Can you acquire customers from podcasts? Someone just acquired me…

The last time that I was working on a real podcast program was back in about 2005, right after my company acquired a company called Nuance – and subsequently took on their name (which was much better than our previous name: “ScanSoft”. Yuck.)

One of the managers from the marketing team that we acquired was a bright young guy named Steve Gershik. Steve was a podcast zealot and told us all that we needed to embrace this new medium to build deeper relationships with our customers. We produced a series of podcasts while Steve was around, but after he left (to do bigger and better things…), we let the podcast program fade away.

I’ve always thought of podcasts as branding opportunities, but my recent personal experience showed me how podcasts could be great for customer acquisition.

Here’s what happened to me today…

I’m in the middle of leaving my job after 13 years, so I have been working from home more these days. And today, my wife had a medical procedure scheduled that required me to shuttle her around and take care of some of the activities at home – like walking the dogs. One of our dogs (a 2 year old mutt) needs a lot of exercise and I told my wife I would take the dog for her hour long walk.

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Ryro – the dog that needs a one hour walk each day

I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was going to be unproductive for an hour, so I decided to download a podcast that I could listen to while we walked. I have been looking for ways to grow my Twitter followers, so I searched for a related podcast and found a series that looked popular and credible from a woman named Madalyn Sklar. I downloaded the podcast and went about my walk.

The podcast was an interview with a guy named Mike Kawula, the founder of a company called Social Quant. During the 35 minute podcast, Mike talked about Twitter and the way to engage with customers. Mike and Madalyn were both very credible and thoughtful in their discussion. I learned a couple of useful tips, like using IFTTT to create a list of people who mention me on Twitter.

At the end of the session, Mike took a couple minutes to talk about his business, Social Quant. And I listened to what he had to say in a very different way because he had built credibility with me over the last half hour. He shared useful information and was clearly a “real” business person who was building products and services that he stood behind.

A few hours later, I went back to the podcast description and researched his service. Supported by the credibility that he built with me, the content was much more meaningful. This is especially important for a service like this because there are lots of people with scam-filled services related to social media. I signed up for his free trial and while I am writing this, I continue to see messages flash across my screen announcing new followers. Based on what I have seen so far, it is a good bet that I will sign up for his paid service.

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Twitter notifications were showing up on the screen while I wrote this blog post.

And there is one more thing I need to do right away – I need to call Steve Gershik to get his advice about setting up a podcast series.