Are you looking for a low-cost way to increase your sales over the long run? Consider podcasting.
A podcast is, in essence, a radio show done on the web and recorded as an MP3 file which can then be downloaded to the listener's computer or MP3 player (like an iPod) and listened to at their leisure. Podcasts range from informative and serious, to fun and zany. Some of the most successful podcasters have thousands of people listening to their feeds every day.
Think about who inhabits a podcast listening audience. These people are intelligent and computer-savvy; they probably own an iPod, so they had at least $200 of expendable income to buy it. If they are searching for a podcast about real estate, they are probably interested in buying or selling. There are very few competing podcasts out on the market right now (do a search for real estate on iTunes in the podcast section to see the competition for yourself). In short, it's a low-competition market with motivated prospects who seek you out to listen to your message. What could be better?
Time Efficient Selling
The great thing about a podcast is that you can talk to your potential client before they ever meet you. They can get a feel for your personality and your approach to the business without you having to sit down with them. Effectively, you are getting to walk into the homes of many people at once without taking any extra time out of your day.
It's Gotta Be Relevant!
Because your listeners subscribe to your podcast, you have to make sure you are giving them content that matters to them. If you are doing nothing but selling, they won't stay subscribed for long. Rather than going for the direct sell, tell them about how you've helped other clients, or give them tips about potential problems that might come up along the way. This shows that you have experience and expertise.
Double and Triple Duty
In addition to the wonderful exposure you get on your podcast itself, you can also post the MP3 files on your web pages as a way for visitors to your website to connect with you personally. It will help them make the decision to call you (especially if you put a little verbal reminder on the end of the file that says to give you a call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.) And, once you've gotten a bunch of these podcasts done, you can put them together on a CD to put in with your pre-listing packages and to give to open house buyers as an additional selling tool.
The Cost To Run a Podcast
What's it cost? Other than your time to record, edit, and post it, a podcast costs almost nothing after the initial set-up. All you need is some good recording equipment (that's the initial cost), some editing software, a host for your feed, and a concept you can live with long-term.
There are a variety of ways to record your podcast.
- Microphone to USB Port: You can record from a microphone directly into your computer's USB port by using a microphone like this one from Sweetwater. The limitation to this sort of setup is that you have to be next to your computer to record.
- Digital recorder: A digital recorder is a more portable option (although usually lower sound quality). Most have inputs directly on the recorder plus access ports to use microphones with them. If you're going to use a microphone, make sure it's a good-quality one, otherwise the background noise will drive you mad during the editing process. I use an iRiver (a small version of an iPod with a recording function) to record many of my sessions on the road. It is compact and holds up to 18 hours of recording, but it does not do well with an external microphone. Use the one built into it for best quality.
- Phone Recording: There are many services out there that allow you to record your voice and then will email you the audio as an MP3 file. K7 is the one I like the best at the moment, both because it is free and because it will record up to 10 minutes of message -- which is more than you can get with many other services. The sound quality will sound like you recorded it on a phone, but it's an inexpensive start-up option.
You can spend a lot of money or nothing at all on your audio editing software. If you want basic editing capabilities without a lot of fuss, then try the freeware Audacity. This is what I use to edit my podcast and I have found it to be fully sufficient for my needs.
Hosting Your Feed
A feed is the place where your podcast is located on the web. A beginner podcaster can start out on a service like Liberated Syndication for only $5.00/mo. which includes a basic blog page as well.
Registering Your Feed
You'll want to let the major podcasting directories know that you exist. Register with iTunes, Podcast.net, Podcast Pickle, Odeo.com, and PodcastAlley.com. This way, those who search for you will find you.
Once you get a regular batch of listeners (about 2000 or more), you can then seek out a sponsor for your podcast. If you have your podcast on Liberated Syndication, they can help you find a sponsor. Or, you can seek out a mortgage officer, home inspector, title company, or attorney locally who might want to sponsor your podcast. With a sponsorship, they get to put a message at the beginning or the end of your podcast. With the right sponsorship and a good audience count, you can actually make money on your podcast!
For more information about how to podcast, you can check out Podcast411, it's like Inside the Actor's Studio for podcasters. It gives you tips and hints on how to improve your podcast.
Whew! That was a lot of information, I know. But it's really not that hard. I knew nothing about podcasting when I started and it took me almost no time to pick it up. Now The Real Estate Story of the Week runs like clockwork -- and I'm having great fun with it. My biggest challenge? Putting it down. keep wanting to do more, add more, say more with it -- it's addictive -- especially as I watch my audience expand. And you'll have fun with it too.
Kelle Sparta is the author of "The Consultative Real Estate Agent - Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals and Increase Your Sales." Find out more at Spartasuccess.com .