Whether your business targets consumer or business clients, whether you sell products or services, one of the best ways to boost sales is by boosting your own profile as an expert in your industry. Gaining a reputation as an expert is easier than ever toda;and one of the smartest ways to do so is by hosting your own Internet radio show.
If yo-re not familiar with Internet radio, her-s a rundown. Listeners access the shows via computer. They can listen on the computer while working, or download shows to their MP3 players or smartphones. The ability to listen'on deman' is one of the great benefits of Internet radio. Your listeners do't have to tune in at a specific time; they can access archives of your shows whenever they choose.
Hosting your own Internet radio show can bring you many benefits, including:
- A higher profile in the business community
- A platform for interacting directly with customers
- Opportunities to meet colleagues and potential partners who can help grow your business
- The chance to learn directly from experts, gaining firsthand knowledge you can use
- Ability to reach a national and even global audience
- Enhanced p[MSOffice1] rofile among journalists and others seeking expert sources
- Additional income from sponsors or advertisers
All you need to get started is a computer, some low-cost equipment and an idea. And if yo're a non-techie, do't worry: You do't need as much technical expertise as you may think.
The first step to success is deciding what your goals are. What do you want to accomplish with your show? Do you want to reach a specific niche market, or gain a mass audience? Do you want to increase awareness of the products or services you sell, or drive traffic to your website to buy? Do you want to be controversial and attract attention to your business? Maybe your business involves training or presentations and you want to showcase your speaking skills to potential clients. Whatever your goals are, write them down. Yo'll use them to select your venue and determine your format.
You can broadcast pre-recorded music lists or interviews, or do it live. The options are many.
Her's a look at three major Internet radio options.
BlogTalkRadio (www.blogtalkradio.com*): Dubbed the social radio network, BlogTalkRadio has tens of thousands of hosts and millions of listeners. As the name implies, this site focuses on talk radio, making it a great choice for business.
BlogTalkRadio's strong suit is enabling broadcasters to connect quickly and directly with their audience: You can host free, live talk shows where an unlimited number of participants call in. If you've got a phone, computer and Internet access, you're ready to get started on BlogTalkRadio”there's no need to download any software.
Here's some of what BlogTalkRadio offers hosts:
- Live chat feature so you can chat with listeners during and after a live show
- Multiple participants: Have up to 5 simultaneous guests
- Promotional tools such as flash players and buttons that you can copy and paste to any blog or website
- Show archives are saved automatically and made available as MP3, RSS subscriptions or iTunes
- Reminders of upcoming shows can be sent to listeners by e-mail or phone
- A customizable profile where you can add video, a blog, links to other sites or other widgets
- Statistics about your listeners to help you track whether shows are attracting attention
WSRadio (www.wsradio.com*): Promoting itself as the largest independent Internet talk radio station in the world, WSRadio focuses on talk and has over 40 business-related shows on its Biz Network channel. Many of its shows have been picked up for syndication on traditional radio. Unlike BlogTalkRadio, not anyone can host a show on WSRadio”you have to apply, but if you've got a good idea, you've got a good shot at making it on the air.
Ubroadcast (www.ubroadcast.com*): Ubroadcast offers lots of options for both tech novices and more experienced hosts. You can broadcast talk radio and interact with listeners live, or upload recorded interviews. While Ubroadcast is not as talk or business-focused as the other two sites, it takes Internet radio one step beyond: It also offers video. This means in addition to a radio show, you could do things like:
- Broadcast an infomercial or product demonstration;
- Broadcast live events that customers can attend and make them public or password protected;
- Create pay-per-view events or upload on demand content like seminars or speeches that you can charge for; or
- Sell sponsorship and advertising.
Simply download the free Ubroadcast software and you're ready to start in five minutes. You'll need an Internet connection, a sound card, speakers and a headset.
Take some time to check out what each radio network offers and find the one that fits your goals.
Once you've selected your platform, you'll need to plan your show. How often do you want to air? Weekly? Monthly? Weekly is best for recognition, but you may want to start monthly at first and ease into going weekly.
Making a radio show work takes time and commitment. For best results, plan a theme for each show. For instance, if you are a CPA hosting a show on business taxes, one show might talk about Tax implications of working from home; another might talk about Getting ready for tax season. You get the idea.
Also plan out how you will fill the air time. If you have a one-hour show, for instance, you might want to have two guests, interview each for 20 minutes and leave 20 minutes at the end for call-in questions.
It's also important to keep a roster of potential guests in the pipeline. Look for people who are articulate, friendly and talkative (there's nothing worse than a guest who answers your questions with Yes or No and then sits silently). You can find guests by networking online on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, or post a form on your business website where potential guests can contact you. If it's someone you don't already know, pre-interview guests with a short phone conversation to see if they seem like good guests. Always have backup guests in mind, too; guests sometimes drop out the day before a show, so you need a few people you can call on short notice.
If you are new to Internet radio, you may want to start by pre-recording your shows and uploading them rather than doing it live. You'll get more comfortable as you get the hang of it. Whichever mode of interview you choose, be sure to promote your show in all your marketing venues”on your website and social media accounts, by mentioning it in your e-mail newsletters and including a link to the website in your e-signature.
Also be sure to include your Internet radio show in any PR efforts. Done correctly, an Internet radio show can be your stepping stone to a higher profile for both you and your business. So what are you waiting for? Get talking!
*not a government website
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free weekly TrendCast reports.