The Key to Successful Podcast Sponsorships

This is a guest post from Jeff Brown. Jeff is host of the Read to Lead Podcast, a two-time Best Business Podcast nominee. Jeff is also a successful podcast coach and mentor, and a former award-winning broadcaster.

Jeff and his work have been featured in Inc. and Entrepreneur, the blogs of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Jeff Goins and Social Media Explorer, as well as publications like The Nashville Business Journal, The Tennessean, and nearly 100 other blogs and podcasts.

Find him online at

The Key to Successful Podcast Sponsorships

If I’ve learned anything from my time in radio, it’s that the most effective way to foster honest and sincere long-term relationships with advertisers, is to practice honesty and sincerity. Who knew, right?

Unlike radio, podcasting can be a little more Wild Wild West. With no real third-party entities able to step in and offer advertisers unbiased download data on our shows, it can be tempting to some show hosts to consider stretching the numbers, whether the goal is to impress a potential advertiser, justify charging a higher CPM rate, or both.

If you want to be taken seriously, however, you’d better be prepared to deliver a relevant percentage of those listeners to your client in the form of customers. Otherwise you’ll be setting up your sponsors for disappointment, and you certainly won’t be doing your podcast brethren – desperately trying to sign on that same advertiser – any favors down the road.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

That is why I believe the far better strategy is to undersell yourself in regard to downloads. Yes, this likely means the per episode price you’re able to command will be adversely impacted, and might even mean it becomes tougher to “get the sale” at all. But it also means you’re a mature enough business owner to place a higher value on the potential of a long-term relationship that better serves everyone involved.

Meaning, when asked about my per episode download average, I don’t, for example, include the outliers (like the times I’ve had episodes featured on the front page of Stitcher, resulting in huge, but short-lived spikes). Throw those out.

It also means that when I sit down to record sponsor mentions, I think about ways I can make it as compelling to my listeners as possible, and beyond just going down the list of copy points the client sent.

You know your show and your listeners far better than your sponsors do. It’s up to you then to position their product in such a way it has the best chance to resonate with your audience.

Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried It

For example, I recently reached out to my show’s Facebook group to ask who among the group already uses a new sponsor’s product. I connected directly with a few of those who responded and interviewed them on their experiences, editing the conversations for time. These conversations became the ads.

Did the client like it? Here’s a portion of the email response I received upon their hearing the initial episode:

“We were all BLOWN AWAY by how you approached the sponsorship in this first episode – we were not expecting that at all. It was such a unique way to showcase our brand and really think it’ll pay off in terms of response.

The level of care you’ve given this since day one is incredible and we just think you’re a total pro. We look forward to all your upcoming episodes and hope we can make this a long-term partnership.”

Do my extra-mile efforts guarantee listeners will respond? No. However I think the odds are much higher.

Either way, I’ve nurtured a tremendous amount of good will with the client (not to mention my listeners whose businesses are being highlighted in the process).

Even if response initially is less than you desired, you’re in a much better position to convince them to “give it more time” or to try out some new ideas down the road. And, hopefully, you’ve made what might have been otherwise boring ads into something a little bit more interesting and compelling for your listeners.

Long-term relationship or not, you’ll sleep much better at night knowing you went above and beyond what was asked of you, building a reputation as someone who isn’t satisfied to just take the money and run.

About Jeff Brown
For 29 years, Jeff has been earning his living behind a microphone; first as an award-winning broadcaster and now as a successful podcaster, business and podcast coach, and speaker.

Since July 2013, Jeff has served as host of the Read to Lead Podcast, a weekly show featuring interviews with today’s best business book authors including John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek, Chris Brogan, Brian Tracy, Dan Miller, and over 100 more.

Jeff draws on his experience as a former on-air personality to coach and mentor new and up-and-coming podcasters. He specializes in helping clients understand how to leverage the “intimacy” of the medium, utilizing techniques that have enabled him and his clients to successfully stand out from the crowd.
Jeff Brown photo




I’m speaking next at:Podcast Movement 2016

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