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Mar

24

2015

How to Produce an Internet Radio Show

radio-show

There are lots of ways to generate and publish content for your inbound marketing efforts. From the tried and true written word that powers your corporate blog to infographics, webinars, video and ebooks, the number of channels available to you seem almost endless.

It can be frustrating at times to try to cut through the noise with this much content being published. While publishing relevant information can help you create a loyal community of constituents, do you ever wonder if you could reach more people by adapting your content to a different style?

If you’re struggling to figure out “what’s next,” you might want to explore the idea of hosting your own live internet radio show.

Talk radio is big business. The top shows have audiences in the millions and generate a great deal of revenue from advertising and sponsorships, not to mention the ability generate more revenue through promoting their own products and services.

Talk radio is a very accessible and convenient way to get information because it’s a passive way of digesting information (listening versus reading) and it can be consumed while doing other tasks, like driving or working out. Additionally, it creates a bond between the host(s) and the listeners and can be a more personal way to connect with someone teaching a concept.

So how can this apply to your company? While you may not achieve the same status as Dave Ramsey or Terry Gross, you do have the potential to connect with your own smaller community made up of your customers, prospects, and partners.

Back in the day, getting on the radio was an old-school game of gatekeepers and auditions and the barrier to entry was very high. Now, the technology exists for anyone to create their own online “radio station” and broadcast to anyone in the world.

So how can this be used as a marketing tool for your organization? Think of all the things you have to teach your customers and prospects that can help them make better decisions. Think of all the conversations you have over and over with potential clients that help them trust your company resulting in a sale. Extending all that content to a radio show can really accelerate your ability to connect with more people and ultimately generate more leads.

Imagine a hospital that interviews physicians live on the air and takes questions from members of the community with health concerns. Imagine a manufacturing company that hosts a weekly show with continuing education for distributors who want to up their game on product knowledge. Imagine a non-profit that shares inspirational stories of the good they do in the world. The possibilities are endless.

If you think it sounds daunting, don’t worry… the basics are not too difficult. It does, however, take some planning and setup.

At SpinWeb, we launched a radio show at the beginning of 2015 called SpinRadio. We did lots of research, testing, and setup before launching the show and while there is probably still some tweaking to do, we’ve got momentum and have found a groove that is working well for us. We’ve even started generating leads from it! This guide draws on our knowledge from going through this process.

To help you plan, set up, and start producing your own live internet radio show I’ve broken the process down into three sections. Let’s get started.

Concept

The first thing you’ll need to do is create a concept for your show. What is your theme? Who is your audience (hint: probably your buyer personas)? What do you want to teach them? This is your starting point.

For SpinWeb, we knew that we wanted to talk to our buyer personas which consist mainly of marketing directors and CEOs. We deliver corporate websites and inbound marketing solutions and we typically work with the marketing director or the CEO. We know from experience that a lot of our time is spend answering questions for them like “how do I get my website to rank better with search engines?” and “how do I use social media to drive more traffic to my website?”

Like most organizations, we have a rich supply of content in the form of answers to questions we get during the sales process and also during projects. The same is true for your organization. Think about who you serve and how you can help them.

Next, you’ll need to decide who within your organization is going to host the show. I recommend having two hosts. While it’s possible to host a successful show with only one host, we’ve found that having two hosts really keeps the energy up and the momentum strong. The conversation will be livelier, the show will be more upbeat, and it will be more fun.

SpinRadio is hosted by me (SpinWeb’s CEO) and Abby Stearns (our Director of Business Development). This brings me to my next point: the hosts have to be outgoing and fun. I’ve seen too many podcasts, shows, and interviews fall flat simply because the wrong people were chosen to do it. Not everyone is comfortable “on the air” and that’s okay. But be sure that whoever is hosting your radio show has the right personality for it.

A good host will be comfortable speaking their mind, have confidence, and not take the whole thing too seriously. Nothing will kill your radio show faster than a host who delivers content in dry robotic tones as if they are reading the side effects off a medication bottle.

Your co-hosts should also be thought leaders from your organization. Some good examples of co-host teams that can work well include:

  • CEO and Marketing Director
  • CEO and VP of Sales
  • Marketing Director and Product Manager
  • Marketing Director and Lead Engineer
  • CEO and Customer Service Manager
  • VP of Sales and Customer Service Manager

You get the idea. Pick two people who get along well, can talk easily, and feel comfortable with each other (and potentially banter a little). At SpinWeb, that’s easy for us because we’re a close-knit team that gets along well and enjoys working together. In a larger company, it may be more difficult to find that cultural match so you may need to explore a few different combinations.

