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Finding Sponsors: Where Do I Start?

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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.

38 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Media Kits

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Media Kits

One of the most important sections in NMX’s free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship, talks about the importance of having a media kit if you want to work with sponsors in any way. A media kit is a document (or set of documents) that talks about your blog, including audience demographics, traffic and other statistics, ad prices, testimonials, and contact information. It can also be handy for press if you’re ever interviewed. With a media kit, it’s much easier to be taken seriously as a member of the media. Today’s list of links gives you all the advice you need to make a media kit for your own blog!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week

Making a Blogger Media Kit by Katy Widrick

If you want a great overview of how to create a simple media kit for your blog, look no farther than this post from Katy Widrick. She goes over the elements you need in your media kit (and resume) so you can be prepared for any potential sponsor who comes a-knocking. You don’t need a long drawn-out document to give sponsors and press the information they need about your blog. Katy’s own media kit is here (pdf), and she followed up this post with a subsequent post highlighting some awesome media kits sent in by readers, so check that one out as well. You can connect with Katy on Twitter at @kwidrick.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 4 Must Have Items For Your Blogger Media Kit by Karen Moran (@MagnetSocial and  @Ad_Chickadee)
  2. 15 Things You Should Include in Your Media Kit by Sadie Lankford (@sadie_lankford)
  3. Advice to bloggers: Making a Media Kit by Liss (@frillyhills)
  4. Bigger, Better, Bolder: Build Your Media Kit by Taylor Davies
  5. Bloggers: What’s a Media Kit? by Erika Bragdon (@MusingsSAHM)
  6. Blogging 101: How to Write a Media Kit that Gets Noticed! by Jeannette Fender (@JManMillerBug)
  7. Blogging 101: Media Kits & One Sheets by Amy Bellgardt (@momspark)
  8. Build an Attractive Mom Blog Media Kit by Wendy Piersall (@emom)
  9. Business of Blogging: Building A Media Kit by Ashley
  10. Create A Media Kit to Attract Advertisers To Your Blog by Marko Saric (@markosaric)
  11. The Dirt on Blogging Media Kits by Sommer Poquette (@greenmom)
  12. Five Things To Include In Your Blog’s Media Kit by Anna Viele (@abdpbt)
  13. Know Your Numbers: Putting Together a Media Kit by Christina Gleason (@WELLinTHIShouse)
  14. How to Accept Ads on Your Blog: Create a Media Kit by Jennifer James
  15. How to Build a Media Kit for Your Blog by Randa Derkson (@bewitchinkitch)
  16. How to Create a Beauty Blog Media Kit by Jennifer Mathews (@mybeautybunny)
  17. How to Create a Knock Out Media Kit for Your Blog by Keiko Zoll (@KeikoZoll)
  18. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Barb Likos (@chaotic_barb)
  19. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Rebecca (@twobecomefour)
  20. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Naomi Ellis (@sevencherubs)
  21. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Stephanie McCratic (@evolvedmommy)
  22. How to Create a Media Kit Using PicMonkey by Cecily Kellogg (@Cecilyk)
  23. How to Create a Travel Blog Media Kit by Ethan Gelber (@thetravelword)
  24. How to Create the Ultimate Online Media Kit by Michael Hyatt (@michaelhyatt)
  25. How to Make a Media Kit for a Blog by Sally Whittle (@swhittle)
  26. How to Monetize Your Blog: Creating a Media Kit by Allison (@Alli_n_Son)
  27. How to Put Together a Media Kit for your Blog by Ursula Herrick (@ursulapr)
  28. How to Write a Media Kit by Lisa Stauber
  29. How to Write a Media Kit for Your Blog by Deborah Cruz (@TruthfulMommy)
  30. Media Kit for Blog: How to Create One for Yours by Alyssa Clarke
  31. Media Kits : How to Create and What to Put In Them by Colleen Shibley (@shibleysmiles)
  32. Tips for Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog by Amy Lynn Andrews
  33. Tips to Make your Media Kit Stand Out! by Lindsay Lee (@blackblondeone)
  34. Want To Monetize Your Blog? Create a Media Kit by Ana Flores (@laflowers)
  35. What is a Media Kit and How Do I Make One? by Amy Roberts (@raising_arrows and @hsblogging)
  36. Your Blog’s Media Kit by Melanie Nelson (@chilihead)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about media kits? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Media Kit Examples

Usually, I just have the list of Brilliant Bloggers for you, but this week as a special bonus, I’ve also included some examples of media kits I’ve found from bloggers across various niches. As you can see, media kits vary greatly depending on the style of your blog, and you can offer them as PDFs, publish them as a page on your blog, or even upload them to slideshare.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Adwords

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

How to Use Google to Find Sponsors for your Blog, Podcast, or Web Series [Video]

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As content creators, we usually don’t consider ourselves as working in sales. However, if you want to monetize and you aren’t taking a sales approach, you’re going to be wasting a lot of time sitting around and waiting for your phone to ring.

Want sponsors for you blog? Then go out there and find them!

In this video, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how you can use Google to find sponsors for your blog – and you could use this same technique to find sponsors for your podcast or web series as well. It’s about going out there and grabbing the advertisers you want. Here’s the video:

I’ve used this same technique on some of my personal blogs in the past, and it’s always been pretty successful. Here are a few extra tips I have for contacting people you’ve found via Google:

  • Contact them the way they want to be contacted.  Usually, whatever is listed first or most prevalently is the best way to contact. Sometimes, people just don’t want cold calls, but they are happy to consider your advertising rates if you send an email.
  • Whenever possible, talk to the person in charge. Calling a customer service number often leads to someone who can’t make advertising decisions. In the video, Gary asks to speak to the person who makes decisions, and that is something you should always remember to do. Don’t waste your time talking to someone who can’t give you money.
  • Give a few options (but not too many options). When you cold call, you have no idea what an advertising budget looks like for a company. So, give them a few options. For example, I offer very affordable monthly rates, but I also offer packages for larger ads, sponsored posts, and more for people who have money to burn. Avoid too many options (that just gets confusing), but if someone says no to your first pitch, be ready with a follow-up proposal that meets their budget and advertising needs better.

