Finding Sponsors: Where Do I Start?


Finding and attracting sponsors to your podcast, blog or web show is one of the most difficult, yet potentially most lucrative, aspects of your business. Business? Yes. If you’re looking to make money doing what you love, your content is a business.

To that point, it’s important to treat your content creation that way from the very beginning – professionally. You never know who may be listenin/watching/reading, and you won’t get another chance to make an initial impression on someone… especially someone who may be willing to spend their money to work with you.

But if you are thinking about working directly with advertisers and sponsors, here are a few things you’ll need to do to get ready and get started:

  1. Be Prepared… for when opportunity knocks -  “Do as I say, and not as I do.” Believe it or not, you don’t always have to seek out sponsors. Sometimes they’ll come to you. And if (and when) they do, you need to be ready. When a potential sponsor called me in 2005 about advertising on my show, I had no idea about what I could offer, or what I should charge. It’s (almost) 2013, and times, opinions and the economy has changed, so you need to be ready. Put together a simple media kit (read the NMX article “38 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Media Kits” by Allison Boyer to find out how to create one. Be sure and know your audience – not just the stats and numbers, but who they are, what they want, and what may appeal to them.
  2. Be Careful – Speaking of your audience, don’t take money from anyone that is willing to throw it at you. Be prepared to say “No.” Why? Because anyone who sponsors you must be one that is organic and relevant. Your audience TRUSTS you. That is paramount, and if it’s lost, it’s often lost forever. Be sure who you partner with brings value to your listener/reader/viewer. They believe in what you say and who you endorse, and remember that anyone that advertises with you is ultimately a reflection on you. If something goes bad, your audience will turn to you.
  3. Be Creative – Podcasting and blogging is not enough. You need to be everywhere. Always. It’s work. REAL work. But but doing more in multiple mediums, including videos, livestreaming, events, newsletters, etc., you are creating more opportunities for your potential sponsors. More opportunities gives you more creativity to share and spread the sponsor’s messages, and thus ultimately more income.
  4. Be Convincing – Podcast advertising just works. Plain and simple. But you may need to convince a potential sponsor and back it up with real data. How? Don’t worry – some of the heavy lifting has been done for you already. You’ll need to gather your own listener statistics (your hosting provider, such as Blubrry.com or Libsyn.com, can provide this for you). Overall, though, podcast advertising is very effective. For example, according to Edison Research in a study conducted in 2009: 80% of surveyed podcast consumers surveyed agreed that they “prefer to buy products from companies that advertise on or sponsor” the podcasts they regularly enjoy. Ninety-percent of respondents had taken some kind of action as a result of podcast advertising or sponsorship, and over 40% reported purchasing behaviors, which indicates that they are receptive to the right message, in the right context,” according to Edison Research Vice President Tom Webster. Survey Methodology: Respondents in this online survey were recruited using audio/video messages embedded in podcasts from some of the leading aggregators of downloadable media, including NPR, Wizzard, RawVoice and Revison3, during the 4th quarter of 2009. Source: The 2012 State of Podcasting Report.
  5. Be Confident- But remember that you must convince them to buy into YOU. So you need to be prepared to show them what your value is to their brand, why your endorsement to your loyal, very targeted audience is so valuable, and why you being an influencer to that audience helps determine your rate.
    • Determining what to charge is often the most difficult question of all. And because most of us are coming from a background where we’re not salesmen (unless you really were a salesman), determining and standing by what you value your sponsorship opportunities to be worth can be extremely challenging. So, where so you start? I suggest looking at the sponsorship opportunities you’ve established and looking at what you can deliver in terms of not only traffic, but conversions. Your sponsor is not just looking to potentially build their brand, but sell a product or service. Some ways to help determine your value and sponsorship costs:
      • Get comps – Look at other sites and shows and see what their rates are and for what they are offering. How do you compare in terms of traffic, reach and audience loyalty? Now look to other mediums in your niche, especially ones that a potential sponsor may already be advertising in. Research the costs of magazine ads, TV and radio spots, and even billboards. Find out where else the sponsor is already spending their money. And be confident in being able to convince the sponsor that what you can deliver is not only much more targeted and valuable, but trackable, changeable, unique and proven.
      • Be confident in who YOU are – Keep in mind that when you have built a loyal audience of listeners, viewers, or readers (hopefully all three), that the trust your audience has placed in you carries a huge value. A brand may broadcast a message about why their restaurant is great, but when your audience hears a review and endorsement from you, it carries a much different and powerful weight to it.
  6. Be Patient- Being patient means not just being patient in terms of waiting to attract, find and sign a sponsor, but with the sponsor themselves. For many brands, advertising in online media is a new venture for them, and very much outside their comfort zone. You will undoubtedly have to teach (and convince) them about the mediums, their opportunities and benefits, and why THEY need to be patient as well. Why? Because often times, advertising is a marathon and not a sprint, and they may not see their returns on the first day, or even for the first few weeks or months. So be patient while waiting for them, then while working with them, and why they may need to be patient but confident as well.
  7. Be Amazing- When you do come to an agreement with a sponsor, you need to set reasonable expectations on both ends. You need to outline what you can provide, and what the sponsor expects in return. Then do more. My belief is simple – Underpromise and Overdeliver. WOW your sponsor and they will remain a loyal partner.The most important part of finding and working with sponsors is to continue to be true to yourself, your mission and your audience. Keep them in mind first and always, as you begin to move your content creation and monetization in a new direction. Be prepared for many learning opportunities along the way, as well as some disappointments. But also be ready to invest a great deal of time and effort, and for the benefits that sponsorship can bring you and your audience. For more help, check out some previous NMX posts and articles:

Working with Sponsors for your Podcast [Video Series] 

Introducing Our Brand New Free Ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship

3 Ways to Monetize a Podcast

The Number One Mistake You’re Making if You Want Sponsors

What are YOUR biggest challenges in finding and/or working with sponsors? Please leave your comments below, and I look forward to meeting you at New Media Expo in January!

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn more from Lou about getting sponsors, check out his session “7 Ways to Find, Sign and Profit from Sponsors for your Brand” at NMX in Las Vegas.

Please tell us how to reach you and we will notify you as soon as registration opens
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About Lou Mongello

Lou Mongello is a widely recognized Walt Disney World author, expert, host, speaker and historian. He is the host/producer of the WDW Radio show, which has been named Best Travel Podcast for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He is also the Founder of the Dream Team Project , which has raised more than $250,000 to send children with life-threatening illnesses to Walt Disney World. 

Comments

  1. Thanks Lou. Great article. As someone who is launching his first solo podcast in January, I found your article very helpful in getting on the right track from the start. Love your show as well.

  2. Thanks Lou. The biggest problem I’ve had with sponsors is what would be the going rate?
    Do you know of any sort of general pricing guidelines out there because I haven’t been doing this long enough to know how much to ask for.

  3. Hello Lou,

    Thanks for the excellent tips on podcast sponsors. I am just began my podcast three months ago. I LOVE IT! At the moment, I haven’t considered sponsors but once my audience reaches my target, I would like to begin accepting sponsors. I enjoy reading helpful content like yours because by the time I’m ready, I will be confident and will know what I’m doing. Thanks again:)

    To Your Success,
    Stacie Walker
    Woman in Leadership