There are 4 million podcasts in the world today and over 50 million episodes. Where do you start?
My name's Graham Brown and I'm the founder of Podcast Guesting Pro. I'd like to share my experience and lessons learned on what works (and what doesn't work) when it comes to podcast guesting.
If you like the insights I share with you in this article, and want to know more about getting booked on podcasts, I invite you to book a free consultation with my team to learn about the kind of podcasts you could be speaking on and how it can help with your business objectives.
So, let's get started...
When it comes to getting booked on podcasts, the key to success lies less in the how and more in the why.
What I mean by that is yes, you need good process and data to know what kind of podcasts are out there matching your subject niche, but the difference between getting invited to speak on a podcast and getting ghosted by a host is down to the reason why you should be on that podcast in the first place.
Watch the Video
If you'd prefer a video breakdown on what kind of podcasts you can speak on and how you can use podcasts to build your personal brand, I created an Introduction to Podcast Guesting featuring the 10 most commonly asked questions. Remember you can ask these questions and more in our free consultation offer.
Why do you want to Speak on Podcasts?
When you work with Podcast Guesting Pro you plug into a team of specialists who do the heavy lifting for you. On the day-to-day basis our Outreach team who manage all the logistics and host communication. They look after the How. To help you get on business podcasts, we support you with expertise in the Why...
The Why of Podcast Guesting means:
(1) Why speaking on podcasts is important to your business. Working with Podcast Guesting Pro is like having a business strategist in your team advising you on your content and thought leadership strategy.
(2) Why your conversation is important to the host and audience. Working with us is like having a data analyst on your team who has access to 100,000s of quality business podcasts labeled, scored and ranked to ensure a match with you. See our section on using podcast data to qualify podcasts in our resource: introduction to podcast guesting
(3) Why we need to talk about this now. Working with us is like having access to a copywriter in your team who can craft headlines and talking points for you that are newsworthy and attention grabbing.
Why do you want to Speak on this Podcast?
OK so let's start at the beginning with the importance of podcasts to your business...
Why do you want to speak on this podcast in the first place?
Here's a list (A) of potential answers:
Pitch your product
Demonstrate your expertise
If any of these answers are the main reason why you want to get invited to speak on a podcast, stop right here.
If that is your overarching goal right now, you're better off doing Facebook or Google Ads. Sure, not what you want to hear maybe and it's going to lose our podcast booking agency some business. But, it will be the wrong kind of business.
The wrong kind of business is one which doesn't have a lead funnel and looks to Podcast Guesting to fix that problem. That's why at Podcast Guesting Pro we like to work with our clients advising and guiding on strategy - from how their podcast can drive their content strategy to SEO to thought leadership in their personal brand.
Podcast Guesting: to Acquire or Influence?
When it comes to the Why of podcast guesting, this list (B) is what I've found to be the most effective:
Speak to existing prospects and leads
Build thought leadership and personal brand in your niche
Develop your thought leadership content and story
Thedifference between the first list (A) and the new list (B) is the difference between Acquiring and Influencing your funnel.
Yes, Podcast Guesting is an extremely effective way of Influencing new and existing conversations with prospects,as well as existing clients (let's not forget the potential value of upselling to people who trust you).
Podcast Guesting works best when:
You have an existing funnel and a good idea of who buys and who doesn't
You have a "high ticket" product or service that doesn't sell "off the shelf". Your service is often conceptual (e.g. consultancy, coaching, training) and has a long sales cycle.
You are the brand (yes, you may have built or are building some world class workflows and teams around you to do the heavy lifting, but clients will still look at you as the main source of trust in why they signed up).
Of course, podcasts generate leads, but from my experience, the guests that thrive long term are those that have already built workflows, processes and funnels to address that challenge. Their goal is optimizing, maximizing and aligning those conversations.
That's the first Why of Podcast Guesting.
Now let's look at Why the podcast host and audience need you..
Who are you Speaking to?
Before you start your podcast guesting journey, answer this question: who are you speaking to?
In every podcast conversation there are 3 people - you, the host and the listener.
So, your answer should consider the other two people:
1) The Podcast Host 2) The Podcast Audience
Let's start with the Podcast Host.
Who is the Podcast Host?
Behind every successful podcast is a host that has nurtured her community. She's listened to them. She's understood their pain points and frustrations. She is their voice.
