You’ve watered the precious seed of your podcast, and have seen it grow into a full-fledged mighty oak. Your audience is growing, your reach is expanding, and now it’s time to monetize the hard work you’ve put in by selling advertising real estate on your well-manicured sonic landscape.
Any and every podcaster at this point in their journey will now be asking: How do I get the best deal? Well, there’s great news! Negotiating to get the best deal with your podcast sponsor needn’t feel adversarial or awkward. It can feel like a collaboration between two sides working together toward a shared common goal.
Despite the potential for these bargaining battles to become quite intense exchanges, serial entrepreneur and mentor Melanie Duncan describes the negotiation process as a dance between two people with mutual respect, rather than as a zero-sum game, and a wonderful opportunity for you to find a win-win solution for all the parties involved.¹
That’s the attitude we want you to walk away with after checking out today’s blog. But in order to get to that point of signing on the dotted line, there are a few things to put in place to make sure you seal those deals. Keep reading, and we’ll share 3 steps to help you get in the position to Negotiate a Better Deal With Your Podcast Sponsor.
BONUS: Needing some help with ad choice? This post: What Types Of Advertisements Should I Use In My Podcast? asks the same question and gives some insightful answers!
1. Make A Great Podcast
This seems like an intuitive no-brainer, but it has to be mentioned off-top. The better your podcast, the greater your leverage when it comes to negotiating with your potential sponsor.
Check out this key take-away from one of our earlier articles: 8 Ways To Strengthen Your Niche Authority:
“If your content is full of sound information, golden nuggets of wisdom, and eye-opening insights, you’ll be able to establish yourself as the first place people go for answers or advice…See what topics or questions are most popular within your niche. Create high-quality content providing answers for these questions, and you’ll become the voice your audience turns to.”
Ultimately, before we can get to the end goal of a well-negotiated sponsorship deal, we must start with the quality of our podcast. Your success in securing your best sponsorship deal is contingent upon you producing your best content. Work on the quality of your episodes. Consistently provide valuable content, aim to bring in guests who are at the cutting edge of your particular industry or field, and find innovative ways to serve your audience.
So buy a good quality mic, but don’t stop there! Work on your pronunciation, comedic timing, and inflection in your voice. Invest in a podcasting editing company to take your podcast’s “listenability” from merely average to industry standard. Be consistent in your posting, and engage with your listeners as they leave comments and ask questions. These small, regular investments of effort will have the cumulative effect of making your podcast a great one.
Ultimately, successful monetization comes from great content. Harry Morton, founder of podcast creative co. Lower Street sums it up this way:
“If you make an amazing show with an engaged and growing audience, and you do a great job of creating your sponsorship messages, advertisers will be eager to jump on board and see a great return on their investment.”²
It’s clear; experts in the industry emphatically state the importance of simply putting your best negotiating foot forward by putting your best possible podcast out there.
2. Measure Up
Now that you’ve got your great podcast out on the market it’s important that you measure the results: what are your key performance indicators, your levels of engagement, your rate of growth, and the scope of your reach?
Measuring these results will allow you to present cold, hard figures to potential sponsors. This means that you can clearly and confidently demonstrate your podcast’s success, and thereby, your podcast’s status as a worthwhile investment.
Today, podcasters have options. You can promote your show through a ton of channels and platforms, which only makes it more crucial than ever to be able to clearly distinguish between what’s working (i.e. what’s worth spending money, time, and energy on, etc), and what isn’t. Morton warns “If you’re just tossing out promotions and seeing your numbers go up, it’s time to start measuring and optimizing”.²
Related read: Social Media Marketing Options For Podcasts
So are you wondering how exactly does one measure? This is where your KPI analysis comes into play? Morton explains this further by adding:
“The information provided by your media host will also give you an idea of where your listeners are based, what time of the day or week they are typically listening, as well as what device they have listened on. This detail will give you a good sense of how your listeners are consuming your show and can also impact the kind of content you’re producing as well as how and when to promote it to them.”²
Being aware of your podcast Key Performance Indicators will allow potential sponsors to see that your podcast is the right podcast to reach their target audience, ultimately helping them not to waste their advertising dollars targeting people who will not take action and engage with their product. Tracking your analytics will show advertisers that you’re aware of how their ad is performing on your show, and allow them to tweak things as needed. They can also use the feedback to create more effective campaigns throughout your partnership journey. Arming yourself with this knowledge will put you in such a strong negotiating position with your new potential sponsor (read: new best friend!).
3. Be On the Market
This may be seen like yet another no-brainer, but now that you’ve made a great podcast, and you’ve strategically accounted for your target audience, you have to put yourself on the advertising market. And not all marketplaces are created equal, so pay attention to the one that will work best for you. This way, you will have a higher chance of finding a better, more tailored fit with an advertiser.
Or in other words, a much better sponsorship deal. If you’re attempting to hunt down your own agreement with active advertisers, Chris Land, our friend from Improve Podcast, asserts that being able to direct them to a marketplace can help contextualize the value you’re providing and help them feel more comfortable with the proposal, especially if podcast ads are a new avenue for them.³
A podcast network is an example of a great market place. Land advocates for this approach, arguing that it will move hindrances and barriers to entry that would otherwise make it difficult for you to be seen by an advertiser (especially if yours is still a relatively new project). Land says,
“Big podcast advertisers, rather than spending time on locating a podcast that would be the right fit for their audience, would approach a podcast network where they get access to thousands of shows. This way, you would be able to find a sponsor easily in the early stages of your growth.”³
What do Podbean, Podcorn and Acast have in common? They, among others, are examples of online market spaces where podcasters can list themselves, along with some general info about their podcast and listener base, in a bid to secure a potential sponsor. This is a great way to assertively hunt down the best sponsorship deal.
In addition to joining a podcast network, you could even opt for a more passive approach. Land admits that whilst this may seem like a long shot for a podcaster who is just getting launched, a content creator with a strong subscription and listenership base may experience a sponsor reaching out to establish contact.
“For instance, if you get picked up by Apple Podcast Algorithm and rank on their charts, or rank among the most popular podcasts on any other platform, there are high chances of advertisers approaching you themselves.”³
The great thing about this occurring is that you’re the one being pursued; the sponsor already sees your value and how your platform will serve the proliferation of their product or service. You’re now ready to ask to be compensated to a level commensurate to the value you’re bringing to the table. This is the aforementioned win-win situation that Melanie Duncan described. It’s the perfect position from which to negotiate the best sponsorship deal possible, where you have the opportunity to serve a company you may believe in, and make money whilst doing so!
Negotiating a better deal with your podcast sponsor is a natural progression of things, first create a stellar podcast, consistently bringing your best to the table. Produce something that you’d want to listen to, and become someone that you’d be happy to take advice from. (Again, check out this article on the importance of becoming an authority in your specific sphere!).
Then be intentional about checking up on your investment of time and passion. Use KPI analysis to see where you should focus your potential advertising efforts, and use this to present the benefits to potential sponsors. Lastly, avail yourself. Put yourself out there and let it be known that you are open to a sponsorship relationship. These three steps will help you to secure the best deal possible with your podcast sponsor.
1. Melanieduncan.com, Hate Negotiating? It’s all in your mind(set): https://www.melanieduncan.com/hate-negotiating-mindset/
2. Lowerstreet.co, How to Get (and Where to Find) Podcast Sponsors
3. Improve Podcast: How to Get Podcast Advertisers and Sponsors in 2021?: https://improvepodcast.com/get-podcast-sponsors-advertisers/