If podcasting is used like an advertisement in the Web 2.0-shell, it is wasted money. But if you consider podcasting as a sort of "info flyer" of the new kind and as a real dialogue medium, it will show its true potential, especially to the trade industry.
Nowadays, companies want to have a dialogue with the customer. But let us be honest: so far it is often only limited to the fact that one is already glad to know if the customer has read the card he got sent.
A "truthful dialogue" for the networked age as defined by Cluetrain Manifesto (see BUZZword) refers to: Real conversation, everyday speech, on a level with the customer!
Nevertheless, we still distribute in reality quite often, just information and consider it as communication, if something comes back with a checked box. This can be the same with podcasting, one of the most promising tools from the Web 2.0-arsenal. Since its first use around three years ago, podcasts are in general considered as a new form of advertising clips.
The dialogue is reduced to the comments of listeners to the program in the company blog. And isn’t that the same as what has already been going on for a century? There is indeed no difference to the traditional broadcasting operation - one makes the concept and sends, others listen and understand and buy, or not. The information flows from the inside out, from the company into the market, and only little comes back.
In summary, you can say that the "commercial communications 1.0" is generally far away from a real dialogue. If you use a new medium like podcasting in this old context, it is possible to create maybe “broadcasting”, but for sure no additional effect. Used in this way, Web 2.0 tools are simply a real waste of time and money. Podcasts are then doomed to share the common fate of our "normal" communication, which means continuous sending without finding out what really happened to our message. Particularly tragic is the situation in trade communication, which means communication with the end user (customer) through several intermediate stages, no matter what kind of product or service we are dealing with. The manufacturer or supplier plans an offer, the appropriate argumentation, the product characteristics, target groups, etc., which he is communicating to the trade partners and only then the commercial side is starting to talk more or less successfully with the customer. It is commonly known that on the other hand the manufacturers’ weakness is that he usually talks only indirectly with the clients. How beautiful his developed strategies, claims and arguments may be, bringing them forward and carrying them out has to be done in the end by someone from the trade. The dialogue between producers and customers has been repeatedly broken, with the famous "silent post" effects and this involves of course a lot of information lost. If, for example, a reseller has argumentation problems in case of questions coming from an interested client who wasn’t expected, he gets firstly never an answer and secondly the manufacturer never finds out that there has been that question coming from the market. The vendor might perhaps only find out at the once a year reseller reunion, where the question is raised. But all this time through it could have been possible to respond to the customer and start a dialogue with him!
So how can the potential of podcasts truly be exploited? It’s still beyond dispute when someone grants you time and listens. When else can we actually (via earplugs) reach the ear of a potential customer with our own messages?
Commercial communication 2.0
It is as contradictory as counter-productive that those employees who directly operate on the market, who listen and speak to the customer, are often the furthest away from the corporate headquarters.
With the new dialogue-oriented tools of Web 2.0 individual fighters will become teammates who exchange their strategies, tricks and experience as well as encourage and motivate each other by getting together, organizing and forming their own concepts either via Internet or intranet. Friction or conflict between “those inside and those out there" are minimized. Responses to market changes are faster. Trade communication is future communication when using the traditional training and education. It does not only optimize, but expand it to a mutual process of learning. Thus, knowledge is activated and in its diversity available for the whole enterprise - intuitive and inexpensive.
By Daniela La Marca
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