13 min read
It doesn’t matter if you are eating a quick lunch, tidying up your home, commuting to a work meeting, or even trying to wake up in the morning as you jump into the shower.
No matter what you’re doing, you can probably be listening to a podcast at the same time. We can multitask and do virtually anything while listening to podcasts.
Even though video marketing has become king, it also takes your full attention because you have to watch a screen and focus on what you’re listening to. Podcasts allow you to get other things done while consuming valuable content.
It’s no surprise, then, that people have been flocking to podcasts over the past few years. In fact, 26% of people listen to podcasts monthly (that’s around 73 million people!), meaning they have chosen select shows to consistently listen to. The brand loyalty podcasters have built with their listeners is unmatched!
Podcast listeners are also known for being better educated, wealthier, and more likely to follow brands than the average social media user. That means they might be just the audience you are hoping to get your high-end products and services in front of.
Instead of feeling like you have to dive in with both feet and become a podcaster yourself, you can tap into your desired audience without all the heavy lifting through podcast sponsorship.
You might be tempted to rule out podcast sponsorship because it involves creating an ad people can’t visually see, but you could be missing out on potential customers. Here are some other reasons why you may want to keep a podcast sponsorship in the running.
You may have seen that many popular podcasts are sponsored by a larger entity, but why would a company partner with podcasters?
Brands know that podcasts with cult followings can be a great place to advertise because they’ve already attracted a niche audience.
For example, Freshbooks is a well-known accounting software that sponsors the Being Boss podcast which features interviews with creative entrepreneurs who talk about business and personal development.
Since accounting is a major pain point for creators who are learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, Freshbooks saw an opportunity to advertise their brand with Being Boss.
They began with a regular podcast ad spot and now are a main podcast sponsor of the show. As podcast sponsors, they can connect with someone else’s podcast audience members who are already perfectly primed to use their accounting software and services.
Maybe the idea of committing to a long-term podcast sponsorship like the example above feels a little out of reach. No problem!
One of the great aspects about advertising on podcasts is that many of them are built so you can advertise during a specific product launch or company-wide promotion.
If you want to use your advertising dollars to create the most amount of buzz around an event or specific launch instead of driving consistent traffic to evergreen offerings, podcast ads could still be a great option for you.
Instead of advertising for a specific ad slot in the podcaster’s show, you could think outside the box and create a branded series.
Full-length branded podcasts (like Buffer’s podcast titled The Science of Social Media) are still popping up, but branded series are a great way to create a short-term show on subjects of your choice.
This can be done by partnering with podcasters who already have an audience, which is what we’d recommend, or you can create a branded series of your own.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to do all of the marketing if you go it alone, so partnering with a well-known show can ensure you have more people listening and have added credibility.
Popular brands like Squarespace, Bombas, and DrinkWel are utilizing podcast advertising and finding unprecedented success. For Bombas, an athletic sock brand with a cause, podcast advertising has helped them reach new levels of profit and audience growth.
Bombas VP of Marketing, Kate Huyett, has shared that “in a given week, about 50-60% of our new customers are coming from paid [channels]… and podcasting has ranged from 15% to 40% of that. It’s a pretty meaningful percentage of our paid portfolio.”
Wow! This might be surprising for a clothing brand that seems to rely on visual marketing for their product, but Bombas has mastered the art of tailoring their message to target audiences over the airwaves.
So if podcast advertising has worked for other brands, can it work for you as a small business owner? The answer is yes!
You can start by researching podcasts that have smaller audiences (meaning your ad spend can be lower) and taking a few more steps, which we’ll cover below.
Everyone knows that higher podcast listener engagement leads to higher conversions, but how do you go beyond encouraging engagement? It all starts with the meat of your content.
A great place to start is by listening to multiple podcasters you’re interested in and getting a feel for the style of their show.
All of these questions will help you determine if advertising with that podcast will be a good fit for your brand.
Once you find a podcaster that is interested, work with them to learn even more about their audience and gain more information about what the podcaster is seeing as a trend. The more context you have, the more tailored your content can be.
After you understand their audience, you can start working with the podcaster to create engaging content.
