Podcast guesting - also known as guest podcasting and podcast booking - is a great way to gain exposure for your show and build relationships with other podcasters while building your credibility as an expert in your field. It is also a great way to expand your audience and reach new potential customers. Podcast guesting is a powerful sales tool especially for B2B marketers, see my article on podcast guesting for B2B Sales.
Podcast Guesting has grown a lot in the last 4 years. The Pandemic has helped a lot with giving people a taste for the power of authentic conversations at scale. But more than this, people realize the importance of audience attention and its value to business.
The Difference Between Podcast Guesting and Podcasting
Podcast guesting is the act of being invited onto a podcast as a guest speaker.
The benefit of podcast guesting over creating your own podcast is a) the host has done all the hard work for you in building a podcast audience and b) you get to connect with new audiences with every new guest appearance.
Today, audiences are more valuable than ever. It's getting easier to produce and harder to promote podcasts. Basic supply and demand tells us that in this equation, supply has increased over time while the demand has grown at a slower rate. This means the cost of audience attention is higher than ever.
Audience attention is valuable because it has monetary value. The audience attention of podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, for example, is worth millions of dollars annually for companies that advertise on the show.
You can monetize a podcast in a number of ways - you can sell advertising to your advertisers, you can do sponsored content, you can offer products and services, or you can earn affiliate income.
But a quicker and lower risk way of monetizing a podcast is to monetizing other people's - yes, that's right, leverage the audiences they have already built to build relationships and upsell your services. This works particularly well if you're sell any kind of concept service e.g. consultancy, coaching or even raising funds for your startup.
Why Podcasting is Hard
It take time, effort, and money to build a podcast.
Unless podcasting is your main business, or you have the support of corporate resources, the time and energy invested in creating your own podcast is a high risk endeavour.
Many podcasts fail after 6 episodes (known in the industry as "Podfade"). The reason behind this is that people don't realise how much time and effort it takes to create a successful podcast. It requires consistent output as well as a massive amount of planning in order to get it right.
Of course, many podcasts do succeed, but we need to be wary of "survivor bias" in podcasting. Yes, there are 2 million active podcasts in the world today. But these represent around 40% of the 5 million total podcasts listed on Apple.
That means 60% of all podcasts are inactive. And of those that remain active, only 30% of those actually reach their audience base on a consistent basis. In other words, this means that out of every 100 podcasts started today, less than 10 of them will ever be seen, let alone heard, by their audience.
Clearly this is not a sustainable business model for most business owners. Instead, we need to find an easier and more effective way to reach our audience. That's exactly what Guest Interviewing is all about!
Stand Out from the Spam
A podcaster will often create a list of potential guest hosts and invite them to be on their show. It's common to see seasoned podcasters reach out to their favourite business and thought leaders and ask them to be a guest on their show. But they will often exhaust their low lying fruit and easy asks in the first season.
That means podcasts that have tenure (ie more than 12 episodes published) will be actively looking for quality guests. I ran a podcast (Asia Tech Podcast) over 4 years and published 503 episodes.
After the first 25 episodes, I actively sought out quality guests. While every host has their own method for inviting guests I found from my own experience that it was 50% of guests that I had targeted and wanted on the show and 50% from inbound requests that were "on brand" with my podcast themes.
The problem is that hosts get a lot of pitches and a vast majority of them are rubbish - untargeted spam from PR agencies. I received 20-30 pitches a week back in 2019, long before agencies realized podcasts were a great way to get their client execs in front of their audiences.
Don't be in that category. Don't play that scattergun game. Pick the hosts you want to work with and send targeted emails to cold pitch those influencers who are relevant to you and your audience. Respect their time by keeping it short and to the point while ensuring you send your episode outline/script to them in advance so they can prepare the best they can.
When I contact hosts, I prefer talking about their audience and their audience problems (based on my research and listening to previous episodes). Only then do I talk about myself and my background. I've guested on over 200 episodes in the last 2 years, mainly because I operate a combination of this audience-first approach and work with a team who does the heavy lifting in podcast booking.
The Key to Successful Podcast Guesting
The key to success in podcast guesting is having a team who can do all the heavy lifting for you. If you're successful in your job or running your business, you don't have time to spend hours researching podcasts or creating workflows from scratch.
