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Case Study: How a Consultant's Internet Radio Show Led to New Business, New Sources of Revenue

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Company: CRM Essentials LLC
Contact: Brent Leary, Cofounder and Partner
Location: Location: Atlanta
Industry: Consulting, B2B
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 2

Quick Read:

Brent Leary, an Atlanta management consultant, started a 13-week radio show on Atlanta public radio in 2006 aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses understand technology. The show proved so popular—and he enjoyed the experience so much—that he decided to continue the program in a national format. The radio shows were repurposed as online podcasts to reach a national audience, bringing wide attention to his 15-year old consulting business.

Leary needed an inexpensive way to increase traffic to his new radio site. He hired an online "inbound marketing system," which helped not only publicize the site but also transform his business from a technology consulting firm to a media consultancy.

A year later, Leary's radio show has a worldwide audience, and he has fielded inquiries and business proposals from as far away as New Zealand and India. He regularly attracts high-profile guests to be on his show; they, in turn, write about his show on their blogs—helping to attract more listeners. The show has opened up a new line of work for Leary, who now gives paid speeches at business conferences and is a paid columnist for business magazines.


The Challenge:

Management consultant Brent Leary was in the midst of refocusing his time on a weekly radio show that he had begun in order to help small and medium-sized businesses understand technology. The show had just gone national in podcast format, and Leary wanted to spend his time working on the show's content rather than marketing it.

"I do it all—book guests, record the conversations at the radio station, write show notes on the website," said Leary. "It is almost a full-time job."

The shows focuses on topics that may be commonplace for larger businesses but are new or confusing to smaller businesses. How do businesses utilize blogging? Do they need to use search engine optimization? Should they use avatars on their sites?

Leary needed to focus on finding good speakers for these topics rather than on building his online audience. He needed an outside source to help build his audience, and he only had a limited budget to do so.

The Campaign:

Leary investigated several online marketing services aimed at small businesses and hired HubSpot.com. HubSpot calls itself an "inbound marketing system" because it measures how often sites are being found on social media searches and on Google, and it ranks the difficulty of a customer's site to be ranked high on a Google search.

"Our customers can see exactly how many people are coming to their site and the cost per click to get to that rank on Google," said HubSpot vice president of marketing Michael Volpe.

HubSpot proved particularly useful to Leary by letting him know which keywords users were entering into Google in order to find his radio show, businesstechnologyradio.com. That allowed him to tailor his content to make it as appealing as possible for a larger online audience.

"It would take just one week for us to show up higher on Google searches. We would see traffic grow by 50% month on month," Leary said.

Knowing which phrases his audience was using to find his show helped Leary attract better guests, he said, because he could promise to put a certain phrase in his Web page that particular week in order to attract a specific audience.

"We needed a sharp Web site, and Hubspot helped us develop one. That allowed us to build relationships with prominent companies like Microsoft," said Leary. For Leary, such companies had the advantage of becoming a paid sponsor of the radio program, opening up another source of revenue stream.

The Results:

After more than 13 months of working with HubSpot (the firm was hired Christmas 2006), Leary's radio show is downloaded about 3,000 times a month by users all over the world. It can be found on iTunes and various RSS feeds. It attracts an ever-increasing range of high-profile guests, such as Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson; IBM's VP of market development Marilyn Johnson; and best-selling business author Guy Kawasaki.

An unexpected byproduct of the show's success, Leary said, has been the opening of a whole new source of income for him: "The radio conversations have allowed me to showcase the content I am creating about small biz technology. I am now sought out to be part of webinars and to speak at conferences."

Moreover, his two-person consulting company has received some assignments from large corporations that might not have come about without the exposure from the business radio program. "The show has gotten me exposure in places I would never get to. I've gotten feedback from as far away as New Zealand," he said.

Lessons Learned:

  • With the right tools, a tiny company can become internationally known. The tools Leary used to promote his company, namely cheap broadband access, Web conferencing, and hubspot.com, are available to any business and are relatively inexpensive to use. "If you're looking to build a platform in order to be viewed as an industry expert, it takes all of five minutes to get a blog set up, allowing you to syndicate your knowledge to a worldwide audience," Leary noted.
  • Create content that will match the type of people with whom you will do business. "Think about the audience you are trying to reach. Sometimes it will be best to reach them by speaking on the radio or by writing a guest article for a certain magazine," he said.
  • Create your podcasts in an entertaining manner and make them widely accessible. Although Leary was new to the radio business, he used tools such as those on HubSpot.com to find out what was most appealing to his audience, and then kept that formula going. He also discovered how easy it is to put his podcasts on iTunes, and now each radio show is accessible there, reaching a global audience.

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