The Complete Start-to-Finish Guide to Marketing Your Podcast to Sponsors
Marketing Your Podcast to Sponsors and Advertisers
So, you’ve done the work, you’ve slogged for months, and finally, you have a sizable audience for the podcast you’ve been itching to start. Congratulations.
But then you wonder: how do you actually make money from this thing?
A common dilemma for creators is monetizing their work. On the one hand, you don’t want to look like a sell-out. But on the other hand, you have bills to pay and things to buy, and here you are.
Well, you’re in luck, because this guide will give you the complete lowdown on how to market your podcast, find sponsors, and pitch advertisers. Best of all, you’ll learn how to do this without annoying your audience.
Let’s dig in.
Why You Should Market Your Podcast to Sponsors
Podcasting as a passion project is great, but your fancy equipment and podcast hosting services won’t pay for themselves. You’ll need to spend a considerable sum of money to put together a decent podcast. Also, consider the time and effort you’ll be investing in researching podcast topics, reaching out to podcast guests, and scripting shows.
Podcast sponsorships help you cover any investment you make in your podcast, both monetary and otherwise. What’s more, it can become a lucrative source of income, supplementing your other endeavors.
Podcast listeners are a valuable audience for brands that wish to market to highly engaged listeners. The process of finding relevant sponsors for your podcast can seem daunting.
You might have a number of questions on your mind: What kind of sponsorships should you offer? What types of brands should you reach out to? How should you effectively pitch your podcast? What are the best platforms to find sponsors?
This article provides answers to all of those questions and more.
You may also want to read: From Alexa to Podcasts: The Power of Voice in Modern Marketing
Before you delve into marketing your podcast though, there’s another step you’ll need to complete…
Before You Market Your Podcast – Pimp It Up!
Starting a podcast is easy. There are various tools and platforms to help even an internet novice to launch a podcast in no time. That’s why you’ll find several podcasts in almost all possible niches.
The best way to get sponsors for your podcast is to ensure your podcast is an exclusive listening experience for your audience.
Here are some ways you can polish and prime your podcast for pitching to sponsors:
1. Narrow Down Your Niche
The key to running a successful podcast is choosing a highly specific niche. For example, “content marketing” is a broad niche, but the Animalz podcast specifically talks about high-level strategic concepts in content marketing and targets CMOs and content strategists. Positioning their podcast in this way helps them differentiate it from hundreds of other marketing-related podcasts.
Instead of targeting a generic topic, think of a focused, niche topic that has substantial followers. It’s also important to think about who the target listeners of your podcast are and define your listener/buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a fictional character created to represent your typical customer (or inthis case, listener).
Example of a buyer persona:
You can use this User Persona Template and Examples here
Defining a buyer persona will make all of the subsequent steps easier: choosing a name for your podcast, a suitable format, how often you should release an episode, and ideal episode length.
Preston Lee, a famous blogger in the freelancer niche narrowed his market down to the audience “From Freelance to Founder” and successfully sold over $8,000 in sponsorship even before airing the first episode. By the end of the year, he secured over $30,000 in sponsorship, $1,250 per episode. Not bad, right?
2. Invest In Quality Equipment and Software
Choosing the right equipment for recording your podcast is quintessential. For off, you’ll want to invest in a good microphone. This is generally the heart of podcasting equipment.
As for software, you’ll find various options available. These will help you record, edit, and publish your podcast to listeners.
While reviewing the features of podcast software, remember, always host your podcast on a podcast hosting platform that offers analytics. I recently published a list covering the best podcast hosting platforms and their features.
Analytics and stats will come in super handy when preparing your pitch for sponsors.
You may also want to read: Podcasting: The Advantage of a Small Audience
3. Write a Compelling Podcast Script
Initially, it might feel weird to speak to yourself, but the best way to deliver engaging podcast episodes is through deliberate practice. Record a few episodes and listen to yourself. Think about how you transition from topic to another, how you can stop yourself from going off-topic, and the best ways to make your podcast interesting. Having a podcast script to refer to is always better than speaking impromptu. If you plan to have guests on your show, you might also want to study the best ways to conduct interviews.
4. Edit Your Podcast
Once an episode is successfully recorded, it’s time to trim the fat, remove unnecessary bits, and optimize the sound quality. It’s best to edit your podcast on the same software you use for recording. While you can outsource this on to professionals, initially, you may want to edit a few episodes on your own to get a feel for your strengths and weaknesses.
