2017 Is Officially The Year Of The Podcast – Should You Start Talking?

Michael Brenner

Listen. Well, that’s what your target market may be doing right now—listening to an interesting podcast on their smartphone or tablet.

Podcasting is still a small piece of the content marketing pie overall. As of 2015, only half of all Americans even knew what a podcast was. Still, this certainly is a medium to keep an ear on. Podcast consumption is on the rise, with a 23% increase in listening between 2015 and 2016 – and a 71% jump since 2013.

Even though podcasts aren’t new – they’ve been going strong since the early 2000s – they never really took hold until now. Most notably in the past three years, there have been a handful of wildly successful efforts and growing interest with everyone from Buzzfeed to the Wall Street Journal creating audio content of their own. You may even listen to a few great marketing podcasts yourself.

What’s driving audio content?

The trend is being driven by two factors. One is mobile usage. People are listening to podcasts on the go. With mobility, listening to podcasts has suddenly become remarkably convenient, launching this content form into the present day as the original podcasters, like Dave Winer and Christopher Lydon had intended.

Listening is, quite simply, one of the most practical ways to spend the modern phenomena we all experience almost daily: spacious time – waiting at the doctor’s office, sitting in traffic, or going nowhere on the elliptical at the gym. You can daydream, meditate, feel frustrated because you aren’t really getting anything done, or you can listen to the latest Freakonomics episode.

The second is quality. Big brands are already taking advantage of this still nascent evolution in content marketing, with companies like GE, Netflix, and State Farm all investing in high-quality audio content. But they aren’t just dishing out audio and infusing it with promotional material and direct brand messaging, as many brand blogs have done. They’re partnering with creative audio creation companies who know how to tell a story. Setting the bar high from the outset is helping to drive interest in this previously shrugged off marketing medium.

The art of branded podcasts

We’re talking Huxley’s Brave New World and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar type of fascinating content. “The creative bar for branded podcast is much higher than blogs or other online written and snackable content…I don’t think as many brands are going to be able to make that commitment,” says Shoshana Winter, chief strategy officer for Vizeum.

The major brands who are jumping into podcast marketing are clearly well aware of the ad-weary consumer. They realize they aren’t going to get anywhere with a long commercial. People may watch a minute-long promotion video if it’s good enough, but no one’s going to tune into a half-hour audio episode if it even smells like an ad.

The solution – create audio content that begins with answering the question, what do they want to hear?

Open for Business, a branded podcast for eBay, created by Brooklyn-based audio company, Gimlet Creative, is an excellent example of offering a company’s target audience something that can improve their lives. A podcast about building a business from the ground up is something that seamlessly fits into the interest spectrum of one of eBay’s targets – fledgling entrepreneurs.

image source: huntthetruth.tumblr.com

It’s a little easier to create podcast episodes that listeners will fall in love with if you already have a strong story line as a foundation. Microsoft’s Hunt the Truth was created as a narrative that took place within the universe of the popular Xbox video game, Halo. Designed as part of the marketing campaign for the release of Halo 5, the podcast ended up generating more than 5.5 million listeners in the first two seasons and won a “Best Of” award on iTunes.

Another success story is Shopify Masters, created by Pacific Content for e-commerce software solutions company Shopify. Again, there are zero ads, although the show is in itself artful content marketing. Listeners, aka Shopify’s ideal buyers – those who already have or are in the process of setting up an e-commerce site – can listen to episodes like, ‘The Facebook Video that Turned 5 Million Views Into Over $200,000 in Sales” and “Courting VC and Angel Funding to Scale a Food Startup to 40 Employees.”

What makes a podcast listenable?

While big brands with big budgets have a clear advantage, publishing compelling, worthwhile podcasts is in the hands of content producers big and small. NPR produces some of the most popular podcasts around. Take Planet Money, for example, self-described as “Imagine you could call up a friend and say, ‘Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.’”

Stuff You Should Know by the website and virtual answer box, HowStuffWorks, is another popular choice among podcast enthusiasts. This podcast was nominated for The Webby Awards as one of the best podcasts of 2016, along with the thought-provoking podcast on the “unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world,” 99% Invisible.

What do these audio shows have in common? They are really interesting, educational, and enjoyable. Now, imagine a financial agency producing something as value-driven and fun to listen to as Planet Money. It is through creating really good content – just as with blogging and video – that attracts an audience, gets people to subscribe, and establishes a business as an industry leader and a trusted ally to target buyers.

Are you ready to start talking?

Marketers today can create quality audio shows with all the software and tools that are available. Without a lot of background knowledge, content can be recorded with basic software like Total Recorder or Audacity, edited in a program like GarageBand, hosted in the cloud with Libsyn, and set to iTunes and other platforms. And you’ll need a microphone.

image: copyblogger

Whether or not a podcast is a smart move depends on a lot of factors.

