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Making the Most of Your Podcast Sponsorship

It was around this time a year ago that I decided to start my podcast, How I Built It. I started it as a way to generate buzz around building things so I could send people over to my online courses, where you learn how to build things. But a funny thing happened. Thanks to Rebecca Gill (Season 1, Episode 2) I reached out to Justin Ferriman of LearnDash about sponsoring her episode and he said yes! Since then, basically all of my episodes have had at least one sponsor, Season 2 was sold out, and Season 3 is on its way to selling out. In that time I’ve picked up a few things that I feel can help anyone who is thinking about Podcast Sponsorship.

Preamble: Find the Right Show

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I should say that if you’re going to do a podcast sponsorship, find the right show. As a relatively new podcaster, I can tell you that knowing who my audience is with hard stats is tough (I’m trying) but I can take pretty good guesses based on who’s sharing it, my subject matter, and the stats Libsyn & Google provide me.

I try not to accept just anyone who wants to sponsor my show. My reputation is at stake, from both sides, so I need to believe in the product. Hawking stuff that I don’t think my audience will like is bad for them, but I also don’t want to take money from a sponsor when I’m pretty sure their ad-spot will fall on deaf ears. That’s why I put pretty much everything I know up front: download numbers, upcoming guests, previous sponsors, prices, and demographics.

If you’re going to sponsor a show, it should be for 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. You like the show or the host and you want to support their effort.
  2. Brand recognition within a certain group of people.

I’m deeply appreciative of the people who fall into the first category. My sponsors from the beginning, and to an extent, some now, qualify. But as my show matures, I want those people and new sponsors to start making their way into the “brand recognition” category. I’m doing what I can to help – but I’ll get to that later.

So what can you, as an advertiser, do to get the most out of your sponsorship?

Sponsor At Least 4-6 Episodes

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you likely won’t see ROI from a single episode. The name of the game when it comes to podcast sponsorship is brand/name recognition and that will take several episodes over the course of weeks or months. Here’s why.

I can take an educated guess based on my stats (specifically the apps that download my show) and how I listen to podcasts that people won’t usually be in front of a computer when they are listening to a podcast. That means they:

  • Are at least a little distracted
  • Will not remember the ad-spot by the time they are in front of a computer

Because of that, repetition is important. A podcast should mention your spot twice in most cases (depending on the length). I do a long spot in the beginning and a name mention at the end before my sign-off. You should also make sure that you’re getting as much repetition as your budget allows.

A podcast sponsorship of 4-6 episodes on a weekly podcast means regular listeners hear about your brand for a month, and they’ll hear your name 8-12 times. This will help them remember who you are, so even if they aren’t compelled to make a purchase right when they listen, you’ll come time mind when they need you.

Sponsor at least 4-6 episodes to create repetition of your brand Click To Tweet

Have a Consistent Message

Think about your ad-copy. You have 30-60 seconds to get your point across to a person who’s not fully paying attention. As the one who’s reading the spot, it’s up to me to grab the attention of my listeners. I’ve gotten a lot better at that by:

  • Not just reading off a piece of paper – that sounds boring and monotone. Instead I rehearse the spot a bit and try not to read. I “perform” it for lack of a better word. I’m excited about it and that will get the listeners excited too.
  • Telling personal stories – I like to believe in my sponsors so if I don’t already use their product, I’m going to at least try it and talk about what I liked. This ads a personal touch and lets my listeners know I’m not just selling them to the highest bidder.

Come up with good copy that repeats 1-2 points over the course of those 60 seconds. Again, we have people who are listening while walking or driving or on their phones too, so a simple, repetitive message is best. Blue Apron, Squarespace, and Stamps.com are great at this.

Offer a Discount

One thing that will compel people to act now is a discount just for the listeners. It could be a code they put in at checkout or a special URL they visit, but a discount (even if it’s just 10%) will help push listeners in the right direction. Podcast Sponsorship has been a good way to introduce me to brands, try it with the discount and make me a lifelong customer. MeUndies is a great example.

Discounts entice listeners and better track conversions. Click To Tweet

Knowing ROI

Along with that, a show-specific URL or discount is the best way for you to know your sponsorship is working. Since people are listening and don’t always have the show notes up, clicking a link is not a reliable way to measure. Things like specific URLs with discounts attached, discount codes for listeners, and asking “how did you hear about use” are the most reliable ways to measure how well your ad-spots are doing for a specific show. That said…

Have an easy to remember URL

The URL should be easy to speak and remember. We want people to make it to your site, so try to avoid ambiguity (like numbers – is it the digit or is it spelled out?) and try to make it short, especially if it needs to be spelled on air.

I use my own branded URL – buildpodcast.net – that redirects to sponsor links. Regular listeners know to expect that making the URL easier to remember. I can also track clicks on my end so I know how much traffic I’m directing to my sponsors. This will ultimately help me sell more ad-spots. Plus, I can add ?utm_source=howibuiltit to generic URLs so my sponsors know where the traffic is coming from.

Manage Expectations for Podcast Sponsorship

There are certain things I can’t control, like when a listener is ready to buy or how they buy. Perhaps they heard about one of my sponsors and then visited their site directly a month later when they were ready to buy.

The best thing I can say is that you are at least reaching a specific audience. I’ve found it’s tough to know exactly how and when an ad will convert all the time.

Definitely Look for an ROI!

I’m not telling you this to say, “Sponsor my show but don’t expect an ROI”. It wouldn’t make much business sense for you to continually throw money at me if your ads weren’t working. But it is up to me to work with you and determine what “working” means.

My podcast has become a main source of income for me; it means a lot that companies have invested in my show and I want to do right by them. If you sponsor How I Built It, I want to make sure you get a win. It could be selling X number of products, generating buzz, newsletter signups, or just supporting quality content.

Podcast Sponsorship is a partnership, not a one way street where you just give me money.

Podcast Sponsorship is a partnership, not a one way street where you just give me money. Click To Tweet

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