Abby and I work well together because we each take a different angle. I cover inbound marketing topics while she covers sales topics. Both are extremely relevant to our audience and we show how they work together as part of a system.

Now, on to the format. I absolutely do not recommend scripting out the show but I do recommend defining a general format. This is not a speech or a presentation. This is a conversation. With that in mind, come up with a format that is easy to understand, introduces some variety, and moves along at a good pace.

As an example, the format of SpinRadio is this:

  • Intro and Welcome
  • Weekly Roundup (inbound marketing news and trends from the week)
  • Deep Dive (Abby and I each teach a marketing/sales concept)
  • Tactical Top 5 (5 quick, actionable marketing and sales takeaways)
  • Random (a few minutes of goofing off)
  • Questions from Listeners (we answer any questions that we’ve received)
  • Weekly Inspiration (inspirational thoughts, highlight a client with a shout-out)
  • Closing and Sign off

The whole show lasts around 45 minutes on average. Each week we compile general notes for each of these sections and then we simply teach in a conversational format as we go through each section. Notice that the show is all about helping our listeners. It’s not a commercial for SpinWeb. It’s a show that is devoted to helping our busy CEOs and Marketing Directors stay on top of trends in inbound marketing and sales and get the information they need to help their companies grow.

You might decide you want to bring guests on the show as well. You can have them either Skype in or you can get a third mic and have them sit in your studio with you.

Your show can be shorter or longer (though I wouldn’t go longer than an hour) and your format will be different but the point is to give the hosts a framework to use every time that still allows spontaneity and flexibility.

Finally, let’s talk about timing. We broadcast SpinRadio once a week and I think this makes a lot of sense for most organizations. If you broadcast less than once a week I don’t really feel like you have momentum and it doesn’t really feel like a show. More than once a week is good if you have the time to maintain it but I feel that once a week is ideal for most organizations. We broadcast every Friday morning at 10am Eastern.

Whew! Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of the concept of the show, let’s talk about actually getting the show on the air.

Broadcasting

Now that we have a format, the next step is to actually broadcast. First, you’ll need to find a quiet room in your office to run the show. This will become your “studio.” It doesn’t need to be fancy… just a basic room with decent acoustics (not a lot of echo). You may also want to put some sound padding on the walls to help the acoustics. This is where we will set up the equipment.

While it’s certainly possible to produce your show with minimal equipment, I believe in doing it right so I recommend investing in some decent audio equipment to make sure it sounds really good. I’ll cover the hardware first and then we’ll talk software and production.

Here is the list of the hardware we use at SpinRadio:

Aside from a computer (which we’ll get to in a minute), this will give you a complete shopping list and is everything you need to broadcast your show with two hosts. If this seems complicated, don’t worry. It all fits together and makes sense once you set things up. Here’s the gist of it:

  1. Clamp the suspension booms to the desk or table and attach the mics to the ends
  2. Attach the pop filters to the mics
  3. Plug the mics into the mixer
  4. Plug the headphones into the mixer via the splitter cable
  5. Plug the mixer into the audio interface
  6. Plug the audio interface into your computer via USB

That’s the general setup. You might get a little stuck when it comes to “what cable goes where” so if you need some help, post a comment and I’ll try to offer feedback.

Now you need a computer and broadcast app. I strongly recommend Spreaker, which is what we use for SpinRadio. Spreaker is a fantastic service that enables live broadcasting and a slew of other features that we’ll get into shortly. The audio for your show will go through the mics and into your computer where Spreaker will then take it and broadcast it over the Internet.

You’ll need to sign up for a Spreaker account (I recommend the “Anchorman” plan) and configure your show settings. You will want to create a nice show avatar image, enter a description, broadcast schedule, and show title. You’ll also want to set up your music before your first show.

Spreaker has some good built-in music tracks you can use for intro/outtro music but I’m picky so I grabbed some custom tracks from Tunefruit. I then uploaded the tracks into my library to use during broadcast. We have three tracks we currently use for SpinRadio: a show intro, an intro for the Tactical Top 5 section, and an outro track for closing out the show.

Once you’ve set up your show in Spreaker, you’re ready to broadcast. When you set up a new broadcast you’ll be dropped into the Spreaker console which will allow you to go on the air. You can queue up your music tracks, raise and lower volume levels, and start and stop your broadcast. After a broadcast ends Spreaker will store the show as a recording which you can then distribute (more on this later).

Naturally, you’ll want to run a few test broadcasts and listen to the recordings to make sure everything sounds good. The Blue Yeti mics sound amazing but you’ll probably need to run a few experiments to get the best audio.

