Cold Email Strategies for Podcast Sponsorship
When trying to get your foot in the door and land a discovery session, having an “in” helps tremendously. You won’t have to get looped back to the receptionist and cut through layers of red tape to talk to someone within the sponsorship division at a company.
However, I recognize that it’s not always possible to find the right contact or that even if you find them, you don’t always know how to reach them.
That means relying on cold emailing.
The open rate of cold emails is already lower than emailing a warm prospect simply because you don’t have that preexisting connection. However, that doesn’t mean your email ventures have to fail.
This guide will explore cold email strategies so you can finally get a response from that podcast sponsor.
Write a Compelling Subject Line
Let’s start with the part of your cold email to a podcast sponsor that I’m sure you’ll want to wait to do last: write the subject line.
There’s something so imposing about a blank subject line, wouldn’t you agree? By filling it in first, you can get over the hump. The pressure of writing a good subject line won’t linger over your head the whole rest of your time so you can focus on writing a five-star email.
Personalization works in a subject line, as does a headline that asks a question.
For example, if you know the contact you want to reach is named Sam, you might send an email with a subject line like “Hi Sam, do you have time for a quick meeting this week?” or “Can I pick your brain about something, Sam?”
You could even mention your mutual connection (more on them to come) in the subject line to establish that you have some sort of link to this person you’re cold-emailing.
I wouldn’t recommend trying to be funny with your subject line. Jokes don’t always translate well when read versus spoken aloud, and you have no idea what kind of humor the person you’re emailing appreciates.
I would also tell you to refrain from getting too creative with your subject line. Sometimes, the simplest really is best, and this is one of those cases.
What about emojis? Can you use those in your subject line?
While emojis are fair game, they don’t come across as the most professional. Maybe depending on the subject of your podcast, you can throw in an emoji or two, but as general advice, I wouldn’t.
Besides, you never know if your emoji will show up on the device the sponsor reads your email. If your subject line has blank rectangles where an emoji should be, the sponsor might decide to not even bother opening the message.
Hopefully, the podcast sponsor moves beyond the subject line and opens your email.
How do you start off your cold email? That’s simple – with an introduction.
You know who the sponsor is, but the same courtesy does not extend to them. You need to tell them who you are, so get that out of the way at the beginning of the email.
I’m not suggesting you write your entire life story in an introductory cold email. Even if you were sending an introductory warm email, I still wouldn’t tell you to do that.
At this point, the investment level on the part of the sponsor is incredibly low. You got them to open your email, a feat in and of itself. Don’t push their patience by droning on.
A few sentences in a short paragraph will suffice here. Tell them your name, the title of your podcast, and then a very little bit about yourself and your podcast.
For example, you might write, “Hi, Sam. My name is Adam, and I’ve been hosting the Living Your Best Life podcast for the past three years. The show is about strategies for finding your bliss and maximizing your potential.”
That’s it. After all, if your sponsor wants to learn more about you, they now have your name and the title of your podcast. Your email signature probably includes links to listen to your show.
The sponsor can do more research if they wish, so give them the chance to.
If You Have Anyone in Common, Mention Them
Okay, so let’s circle back around to that common connection between you and the sponsor, shall we?
As a podcast host, you know people. You have a huge contact list of potential parties to interview as well as past guests of the show. Comb through your digital Rolodex to see if anyone knows anyone at the sponsor company.
Look to your staff too. Unless you’re a one-(wo)man team, I’m sure you have a sound person, an editor, maybe someone who’s in charge of merch or hosting your website. Pick their brains and see who they know.
Hopefully, someone in your circle has a point of contact with someone in the sponsorship division at the company you’re trying to reach.
If they do, then please get right to mentioning that connection. If you don’t bring it up in your email subject line, I would state it in the next paragraph after your introduction.
What if you did a lot of digging, but there just isn’t anyone you know at the sponsor company nor anyone that your circle knows? That’s okay.
It’s better to have a common connection, as that makes your cold email a little less cold. However, if you don’t have that connection, you can still get a response out of your sponsorship prospect.
Keep It Short
As I said, a cold email already has a lower chance of being opened and read. Don’t further reduce your chances by sending your podcast sponsor a novella.
The entire email should be short. You can get away with writing 50 words and that can suffice. At most, you don’t want to go over 125 words.
So you already have your short intro, and you might have mentioned your common connection. You probably chewed through about a quarter of your allotted word count at this point.
What do you write next? I’m glad you asked!
Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
The point of emailing a sponsorship prospect is not to ask them outright if they’ll appear on your podcast. Rather, you want to set up a meeting known as the discovery session, which I’ll talk more about in the next section.
