Thomas Smale, Founder of FE International
In recent years, podcasts have emerged as one of the best informational and marketing resources for entrepreneurs. These audio platforms are a treasure trove of knowledge and opinion.
But the proliferation of business-related podcasts available today offers savvy entrepreneur-listeners something else -- which goes beyond just learning something new: Podcasts offer you the opportunity to get the word out about your company or product.
Overall, there are three fundamental ways in which you can leverage the reach of podcasts to your advantage. Here's a look at each, and suggested resources for making podcasts into your own secret entrepreneurial weapon.
One of the simplest ways to reach the 44 percent of Americans (according to Edison Research) who have listened to a podcast is to sponsor or advertise on a show that zeroes-in on your business’s target audience.
Podcast advertising is relatively new and continually evolving. The Interactive Advertising Bureau offers a useful guide for podcast marketers, the Podcast Playbook, exploring the different kinds of podcast advertising and sponsorship in-depth.
Here are the two basic forms of podcast advertisements and how to use them to your advantage:
Host endorsements or “live-read” ads. One of the most popular and effective forms of podcast advertising involves having the host of the show read an ad for your product “live” as part of the actual program. Typically, the sponsor will provide the host with several talking points about the product or business; then the host will endorse it in his or her own words.
Hosts with a solid following for their podcasts have often built up a great rapport and authority with their audiences. A live-read can be highly persuasive, and the ad remains “baked-in” to the show permanently. This enables advertisers to reach new subscribers who are sifting through the podcast’s archive as well as the regular listeners who tune in each month or week.
Buy prerecorded ads. These are akin to a traditional radio ad. Either the podcast host, a voiceover artist or perhaps even you will prerecord an ad that is played at a predetermined interval during the podcast. Prerecorded ads, however, even when delivered by the host, tend to lack the authority and spontaneity of live-read ads. This can make them the less effective of the two options. One advantage of a traditional prerecorded ad, though, is that the same ad can be run on many different podcasts without customization.
How to start in advertising
The best way to get started with podcast advertising for your business is to identify the shows that appeal to your target audience. With over 630,000 podcasts currently active, according to Podcast Insights, it can be hard to know where to jump in. If your business is geared toward B2B, you might check out this list of the best business podcasts, according to DreamGrow, which can make for a great jumping off point.
Not only might you find a good marketing fit for your business, but the list is packed with recommendations for podcasts on leadership, marketing, ecommerce, SaaS, startups and more.
2. Advertising networks
Another way to get started with podcast marketing is to make use of an advertising network such as Midroll, PodGrid or AdvertiseCast. These networks give you access to thousands of highly rated podcasts and streamline the ad-buying process.
Midroll, for example, features a roster of over 300 shows and specializes in live-read ads that showcase the personal style of each show’s host. Midroll’s Definitive Guide to Podcast Advertising is another excellent free resource for would-be podcast marketers.
While podcast advertising may be one of the easiest ways of reaching a large, tech-savvy audience, it can be expensive. Midroll estimates that ad prices can range from $18 to $50 CPM. "CPM" stands for cost per mille ("mille" meaning "thousand"), and refers to the number of downloads or streams, often referred to as “listens.”
If you don’t have the marketing budget for podcast advertising, there are two additional ways in which you may be able to reach podcast consumers.
3, Hosting your own podcast
One beauty of podcasting is how low the barrier to entry can be. As Kevin Kruse, host of The LEADx Show, put it to DreamGrow in an interview: “Don’t overthink it. You can spend forever planning and thinking of the format, and researching the right equipment. It’s not about the equipment. Some great podcasts are done by one person just speaking into their iPhone.”
Patience and consistency are two things that other podcasters stress. As Matt Aitchison of Millionaire Mindcast has posited, “If you’re not going to commit to a podcast for at least three to five years, don’t do it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Nathan Chan, host of the popular Foundr podcast, has said, “Consistency is everything. If you want to start a podcast be prepared to not get traction for a good one-to-two years. Try and do something different too.”
One surefire way to get inspiration for your podcast is to listen to what other entrepreneurs and influencers are doing. Here’s another great list to check out, via Entrepreneur. It tells you everything you need to get started.
Becoming a podcast guest
As you might expect, landing a guest spot on one of the podcasts mentioned here or on Apple’s top business podcasts list is no easy feat.
So, instead of shooting for the stars right out of the gate, set your sights on smaller shows with relevance to your business niche. While the most popular podcasts have no trouble attracting talent, many of the smaller ones will be happy to have you on the show, especially if you craft a compelling pitch for why that should happen. Become an avid listener of the shows you want to appear on, and don’t hesitate to interact with the hosts on social media.
If you’re looking to speed up the process of getting booked on podcasts to promote your business or product, there’s even a booking agency which, for a price, guarantees to get you booked as a guest on blogs relevant to your marketing goals.
Whether you’re a prospective podcast producer or just looking for information and inspiration on how to improve your business, there’s undoubtedly a podcast for you. While producing a successful podcast takes commitment, that’s something most entrepreneurs have no shortage of.
And, if being behind the mic as a host isn’t for you, you have another option: Seeking out a guest spot on a relevant podcast. Finally, evaluate whether podcast advertising could be a good marketing fit for you. Advertising could be another great way for you to get the word out about your business.