One of the greatest aspects of a podcast sponsorship is that you don’t have to spend extra money producing content for the ad. Instead, you’ll collaborate with the podcaster on content and they’ll pitch it to their audience while you sit back and watch your analytics.
We just talked about being concise, but what exactly does that mean? When podcasters offer podcast advertising slots, they usually offer a 10, 30, and 60 second podcast ads.
Choosing a 30 second ad spot is ideal because it gives you enough time to tell a story and connect with the audience without taking away from the podcaster’s content. Otherwise podcast listeners may be tempted to skip ahead or tune out the advertisement completely.
With your content in mind, you have enough of your strategy nailed down to understand what podcast advertising structure will be your best choice. There are two main types of podcast ads:
This is by far the most popular type of podcast advertising because it can trace audience purchases directly from the podcast. This helps you understand what the real ROI is behind your podcast sponsorships.
You can do this by using a podcast-specific coupon code (which we recommend) or direct listeners to a dedicated landing page with a special offer. Then you can track every lead that comes from the podcast.
This type of podcast advertising is harder to measure for clear ROI, but it can be a great fit for businesses who want to prime the podcaster’s audience before creating a direct response ad. It’s also great for businesses that are brand new or recently launched into a new audience sector.
Brand awareness on its own may not be able to pay the bills but audiences need to know about you before they can build enough trust to buy from you.
A podcaster knows their audience better than anyone. If they’ve tested things in the past and give you recommendations on what works, make sure to incorporate these into your own strategy.
Having an open conversation about what trends they’re seeing and how you can craft an ad together that speaks to their audience will enhance your working relationship.
Have you ever noticed that podcast hosts often talk about their own experience with a product before they pitch it on their show? That’s because their audience wants to hear from them, not you as the advertiser.
Any brand can say their product is the best in the business, but hearing the same sentiment from a content creator the audience member trusts is a game changer. To get the most out of your podcast advertising, you’ll want to let the podcast host try your product or services before they advertise your product on air. They can become a beta tester if your product is about to launch, or you can send them samples of products you already sell.
Anything that helps them create a more emotional and relatable tie to what you offer is great.
The best podcast advertising collaborations happen when both the entrepreneur and podcast host are transparent about their expectations.
Most often the podcast host will have their own process for you to submit your ideas and brainstorm what the ad could look like. Others work more collaboratively over live calls so you can create something in the moment.
Every creator works differently so it’s important to see if their work style meshes with yours ahead of time.
You’ll also want to understand everything that goes into the podcast sponsorship package you are paying for and how you’ll both be measuring the success of your advertisements. Some podcasters may measure these results for you while others prefer to be hands-off and focus on crafting the messaging instead.
Be aware of what you both expect ahead of time to ensure the process goes smoothly.
You may find that some podcasters, depending on their size, have some room for negotiation or customizations to their packages. Other podcasters will have very specific advertising packages with a “take it or leave it” approach. Neither is wrong but you’ll want to have a good idea of how much you are willing to spend before entering these conversations.
We recommend asking for their rates upfront to show that you are serious about compensating them for their efforts and advertising space.
If their rates are much higher than you expected, it’s better to send a gracious email saying you don’t have the budget right now but it’s a goal you’re working toward rather than ghosting or trying to low-ball their rates.
Before you enter in any kind of negotiation, think about what’s in it for the podcaster and their audience too. If you can make the deal sweeter for their audience, that helps you have even more negotiating power. And it will also improve your collaboration because you are going out of your way for their listeners.
You will still be focused on optimizing your podcast advertisements like you would for any other paid campaign, but it’s also important to keep in mind that you’re working with actual people through podcast advertising instead of computers. It may take added upfront effort but these relationships will really pay off when you approach them as a strategic partnership.
The first step is to find the right podcasts that fit your audience type. So take some time today and search through podcasts on iTunes. Use your brand’s keyword in the search bar to find some good matches.
And if you want a wider search, don’t forget to simply head to Google and search “your keywords podcast” and see what comes up.
Once you find a couple that sound interesting, listen to a few episodes each and start taking notes on the style, types, and flow of their ads. That will help once you’re ready for pitch mode.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.