So what does that mean if you want to get booked on business podcasts?
If you want to get on her podcast, you have to understand what she wants from a podcast guest like you.
Podcast guesting isn't a one-way street. Instead of using the podcast as a "pitch opportunity", you need to add value to that host's community.
That community is the Podcast Audience.
Think of Every Podcast as a Community
When approaching podcasts to be interviewed on, you need to appreciate first that every podcast is a mini community and the host is either going to be a guide or a gatekeeper.
When you approach a podcast host, and she doesn't know who you are, you are a risk to the her reputation and relationship with the audience.
You have to show the host that you care about the audience, that you want to get on the podcast to add to the conversation, not interrupt it. A key factor in your success in approaching a podcast host is demonstrating you know their audience first.
Speak to the Audience's Pain, Problems and Frustrations
The key to success in podcast guesting is to turn EXPERT MODE OFF and EMPATHY MODE ON.
What does that mean?
That means the best guests speak to the pains and frustrations of the audience. When you show you understand what keeps them awake at night, you "get it". Empathizing with your audience is more important as a gateway to building trust than demonstrating how much you know, or how qualified you are.
It means not being the "Expert".
People don't care about what you know unless they know that you care.
For example, let's say you are a leadership coach and your ideal audience are the CEOs or founders of large family businesses. What are their pain points today? Perhaps they are struggling with getting their people back to the office. Perhaps they are struggling with staff retention. Perhaps they are struggling with the fact they have no one to talk to. These are the issues that CEOs or founders will rarely voice publicly, but as the podcast guest you can speak for them.
Want to know what podcasts in your niche are talking about today? Use our free podcast finder tool to identify podcasts that match your specialty subjects.
Lean into the Problem.
Leaning into the Problem is far more engaging to listeners than 30 minutes talking about your qualifications, your company, your product or successes (which a lot of guests do by the way).
Invest time in talking to the host to understand how her audience talks about the problem, the language they use and the context of these frustrations. A good host will know these problems well, have interacted with her audience and be able to act as a guide for you in better understanding them.
In Podcast Guesting Data is Your Secret Weapon
Now you are equipped with a good value proposition for a potential podcast host, which hosts and which podcasts should you be speaking to?
With 4 million to choose from, you can end up wasting a lot of time in an unfocused approach to podcast guesting.
Now, my advice to all thought leaders here is this:
Yes, you can do this all yourself.
You can spend hours researching podcasts or hire an assistant to do this for you. But this is about paying for time and experience. When we started our Podcast Booking Agency, we had experience of project managing over 2,000 podcast episodes which gave us insight into what works and what doesn't when it comes to content. But, even that wasn't enough. That's why we focused on building out a database of business podcasts for our podcast guesting clients, so we could not only identify quality podcasts but we could also record our experiences with them.
Currently we have just over 100,000 business podcasts scored, labelled and researched. Without such data, it's hard to maintain momentum in contacting podcasts. Sure, an assistant or PR agency could contact podcast hosts for you, but we've found without depth in data, the system grinds to a halt in 7-8 weeks. That's because they've picked all the low-lying fruit and are now struggling to go deep. Going deep and going long in your ability to contact podcast hosts is critical. This is the difference between a following a fad and building a long term, sustainable asset - your personal brand.
Working with Podcast Guesting Pro is like having a dedicated data analyst in your team who can crunch this data for you in the background and sustainably find quality podcasts that match your core talking points. Not only can our analyst find you podcasts based on what you'd like to talk about, she can also suggest new topic areas aligned to your core that may be trending or newsworthy.
Below - a snapshot from a podcast Contact Report generated for a client (names redacted). We measure a number of weighted input factors into the Contact Report such as the topic match between the client's talking points and the episode content of the podcast. Another important factor is the Store Ranking of the podcast - does this match your target categories and geographical markets?
Sharing these Contact Reports with clients also helps shape the process and keep the process agile. Your target topics and audiences will evolve over time as you get feedback and insights from podcast guesting. You may want to tweak your subjects eg. "Less Leadership", "More Coaching". Good data, but more importantly, sharing Good data with the wider team is key to long term podcast guesting success.
Key Factors to Consider When Measuring Podcast Fit
So, what factors should you consider when appraising a potential podcast to speak on as a guest? Our podcast booking team at Podcast Guesting Pro uses a 14 point checklist when identifying and researching quality podcasts for our clients. Here are just some of the criteria we use:
Topic match - do the audience and key talking points align with yours?
