There are hundreds of them, and they're all for free… Welcome to the world of podcasts.

Human voice is able to convey far more meaning through its pitch and modulation than the printed words could ever have – said Nicolette Bear of TopRank blog. This may be the reason why podcasts have conquered the hearts of nearly 40 million Americans. But even though the group is impressive, the mainstream is not their target.

But let’s start from the beginning…
Podcasting represents the evolution of digital radio programs broadcasting. It is a type of an audio broadcast (in mp3 format) or an online video, usually in regular episodes. They could be defined as audioblogs, so the form and the subject depends entirely on the speaker. In those regarding marketing, experts use their unique style to share advice on working in the business, providing specialist know-how and interesting case studies through interviews with their guests.

Podcast subscription is handled by free programs, usually called podcatchers, downloading and cataloguing the transmission. As soon as a new podcast is available online, a podcatcher downloads it through rss-feed and retransfers the data onto a computer, a mobile phone or any other device as an MP3 file, having deleted the previously listened to episodes. One popular podcatcher is for example iTunes. A number of ways to subscribe for podcasts directly outside of iTunes – e.g. streaming servers (TuneIn Radio, SoundCloud, Stitcher,  iHeartRadio) and a whole range of apps (e.g. BeyondPod, Pocket Cast) – have brought that medium a totally new audience.

All the user needs to do is choose and listen – wherever he is or whatever he is doing. Many people admit to listen to podcasts while commuting (by car or public transport), washing the dishes, cleaning the house…

What is the gain when you do it right
Podcasting offers a clear and concise way for marketers to convey targeted content directly to that well-defined, almost niche group of listeners, while its 'on demand’ function fits perfectly today’s 'takeaway’ cultural model: it allows to tell your story always and everywhere, to build your authority in the sector and your group of followers as if 'en route’.

Few people are willing to watch a video on YouTube that is over 30 minutes long – meanwhile, this is a standard length among podcasts. An average podcast listener stays with it for over 20 minutes on average (Sticher). Such regular and long content supports contact between the recipient and the brand. These are only a few reasons why using podcasting in your long-term content marketing strategy can be an effective move. Podcasting can also be easily integrated with social media (which by themselves are a great form of podcast promotion), e.g. by combining it with a blog as an alternative for those who would rather listen to the content.

Naturally, there is also the other side of the coin. The thing with podcasting – just like with any other valuable media – is that you need to give them much to take out just as much. It’s not about the financial input, as this is minimum – all you need to start is a computer with a sound card and a microphone, plus a sound recording and editing program that you can download for free. It is about being systematic in working on your recordings. Before you start putting anything online, try to record one trial episode, play it to someone and listen to their comments. The key is the quality of what you say and regularity. If you can’t afford providing attractive content in a regular way, you will quickly lose your audience. Another thing is, your enthusiasm can not be fake – a podcast should be run by someone with genuine passion. The first measurable sign of your podcast being effective is the number of subscribers.

podcast iconA few podcasting examples from the marketing business…
Podcasts also enable us to learn more about content marketing. Most of them are in English, as marketing podcasting in Poland is only starting to grow (although there are plenty of podcasts about pop-culture).

CMI Podcast Network  is nearly an endless source of recordings. CMI offers several channels, each run by a different host. We particularly recommend PNR This Old Marketing, run by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose – number one among content marketing podcasts and, as marketers say, an absolute “must listen”.

Mała wielka firma, Paweł Tkaczyk and Marek Jankowski – the only Polish podcast about marketing and business (if that’s not true, we would love to know about the competition). It has 14,000 listeners a month, securing it the first place in the 'Business’ category on iTunes.

Content Warfare, Ryan Hanley – For anyone planning to grow their company online. Each week Content Warfare listeners gather to learn from the best content marketing experts how to find audience, tell stories and win the struggle for being visible online. One of the subscribers says: “From all content marketing information there is, Ryan brings forward what is truly helpful”.

Content Marketing Podcast, Rachel Parker – How to combat procrastination. A handbook for content marketers – that’s one title example of this series. Rachel shares useful advice that is easy to introduce into a marketer’s life, e.g. how to plan video content, or how to make use of Twitter or Facebook. Other time she introduces the subject of her next podcast writing the following: Greatest content marketing outsourcing myths and 10 reasons to consider reaching for external power.

Content Marketing 360, Pamela Muldoon – If you’d like to hear what the greatest marketing experts from global agencies and companies have to say, take a look at Pamela’s show – she probably has interviewed most of them. In her interviews (e.g. with experts from Hubspot, Intel, Buyer persona Institute and… Joe Pulizzi) Pamela combines her over twenty years of experience in marketing and data transmission with the fresh and polemical attitude of her guests.

podcast icon… and brands
Content.inc  – Biweekly podcast by Joe Pulizzi discussing the expert’s book “Content.inc” to be published this September. The podcast, followed by thousands of marketers, is actually part of a well-planned marketing campaign.

Major Nelson, or Larry Hryb, PR specialist and the face of Xbox. He is the one to meet players on large events. Each episode tells about what’s new in the sector, new titles available, etc. He also invites guests to discuss more than business matters, showing him not only as an expert, but as real flesh and blood.

Social media examiner – Popular online guide through the jungle of social media advises on building and engaging a community around your channels without advertising.

Marketo DJ Waldow – Everything digital marketing has to offer – email, social, web, mobile, browsers, direct mail – and where it’s all heading for. All this discussed each week by Dj Waldow, called the “Digital Marketing Evangelist”, with the brightest minds in the business.

IBM –  In fact a conglomerate of podcasts. IBM offers the latest news in business consulting, technologies, data storage and programming, plus news from IBM DeveloperWorks platform.

The BeanCast – Bob Knorpp is a one-man band of the podcasting world. He talks to leaders, journalists, bloggers, authors, chief marketing officers, and many more, only to have the final word when it comes to novelties and trends in marketing. He used the podcast platform to expand his own brand, which has made him a regular contributor to FOX News.