Yesterday, I shared the Vocalize service with you. It's a nifty service that brand-based advertisers are going to love. As I was editing the episode, I started thinking about the need for podcasts of all sizes to make their shows more attractive to brand-based advertisers. At least those who want to be attractive to brand-based advertisers and sponsors.
Big shows have one component to them that advertisers—brand-based and direct response—want: their big audience. Podcasting has a healthy and growing industry set up to serve the needs of both the big-money advertisers and the podcast publishers who get the lion's share of the more-than-a-billion dollars spent on podcast advertising.
But that industry doesn't work all that well for podcasters on a smaller scale. Nor does it work for many potential advertisers and sponsors with more modest budgets.
Not that smaller shows or publishers are excluded from playing in the podcast advertising pool, mind you. Since the beginning of podcasting, many enterprising podcasters have found ways to make their shows more attractive to brands, convincing those brands to spend some of their marketing dollars on their podcasts.
It's hard work, though. While there are dozens of podcast ad rep firms calling on the big brands to spend big money across lots of big podcasts every single day, those firms ignore the long tail of podcasting. Shows with more modest or niche audiences have to fend for themselves.
This isn't a problem these un-monetized shows are likely to grow out of. Many are purposely small and are much less likely to see huge growth from viral moments that happen on shows with a much broader appeal. Super-niche shows may never grow beyond a few hundred listeners.
But if those are the right listeners, there's probably a brand who'd like to talk to that audience.
At least that's the theory. A theory proven out time and time again. And one you'll probably have to prove time and time again on your own to get an ad or sponsorship money to your super-niche show.
Make no mistake. This is probably an uphill climb, but it is a doable climb. If more podcasters did it, it would make the climb that much easier for all of us.
But what is the “it” I'm talking about? Making your podcast more attractive to brand-based advertisers and then securing those deals. Here are five ways you might go about doing so.
1. Know Thine Audience. Deeply.
As you've heard me say more than once on this show, know who you are for and why they are there. Only this time, you're doing the work as proof of who's out there listening to your show that a brand-based advertiser also wants to talk to.
Given the build-in anonymity that's built into podcasting, that's not an easy report to run from your podcast hosting provider. But there are some ways to get to it.
You can (and should) survey your listeners, using the questionnaire template gifted to us by Edison Research. You can see that in action for this show and take the survey. If you ask nicely, I'll even let you copy it.
You can also set up an online group, community, or forum that requires some light registration data to gain access. And as you interact with people in that new place, you'll start to learn who they are.
Starting a newsletter is a great idea, so long as you're using a service that gives you the email addresses of those who've signed up. You can tell a lot just by looking at the domain names of an email. Or you can deeper by searching their email address for other social/professional profiles.
2. Have A Commitment To Quality
You are going to be asking brands to spend their money on your show to reach your audience. There's a very good chance that those brands will want to actually listen to your show before they make their decision. Will they like what they hear?
It's very possible that brand-based advertisers you're going after may have never advertised on a podcast before. But there's a very good chance that someone along the decision-making chain has listened to podcasts before, so they're going to check. Does your show present itself well? If they select a random episode—or your most recent—will it sound, look, and feel like something they'll want their brand associated with?
3. Have A Brand Story To Tell
Brands that haven't yet been courted by the podcast ad rep firms are going to be reluctant to go first. Spending money in an unexplored channel is a little scary, regardless of the size of the budget. So you might need to prime the pump by putting brand messages on your show so the brands you want to work with have a clear idea of what their money gets them.
I'm not suggesting you work up a free sponsorship package and start running it for a brand you want to work with. Also, never imply a brand is a sponsor of your show when they are not. That's bad form and could run you afoul of trademark and other regulatory issues.
But you can pick a product or service from a different brand and work up not-a-sponsor-I'm-just-supporting messaging that functions just like the ad or sponsorship placement you eventually do want to sell. Bonus points to you if you use a URL shortener to track clicks to that not-a-sponsor's website. That'll help you begin to understand some of the tangible benefits you can provide. Work those into your constantly-updated sponsor kit!
4. Ask For The Sale
It's very cool when brands reach out to you with questions about sponsoring or running ads on your podcast. But don't wait for that to happen. Yes, put a sponsor or advertiser inquiry page on your website. But also put your sales hat on and start making phone calls, sending emails, and brushing up your LinkedIn profile as you go on the hunt for dollars.
5. Grow Your Podcast's Audience
Yes, some brand-based sponsors are going to want to know how many people your podcast reaches. And a thousand sounds a lot better than a hundred, assuming that the demographics and psychographics of that thousand are the same as the hundred. Resist the temptation to buy untargeted or loosely targeted listeners. Advertising and sponsorship is often a numbers game, but so is talking to the right audience in the right way. Grow wisely.
So there you go. Five quick ideas on how you can make your podcast more attractive to brand-based advertisers to get some of that sweet, sweet cash to help your fund your show
I shall be back directly with yet another Podcast Pontifications.