How do you sell the idea of sponsoring your show to someone?


Matthew: So this is a question that came in from Graham.

How do I approach potential advertisers or sponsors?

So I suppose you’ve maybe started a podcast, you’ve been doing it a wee while. You’re spending some money on it and you’re getting decent downloads and you start to think to yourself, “could I maybe make some pocket money out of this? Could I cover my hosting costs? Could I even afford to go out for a pint at the weekend off the back of my podcast money?”. So what’s really the first step for someone who’s in that position then?

Colin: I think the first thing is finding the right people isn’t it. Its finding sponsors or advertisers that would actually be relevant to your show. I mean how do you think you do that, what’s the first thing you think about when you think about who would actually pay some money to be on the show?

Matthew: It’s topic relevant isn’t it. If you’re a podcast about skateboarding you probably aren’t going to want an advertiser who does knitting needles or something like that so straight away you’ve got to be thinking “what are my audience interested in?” If you’re a type of podcast that offers help or advice, what kind of questions, problems, things like that do your audience have? And then try and think of a sponsor who might be able to cater to their needs?

Colin: Yeah, I mean there are some industries that have got it easy don’t they. Associate skateboarding, your example there, they can just get a skateboard company or skateboard shoes. Some topics have really obvious tie ins, products that are directly related to what they do but other ones have to think outside the box. Especially if you’re a coach or something like that. A good example of this is the Tim Ferriss show. Tim Ferriss just does interviews with experts in their fields. So he talks to anyone and everyone around the world that’s just world class in their field so there’s no particular product directly related to that is there? It could be anything really but he thinks about his audience. He actually thinks about the people who listen to the show, thinks about the demographics of his listens, thinks about the questions they send him, the comments they send him, the shares they send him for things that they think he’d like.

Things that he like because he know that he’s quite honest and open on his show and therefore his listeners are probably quite like him so he advertises things like wealth front is one of his sponsors because he’s interested in investment and a lot of his listeners are interested in investment. He has stuff like me undies which is a lifestyle design thing where you just try and get yourself better underwear which makes your life better. If you’ve not got direct products related to it I think it’s just thinking really closely about who your audience are and outside of your topic, what are the vast majority of them interested in?

I suppose the last thing you want is to be talking about something that just bores them isn’t it. Like getting an advert for some random thing that actually it’s just something they want to skip past.

Matthew: Yeah, there’s a lot of… generics maybe a hard word but there are lot of sponsors out there in some of the bigger podcasts that just cover everything. Is it Harry’s Razors? And Audible traditionally have been very good at sponsoring podcasts but to be honest nowadays your hard pushed to find a podcast listener without an Audible account. So the whole sign up to audible thing is a bit mute now.

So it’s trying to target down more into your topic as well.

You’re not just wanting to fire off a hopeful email to somebody, asking them to sponsor a podcast and it’s all a bit vague and on their terms. I’d imagine you’re wanting to go to them with a lot of details about your show, your audience. Straight away, if you’re approaching somebody who’s maybe not too familiar with podcasting, they’re probably going to be thinking advertising in terms of TV, Radio, Newspapers where the numbers are very very big but the engagements actually really small. So you might be going to someone with your 200 listeners. Now that’s going to seem like a small number to them so your job is to firstly explained how this is an engaged audience. This is an audience that deliberately is tuning into every word that you are saying, rather than the 40,000 listens a local radio station gets by somebody jumping in a car for two minutes.

Colin: And totally not targeted towards their product.

Matthew: So there’s a bit of education that might need to be done there isn’t there?

Colin: Yeah, I think you mentioned this before, is the whole… going in there with a bit of prep around the engagement so you setup some testing. Before you start advertising if you’re thinking about advertising you can setup a call to action at the end of your show which is deliberately designed to test how engaged your audience is can’t you.

Matthew: Yeah, so if you were asking your audience to do something, to follow a link, to sign up to something at the end of your episode and 30% of your audience did, which I’d imagine would b e a really good conversion rate then you’ve got that. It’s hard evidence isn’t it. You could say that these listeners will go click something.

Colin: If I ask them to do something at the end of my show then it tend to be that 35% of them actually do it. So it’s great to go in with that detail because it just makes you look more professional more prepared, a bit more research has gone into it so yeah definitely a good approach.

Matthew: So what is the best way to actually reach out. Is it just going on the company’s website and send a hopeful email? Do you try and find a human rather or do you go old school and pick up the phone or try and arrange a meeting?

Colin: Yeah I think all them work. I mean the email is a good first start I think still but try and not send it to their generic support@ or hello@ the or whatever. This is where LinkedIn comes in isn’t it. You try and find the marketing manager, or the sales manager or somebody who’s involved in trying to promote a company. Maybe a content marketer, maybe something like that, somebody who has some kind of input into the marketing that goes on, the advertising that goes on.

so quite often I’ll go on LinkedIn and I’ll search for a company. You’ve already identified some companies that are relevant going by what we said earlier, so I’ll go on there and I’ll search for that company and search or employees of that company and try and find somebody relevant. You can send a message on LinkedIn or you can actually try some of the sneaky ways of finding their email like having a tool like ReportEev on Gmail. So if you just test out all of the variations.

So say it’s somebody like Craig Smith and they work for Google. So you try C. Smith @ and your little ReportEev thing in google if it’s the right one it will actually show up his profile because it’ll link all the accounts and stuff and you can keep trying it. Usually if they’re involved in marketing or sales they’ll have their contact details somewhere on the web anyway but I always get a better response if I try and find somebody direct like that.

You mentioned phone. There’s nothing wrong with actually phoning somebody too.

Matthew: so if your picking up the phone you want to be succinct. You want to be going on there and not kind of… 5 minutes have gone by and the persons thinking “so what’s he actually asking”

Colin: Yeah. Events are great for this as well. When I was out at podcast movement this year, I made a bunch of contacts that now I have these personal emails, personal phone numbers that I can phone up and a couple of sponsorship’s and reviews have come out of that for us actually. So get along to events in your industry. It could show the folk that are spending money on marketing themselves. It demonstrates that they are putting a better budget into visibility an you can talk to people especially because the people on those stands at these events, these trade shows, they’re the ones that are probably going to have a sway in where the marketing spend goes as well.

So events are a big one actually. I know it costs a bit of money to get to them but it can be really worth the investment.

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