Podcast sponsorships are a hot topic - because almost everyone and their dog wants to make money from their podcast. It makes sense, if you’re going to invest so much time in something it would be great if there was some kind of financial reward, right?
But sponsorships are not all they are cracked up to be - especially if you don’t know what you’re getting into.
ON THIS EPISODE I explain some of the things that nobody seems to be talking about when it comes to working with sponsorships - and of course I'm not going to give you an exhaustive list. There are all kinds of things you might run into when working with sponsors or in attempting to secure podcast sponsorships, but the things that I'm going to point out are things I have noticed in working alongside the many clients that we do here at Podcast Fast Track.
These are things you should keep in mind when you consider doing podcasts sponsorships. Ready to find out what nobody’s telling you? Be sure to listen.
If you want any sponsorship to be successful you're going to have to engage in your relationship with that sponsor on a fairly deep level.
Work hard to keep up that relationship with your sponsor just like you would work to keep up a relationship with a person in your life who you really, really care about - maybe your spouse or significant other. You need to understand that the person or people on the other end of the sponsor relationship need to feel that they are more than just a paycheck to you, that they are more than just a number or source of revenue.
The more you can make them feel that you really care about making them successful, the more they are going to be enthused and excited about the relationship with you and be willing to spend not only their initial amount of money for sponsorship of your podcast but also continue doing so on an ongoing basis and maybe even growing that in some way that the two of you come up with in the future.
It’s a relationship that will require ongoing maintenance - and not the kind of maintenance that is just communicating facts, you need to get to the heart of that person.
You need to find out exactly what they are shooting for in the sponsorship relationship. That way, you can do your utmost to provide what they’re hoping for. Of course, they are looking for a certain rate of return on their financial investment but I believe most sponsors are looking for more than that.
If they are smart, if they're understanding the way that content marketing works in this day and age, they are looking to establish themselves as a household name to the very people that your podcast is broadcasting to.
You see, good sponsors are going to be choosing shows that are targeting the market they want to reach. It’s not just gonna be a generic thing where they throw their sponsorship money at any old show. They're going to be looking for specific shows in the niche that they serve so that they can establish a name for themselves in those particular circles.
YOU want to help them become that household name. YOU want to help them become a respected partner, in the podcast-o-sphere of your niche.
In order to do that, you have to do the hard work of keeping up the relationship with them. They are going to appreciate you working at the relationship because the relationship really matters.
As you learn to approach your podcast sponsorships with a relational frame of reference, you’re going to realize that when it comes to them continuing to experience success as a sponsor of your particular podcast - YOU are their best partner in making that success possible.
YOU have the opportunity to give them tons of resources that will help them not only feel good about your role as a partner, but also enable them to see that YOU are doing the work to make THEM successful.
What’s in it for THEM (your podcast sponsor)?
Never stop asking that question. And never stop answering it and providing those answers to them without being asked.
You want to let them know how many downloads or listens their sponsored episodes are getting. I suggest you do this weekly after every episode AND maybe two weeks later, then 4 weeks later. Then 6 weeks later.
You want them to see the potential audience their cash is reaching so they can be encouraged that they’ve made a wise choice in sponsoring your podcast.
You can also provide your sponsors data that comes to you in the form of listener comments. Tell them what listeners you connect with are saying about their advertisements and messaging. ASK your listeners what they think via your email list or community pages. They’ll tell you.
Provide the positive feedback to your sponsor. Provide the constructive criticism. In doing so you’re giving them the data they need to improve their sponsorship campaign on your podcast and therefore make tweaks to increase its effectiveness.
As things progress, remind your sponsor that this kind of marketing takes time. In fact, it’s taking more and more time to reach effectiveness as the technology consumers are using improves.
For example - this article over at the Online Marketing Institute outlines why it takes 7 to 13 touches or more to generate a qualified sales lead these days. That’s just the way marketing, advertising, and things like sponsorships work practically.
What could happen if your sponsor doesn’t know that? They may have wrong expectations about the time frames surrounding response to their sponsorship on your show and become discontent too early in the process.
It’s your job to educate them. You want to set their expectations as best you can by providing resources like that study. By encouraging them to be optimistic, but also to be improving their messaging and marketing through your show all along the way.
Give them information they may not know…
For example, you may want to ask how they are tracking their ROI. Are they using links of any kind for their advertisements on your show? If so, are they using trackable links? You could educate them about trackable links if they don’t know what they are.
