Technically Speaking With…Scott Whitney

Podworx finalWelcome to the first installment of “Technically Speaking with…” Each month we’ll profile a different customer, and hopefully share a bit of insight into their world, the challenges they’ve faced, what’s on the horizon for their business/industry, as well as a bit about their area of expertise. This month we spoke with Scott Whitney – President of Podworx Inc., an Internet broadcasting company that specializes in podcasts and live streaming video productions. He had a great deal of knowledge to share about podcasts and videos – emerging marketing trends that can demonstrate phenomenal success in building and sustaining relationships with your customers. Our guess is that many of you can relate to what other’s have to say, and our hope is that you’ll be able to glean a bit from one another in this space.

Newtek Technology Services: How did you get into this line of work? Podcasting hasn’t been around forever, so what’s the evolution of your career? How did you get to where you are today?

Scott Whitney: I’ll have to blame Apple for that.  On June 28th, 2005, Apple announced that iTunes 4.7 would support podcasting.  I didn’t know what a podcast was, but figured if Apple thought enough of podcasting to announce its inclusion in the latest version of iTunes, I should get up to speed.

After putting in a great deal of time researching the ins and outs of podcasts, I thought, if done right, podcasting had huge potential as a way to bring in new business.  I wanted to test that theory so I launched the Great Relaxation Music podcast on July 6th, 2005 (www.GreatRelaxationMusic.com).  A month later, the website saw its first order attributed to iTunes/the podcast.  The podcast eventually increased web sales by 23%. At that point, I knew podcasting was a sale and marketing tool that could help other companies, regardless of their size. . .and I wanted to be a part of that effort.  So on August 1st, 2006, I started PodWorx,.  Basically, we solve the problems traditional websites have created.

NTS: Why would you encourage business owners to incorporate podcasts and videos into their marketing strategies?

SW: First, I don’t think podcasting and live streaming video is a fit for every company.  I think a certain type of embedded video is a fit across the board, if done correctly.

That said, when considering your online marketing strategy, you first need to take a hard look at your website.  Truth is, the websites of today aren’t performing any better than the websites of the mid-nineties.  The reason is because we’re still creating what amounts to a bunch of electronic brochures…and nobody cares about our electronic brochures.   And the numbers bear this out.  The average amount of time somebody spends on a website is one minute, and half those people only last eight seconds. Unless you have a story that can be told in eight seconds, you have to figure out how to keep people engaged longer so you can speak to the problems you can solve, and separate yourself from the competitive herd.

As we say on our website, what’s really needed to increase the connection between you and your prospects is to stop producing yet another bit of written marketing collateral, and try something better–and much more impactful. You can turn the day-to-day efforts of your company into an ongoing story that gives your listeners a real sense of who you are, what you do, and how you are solving the problems facing your customers and prospects.   That’s why our customers podcast.

Video, regardless of whether it’s live streaming video or on-demand, when done correctly, solves a major challenge most websites unintentionally create when it comes to a company’s perceived approachability.   Remember, with a website, I never have to speak to a human.  If you recognize that your employees are among your most valuable assets, not providing a window into these important people is bad business.  Our customers use live streaming and on-demand video to improve their approachability in the eyes of their prospects and customers, thus shortening the sales cycle.

NTS: Like many business owners, your website is the lifeblood of your business. What technological tools have you embraced to draw visitors to your site? (ie. SEO, marketing tactics, etc.)

SW: I’m a big believer in designing your website from the ground up with an eye toward strong SEO.  We’ve had good success with that, taking care to recognize the importance of both on-page and off-page optimization techniques.

We’ve also seen business come our way as a result of our blog (which focuses on coaching) and our efforts on Twitter.

NTS: What are some things to keep in mind before launching a campaign utilizing podcasts and videos?

That nobody cares what you do.  They only care what you do for them.  The truth is, you bond with people on their problems, not your solution.  We spend a huge amount of time coaching our customers on how to properly structure a production so that it speaks to what really matters to the listener.

In researching what works and what doesn’t work with podcasting and video, we uncovered the criteria for success for every business podcast and live streaming video show in production today.  From the listener’s perspective, it must do one of two things:

  1. Entertain, or
  2. Educate (or both)

If this is the primary focus, a company’s podcast/live streaming video will then match the criteria every business podcast/live video production must meet from the company’s perspective:

  1. Make them more money
  2. Motivate people to take action on their behalf

If you focus on the first set of criteria, the second set is much easier to attain.

NTS: How have your technological needs changed in the last few years?

SW: Obviously, because of the business we’re in, we’ve invested more and more in audio and video technology to ensure what we’re producing is professional.

From a hosting perspective, podcasting and live streaming video requires much more bandwidth than before.  We just recently migrated to a larger, faster web server to handle both the bandwidth needs as well as the need for more processing power.  (We were 100% CPU before the migration!)

NTS: What are some other emerging technologies in your field that we’ll start noticing in the coming years?

I’ve been fascinated by the increasing ease in which anybody can deliver a live streaming video out to the masses.  This is great news.  Unfortunately, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s helping move your story forward.   There are some very real risks with using one of these free services to host your business’s live streaming video production, not the least of which is the constant advertising that covers 33% of your content.  If you’re going to stream business video, pay for the Content Delivery Network.  Your customers (and your reputation) will thank you.

NTS: Why did you first choose CrystalTech to host your site, and why have you stayed?

SW: I’ve run all my businesses on dedicated servers for 10+ years.  I like the idea of having absolute control and access to the server, without having the headaches associated with maintaining these same computers.   Unfortunately, I’ve run into some companies that haven’t been as helpful as possible when it comes to uptime, features, and support.

I started working with Crystaltech in June of 2004.  Since then, I’ve migrated twice to larger, faster servers as my business needs grew.  It’s easy for me to say that Crystaltech has been the best website host I’ve worked with.  Their technical staff is responsive and smart.  Their pricing is fair.  And their uptime has been great.  I recommend them constantly.

If you would like to be interviewed for “Technically Speaking with…” or know of a fellow customer we should reach out to, please send us an e-mail at community@newtektechnologyservices.com.

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