In the digital world, podcasting has long been a mainstream medium. But better wireless technology for homes and cars and a growing number of places to post content is making it easier than ever for podcasters to build an audience.
Marshall Saunders wants to pave the way for real estate agents, lawyers, veterinarians and others to promote their image and credibility through podcasts he produces from a tiny studio on the second floor of a storefront building near downtown St. Paul.
He said that podcasts, which are essentially easy-to-make and easy-to-play audio files, often incorporate video but are much more effective than video alone when it comes to conveying important information.
“A lot of the best advice from a knowledgeable real estate agent or other professional can’t be effectively communicated in a short video,” he said. “If a professional really wants to go deep into a subject, separating themselves from the part-timers and inexperienced, they need a bit longer format … so podcasting is perfect.”
For Saunders, that business — MN Podcasting — is the marriage of two passions: Real estate and technology. In the 1990s Saunders ran his own video-production company. Later, when he co-owned and managed Re/Max Results, he launched an initiative aimed at requiring every agent to have their YouTube video and video-showing tools.
He even created a weekly podcast for his St. Paul church that explores the context and meaning of scripture. “Combining production with real estate has been in my blood for quite some time,” he said.
After selling out of the brokerage he turned to using other forms of technology in business. He launched and later sold Saunders Daily, a crowdfunding site for real estate investors, and then founded MN Podcasting to tap into a medium that he said allows for a more in-depth discussion of a subject than could be achieved with video.
“When you go on YouTube and you click on a video and see that it’s 20 minutes long, you almost always move on,” he said.
For $300 per month he brings the podcaster into his studio where he helps them produce and record podcasts that are usually 20 to 25 minutes long. That includes editing and professional voice-overs and music, along with distribution to a variety of platforms, including Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio and Stitcher.
To help clients expand their influence, the goal is to reach a very specific targeted audience.
Andy Polski, team lead of the AP Group at Re/Max Advantage Plus in Excelsior, has been creating podcasts for about three months.
In “Andy Polski’s Guide to Financial Freedom Through Real Estate,” Polski and an array of special guests tell stories and share experiences and market knowledge about a variety of real estate-related topics, including house flipping, construction and land development.
“The podcast creates an avenue for a larger audience to hear this conversation without me repeating it 1,000 times,” he said.
So far, the feedback has been encouraging.
“I receive a lot of encouraging messages of people saying that they enjoy the show and actually thank me for taking the time to share the information that we do on the podcast.”
Polski cites a recent e-mail from a Twin Cities couple he worked with nearly a year ago as evidence that he is finding a captive audience. Though that couple didn’t end up buying a house from him — they decided to rent for a year instead — they are paying attention to what he is saying about the market. The message said that while driving to a Thanksgiving gathering they streamed one of Polski’s recent podcasts: “Vacation Rentals and Whiskey,” a 25-minute conversation with someone who built a small but successful rental business that enabled him to quit his job and start a ready-to-pour whiskey brand called Lost Superior.
“They said that they really enjoyed our show, learned a lot and took some of the humor to the family dinner with them that stuck with the whole family,” Polski said.
Saunders is also working to launch his own podcast this month called Flipping Awesome, which focuses on rehabbing homes and investment real estate.
Saunders said that using independent producers, editors and engineers, his studio can do up to 60 professional podcasts per month, and he’s about halfway to that goal. When he gets to around 50 or so he will look for a larger space to accommodate a second studio and incorporate more video into the podcasts.
The challenge he and other podcast producers face in an increasingly competitive digital space is attracting listeners. His strategy, he said, is on using storytelling to inform and entertain an audience in a way that video alone can’t accomplish.
“Podcasts hit on a different part of your brain,” he said. “We try to design all of our podcasts around stories that convey information.”