Last month, in my article Blogging for Business, I laid out several good reasons why you should consider adding a blog (and micro-blogging strategy, if compliance allowed) to your digital communications plan. This month, I'll tell you why I think you should add other forms of digital media to your high-tech / high-touch marketing plan.
Don't be intimidated by the thought of adding podcasts, video clips and multimedia information to your blog or website - it's fun and easy! But while adding audio and video to your site isn't difficult, there are some things you need to be aware of before you do it.
PODCASTS AND AUDIO
Podcasts are digital media files distributed over the Internet for playback on personal computers or portable media players.
You can access Research magazine's collection of live events and audio recordings by clicking on the Podcast tab above.
Another great example of how to use podcasts can be seen a www.AdvisorPod.com, a site chock full of practice management audios, videos and short article postings. Here, for instance, is a 13-minute podcast I recorded with Kirk Hulett, an executive with Securities America and one of the AdvisorPod creators, while we were both attending the FPA Business Solutions Conference in March 2010.
Because the AdvisorPod team needs to be able to record high-quality podcasts, they have invested in the equipment necessary to do just that. Chris Hall, the audio tech on the AdvisorPod team told me their initial investment in microphones, headsets, mixing board and professional level software was about $1000.
I've been to the AdvisorPod studio at Securities America and can tell you that they padded the walls of an unused office with sheets of Styrofoam board to reduce echo and other reverberation.
Another advisor I know, Dan Danford (founder of Family Investment Center in St. Joseph, Miss.), who is serious about podcasting, invested about $500 in his equipment by visiting his local Radio Shack and asking for advice. Listen to some of Dan's Audio Insights and see what you think.
When it came time for me to add podcasts to my own marketing communications plan, I opted for a much lower cost - and lower tech solution - for creating audios for my blog. I pay $20 a month for a subscription to Audio Acrobat, a cloud-based system that allows me to use a regular phone line or computer microphone to record anything I'd like.
I routinely record interviews with industry thought leaders and leading lights such as Bob Veres, Peter Montoya, Sheryl Garrett, George Kinder, Myra Salzer, Don Patrick and Sue Stevens. In addition to creating my own audio recordings, I can upload other mp3 files and video files to the Audio Acrobat online vault.
I can create customized "player buttons" and "player bars" with just a few keystrokes - check out a player bar for audio and a player bar for video by clicking the hotlinks in this sentence. Then, listen to some of my podcasts and see what you think. If you'd like to leave a comment on my blog, that would be great, too.
Other advisors are using Blog Talk Radio to produce audio segments for their blogs and websites. Here's a link to an interview I did with Nicole Coulter, program director for the Copernicus Institute (a think-tank for a select group of financial advisors and allied professionals).
Don't forget that you can add any type of recording to your blog or website, including traditional radio show segments. See how advisors Scott Hanson and Pat McClain feature their weekly radio show and segment clips on their site.
A webinar, which is short for web-based seminar, is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar transmitted over the Internet using a service such as Adobe Connect Pro, Webex, DimDim or Go to Meeting. People can listen / talk to the host using their telephone or computer speakers and a microphone.
The presenter can show a Power Point presentation, or any document or graphic they desire, including clicking out and onto the Worldwide Web to visit other websites. Advanced options include the use of white boards, chat rooms, instantaneous breakout rooms, passing the controls to another participant, etc. You can also record the session and use it as a multimedia clip on your blog or website.
Like any seminar or live event, webinars can be used as an event marketing strategy. Events give you lots of reasons to contact people and invite them to attend, demonstrate your expertise, follow up, etc. If you record the webinar and post it online, you can use that as part of the follow up and/or promote the content in other ways.
Here's a link to a webinar recording produced using the Webex system. The four advisors who developed the presentation together, all of whom are recruiting advisors to established branch offices, sent out email invitations to advisors who were in their pipeline.
They benefited from the promotional aspects and built share of mind throught the invitation process alone. We then held the live webinar event and they followed up with those who attended. We captured the live webinar event, using the "record" features on Webex. The recorded webinar was posted to their respective websites and to my blog.
Webex is actually my favorite webinar system, however, it is very expensive to maintain. When I decided to cut costs during the 2008/09 recession, I moved to Go To Webinar. I don't like the functionality of Go To Webinar nearly as much as Webex, but I do like the price.
When I knew I would be shutting down my Webex account, I had a problem: I had lots of digital assets stored in my Webex-provided online library of recordings. After doing a little research, I realized I could convert the Webex recordings, which were wav files, to mp4 files and upload them to my Audio Acrobat account. Here's the result of the conversion I'm describing in this paragraph: http://marie-swift.blogspot.com/2009/08/going-independent-great-webcast.html.
Next month, I'll discuss how you can add video clips, interactive web docs and multimedia presentations to your blogs and websites. If you're not already embracing the many opportunities online, you owe it to yourself to watch what other advisors are doing and try to get out in front of the curve!
Marie Swift is president and CEO of Impact Communications, Inc., a full-service marketing communications and public relations firm that works exclusively with independent financial advisors, IBD registered representatives and the institutions that serve them.
Follow her on www.Twitter.com/marieswift or read her Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry blog at www.marie-swift.blogspot.com. Join her at the Web 2.0 and Social Media Boot Camp powered by FPA and Impact Communications on October 9, 2010, in Denver, Colo.