Or better yet, you could offer to setup a Pretty Link on your site and provide the data to them regularly. That way you’re not only proving how helpful you want to be, but that you really ARE a partner to them in this sponsorship venture.
The more you can make them see that you’re committed to their success, the more likely they are to be committed to you and your podcast. Can you think of anything better than an ongoing sponsor who sticks with your show for years?
This particular point is fresh off my front burner, it’s something I've been dealing with alongside a client. Here’s the scenario…
My client pays for our audio editing and production AND our show notes and some additional artwork out of the funds the client was receiving from their sponsor okay. So for him to be able to afford that much outsourcing, you can see that it was a pretty generous sponsorship and his show is pretty successful.
But here's the deal.
Not just one sponsor but two sponsors pulled their sponsorship just about at the same time. So everything this podcaster was spending to produce his show was suddenly a no-go for him because the revenue that was sourcing the outsourcing was suddenly dried up.
It’s kinda like when you get a raise at work, your home budget tends to grow to fit that new level of income rather than using that money for savings, using that money for investments, or whatever to make it work for you. We tend to start using it for things that we think we absolutely need but we may not - and I'll be the first to tell you that not every podcaster needs to be investing in the services that my company provides. Not every podcaster can afford to.
Why do I say that?
Because they need to have a track record of success first, or else they need to have an established business first that can actually fuel the content marketing portion of what they're doing (which podcasting is.) Then the podcast becomes a tool they use to establish authority and generate revenue in other ways.
Sure, sponsorships are great when you have them. But once they vanish... man that can be so painful! So, this client I just told you about is trying to figure out exactly what he's going to do. For now he's going ahead and paying for our services out of his own pocket, which I hope is able to continue doing. But it’s highly likely that he may not be able to.
So you need to be careful when you get into a sponsorship relationship primarily in terms of what you decide to do with that income.
My suggestion is you invest that money in things that you're not going to be in danger of losing should that sponsor pull out.
So, maybe upgrading equipment is a great thing to do with money from a podcast sponsorship.
Maybe paying for minor expenses like your monthly hosting… I mean pay it all off for a year or something like that. Use your sponsorship money for things that really are going to move your podcast forward in the long term.
Now, as a podcast grows and as it becomes very, very popular, getting tens of thousands of downloads per episode, this issue is really not as big a deal because you could have sponsors all the time coming wanting to sponsor your show. It will be a different scenario then.
But if you're a small time podcaster and you get that first sponsor, be very careful. Don't become dependent on that sponsor in order for your podcast to continue. Because the minute a sponsor drops. You are going to be in a heap of trouble.
THUMBS UP PICTURE
Now let me explain to you a little bit of why a sponsor might withdraw from sponsoring your podcast all the sudden.
One thing is that they may not feel like they have a very good relationship with you. It's the outcome of that previous point I was talking about… you see you may not have done the work needed to foster a good relationship with your sponsor.
Most sponsors who quit sponsoring your show will never say, “We don't feel like we have a good relationship with you.”
What they will say is things like, “We have found a better use for our marketing dollars.” OR “Podcasting simply hasn’t been able to give us the ROI we thought it would.“
What they're really saying is, “We don't feel like there's anything special enough about what we have with you to keep us from easily jumping to another option simply because it seems more financially feasible.”
I’m beating that same drum again about relationships. They are HUGE. Sponsors will pull out if they feel like there's not a connection, that there's not a partnership. So be aware of that.
But you also need to be aware of this: Many sponsors, especially when it comes to podcasting, don't know enough about the podcasting space. Many of them don’t know what it looks like to track podcast statistics. Many of them haven't set up systems to help them track the stats, they don’t know to ask you for the stats, they don’t know how to track whether people coming to them as new clients or customers are actually coming as a result of their sponsorship of your show or not.
Now, good marketers should be tracking everything - but because podcasting is so new, it doesn't always happen.
So YOU need to help them know those things, to help them be successful. Again, I’ve already said this but it’s worth repeating.
And then there ARE the legitimate cases where it was a mismatch from the start. They may determine that it's simply not what they were hoping for from a podcast sponsorship, especially in smaller niches. It’s still a pretty unknown thing - it's a unicorn that nobody really knows how it’s going to work or whether or not it will be profitable for such a niche audience, so they're trying it out.
It’s YOUR job - going back to a previous point - to establish a relationship with them that is cooperative, were you are helping them determined the ROI of their investment in your podcast. You are actually helping them see that this is a long term game.
So you see, podcast sponsorships are a great thing.
When they're a great thing.
When they're not a great thing.
Not so much.