This is how an audio review and editing on Bouncecast (free version) looks like:
5. Publish and Promote Your Podcast
To publish your podcast with WordPress, you can either host the episode on the same server as your WordPress site and then take care of the distribution and maintenance of the feed on your own. A better option is to host your podcast on a dedicated podcast platform and integrate the episode into your WordPress site with a podcast WordPress Plugin or iFrame.
To promote your podcast on social media, just convert your audio into waveform animations and upload it to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The more listener you reach, the better you find sponsors.
Types of Sponsorships for Podcasts
Branded sponsorships are one of the best ways to monetize a podcast unless your podcast exists solely as a way to market your own brand or business.
As with most media, the number of people consuming it decides the value advertisers pay for ads. For podcasts, this means the number of average downloads. Sponsors usually pay on the basis of CPM (cost per mille), that is, cost per 1,000 podcast downloads.
Another way to sell ads on your podcast is to measure the CPA (cost per acquisition), that is, the cost of getting actual sign-ups or sales as a result of an ad. Some businesses may also offer added incentives and bonuses, depending on the amount of business your ads drive.
If you’re a small podcast with a highly engaged audience, you might want to use CPA as your metric for ads, while larger podcasts with more than 100,000 downloads might find the CPM model more lucrative.How to Market Your Podcast and Find SponsorsClick To Tweet
Let’s take a look at the most common types of podcast ads you can offer to sponsors:
- Pre-Roll Ads: This type of advertising is placed at the beginning of a podcast, usually as part of the introduction. Ranging between 15 to 30 seconds long, they are pretty straightforward and can be priced at around 15 to 20 dollars.
- Post-Roll Ads: Similar to pre-roll ads, these are placed at the end of the podcast. The duration can be around 25 to 30 seconds, and pricing is the same as pre-rolls.
- Mid Roll Ads – This third category is placed in the middle of the podcast. These ads tend to be most valuable to sponsors, as the audience is actively listening to the podcast when they play. The audience is most likely to listen to the ad, rather than skip ahead to or stop listening. Thanks to the high engagement they offer, the pricing for these ads falls between 20 and 25 dollars.
Other than pitching your podcast directly to brands, you can also promote affiliate products on your podcast. That way, when listeners click and purchase the affiliate links on your website, you earn a commission.
Finally, if you don’t wish to sell ads on your podcast, you can also offer membership plans to your listeners. Here’s how it works: you can offer extra resources accompanying your podcast and additional episodes to paid subscribers of your podcast. This might also include access to exclusive behind-the-scenes snippets. Memberships can be offered on a monthly or yearly basis.
You may also want to read: 12 Work From Home, Podcast, SEO and Website Grading Tools
What Can You Advertise? Analyzing Your Audience and Niche
Popular podcasts have sponsors lining up to advertise on their show, but relatively new players might have a hard time finding interested sponsors.
The first step to seeking out potential podcast sponsors is answering the all-important question: what can you sell? What kind of brands or products would your audience be most interested in? Which products are the most likely to check out after the show ends? That’s the sweet spot you want to hit.
Take a good look at your audience. What age group do they fall in? Where do they work? What do they do for leisure (apart from listening to your podcast)? What income groups do they belong to? These questions will help you shortlist relevant products and brands for your audience.
Another thing you want to consider is your podcast niche. Let’s say you run a podcast that provides weekly news about football. You can expect your listeners to be highly interested in the sport, and probably also participate in local football leagues. Now imagine how many listeners would be happy to hear an advertisement about a new pair of football sneakers. I’ll venture a guess: a substantial number of them. Matching the brands you sponsor with your niche is another way to create highly targeted podcast ads that get conversions.How to Successfully Pitch Your Podcast to Sponsors and AdvertisersClick To Tweet
Finding Brands for Sponsorship
Now you have a basic idea of what kind of products and brands would jive well with your audience. The next step is to actually find brands to pitch.
There are a bunch of ways to research podcast sponsors, which we’ll review here:
1. Take a Look At Popular Media In Your Niche
This includes everything from blogs, video platforms, websites, magazines, and apps. Take a look at the kind of brands they sponsor. What kind of products do they sell? If brands are paying these sites for sponsorship, they could also be interested in getting access to your podcast listeners.