Here are some general broadcasting tips that may help you:

  • Wear your headphones during the show so you can get clear audio for reference
  • Position your mouth a few inches from the pop filter for the best sound
  • Bring water or tea in with you to keep your voice clear
  • Designate one person as the “board operator” to control the Spreaker console
  • Relax and have fun with it!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re on the home stretch. Now let’s talk about actually getting people to listen to your show.

Promotion

Now that you’re broadcasting your radio show, you need a way for people to listen to it. The good news is that Spreaker makes this very easy. Some people will want to listen to your show live, while others will listen to the recording. Don’t feel bad when you notice that live listeners are in the minority. This is just human nature. Most people are too busy to commit to listening at a specific time but they will happily listen to the recording later. You’ll find that you will develop a loyal following of live listeners but most of your reach will come from those listening after the fact via podcast.

For the live listeners, you’ll want to use Spreaker’s live broadcast widget. You can embed this widget on your website and allow listeners to tune in live when you broadcast. If you’re not currently broadcasting, it will allow you to listen to the latest recording until the next live episode is broadcast. For an example, see our SpinRadio landing page.

Below is the widget embedded directly on this page. It will always show the latest recording or will display a live feed during broadcast:

You’ll notice on our landing page that we have a fancy timer that counts down the days, hours, and minutes until the next show. Additionally, if you’re viewing the page as it becomes 10am Eastern (broadcast time) the page will auto-refresh so you can immediately see the live feed.

So how do you get people there? We use our Friday blog post slot to share show notes for that day’s episode of the show. Every Friday at 9:45am a blog post goes out with a preview of the content for that day’s show with the player already embedded. We also promote the show via social media to remind our audience that they can listen live.

During the show, our social media marketer live tweets show notes and links to articles we reference during the show. We use the hashtag #SpinRadio to group them together on Twitter. This also allows us to take questions from listeners by encouraging them to tweet their questions using the hashtag #SpinRadio.

In order to ensure that the recording is available after the show, we configure Spreaker to distribute episodes via iTunes, Stitcher, and to custom apps for both iPhone and Android. The smart phone apps also allow your audience to listen live right from their phones. Once you’ve gotten at least five episodes out the door and have proven that you keep a consistent broadcast schedule, you can even apply for iHeartRadio.

To promote recorded episodes after the fact, we also run social ads on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn that use custom audiences and other targeting tactics to make sure each episode gets in front of the right people.

Conclusion

While we still have plenty to learn and we will most likely tweak and optimize our show over time, we’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback so far on our show. We’ve even started generating leads from it. Abby receives calls from prospects who have listened to our show, liked what they heard, and decided to call us to open a conversation.

Is an Internet radio show right for you? If you and your team are passionate about teaching your customers and prospects and you are ready to take your inbound marketing program to the next level, it might be worth exploring.

After all, in a world filled with automation and detached marketing, a radio show might be just what you need to create a stronger bond with your audience.

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Dec

15

2014

10 Inbound Marketing Myths It’s Time to Leave Behind

myth

Many things in life and business are misunderstood and under-appreciated. Professional athletes make playing a sport look easy but you don’t see the hundreds of hours of training that occurred behind the scenes. After all, it’s just putting a ball in a hoop, right? Attorneys often just get a few minutes to make their case in court but no one else sees all the behind the scenes work that goes into that short presentation.

After all, it’s just asking a bunch of questions, right? Building an app can look simple but if you knew how much planning and coding occurred behind the scenes it would blow your mind. After all, it’s just putting a few screen together and writing a little bit of code, right?

inbound-mindset-1

The point is, as an onlooker it can be easy to make snap judgments about professions or industries simply because we don’t know enough about them. Marketing is no exception and in fact it can be one of the most easily misunderstood areas of business.

More specifically, inbound marketing is a frequently misunderstood area of business that has developed a few myths. These myths are often repeated by others without proper exploration or background information.

So how do we clear up some of these myths? Let’s look at what they are…

1) Inbound marketing is basically just putting white papers on your website

I’ve often talked to well-meaning marketing directors and CEOs who think they are doing inbound marketing. When I ask them about it they say “yeah, we have some white papers on our website and we’re gathering email addresses with them. We’re doing inbound marketing!”

Hold on there, sport. While publishing offers is one segment in a list of potential tactics, it is by far not the entire picture. There is research, SEO strategy, creative thinking, careful analysis of writing and content, lead scoring, CRM integration, sales process engineering, workflow analysis, design and usability decisions, a variety of content formats, social media placement, testing and metrics, and a whole slew of other things. It goes way beyond publishing a few white papers.

2) Inbound marketing is the “new term” for SEO

Marketing terminology can change a lot so it’s understandable that people might thing that inbound marketing is just a new way to say SEO. Actually, SEO is a component of inbound marketing.

