Before you dive in, if you are interested in podcast sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for podcasters” series:
- Resource Page for Podcast and Influencer Sponsorship
- The Complete Guide to Podcast Sponsorship
- How to Market Your Podcast
- Cold Email Strategies for Podcast Sponsorship
- How to Get Sponsorships for Podcasts: 6 Steps to Success
If I had a dollar for every time sponsorship seekers assumed a sponsored deal was only about how much money the company could give them, I’d be swimming in dollars.
It would be cool if sponsors just gave you money without asking for anything, but they don’t. Win-win podcast sponsorship isn’t only about what you get. It’s about what you give.
Today’s article will examine why so many sponsorship seekers fail to prioritize the needs of their sponsor and what you can do to ensure your sponsor achieves their ROI goals.
The Misconception of One-Sided Sponsorship (And Why It’s Worse in Podcast Sponsorship)
Allow me to expand on the erroneous beliefs of sponsorship beginners that I touched on in the intro.
Many sponsorship seekers send a cold email or complete a sponsorship form, attach their proposal, and wait for the sponsor to write them a check. They assume that’s what sponsors do: write checks and give out money. You might even believe the same.
What you’re thinking of isn’t sponsorship. It’s a donation.
A sponsor isn’t a donor. They’re a business. What business hands out fistfuls of cash to anyone who asks for it? Correct, none.
Now, a sponsor is happy to give you cash as a transaction. In other words, you give them something they want to buy, and they’ll gladly do it.
However, that’s the key. You must have something they want to buy.
That brings me to podcast sponsorship.
One-sided sponsorship doesn’t solely mean asking for money and offering your sponsor a big ol’ pile of nothing. It can also refer to offering a sponsor something extraordinarily low-value and expecting a fat paycheck.
What is the most common asset you hear about in podcast sponsorship? That’s right, it’s commercials.
A podcast host assumes the best thing they can offer is commercials, either because that’s what every other podcast does or because they simply don’t know any better.
So, what’s the result of carrying around this incorrect belief? Well, one of two things will happen.
You’ll either get a paltry few dollars for your efforts, or a sponsor will turn you down.
Podcasts are huge business, and with so many options, a company doesn’t have to accept your offer if something better is available from another show.
8 Ways to Ensure You Provide Value to Your Podcast Sponsor
Let me share a secret about sponsors: they’re disinterested in working with amateurs.
How would you feel having an amateur run your podcast? Would you entrust them with recording the show? What about editing?
The answer is a resounding no, right? That’s exactly why sponsors want to work with professional partners. It’s their reputation on the line as well as yours.
How can you raise the stock of your podcast in the eyes of sponsors and increase their receptivity of your offers? You must create a win-win opportunity.
Here’s how it’s done.
Learn About Your Podcast Audience
The most high-value asset you can offer a sponsor isn’t a commercial. It’s your audience.
The relationship between sponsor and audience is very cut and dried in podcast sponsorship. Your sponsor wants your listeners to try their products or services.
Well, probably. They want an audience to try their product or services, and that’s their target market. Whether your audience fits into the sponsor’s target market remains to be seen.
Fortunately, you have a very convenient way to determine if your audience and the sponsor’s target market intersect. All you have to do is a deep dive into your audience’s makeup.
I’m sure you could tell me basic stats on your audience if I asked for them, right? Like maybe 60 percent of your listeners are females, and 40 percent are males.
That’s not enough for a sponsor. That doesn’t provide them with sufficient information.
Here’s what they want to know: of the 25-year-old women who listen to your podcast, how many are from Detroit? What percentage makes $110,000 a year? How many work in pharmaceuticals?
I’m throwing random parameters out there, but you see what I mean. The sponsor wants an audience that meets as many traits of their target market as possible.
A target market isn’t vague. It isn’t anyone or everyone. It’s a specific segment of the population.
The more of that population in your audience, the better. That’s why you have to burrow deep and be willing to unearth a lot of data on your podcast audience.
Hold Off on the Proposal
If you’ve read other sponsorship resources (not here, of course), they might have told you to go in hard on the sponsorship proposal.
For those unaware, the sponsorship proposal is a written document containing your audience data, brief information on your podcast, and the assets and activations related to the sponsorship opportunity.
It’s a ride-or-die for many sponsorship seekers, and often the first contact they have with their prospective sponsors is sending the form unsolicited.
It doesn’t matter how great your proposal is. Unsolicited material is unwanted and will wind up in the trash, unlooked at.
I always tell my clients to wait on the proposal, then keep waiting some more for good measure. There may never come a time when the sponsor asks for a formal proposal, and that’s okay. They might not even want an informal proposal, which is also fine.
Don’t get me wrong. You still need the separate components of the proposal, especially audience data, assets, and activations. You just don’t necessarily have to compile them in a document.
Sending the proposal too early is more than a nuisance. It also shows you know nothing about your prospective sponsor. How could you when you haven’t had the discovery session yet?
