By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.
What's your favorite podcast? Do you love the irreverent humor of Marc Maron on his "WTF," or do you prefer the award-winning business coverage featured on NPR's "Planet Money?"
Whether you listen in your car, at the gym, or while typing at your desk, one thing is for sure: You've got company.
According to Edison Research's 2012 study, "The Podcast Consumer," 29 percent of Americans had listened to an audio podcast and 26 percent had watched a video podcast within the past month.
So if you're a business owner, should you be harnessing the power of podcasting to promote your goods or services?
Nick Ondrako certainly thinks so. Ondrako is a partner at Golf Web Design and the co-host of the Charlotte, N.C.-based podcast " The Big Golf Show," which covers the business of golf and features interviews with high-profile industry guests such as PGA of America President Ted Bishop. "A podcast is a wonderful tool to connect with your user base. I use it in addition to the monthly articles I write for PGA Magazine to extend the conversation, grow our user base and provide some entertainment at almost no cost."
John Casson, operations director at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, also encourages business owners and professionals to use podcasts for wider exposure.
"Podcasting takes away the geography, it takes away the homogenization, and it takes away the gatekeeper. You may need a computer, but you don't need a radio station. If you have creativity, you don't need to write it on your resume, you need to share it in your podcast. Your work literally speaks for itself."
"Getting a podcast started is only a matter of a microphone and digital recorder," said Jay Brown, of the weekly craft beer and homebrew podcast "Cheers Charlotte." "Then find somewhere to post your show, like iTunes, Stitcher or your own website. Most importantly, have something to say and be entertaining."
If you think podcasting might be for you, there are a variety of online resources, including tips and tutorials on iTunes, a recently launched how-to series on CNet.com, and the new Web and mobile app Voqel, which simplifies the steps required to start recording.
Randy Farmer of the "Social Media Clarity" podcast suggests finding your audience via the right social network, such as LinkedIn, and to also consider posting a transcript of each episode.
"We found that many of our fans read, instead of listened to, our podcast."
Services such as Rev.com offer audio transcription services by the minute.
Finally, remember that adding audio content can create synergies with your existing online presence, giving current fans and clients something to share when referring you, as well as giving you an SEO boost for prospective customers.
So think about what kind of investment might make sense for your business and what the possible returns would be from tapping the power of podcasting. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com.