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Podcasts Are a Great Marketing Tool

Today’s digital technology, enabling the use of tools such as podcasts, is the kind of communications instrument that dealers can successfully add to their marketing programs.

A podcast is nothing more than your own talk radio show that’s available online, on demand. Sure there are more complicated video podcasts, but many of us tend to find the KISS approach (keep it simple, stupid) more to our liking.

For dealers, today’s game of customer retention has never been more important, and anything that’s easy to do and maintains the relationship should be a top marketing priority. Moreover, with limited inventory and, therefore, reduced sales-time demands, paying attention to content marketing should be easier than ever.

Podcasting isn’t rocket science. I recall an article published online in the PR Daily newsletter from Ragan Communications. It cited good takeaways for Trek Bicycles in doing podcasts. In the article, Trek’s brand director noted that the goal was simply to share bike stories using this content channel. Trek’s podcasting featured a variety of biking stories and tips. Similarly, boat dealers can boast of a broad range of topics.

Podcasting might be better called storytelling, because that’s really what it is. And when it comes to boating and fishing, water sports and cruising, boating has unlimited stories to tell.

For example, one Trek podcast tells the story of legendary athlete Bo Jackson growing up riding cobbled-together dirt bikes with his friends. It helped lead him to a life where he loved sports and later led him to start a charity ride that has raised millions for tornado relief.

It’s more than likely that any dealer who reviews his customer list will find many potential stories about boaters who have come into the sport in some unusual or fascinating way, or who use their boat in some manner that impacts lives — for example, when my wife, Kay, and I take special needs kids out fishing in Tampa Bay as part of an outreach program of the Old Salts Fishing Club and Foundation.

A good podcast can be informative, of course, but it can also have an element of surprise as an essential part of hooking the audience. Surprise people with the topic in every episode, because the point of the podcast should be about boating’s greater role in people’s lives. Just doing technical or product promotional stories aren’t enough for most people. According to advice from Ragan Communications, finding out-of-the-box and personal stories will always be the best received.

As an added benefit of podcasts, the same material and stories can get additional mileage if successfully shared through other digital channels, such as customer emails, newsletters and social media.

As in the use of all digital media these days, content is king. After all, the true definition for a podcast is “content marketing.” For ideas, ask the dealership team what they’ve heard from customers about where they’ve been or what they’ve recently been doing with their boat. Of course, tips on maintenance or using equipment are also good, though they should be used sparingly. Avoid topics that are primarily technical.

Strive for some uniqueness in any story, but remember that podcasts are not sales pitches – that route will quickly lead to no listeners. Focus instead on how people use and enjoy their boats. Content should be happy, fun and engaging. One test is to ask yourself if you’d take time to listen to your podcast.

Don’t overlook including employees in creating and sharing content in a podcast. It can have added benefits for listeners and employees because it enables stronger engagement from team members to support the dealership’s marketing goals.

Getting into podcasting in a big way can be expensive and time-consuming, but for dealers, the initial goal should be to host some podcasts on their own websites. That means no third-party site is needed. Further, limit podcast to 20 minutes. Why? Experts say if listeners are commuting, jogging or taking a quick break, it is just about the perfect amount of time to listen.

Finally, do some homework. Check out Powerpress, which is a good podcast software. Another is Seriously Simple at Wordpress.

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