435-million within two years.

Chris Carder, president of Thindata 1:1, an entrepreneur who successfully built one of Canada's leading marketing companies, is a frequent podcast listener and contributor. "When I share my experiences on business podcasts, I know that current and future leaders are going to find ways to apply them to help their businesses succeed."

While businesses are quickly hopping onto the podcast bandwagon, there are a handful of secrets that will help ensure their success:
• First, successful podcasts provide unique and powerful content, so the more relevant the content, the better.
• Second, research shows that podcast listeners build a strong bond of trust with podcast hosts. As a result, businesses need to leverage this loyal relationship.
• Third, podcasts are, in part, successful because they deliver content according to the listeners' timetable rather than a broadcaster's timetable. As a result, podcast content needs to have a long shelf life, in addition to being informative and entertaining.

Podcasts are valuable business tools that are here to stay.

In today's competitive environment, businesses that learn how to use podcasts to establish and strengthen their relationships with their customers, prospects and employees have a decided business advantage.

by Andrew Brown, co-host and blogger for the BusinessCast, Canada's Podcast for Entrepreneurs. You can listen to the BusinessCast at BusinessCast.ca

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