SEO involves bringing qualified visitors to your website through search. Inbound marketing is the holistic practice of earning traffic, turning that traffic into leads, and turning leads into sales. SEO is very important to the traffic part of the equation but it is not the same thing.

3) Inbound marketing is a fad and will soon go away

It’s easy to dismiss trends in marketing, technology, and business as “fads” and ignore them. However, did you know that inbound marketing is actually an evolved form of a marketing strategy that has been around for ages? Think of the core strategy of inbound marketing: provide value and utility to your prospects, make yourself visible, earn trust, and earn the sale. Does that sound like a form of marketing that has withstood the test of time? Inbound marketing simply a more scalable, efficient, and modern way of approaching the market with the same intent.

4) Inbound marketing means my phone will be ringing off the hook with prospects wanting to buy things

Because marketers are an optimistic and enthusiastic bunch, some people (understandably) have a slightly unrealistic expectation of what inbound marketing can do. They think that it means they will never have to prospect or reach out to people. Sales teams have dreams of all prospects coming to them without any coaxing at all.

What a dream world that would be! In reality, a well-planned and well-executed inbound marketing program brings in both active and passive leads. Active leads do tend to increase but the sales team still needs to reach out to passive leads to start a relationship. The good news is that these leads are much more qualified, much more engaged, and have a higher chance of closing. Sales teams also have a lot more data on these prospects which can help them be more efficient and effective.

5) If I do inbound marketing I don’t need to do anything else

Just like in the previous myth, some people feel that inbound marketing should do everything for them. While it can be the most efficient and most significant part of your business growth strategy, we do recommend supplementing it with other methods as long as they are working.

For example, we will network, ask existing clients for referrals, and do the occasional conference because we have a plan to tie them all into our inbound marketing program.

6) Inbound marketing can be done by one person (like my marketing director)

Oh boy. This one is big. We often see CEOs get really excited about the possibility of growing their business with inbound marketing (which is great!) but they end up having a somewhat unrealistic expectation of how to execute the program. They either want to hire a person to do it all or they dump the entire program on their marketing director (or manager/coordinator) and expect them to do it all.

Truth: inbound marketing is many skill sets in one. It’s SEO, social media, content writing, design, development, strategy, project management, data analysis, business thinking, audio/video production, just to name a few. It’s virtually impossible for one person to have the time or the skill to handle everything.

If you’re going to implement an inbound marketing program, you need a team. That team can either be in-house or it can be from an inbound marketing agency but it takes more than one person.

7) Inbound marketing can be done without paying a lot for expensive software

Some people hate paying for software fees. When we talk about the benefits of inbound marketing and the value that comes with it they get really excited but as soon as we talk about paying for software, they get really resistant.

Can you execute an inbound marketing program without “expensive” software? Yes. But you will struggle to gain traction because there will be so much friction in the process. It might sound scary to commit to $1,000/month for software (like HubSpot) but when your results come faster and you’ve made six figures in sales as a result of the program, you won’t care how much the software costs.

8) Inbound marketing works for every kind of business

You might be surprised to hear that we don’t recommend inbound marketing for every type of organization. We are always looking for the right solution for the right organizations. We often refer people to other agencies or steer them toward other programs because we know that inbound marketing is not a fit for them.

Since inbound marketing takes a lot of time, effort, and money, it is best suited for organizations that sell an expensive product or service. Some examples include health care, professional services, manufacturing, financial services, and software companies. These types of organizations can quickly see an ROI with just a few more sales. On the flip side, a local restaurant selling $25 dinner specials is probably never going to see ROI from inbound marketing.

9) Inbound marketing is the same thing as content marketing

Just as SEO is not the same thing as inbound marketing, neither is content marketing. Again, content marketing is a subset and a huge component but it is not everything. Content marketing means producing solution-oriented content for your audience, which can result in search and social media visibility. But inbound marketing goes deeper and is a comprehensive lead generation system.

10) Inbound marketing is a formula to execute

Our final myth may be the most important. Some people think that inbound marketing is a checklist of things to execute. Start a blog? Check! Post once a week? Check! Publish a white paper? Check! Call some leads? Check!

Boring!

While there is a general structure to this method of marketing and there are specific commonly-used tactics, it is far from formulaic. As the image earlier in this post says “inbound isn’t a product, inbound is a mindset.”

It’s a cultural shift. It’s a commitment to focusing on your customer/client, not you. It’s a focus on creating a business that matters. It’s a decision to be a human business that shows personality. It’s the idea of being (sometimes frighteningly) transparent. It’s building your business around sincerely helping people. It’s about marketing with heart. When this is your mindset, the tactics become easy.

What are your favorite inbound marketing myths?

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