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Pump up sales with low-cost marketing tool: podcasts

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It sounds like a tool just for techies, but it’s not. All sorts of companies are offering free podcasts to reach more consumers.

Podcasts are audio recordings posted on your Web site (or on Web-based podcast directories) that people can download free and listen to on their computers or their iPods. A Pew Internet survey estimates that 29 percent of people who own iPods or other MP3 players have downloaded podcasts. Consumers will soon be able to download podcasts onto cell phones.

Examples: A California lawyer attracts new clients by posting podcasts that discuss new legal trends. A Minnesota marketing agency creates podcasts twice a week on marketing and cultural trends. Purina creates podcasts for veterinarians and pet lovers that provide information on training, pet surgery and other topics.

How it works: You invest less than $500 for a microphone and podcast software. (Find a complete podcast kit for $179.95 at www.m-audio.com, click “Podcast Focus.”)

Make your podcast fun and informative. Write a script, and practice it before recording. Be conversational or chat with a satisfied customer. Podcasts are good mediums for business people with entertaining personalities. Keep the length under 30 minutes.

After creating your podcasts, post them on your site and on popular directories. Choose keywords for your podcast to help Web users find it. To increase the number of hits, include several common keywords in the description. To automatically deliver your latest podcast to listeners, use free sites such as www.odeo.com or www.feedburner.com.

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