Firm showcases owner's personality with podcasts

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John Costigan Cos. trains C-level sales executives on the finer points of selling. The Cary, N.C.-based company's biggest sell is a live training event in which the company's president, John Costigan, cold-calls a prospect. But while customers such as ExxonMobil, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. and SAS are familiar with his style, smaller companies and sole proprietors probably haven't seen his training sessions. That's a problem for the company, which is looking to diversify into the small and midsize markets.

"People buy for three reasons: you, your company and your product," Costigan said. "So, if we know they buy most often because of the No. 1 reason—me—we need a way to get my message out to them."

The company, in conjunction with its public relations firm, Nine One Nine Marketing Co., created a podcast strategy that would let Costigan show off his eclectic training style without having to make in-person sales calls.

The podcasts feature 30-second to one-minute audio file samples of Costigan's philosophies. "I help write and produce each podcast," he said. "It allows me to introduce the company in my voice and my words. I couldn't do that with a marketing blitz that included an MP3 file because it probably wouldn't get through."

Links to the podcasts and subscription information are available on the company's Web site, www.john They are also e-mailed monthly to several lists, including 6,000 of the company's customers and a purchased list of 19,000 North Carolina sales professionals.

When an e-mail arrives, Costigan said, the user can click on a link and automatically download the podcast application once. Future podcasts synch up with the file automatically. The podcast itself can be played using an Apple iPod or directly from a user's PC, he said.

Although the company is only six months into its campaign, more than 3,300 people have downloaded the podcast, an impressive number considering it only cost "a couple of thousand dollars" to produce, Costigan said. Even better, sign-ups for an April 11 Raleigh, N.C., seminar that costs $395 were way up from the start, compared with previous events.

"I have done these before but not with a podcast driving it," Costigan said. "I have a radio show, and we typically get anywhere from 85 to 130 people showing up. We're expecting double that number for this show [using the podcast marketing.]"

Costigan plans on using his podcasts for nonmarketing programs as well. For example, the podcasts will help his customers reinforce the message and lessons learned during live training sessions. Podcasts will generate revenue, too. Future podcast subscriptions will cost $9.99 per year, and will cover selling techniques, he said.

"At the end of the year, I want 2,000 to 3,000 people all paying me $10," he said.

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