2. Take a Look At Social Media Ads
Are brands advertising products related to your niche on social media? If so, they might be interested in podcast advertising too. The key is to look at platforms that are relevant to your niche and audience. For example, if your podcast is aimed at Instagram-savvy teenagers, you’ll want to look at ads on Instagram and Facebook. On the other hand, if your podcast is focused on sales and marketing, you might have a better chance of finding brands on LinkedIn and Twitter.
In 2018, Facebook released the ads transparency tool that allows you to view which ads a Facebook page is running at the moment.
To see what ads, for example, Adidas is running, head over to their Facebook page.
Then search the “Page Transparency” box (below videos) and click “See All”.
On the Page Transparency lightbox, you click on “Go to Ad Library!
And here you can see all the ads that Adidas is running at the moment in this region:
3. Look At Your Competition
Are there other podcasts similar to yours in your niche? Take a look at brands that sponsor them. These are most likely to respond to your request as they already invest in the medium, and are aware of it’s ROI.
4. Reach Out To Your Network
This includes friends, family, and acquaintances in your social circle who might benefit from advertising on your podcast. These will likely be highly receptive to your sponsorship request, depending on how relevant your podcast is for them.
You may also want to read: 8 Don’ts of Podcasting
5. Connect With Brands on Influencer Marketplaces
While conducting your own research and pitching sponsors is one way to market your podcast, there’s another route you can take to connect with potential sponsors on specific platforms. As a podcaster, you can name yourself an influencer and research brands on various influencer platforms on the web. Gumball and Podcorn recently launched new influencer marketplaces focusing only on connecting podcasters with brands.
You can also reach out to Influencer Marketing agencies that work for brands. However, since these agencies deliver a valuable service, they can cost a significant amount. Another drawback may be that the sponsors you find through an agency may not be as targeted and relevant for your audience.
6. Join a Podcast Network
Podcast networks are another place to find sponsors. Although it must be noted, networks may charge a commission. You might also have to adhere to certain rules in a podcast network. To make a reasonable sum of money through a network, you’ll need a large base of listeners, to begin with.
Setting Prices for Podcast Advertising
There’s been a considerable growth in the number of podcast listeners in the last three years. This makes it a sought-after platform for advertisers.
(Image via Edison Research)
The big question for podcast hosts is: how much should you really charge?
As mentioned earlier, podcast advertisers are charged in two ways: on the basis of downloads and the number of people actually buying the product.
The cost per acquisition (CPA) can be 15-30 dollars, while the cost per thousand listeners (CPM) is roughly 15-25 dollars.
Additionally, AdvertiseCast reports that the average podcast advertising rates for the year 2020 are as follows:
- 30-second ad CPM – $18
- 60-second ad CPM – $25
So, now you know the rates you can charge. Let’s take a look at how to calculate CPM and CPA for your podcast.
Let’s say your CPM is $25, and you have 10,000 listeners downloading your latest episode. That means you can charge an advertiser ten times your CPM, or $250 for an ad spot.
Likewise, the number of people actually buying or subscribing to a product will decide what you earn based on the cost per acquisition. If your CPA is $12 and 20 people end up converting for the client, you can earn $240.
AdvertiseCast also provides a handy calculator to check out podcast advertising prices, and set optimal prices for your ads.
Pitching Your Podcast to Advertisers and Sponsors
While it’s okay to reach out to big-name brands and companies for sponsorship, you’re more likely to find success with small to medium-sized businesses. They are more receptive to creative ways of advertising and have niche audiences that are easy to convert.
What makes a pitch email to sponsors successful?
- An interesting introduction
- A clear value proposition for the brand
- A slide deck, explaining all the details of your podcasts and the benefits of advertising
- An actionable way to take the conversation forward
In the next section, we’ll see what a winning podcast pitch email looks and how you can write one for your own podcast.
Writing The Perfect Pitch Email (and Free Template You Can Swipe)
Your pitch email needs to answer one question: why should the brand spend their money advertising on your podcast? What can you help them achieve?
How can you do this? First off, you’ll need data about your podcast downloads, reviews from listeners, and stats about the last brand you promoted.
The first two data points help a brand understand why your podcast is an ideal promotional vehicle for their product, while the last statistic helps you prove you can actually bring results.
