Neither Industry Nor Community – Podcasting Is Just A Tool – A Very Powerful Tool (And A Few Words About Gourmet Rice Pudding)

Michael Geoghegan (the Jimmy Stewart of Podcasting) published a solid bit of linkbait today. I’ll bite and comment accordingly. It is what I do.

He posted a piece called Podcasting – It’s a Community Not an Industry. Whereas I like the guy a lot (how can you not like the Jimmy Stewart of Podcasting?) and am one of those people in his speed dial (read the article), I’ve got some problems with the end product.

The 9 word summary of his article is this “Don’t just have a Podcast and wait for advertisers.” While I do agree with that statement 100%, some of the points in his piece don’t tell the whole story … why won’t anyone tell the whole story?

I sent out a quick Tweet of which he responded with this one.

So let’s look at that final paragraph. I’ll chop it into two points:

There are plenty of ad/sponsor dollars out there, however waiting for someone else to consistently deliver them to you has proven to be a loosing proposition. It is high time you realize you are the best sales representative you have.

Agreed, but I think the point is missing the bigger story.

Too many look to ad inserts as the great God in the sky of Podcast monetization. Mike’s problem is that the ad guys don’t come knocking without some serious effort and work.

My point is looking for ad guys to knock might be looking for the wrong thing.

He says earlier in the piece …

Over the last 3 years many companies have launched whose goal was to help monetize your podcast. None have performed as promised.

Wrong. Dead wrong. Let’s re-write

Over the last 3 years many companies have launched whose goal was to help monetize your podcast by selling ads on your podcast. None have performed as promised.

See, the entirety of the dialog has been 1 stinking model.

I called the model as gospel DOA back when it started.

I call the model as gospel dead today.

There are other models.

But first, let’s sidetrack …

—Insert Sidetrack—

I kid you not but in the high and fancy mall near my house, they just opened up, and I can’t stress this enough, a gourmet rice pudding shop.

Yes, gourmet rice pudding.

I will close in less than a year mark my words.

Is the mall to blame for the failure of this ridiculous idea?

Was it the location of the store? (It is right across the street from the 18 screen theaterplex.)

No, it will fail because their stinking selling gourmet rice pudding to a crowd that paid $20 to see a Hanna Montana concert video.

Bad match.

The fault of the store in buying the location in the mall.

If you got a fancy fancy store that sells that same stuff they’re selling at Target ,but just with French names (and at a 200% markup), you need to get a shop in this mall.

There is no other reason to get a shop in this mall.

—End Sidetrack—

Now ad inserts in Podcasts certainly makes sense in some circumstances. It just isn’t the golden egg for Podcasting as a whole.

That’s because … wait for it … Podcasting ain’t an industry …

Gourmet coffee (I’m writing this in a Starbucks) is an industry. There are some rules you need to follow. Charge a lot for your coffee and use French or Italian words to describe it.

Megaplex theater chains is an industry. There are some rules you need to follow. Show Hanna Montana concert films, charge $10 for popcorn and put anything with Adam Sandler or Jim Carry on multiple screens.

Gourmet rice pudding chains is not an industry. It is just a bad idea.

Podcasting isn’t an industry. It is a tool to get the job done. Talking bout the “death” of a (bad) model and then killing an industry that never was ain’t that hard to do.

Back to the second point in his final paragraph

Take charge of your podcast’s future, develop a real monetization plan and free yourself from waiting for the ad sales guys to solve your monetization woes.

Take the word “podcast’s” and replace with any of the following: fax machine’s, cell phone’s, coffee maker’s, gourmet rice pudding recipe’s, copy machine’s, etc.

How silly does that sound?

Hint, taking charge of your fax machine’s future is a really bad focus. You might want to think about what it is you’re faxing, who is it your faxing too, and your plan for people who don’t have fax machines.

Let’s look at Mike’s own history that he writes about in his first paragraph …

He’s been a Podcasting Pundit for major media. Yes he has. He’s told major media how to use the tool of Podcasting (and he’s done a damn fine job). If Mike told Disney they would leverage his Podcast as a major money maker, they would have laughed him out of the room. He said leverage the Podcast tool to do more with the Disney brand. Smart move. He’s worth the money they (continue to) pay him.

He’s sold Podcasting Technology. Yes he has. He sold a tool.

Later he mentions Grape Radio – an entity that has no desire to only be a Podcast.

Mike’s story is bigger than Podcasting. Mike’s story is the use and leverage of the Podcasting tool to further accomplish his business use.

Mike has used Podcasting to extend his story.

Mike called me yesterday on his cell phone. His cell phone is a tool he uses to get work done.

Mike typed is blog post on a computer. Now, yes, there is a computer industry, but there is no blogging computer industry.

Let’s look as some other success stories in our space.

Everyone loves to point to Leo Laporte and company. Leo had a brand. The brand is called Leo. The Leo junkies will take Leo anyway they can. If Leo had a cassette tape of the month club, people would subscribe (and many would have to buy a new cassette player just to consume the content). Heck, some people go on cruises just to meet Leo. Leo saw Podcasting and has used it to leverage his brand. He uses the tool to further all things Leo. God bless ’em. Who doesn’t love them some Leo?

Kent Nichols leveraged Ninja to get a movie greenlit. He deserves it. Ninja is hilarious but Ninja’s money and Ninja’s legacy has only a small percentage in ad sales (especially the ones inside of the actual content). Kent used the tool of Podcasting to show that media just doesn’t have to be as complicated at Hollywood makes it and … he proved his point. Great job sir.

Grammar Girl makes money teaching grammar. Heck, when she was on Oprah, she didn’t even mention her Podcast. Yes, they didn’t let her but it really wasn’t strategic for her to do so. She is the brand. More on her in a second.

I (not that I deserve to be in the same league as these guys) use the Podcast channel to (among other things) deliver paid training content. I’ve cut out the middleman and with that delta in the numbers, I’ve carved out a very comfortable living for myself. My “industry” ain’t Podcasting, it is training. I might train about Podcasting but I used to train about Affiliate Marketing (an industry) and FrontPage (not an industry) before that. I’m a trainer who uses Podcasting. Podcasting is just a tool. A tool that is doing very well for me right now – and I haven’t sold a single ad (ads in my shows are for my own products).

Right now the conversation seems to be a very one-sided dialog about how to bleed the ad-insertion “industry” dry. We talk how to maximize it. We talk about how long it takes to get paid in it.

We’re beginning to sound like a one-hit wonder.

Heck, once when speaking about Podcasting to a group of Podcasters, Grammar Girl was asked about Podcast monetization. She spoke of the book, the speaking gigs, the network, etc. She was interrupted because the question was about “podcast monetization, not that other stuff.”

The other stuff is where the money is.

Podcasting helps us get to that other stuff.

That’s why they change the name of the event from the Podcast Expo the New Media Expo. New Media is an industry.

Ad insertion is one of the many options for new media.

If the Starbucks I write this at only sold black drip coffee and attempted to build an entire industry an black drip coffee, … I wouldn’t be writing this piece here today.

It is funny to note that the only place Mike uses the work “community” in his piece is in the title. The point he was trying to make is this – it ain’t an industry.

I agree.

But, I’ll add that those who see it as anything other than a tool might want to pick themselves up some gourmet rice pudding before the store closes.

And yes, they still have coconut on special.

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