On November 4, 2011 I spoke at Blog World Expo Los Angeles on a panel session organized by Jean MacDonald, partner at Smile Software. The topic was Finding  Sponsors for Your Podcast (and keeping them).  Also on the panel were Dave Hamilton, founder of Backbeat Media, The Mac Observer, and cohost of Mac Geek Gab; and David Sparks, who writes the MacSparky blog, and is cohost of Mac Power Users podcast. Two on the panel were podcast sponsors (Jean, and me from my days at Drobo), two were podcasters (Dave and David). Dave Hamilton added another perspective based on his experiences at Backbeat which is an agency connecting advertisers with podcasters and bloggers.

Below I are slides and comments from my presentation at the Blog World Expo session.

This is my cover slide. I’ve reproduced in on my own slide template.

I live in Silicon Valley. My professional career has been spent building new businesses. This is either through working inside a corporation, or as a professional services provider.

In July 2005 I started a project for a former client – serial entrepreneur Geoff Barrall. That startup company later became Drobo. I liked the technology and market opportunity that I phased-out other clients and worked exclusively with Drobo for over five years.

At Drobo podcasts were a key tool to our getting noticed. As a startup we didn’t have a huge marketing budget. I needed a way to deliver my message directly to people that our research proved were our target market. Podcasts were a key way to do this. Over time I sponsored almost 30 different shows.

The bottom line is that sponsors want sales from podcast listeners. Unfortunately this is not always easy to track. Why? Unless there is a unique distribution channel for your podcast its prove where sales come from. Especially if you are distributed through a company like Amazon. Unique offers and discount codes are terrific tools, but will your sponsor want to train its target market only to buy by offering incentives like this all the time?

Given this uncertainty, a sponsor might settle for increased awareness of its products provided that it is accompanied by  increased sales. To succeed in this arena, the podcaster should have a companion blog that can drive traffic to the sponsor’s Web site. Using dedicated landing pages on either the sponsor’s or podcaster’s site is a way to provide a measure of traffic which is a proxy indicator for increased awareness. Figuring out the sponsor’s objectives — sales or awareness — is key to a successful sponsorship. This area is too complex to delve into her win more detail. Feel free to contact me for more information.

The relationship between a podcaster and listeners is an intimate one. The sponsor is looking to be introduced to listeners. As a podcaster you control access to a specialized community. I have research that shows listeners place more trust in products that they hear podcasters mention. To learn more about this visit tripleMOJO.com, or contact me directly.

As a podcaster how do you find sponsors? This is a multifaceted question. You can try to get sponsors yourself, or work with a network who will make a match between you and advertisers.

If you want to find sponsors yourself, the I recommend to start looking with products and services that you use. Why? Because of the intimate podcaster/listener relationship, listeners can tell from tone of voice and other cues if the podcaster is speaking from the heart, or just reading a sponsor’s message. If you truly use and love a product or service, then you can recommend it to your listeners., and they will know its genuine.

Once you have ideas for listeners, how do you approach a sponsor? There are two dimensions to this.

The first aspect is to document, in writing, why your listeners would be interested in the sponsor’s product. I recommend you write a short paragraph that describes your show, listener’s interests, and why you can help the sponsor sell more product. Write it down, the process of doing so will focus your thinking and identify gaps in the pitch you are making.

Now the hard work – networking your way to the manager who has authority to sponsor you. The best thing is if you can use your network to get  inside the sponsor’s company. If you can’t then be prepared for lots of dead ends and people saying “no.” Tools like Twitter , Facebook, or LinkedIn can help you find the correct person inside the company. So, too, can old fashion cold calling. Try to call their sales , describe your objectives,  and ask for an internal referral. You will have to be prepared, just asking for someone will not get you very far. Once you have a friendly person who will help, email directly to him or her the writing your prepared and ask them to forward it onward. Don’t send to generic sales@xyz.com, or marketing@xyz.com addresses at this point. At this point you are making a sale, and followup and perseverance are your best tools.

Once you have sponsor candidates and are discussing what the sponsorship is you need to think about how to make it win for all three parties. Your listeners will be welcoming of learning about new products or services, especially if the align with the topic of your show. Just don’t bore them or alienate them, i.e. don’t alienate your audience. Be sure to have a clear and easy to follow call to action. You want to drive them to a place to purchase, or to learn more. Scripting the next step depends very much on the product. You will make it a win for your sponsor if your listeners buy. Don’t forget that increased awareness is one of the ROI factors sponsors look for. If you get messages from your listeners talking about the product, or how they bought because you brought it to their attention, then send them to your sponsor. This is proof that your audience is responding.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me as shown above. Good luck with your podcast show and your new sponsors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *