Podcasting is a cost-effective and valuable method for educating your existing client base, attracting prospective clients and strengthening your brand with referral sources.
It’s important to distinguish your practice in an age of competition and commoditization. Clients are bombarded from all angles with options for selecting legal, tax and financial professionals. The economy has transformed, moving from service- to experience-based, meaning those with wealth search for meaningful experiences and are willing to pay handsomely for them.
Podcasting is an amazing technological tool for enhancing the client educational experience. The ability to podcast is easier now than ever, and the cost of doing so is significantly lower than in the past. Podcasting leverages your time and that of your staff, and serves as an invaluable marketing instrument.
Leveraging Your Time
Don’t you often wish that you had a record and play button when you find yourself answering the same question over and over—and you have to stir up the same amount of enthusiasm each time? With podcasting, you have that capability!
When a client calls with a common problem or issue, we email a link to the relevant podcast episode and offer to schedule a meeting or call after the client has had the chance to listen to it. We find our clients appreciate the information delivered this way. They listen to it as often as they like and forward the link to other close advisors and family members.
This tool serves to effectively cut what might be a 30-minute or longer conversation into a short discussion focused on the significant facts of that client’s situation. I also find that after listening to the podcast, our client provides more relevant background information and asks deeper, more thoughtful questions.
Assuming you wish to move forward into the podcasting world, you'll want to invest in good equipment. In addition to the computers you already have in your office, you'll need microphones, headphones, audio mixers and a video camera, and lighting should you wish to add video to the mix.
While recording directly from your smartphone and uploading to the Internet is an option, my advice is to look and sound as professional as possible. You could record from your office or conference room, but the sound quality may suffer.
Try renting sound studio space in your community to test out your comfort level for this new endeavor. Although, unless you work or live near such a studio, chances are you won’t carve out time to record on a regular basis, rendering your foray into the field underwhelming.
Software and Hosting Capabilities
Aside from required recording and editing software on your computer, you'll need to learn something about hosting programs and how they interact with your firm’s website. For recording and editing, we enjoy Reaper, although there are free versions, like Audacity and Apple’s Garage Band. I suggest hiring an audio editor to help. Ask around in your community to find a knowledgeable editor, or visit websites like Upwork or Freelancer.
Because you can’t simply upload a podcast file directly to iTunes or Google Play Music, you'll need to establish an account at a podcast hosting website. We use Blubrry because its advanced features enable us to do most anything. It also offers plug-in capabilities with WordPress, which is the platform for our firm and our estate-planning and estate-administration attorney licensee websites. Alternatives like PodBean and Buzzsprout offer limited free plans for beginners.
When choosing hosting sites, you'll want to determine if they offer RSS (Really Simple Syndication) management capabilities that enable the distribution of your content. RSS is programming that distributes updates and content to your audience.
Know Your Audience
The most important consideration is to whom you intend to podcast. Existing clients? Potential clients? Centers of influence? Once you identify the audience for a particular series, outline a list of potential topics that interest them.
Remember that your audience’s attention spans are short. I suggest 5 to 10 minutes per episode. You may have longer podcasts when you interview interesting guests who add significant value to your presentation. I record podcasts that last as long as one hour. I don’t anticipate that many listen to the entire episode, but it’s available for those who would like to. I listen to podcast series during my commutes and other long drives or flights. When I have more time, I listen to longer episodes.
Once you create content, it’s time to figure out how to distribute your wisdom. After you set up your iTunes or Google Play account, link those pages to your firm’s website.
Social media is another useful distribution channel. Use your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages to promote podcast episodes to a general audience. Further, building templates using Constant Contact or MailChimp and forwarding those messages to your clients, prospective clients and centers of influence works well, especially because you can follow the analytics supplied to determine the targets’ interest.
A benefit to creating podcast episodes is that, once created, they continue to work for you even when you’re not at the office. The right topics can go viral, providing you with invaluable exposure. Clients forward interesting episodes to friends while your referral sources send episodes to their own clients, broadening your audience, which could of course lead to more A+ clients scheduling appointments.
Podcast pages go stale without constant updating. That’s one of the reasons that I created a media studio in my office. It’s easy for me to step into my studio to record episodes between client appointments, on lunch breaks or after work.
We also dedicate planning hours to considering whether various episode topics would meet whatever goals we've established for the current period. It’s just as important to work on your practice as it is to work in your practice.
While I didn’t pursue my childhood dream of becoming a national sportscaster like Bob Costas, I truly enjoy creating educational podcast episodes that serve my client community as well as fellow professionals. I admit to being a bit of a ham. Maybe you are too. Even if it takes a while for you to get comfortable behind the microphone, there’s “no harm, no foul,” because erasing an episode and rerecording it is always a possibility!
This is an adapted version of the author’s original piece in the July issue of Trusts & Estates.