For most podcasts that you listen to, you probably grow to expect the embedded sponsor message at the beginning (or midpoint) in your podcast episode. So you might be wondering, how does one go about finding a sponsor for a podcast? When is the right time to bring on a sponsor? What does the relationship look like with a sponsor? In this section, we dive into:
Why bring on a podcast sponsor? When to bring on a sponsor?
We’re grateful to have been sponsored by Cooley LLP and Silicon Valley Bank since Season 3.
Why bring on a podcast sponsor?
What your goals are in bringing on a sponsor will impact who you look for in finding a sponsor. Here are some common goals with sponsorship:
Funding to invest in growth Probably the most common and self-explanatory reason- you are looking for working capital to fund your podcast and all of its growth activities (team, ads, equipment, events...) Sponsors are a great way for you to align your podcast with relevant brands and get more street credit as you scale. Your sponsors can help you get in touch with guests, help you organize events/activations, and intro you to people in their network. Your content might be perfect for let’s say, early-stage venture-backed startup founders, so maybe you want sponsors whose customers are exactly that audience. Your sponsors will help spread the word to your exact target demo!
When to bring on a sponsor?
Every podcasts’ needs and operating models are different, thus the timing on when to bring on a sponsor is also going to be different. There are a few key moments in a podcast’s journey where bringing on a sponsor may be super additive:
Prior to launching your first season While we at The Room Podcast waited to have a couple of seasons under our belt before seeking sponsorship, many podcasts look for day 1 sponsors. The amount you can command from a sponsor will be lower compared to after you have established a track record and the type of sponsor you can target might look a little different, but if you have a strong pitch, some pre-recorded episodes prospective sponsors can look at, and an existing audience or following you can target, consider reaching out to sponsors in anticipation of launch. This is when most podcasts look to bring on sponsors, renew existing sponsors, or find new sponsors. For The Room Podcast, we got our first 2 sponsors after Seasons 1 & 2, and got them on board to sponsor Seasons 3 & 4 (each of our seasons constitutes 8 episodes weekly). Seasons are self-imposed constructs you can organize your podcast around, and often provide an excellent break or reset period where you can look for new sponsorship infusion. Getting sponsorship with a meaningful track record of episodes will also make it easier to command higher dollar amounts. Sponsors will want to understand your download and engagement metrics for previous episodes. At the end of a calendar or fiscal year If you are interested in corporate sponsors, a lot of companies stick to yearly budget planning which often happens in Q3 or Q4. Consider looking for sponsors with the framing of getting an annual sponsorship locked in during planning seasons.
How to find a sponsor?
Identifying your target list Have an idea of other companies or organizations that have aligned missions or could have strategic synergies by partnering with your podcast (especially from the lens of the type of content your podcast releases and the types of guests you have on the podcast). Make sure you include companies or organizations that have sponsored podcasts in the past (that is how we got started!) Include a good diversity of company type. For example, you may want to have multiple sponsors but one from each “category.” I.e you might want to consider having 1 banking sponsor, 1 law firm sponsor, and 1 startup sponsor. Have a small lightweight pitch deck ready so that sponsors can easily visualize and understand your mission. Make sure to link episodes they might find strategically relevant as well as numbers to capture their attention. Sponsors will always want to understand your audience reach, mix, and how their investment in sponsoring your podcast will impact their metrics. Don’t give up after the first email, and reach out to multiple POCs from each organization. Know someone who works at the company? Ask for a referral- that is the fastest way to get to the correct “sponsorships” POC.
The following points are critical to a happy and long sponsor relationship. Most of what makes a happy sponsorship is just making sure expectations are aligned and you have clear communication channels.
Establishing key metrics to report on What metrics do your sponsors care about and what metrics will they be looking at as they evaluate renewing sponsorship? Number of emails on your podcast newsletter? Metrics can look super different across sponsors and different companies define metrics in different ways so get on the same page as early as possible. Getting onboarded to marketing materials & ad-block Ensure you set up a tracker with your sponsor so they know what your content calendar looks like and what deliverables they need to be held accountable for. This content calendar should: Track which ad block should be used for which episode (if not the same across all episodes) Identify which episodes the sponsor might be doing a special marketing shoutout for List out any blockers or deadlines for the sponsor Communication is key! We recommend: Having a kickoff call with your sponsor as soon as the sponsorship is signed Having a pre-season check-in a week or two before your season launches Having a quick mid-season check-in to temperature check how it is working together and how the season is progressing Having an end-of-season retro to discuss what went well, what could have gone better Having a renewal conversation (this might be at the end of a season, or end of a quarter/calendar year)