  • Do you have the time and resources to branch out to audio?
  • Would your audience enjoy podcasts? What style of content would they prefer?
  • Are they already listening to other audio shows by other publishers?
  • Would audio content reach out to more of your target audience, perhaps attracting those who aren’t interested in reading a blog or watching video content, or who simply don’t have time to?

It is, as with your tri-weekly or weekly blog posts, is important to commit to. Setting up an editorial calendar and promoting on social media channels can help to build that subscriber list – and generate some great leads. And as with all content marketing, it will take time, effort, and creativity to craft an excellent show that people look forward to listening to.

But if the podcasting trend keeps moving skyward, developing your podcasting skills now may help your content stand out in the future.

For more on content marketing trends, see The Future Of Content Marketing—3 Predictions You Need To Know.

Image: Pixabay

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.

Social Selling Manners And Etiquette

Arif Johari

There’s an old adage: Treat others as you want to be treated. This still applies in the digital world we find ourselves in today. Are you aggressively pursuing customers and trying to get in their news feeds? Are you growing relationships and coming alongside as an advisor and partner in the buying process?

Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts of social selling, and how to behave in the digital world.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.“ – Damon Richards

Hunting vs. fishing

Fishing is broadcasting to a wide net. Hunting is actively listening to prospects and sharing personalized content to them—this is necessary to prove yourself a trusted advisor who’s in tune to prospects’ needs. Both of these approaches are needed because 11.4 pieces of content are consumed before making a purchase decision. By fishing, you’re elevating your company’s brand, and by hunting, you’re elevating your personal brand.

Engagement is king when it comes to relationships

Engaging people authentically is vital. The goal of making a social media post is to get engagement; therefore, you are giving prospects maximum value by doing this strategically and consistently. Engagement breeds engagement—treat others as you want to be treated.

The relationship between B2B buyer and seller have changed

Buyers expect salespeople to have expanded skill sets because 74% of buying decision is at least half-completed based on online research, before first touchpoint with a salesperson. So the information is already out there; what’s the value-add from a salesperson? Salespeople would have to position themselves as visible experts and are able to respond to questions, provide product pricing info, and provide testimonials in real-time. A salesperson’s role is to identify buying signals and help customers on all platforms, including social media.

Social selling is a long game

Building relationships depends on establishing trust and value over time. Building a good relationship means exposing yourself to buyers more than you might be used to. People do business with people they know and like!

Salespeople should treat social media like a cocktail party:

  1. Observe room
  2. Choose conversation to add value
  3. Politely add value with relevant insights

Using social listening to bolster offline relationship

Even if your prospects aren’t actively posting on social media, they still have profiles. LinkedIn users would get e-mail notification for messages sent on the platform, and users who are tagged in a status update would get a notification —so you can be noticed even when you’re not a connection! Before a call or meeting, review social media profiles for relationship-building cues (same experience, common connections, interests, etc.)—people like human connections, and personalized effort will put salespeople ahead of competitors.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.

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Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Social Selling advocate. He trains marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and A/B testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.

Seven Facts In Retail That Demand Change

Mark de Bruijn

Customer loyalty is no longer the powerhouse that it once was. In the digital age, consumers expect top-notch customer service, and the ability to buy what they want, anywhere, and anytime, through various channels, offline and online. With brick-and-mortar stores seeing fewer and fewer purchases while online sales continue to enjoy meteoric rises, retailers must face the music, and it’s a whole new dance card.

Omnichannel, multi-channel, seamless integration, and outstanding, personalized customer experiences are critical to a retailer surviving today.

Here are seven facts in retail that must be addressed.

1. Retailers still do not provide a seamless omnichannel experience

Only 17 percent of retailers indicate that their current omnichannel selection provides seamless integration for an optimal customer experience. Of the retailers that do offer omnichannel, many noted that each channel still provides their own customer experience, primarily due to a lack of integration in the back office. The facts are clear: A seamless omnichannel experience is essential as today’s demanding customers expect a personalized customer journey, regardless of where they interact with the brand. Retailers can only meet those expectations by integrating all channels.

2. Retailers do not have a central customer profile

Only 8 percent of retailers have a single customer profile, though the importance of a central customer profile is endorsed by virtually all retailers. Organizational silos, which cannot be accessed by the marketing department, prohibit critical access to the data necessary to compile a clear customer profile from the various details that are already being collected. By analyzing customer data, retailers can better understand customer behavior and gain valuable insights regarding how, where, and why the customer chooses their product. Based on those insights, retailers can develop business strategies and marketing campaigns.