If you haven’t had any advertisers yet, it might be a good idea to offer a promotional discount to the first few brands who agree to advertise with you. Then, once you have data to prove your worth, you can charge premium prices.
You’ll also need to add a slide deck to your pitch including the following details:
- Name of your show and artwork
- Brief description of your show: Niche, length per episode, hosts, and guests.
- Data about your show: Demographics of your listeners, downloads per episode, and any reviews of your show (include emails, tweets, social shares, and comments)
- Analytics of your podcast hosting platform to prove your numbers
- Pricing models: Different types of ads you offer, where they are placed, how you charge, and the results you’ve achieved for previous advertisers.
- Team info: Contact and professional bios of everyone involved in producing the show.
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, here’s a handy template for what a podcast pitch to sponsors should look like:
“Hi [First Name],
I’m XYZ, host of the podcast, ABC. Our show focuses mainly on [topics of your show]. I’m reaching out to ask if you’d be interested in working with us to promote your products. As our listeners mainly comprise [target audience of brand], a partnership with your brand will be beneficial for both of us.
With a highly engaged audience of [number of downloads], we routinely get rave reviews such as these for our show:
[Screenshot of your best reviews]
In the past, we’ve worked with brands such as [past sponsors].
Typically, our shows run for [length of show], and we currently have one ad spot at the end of the show available for sponsorship.
Please find a presentation attached to this email with more details about our listener demographics, results we’ve achieved for other sponsors, and how we can help you get the best results for your brand. Feel free to reply to this email with any questions you may have.
If you’re interested in our proposal, I’d love to take this forward over a Zoom call. Just let me know a time that works for you.
Note: Always remember to make some unique stylistic changes to any template you use. You want to stand out, not be just another person making an unimaginative pitch.
How to Get Creative With Podcast Ads
Why should you bother creating good ads for your podcast? Its simple: users are less likely to get irritated when your ads are fun or useful. Secondly, if you’re selling ads on a CPA basis, you need those ads to make people buy. Finally, having cool ads on your show is a good way to reel in potential sponsors and show what you’re capable of.
In short, the better your ads, the more your listeners are likely to buy, and the more prospective sponsors are likely to work with you.
How do you deliver a great podcast ad? A few tips to help you:
1. Personalize The Ad
Instead of adding a random, “sponsored by XYZ” at the end of an ad, make it a part of your show by talking about your personal experience with the product. This isn’t possible with every product, but then here’s where you need to be careful about choosing sponsors. Listeners are more likely to listen to an ad and act on it if the host personally recommends a product.
2. Make It Useful
Is the product you’re promoting solving a real problem for your listeners? Craft ad copy that acknowledges their pain, talks about the problems they’re facing, and finally offers a solution in the form of a product or service. This is the classic problem, agitation, solution (PAS) copywriting formula, but it works like a charm. Your users will appreciate it when you promote something that’s actually useful to them.
3. Be Genuine
As a host, you’re likely to get excited only about promoting products you genuinely care about. Don’t try to fake enthusiasm in your ads. Your listeners will always know.
4. Keep Your Ads Short
In general, brands will ask for a “This episode is brought to you by…” at the beginning of the episode, and a 30 second to 1-minute mid-roll ad in the middle. The number of ads you keep in your show will depend on the average length of an episode. It’s best to give only 10% of your total episode length to ads. So, for a show that’s 45 minutes long, you don’t want more than four and a half minutes of ads in total.
If you’re looking for more tips, check out this podcast episode about making your podcast ads as good as your show.
You may also want to read: Are Your Guest Blogger Outreach Emails Getting Results? [Podcast]
Researching and pitching brands for sponsorship can seem daunting at first, but it can be highly rewarding once you’ve onboarded a few brands. Sponsors will not only cover your podcast’s costs but also help you set up a steady stream of income from your show.
If you take away one lesson from this article, let it be this: choose your podcast sponsors with care. Promoting products that you and your audience love is the only way to make sales and successfully pitch sponsors in the future.
Eduard Klein is International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger, and Entrepreneur with a global mindset.
He guides how to ride the wave of digital technology & marketing – and not get swept away. He inspires his readers on how to turn your passion into a digital business and hack growth in business and life. You can contact him on Linkedin here, or follow/tweet him @EduardKlein.
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