Don’t Miss Out on Discovery
Hold on, back up. What is discovery?
The discovery session uncovers the kind of information about a podcast sponsor they’ll never reveal online or off. It’s about divulging sensitive data like sales figures, audience decreases, abandoned carts, and email bounces.
It’s the ugly side of running a company and not the kind of data they want anyone to see, as their competitors can use it against them.
Why do you need this information? You’re supposed to help the sponsor with their problems. That’s how you create a win-win sponsorship opportunity.
How can you do that when you host a podcast? Well, it depends on what the sponsor wants, so let me provide an example.
I’ll stick with an easy one. The sponsor wants exposure. Your show gets 20,000 listeners per episode on average. Boom, exposure.
It’s more nuanced than that, of course. However, you can help more than you might think. You can assist a sponsor in reaching a new target market, broadening its horizons, rebranding, or selling a product or service.
Oh, and if, by chance, you can’t help the sponsor? At least you know early, and both parties can move on without a lot of time invested.
Create Custom Assets and Activations
Assets and activations are solutions you present to the sponsor to solve their problems. Furthering the example from above, if your sponsor seeks exposure, you can invite them on your show as a guest, where they can talk about their brand, products, and services.
If you work with enough sponsors, you’ll learn the solutions that suit one sponsor don’t necessarily work for another. That’s why you must finetune every sponsorship property, offering unique and custom assets.
I can’t stress enough that you must be willing to offer a sponsor something beyond commercials. Think of what hearing an ad on a radio show does.
I’m sure you’ve heard a radio ad that’s caught your attention before, right? We all have. However, most of the time, you’re driving when you hear the ad, so it’s not like you can pick up your phone and Google the company right then and there.
By the time you reach your destination, you’ve heard dozens of other commercials, songs, or talk entertainment, and your mind is focused on whatever you’re doing next. You probably don’t remember that ad you heard and liked until the next time it comes on the radio.
The commercial won’t even increase brand awareness for the sponsor, so why offer it?
You might include commercials as part of a package deal with an interview. For example, the deal could be that on the episode you interview the sponsor, you will only advertise their products and services during your ad breaks.
That’s a valuable deal, but commercials on their own are not.
Work with Your Sponsor for Ideation
Your sponsor will appreciate you so much more if you call them or send an email with loosey-goosey ideas and ask for feedback rather than treating your ideas as gospel. This act of goodwill shows you’re open to collaboration.
Sponsorship is all about the successful merging of two parties to drive common goals. You must work together, so the sooner you two can begin discussing ideas, the better.
That said, ideating with a sponsor is not always the smoothest process. You might butt heads, which is fine. You don’t have to agree on everything, and while you shouldn’t be a pushover, don’t be difficult to work with, either.
Advocate for your audience, as you’re their voice. Be willing to compromise and stay flexible, as the sponsor is advocating for their company.
Value Your Assets
One of the most reliable ways to create a win-win sponsorship for your podcast is to know the value of your sponsorship opportunity.
Those assets and activations you’ve worked so hard to come up with have a monetary value. Your audience has a monetary value based on how well they match the sponsor’s target market. When you add everything up, that’s the worth of your sponsorship opportunity.
Valuing requires you to find the market value of an asset or activation and then compare your services against that baseline. For example, how much would a radio professional charge to interview someone?
Don’t necessarily write that value in. Determine if your opportunity is worth more or less than the average and continue doing that for each asset and activation you propose.
This number tells you what you should expect to earn for your sponsorship opportunity, or at least what you should go into a meeting and ask for when the time comes to negotiate.
A sponsor might be willing to offer you more than what your opportunity is valued at, especially if they’re eager to get at your audience.
It’s not a win if you promise one thing but fail to back it up. If the sponsor provided funds or promotions as promised, it’s only fair for you to live up to your end of the deal.
It goes beyond what’s right and wrong, by the way. It’s about what you’re legally obligated to do, as all the activations and assets will be listed in the contract between you and the sponsor.
Create a Fulfillment Report
You presented a five-star sponsorship opportunity for the sponsor, who benefitted from being involved with your podcast. Remind them why you’re such a superstar to work with by putting everything into a post-event or fulfillment report.
The fulfillment report details all the perks of your podcast, such as your audience and your reach. Recap the agreed-upon sponsorship opportunity, including all the promised deliverables in a chart or table.
Go through each one and detail how well you delivered on them, being honest if you didn’t achieve objectives for the sponsor as well as you had hoped.
You and the sponsor can meet and have a chat over the contents of the report. Use this time to discuss a future working opportunity together.
Your Next Podcast Sponsorship Opportunity Should Be a Win-Win
Podcast sponsors aren’t waiting to hand you giant wads of cash because your show exists and you’re looking for money. You must offer marketing outcomes that solve a sponsor’s problems.
That’s the secret to creating a win-win sponsorship opportunity!
- About the Author
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
Read More about Chris Baylis