3. Retailers have difficulty securing all contact points

The customer journey consists of a multitude of touchpoints which can be approached in a random order. That is great for the customer experience, but more contact points mean more data access points need to be secured. The more data access points there are, the greater the chance of data leaks. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compels retailers to keep their data maintenance in order based on EU law.

4. Loyalty programs are not dead, they just need restructuring

Marketers talk amongst themselves about a shift from macro to micro customer segmentation. In these discussions, they challenge the importance of loyalty programs. Surveys show, however, that customers actually do value such programs. 66 percent of customers actively participate in one or more loyalty programs. Although such loyalty programs are popular, they are in need of restructuring. By focusing these programs on individual tastes and preferences, the customers receive the unique and personal attention they enjoy so much.

5. In retail, social media is increasingly acknowledged as a review platform

Over 50 percent of consumers use social media to submit complaints to companies, or post reviews and responses. Social media is a quick and easy way to announce customer dissatisfaction to the rest of the world. Due to the increased use of social media, the time-honored principle of word-of-mouth advertising has grown into an enormously influential factor in the world of retail. For retailers, it is important to find out what customers are sharing on social media about their brand, and to try and have a positive influence on it.

6. CEOs feel the need for new KPIs that are focused on customer-centricity

Over 60% of CEOs critically assess the way their company uses data for promotional events, primarily because each department only focuses on its own KPIs. This needs to change dramatically. Instead of using the perspective of isolated company silos, KPIs must be based on a clear focus on the customer. Only then will everyone pursue the same ultimate objective: Excellent customer experiences.

7. Only a handful have an effective road map in place for the digital age

These next twelve months, organizations will focus on increasing profits, building customer trust, and providing excellent customer experiences. However, they usually lack an effective road map to achieve these objectives. In order to retain and improve customer loyalty, it is essential that these objectives remain top priority. A plan for making that happen is the basis for effective action. Technology offers a supporting tool to execute this plan.

Putting the customer on a pedestal

If the retail world is a flat landscape, the customer is the one who rises above them all. Customers like to have personal attention, anywhere, and at any time. It is up to retailers to answer that call and adapt to the digital age.

Ready to address the changes that retailers must make? Download our 2017 retail study, “Customers Are Calling The Shots” for FREE here

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The Future Will Be Co-Created

Dan Wellers and Timo Elliott

 

Just 3% of companies have completed enterprise digital transformation projects.
92% of those companies have significantly improved or transformed customer engagement.
81% of business executives say platforms will reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.
More than half of large enterprises (80% of the Global 500) will join industry platforms by 2018.

Link to Sources


Redefining Customer Experience

Many business leaders think of the customer journey or experience as the interaction an individual or business has with their firm.

But the business value of the future will exist in the much broader, end-to-end experiences of a customer—the experience of travel, for example, or healthcare management or mobility. Individual companies alone, even with their existing supplier networks, lack the capacity to transform these comprehensive experiences.


A Network Effect

Rather than go it alone, companies will develop deep collaborative relationships across industries—even with their customers—to create powerful ecosystems that multiply the breadth and depth of the products, services, and experiences they can deliver. Digital native companies like Baidu and Uber have embraced ecosystem thinking from their early days. But forward-looking legacy companies are beginning to take the approach.

Solutions could include:

  • Packaging provider Weig has integrated partners into production with customers co-inventing custom materials.
  • China’s Ping An insurance company is aggressively expanding beyond its sector with a digital platform to help customers manage their healthcare experience.
  • British roadside assistance provider RAC is delivering a predictive breakdown service for drivers by acquiring and partnering with high-tech companies.

What Color Is Your Ecosystem?

Abandoning long-held notions of business value creation in favor of an ecosystem approach requires new tactics and strategies. Companies can:

1.  Dispassionately map the end-to-end customer experience, including those pieces outside company control.

2.  Employ future planning tactics, such as scenario planning, to examine how that experience might evolve.

3.  Identify organizations in that experience ecosystem with whom you might co-innovate.

4.  Embrace technologies that foster secure collaboration and joint innovation around delivery of experiences, such as cloud computing, APIs, and micro-services.

5.  Hire, train for, and reward creativity, innovation, and customer-centricity.


Evolve or Be Commoditized

Some companies will remain in their traditional industry boxes, churning out products and services in isolation. But they will be commodity players reaping commensurate returns. Companies that want to remain competitive will seek out their new ecosystem or get left out in the cold.


Download the executive brief The Future Will be Co-Created.


Read the full article The Future Belongs to Industry-Busting Ecosystems.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business.  Learn how.

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in articles such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

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Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.

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Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.