Podcast rankings - does this podcast consistently rank on Apple Podcasts? (hosts do not share their audience data, so Apple Podcast rankings are an insightful way to eliminate outliers)
Format - some hosts are live, others pre-recorded. Some video and audio, some audio only. Some are conversational, others interview based. These will all suit different guests, and based on an understanding of your strengths, and preferences, we advise our clients on which podcasts work best for their business objectives.
Production quality - does the host provide a professional audio finish?
Consistency - is this podcast active? How many episodes published in the last 90 days? How consistent are they in their publishing cadence?
Professionalism - what is the host's level of professionalism? One of the benefits of working with Podcast Guesting Pro is we have experienced a wide range of professionalism with hosts. We have a good idea which hosts are super-reliable and look after their guests. We also know who the time-wasters are, the ones who may go through all the effort only to not publish an episode. Our goal here is to save you time and effort, so there are no surprises or lost momentum.
Production leadtime - as with professionalism, some quality factors with podcast hosts are not public. The distance between recording and publishing a podcast episode can range from days to months to never. Professional podcast teams will turn around production fast and know exactly when your podcast episode will be launched. Others are more haphazard and could take 6 months, meaning a long wait time. These factors will impact your business outcomes, so we need to consider the production history of a podcast as one criteria for selection.
Promotion - what is the social reach, promotional activity of the host and their level of community engagement?
Data underpins the science of Podcast Guesting success and often it's something difficult to do alone. Rather than build your own lists, leverage the data collected by us talking to and working with 1000s of podcasts already.
Beyond the Scientific Data of successful Podcast Guesting, we should also look at the Art, which is the 3rd Why... why now?
The 3rd Why, being the newsworthiness of your key talking points, is based more on an empathy and understanding of what works when a hosts looks at an outreach message on Linkedin or email.
Working with Podcast Guesting Pro is like having a copywriter in your team - we craft headlines and talking points that grab and hold audience attentions for you.
Why are you a good Podcast Guest Now?
Often I find we can get so engrossed in our world of work that we often forget that our audiences get left behind.
If you're leading a category or niche, the challenge is that you are moving faster than your followers. Consider how terms like "Digital Transformation", "Corporate Purpose" or "Agile" are common in business parlance today but a few years ago people would have looked lost if you spoke about them.
It's the same with your talking points. One of the main goals of the initial Media Profiling Session we hold with new podcast guesting clients is to establish newsworthy talking points for their profile. For example, "Leadership" is a very popular business topic on podcasts for a good reason - we live in a world of constant crises. Yet, the key to success in podcast guesting is framing that top level topic as newsworthy talking points that tell us why we need to talk about Leadership now.
This is what we do at Podcast Guesting Pro with our clients. We see 100s maybe 1000s of podcast "pitches" a week land in the inboxes of our own agency podcasts and 99% of them are junk. They are junk because (a) they don't know who the audience is (see above) and (b) they don't create any sense of urgency why we need to talk about this subject now.
For example, see the difference in these two talking points:
A) I'd like to talk about C-Suite leadership and my experience working at the top level in banking and aviation
B) From the impact of Covid to teams struggling to adapt to remote work to Geopolitical crises in Europe, we are witnessing a crisis in modern leadershop. A recent McKinsey survey states that 82% of highly skilled employees left their organizations due to issues related to leadership. As the old saying goes, "people don't leave jobs, they leave bosses" - but what makes a leader that people will stay for, and how do we in L&D or Talent Development nurture them in our organizations?
Which of these demonstrates (a) this person knows who they are speaking and their frustrations to and (b) which one is relevant now?
You don't have the time or creative bandwidth to sit down and write out these talking points, so we do that for you. Working with Podcast Guesting Pro is like having a skilled copywriter in your team who knows how to engage podcast hosts and audiences.
Get Booked on Quality Podcasts
When we work with podcast hosts to get thought leaders opportunities to speak on podcasts, we invest time in a) researching the host's audience and b) building a relationship with the host. That takes time and effort, and it's understandable that as a thought leader you also have a business to run. Our done for you podcast booking agency does all the heavy lifting so you can, with confidence, do what you do best - show up, talk and connect.
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.