Research is a big part of podcast guesting success.
The number 1 discovery platform for podcasts is Google (not Apple or Spotify). Often people find podcasts because they are searching a subject rather than a specific podcast e.g. "B2B Marketing" may lead them to a B2B Marketing podcast. That may not have been their initial intention.
Many podcasts get discovered this way. That means you need to bear in mind the SEO value of a podcast and your talking points.
Do your research - use Google to search for relevant podcasts. Google can get you in the game, but after your first few podcasts you'll need more extensive data. We built a database of business podcasts (currently over 120,000 titles listed) detailing everything from their talking points, to level of activity, audio quality and podcast rankings. These are pro tools that you'll need to keep consistency long term, but getting started you need to do your own research to see if there is a good fit with your talking points and available podcasts in the market.
Finding the Right Podcasts for You
Find out who the interviewers are and what their show is about. This will give you a better idea of the type of audience that will be listening, the types of questions that will be asked and the overall vibe of the show.
Analyse their audience demographics and search for target companies that could be a good fit for your business offering. Look for commonalities between their audience and your target customers. For example, if a tech podcast has a high percentage of female listeners you may decide to choose them for your guest spot.
Hosts/producers are looking for guests who add value to their show – i.e. they have something unique to offer the show's audience.
Don't just rock up and expect the host to do all the work. It's a value exchange. You both bring your audiences and talking points. In podcast guesting 1+1 = 3.
If you turn up and expect to be interviewed like traditional media, you won't get the full value out of podcast guesting. You need to understand what you bring to the table for the host and that means doing your background research.
Content research: Understand the type of content the host uses. This will give you an indication of their guest profile and the ideal format of interview. For example, if the host usually interviews industry experts on specific topics, then they may invite you on to discuss a specific topic. Alternatively, if they typically invite guests to discuss a topic that is related to their business and/or work, they may invite you to discuss a "how I did it" type of story.
Host research: With a bit of digging, you can find information about a podcast host's audience, the number of downloads they have, and how frequently they publish. A good podcast should publish at least every 30 days. To see what podcasts are in your niche, use our podcast finder (free).
Most high ranking business podcasts publish nearly 1 episode every week. Once a podcast starts publishing in long time frames eg either sporadically or >30 days, then treat it with caution. This podcast also carries a risk of not publishing your episode.
What should you talk about when podcast guesting?
Problems problems problems.
I'm a great believer that people don't care what you know unless they know that you care.
Lean into their problem. Identify something that you can solve for their target audience that is way more valuable than what you have to offer right now.
What keeps the audience up at night?
What are their frustrations.
Solve problems for their audience first and introduce yourself later.
By not selling, you'll sell a lot more long term. Your audience will come to see you and your business as an authority in your field over time - that's the key! When audiences trust you, you have the most valuable commodity in business today: Attention.
So, switch your expert mode OFF and your empathy mode ON.
There are so many people on the podcast circuit pitching and selling, a surefire way to turn audiences off. Only when that listeners says "Oh, he really gets me" do you now have permission to talk about what solutions you've been working on.
And if you don't know what the audience's problems are... ask.
When I work with clients in podcast guesting, I recommend a pre-call with the host before the podcast. Not only does this allow both you and the host to explore themes but it gives you the opportunity to ask the host about their audience.
If the audience has done their homework and built an audience, they will know what their audience's pain points are.
Be useful. Act as a resource for your audience.
Don't worry about "giving away your trade secrets". Just focus on offering simple tips that your audience can implement right away to solve their problems.
Knowledge is easily replicable and in many cases free, but what people can't copy is you. You are the reason people buy, so use the podcast to build a relationship with your audience and show them that they can trust you.
The key here is to identify topics that provide value to the audience but are not overly promotional. Remember, listeners of your podcast guesting are looking for information that is interesting and useful to them. Don't try to sell them on your products or services.
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Graham Brown is the founder of Podcast Guesting Pro. Graham is a published author on the subject of Digital Communication and Personal Branding (Amazon titles include "Brand Love: How to Build a Brand Worth Talking About" and "Mobile Youth: Voices of the Connected Generation). He has produced, project managed and guested on over 2,000 podcast episodes.