As podcasting continues to penetrate mainstream culture, the opportunities to profit from this channel of communication increase as well. Waves of listeners are supplementing their audio entertainment with podcasts because of their unique content, portability, and on-demand qualities. Utilizing a podcast format in your business or website can greatly enhance the service you bring to your potential customers. Outside of appealing to your customers, podcasts also allow listeners to take your message with them through the use of mp3 players. This creates abundant potential to generate income from the use of podcasting. The key to capitalizing on this potential is to create attractive avenues to access your podcast.

The most popular format for generating sales through podcasting is the infomercial. We have all seen the 30 minute commercials for new inventions airing during the wee hours of the morning. The concept in this format is to concentrate solely on the pros and cons for the product for sale. While this may seem like a great way to focus on your products’ potential, using this strategy in a podcast may not be the best use of this technology. The value of a podcast for the listener is that they are not obligated to listen to anything. Knowing this, it is likely that your listeners will not sit through an extended sales pitch before turning off the program. Infomercials are best suited for a dedicated sales page where the potential buyer can use the podcast as an accessory to their decision making process.

A podcast format better suited for website integration is the informational podcast. The goal with informational podcasts is to provide a service to your listeners by offering relevant information about your topic. Topics can be examined by integrating “How To” resources, or answering frequently asked questions about the topic. Your product can still be tied into this format by pointing out how it fills a need within the topic. The difference between informational podcasting and infomercials is that the product is not the feature of the podcast. While there may be mentions of a particular product, the listener is provided with more value. This translates into a better return on the listeners’ time, and often increases the reciprocal value of the podcast.

Another podcast format, and in my opinion the most effective, is the radio show. Here the producers create a talk show environment complete with guest appearances and phone-in questions. Typically the radio show centers on a related topic to the hosts’ website or product. Similar to the informational podcast, product plugs are strategically inserted. Listeners benefit the most from this format because of the entertainment value and their familiarity with the talk show design. Guest speakers add valuable content as a second opinion, and phone-in questions can answer some basic inquiries about the subject. Offering a regular radio show in weekly or monthly intervals attracts repeat visitors to the website and builds brand loyalty. Although this design can take more effort and planning, it usually pays off by building a solid consumer base.

All in all, podcast technology offers savvy webmasters an attractive means to build trust with their prospective customers. The flexibility of podcast downloads allows a well-produced message to propagate over a number of channels. There are numerous formats to consider when producing a podcast, but each product and website must be evaluated to determine which format will work best. The key to podcast marketing is becoming aware of your listeners’ needs and creatively catering to them. The most effective formats are the informational podcast and radio show design. Both of these examples offer inherent value to the listener and promote repeat visitors to the website. No matter what format is used, it is important to convey an organized message and provide entertainment value to the listener.