Before you do that, you want to sweeten the pot a little bit.
Flattery can get you very far in this world. If you write to the podcast sponsor from the perspective of wanting to learn from them or hear their expert advice, they’re a lot likelier to pay attention to the content of your email.
After all, you stroked their ego. If they respond, they may receive more flattery yet, so maybe it’s worth their while.
In your email, you might include a sentence like, “The reason I’m writing you is that my next episode is on mindfulness, and I’ve heard you’re one of the best experts out there. I’d love to chat more outside of the show to hear your insights.”
However, keep in mind that there’s such a thing as laying it on too thick. You don’t want to come across as cloyingly sweet or overly complimentary, as then your sentiment seems inauthentic, even if you do mean it.
Keep Your Goal in Mind
Staying on-task will make it easier to write a cold email to a podcast sponsor, especially if you’re feeling a bit constricted by the word limits.
Your goal isn’t to make the sponsor your best friend or flatter them to kingdom come. You want them to agree to a meeting or even a phone call, as the discovery session can take on all sorts of forms (including video calls too!).
When you write your email with your goal in mind, you should eliminate any meandering sentences that stray too far from what you’re trying to achieve.
You’ll stick within the prescribed word count and not overwhelm your sponsorship prospect with an overly long email.
Recommend a Meeting Date and Time
By this point in the game, you’re practically done writing your cold email. It’s just missing one important thing, and that’s a mention of a date and time for you to have the meeting.
Why do I recommend you do it and not the sponsor? After all, you’re supposed to defer to them, right?
That’s right, but here’s the issue when you put the onus on them.
If you say something like, “we should have a meeting soon,” and the sponsorship prospect responds with, “yes, I agree, let’s set something up,” that’s already two email exchanges that have happened and no mention of a date or time.
You don’t know how long you’ll keep the prospect on the line. You don’t want to keep going back and forth, ping-ponging suggestions.
Instead, be bold and mention a date and time you’re available. Give the sponsor enough advance notice (i.e., don’t suggest a meeting for 11 a.m. Tuesday when you’re sending the email at 4 p.m. on Monday) but don’t draw things out too much.
Recommend a date within the same week if you can. Choose a time that you already know you’re available and keep that slot open.
The podcast sponsor, if they respond, will do so in one of two ways. They’ll either agree with your proposed date and time or tell you they’re busy and suggest another date and time to meet instead.
Whatever that date and time is, I’d recommend agreeing to it even if you have something in the books. Otherwise, you’re back to ping-ponging dates and times until you can find something mutually agreeable.
The only exception is if you absolutely cannot make that date and time because you have something big going on that you can’t move.
From there, you just have to write your sendoff. You don’t have to go with flowery language here. You can say something like “many thanks” or “hope to talk to you soon!” and that’s fine.
Read and Reread Before Sending
Alright, so you wrote your cold email to a podcast sponsor. Before you send it, read it. Then take a break from the email.
A few hours later, reread it. If it includes all the information I’ve discussed and you’re happy with it, it’s time to send it.
Know When to Follow Up and When to Fold ‘em
Now the waiting game begins.
According to a 2021 article from lead generation company Cience, 19 percent of cold emails you send get a response within an hour. Many more of them, 77 percent, receive a reply within 12 hours.
The longer you’re left waiting, the more dismal your chances of hearing back. That doesn’t mean you automatically give up, of course.
Instead, it’s time to send a follow-up. Wait at least two days before emailing again and up to three days max.
In your follow-up, briefly mention who you are again, your podcast, and why you’re writing.
If the date of the proposed meeting came and went, suggest another one. Make clear that you’re flexible about the conversation, add a quick sendoff, and you’re finished.
Your follow-up email should be far shorter than the initial cold email since you’re reiterating information. Maybe it’s 50 to 75 words, tops.
Then you wait again. If you don’t hear anything back by day seven, you can send a third email. However, at this point, you have to understand that if the sponsor was going to respond, they would have.
They’re probably not interested and hoping you’ll get the idea through their silence.
I mean, sometimes, an email can genuinely get lost in the shuffle, but if you’re sending a second or third follow-up, that’s enough of a nudge to get your message seen.
You could send up to five emails over two weeks. If you want to do that, then your fourth follow-up goes out on day 10, and the last one on day 14.
However, no more after that. You’ve given the sponsor five chances to respond to you, and they didn’t.
It’s time to move on to the next prospect on your list.
If you follow the strategies and tactics I laid out in this article, you’ll realize that sending a cold email might not be quite as bad as you had thought. It’s even better if you get a response!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.