Want to learn more about montization? We have an entire monetization track at NMX that you can check out! For past monetization-related sessions, consider our virtual ticket, or for information on attending an upcoming show, head to the NMX event site.

BlackBerry & Social Customer Service

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… An Interview with David Armano and RIM’s Social CS Team

Research In Motion (BlackBerry), is one of the sponsors for BlogWorld 2010 and also an Edelman client (my employer), but what you might not know about them is that they are quite active in the social media space, especially when it comes to providing customer care in addition to tips on how BlackBerry fans can get the most of their devices. With over 154k followers on Twitter, the CS (customer service) group regularly engages customers out in the open in a variety of ways. I was able to catch up Michelle Kostya and Baldev Solanki who are two of the architects’ behind the social customer service efforts at BlackBerry.

DA: Blackberry offers support to customers in a variety of ways including online forums. Why did you extend this in places such as Twitter with @blackberryhelp?

MK: Due to the nature of the business, customers usually dealt with their carriers rather than directly with us. This meant that when we launched the forums we were able to truly connect with our customers in a way that wasn’t possible before. All of a sudden we had the ability to gather valuable feedback and work directly with our customers to solve their issues. By being able to help our customers immediately and by showing them neat tips and tricks we were able delight them! But, we recognized that just as not everyone will call to get help, not everyone will visit a forum to ask for help. It became our goal as the Social Media Support team to be where our customers were. Our Digital Marketing counterparts had set up channels on various social channels and customers were asking support questions – it only made sense that we were there to help!

DA: Doesn’t interacting with customers who may be frustrated with your products open the door to public displays of dissatisfaction? How do you manage the risks?

BS: On the contrary, every dissatisfied customer is an opportunity for us to provide a great support experience. The real risk is not engaging. Our goal is to always be professional and follow through. It is a great feeling to delight a frustrated customer and see them become a raving fan.

DA: You decided to take a somewhat personal approach to providing customer care in a social channel by putting the faces of the team behind the account vs. it being the single brand. Why?

MK: Customers service is about a 1:1 conversation. Even when you are talking about traditional customer service it is one person talking to another on the telephone. We wanted our followers to know that the team on Twitter are real people. So they sign their name on each tweet and have their pics up on the background. And, we are taking it offline too! At Blogworld two members of the team will be “live” at the BlackBerry booth providing on-site help and tips!

DA: In the traditional customer care model, success in channels such as call centers is often measured by volume and time per call. What are some of the ways you measure success?

BS: Sometimes defining success measures feels like a quest for the holy social media grail. We tweet a lot of tips so we use retweets as a measure of how useful the content is. In addition we treat positive tweets and thanks as a measure of customer satisfaction. On our forums, Accepted Solutions from the community is a good measure. Remember that some of the standard call centre metrics still apply. Response time and mean time to resolve are definitely things to track.

DA: @blackberryhelp isn’t the only social embassy you’ve built to help your customers get the most out of BlackBerry products. You also have the BlackBerry Help Blog. In the age of Facebook, Twitter and other “shiny objects”, what does a blog get you?

BS: Blogs are about sharing with authenticity. A good enterprise blog can help you really connect deeply with your customers in a meaningful way because the content is not only relevant but insightful and personal. I think most enterprises miss that point. When you do it right, your customers will walk away not only having learned something new but will also feel much more connected to your brand.

MK: Some of the CS staff already wrote how-to posts for Inside BlackBerry Blog and we discovered that these posts were incredibly popular. Our customers wanted to be better (or, the best!) at using their BlackBerry and these posts gave them the info they needed to do this – in a fun and personal way. As with all of the Inside BlackBerry blogs our intent is to get our readers the inside scoop – just focused on the know-how we have on cool tricks, shortcuts and how-to in more than 140 characters.

DA: What are some of the most common requests you get from BlackBerry users? Do your responses vary?

MK: There isn’t really a “typical” request coming to our @BlackBerryhelp team. They get 800 tweets a day from our 155,000+ followers and they range from technical questions to feature requests and from questions about release dates to conversational tweets asking the team how they are doing. So, yes our responses definitely vary although we do have some typical answers for more common requests. Plus, we have a huge library of helpful tips and tricks that we share throughout the day.

DA: What is the one piece of advice you would give to other major brands looking to help their customers leveraging social media?

BS: Don’t succumb to “Cheshire Cat Syndrome” (remember how confused Alice in Wonderland was in choosing a path?). Be careful of starting down the path of social media customer support if you don’t know where you want to end up. Define objectives first, and then try a pilot to limit the risk. A lesson learned from the trenches – most of the time in Social Media land, when you open a door, it’s really hard to shut.

MK: I would say the biggest piece of advice I have is that you need to recognize that customers don’t care what department you are from when they are talking to you via a social channel. A customer is just as likely to ask a technical support question, as they are to provide you with product feature requests, or post they are looking for a job at the company! No matter who “owns” the channel internally– you need a way to route feedback and respond when necessary to your customers. Participation in social channels means breaking down silos inside your business.

Michelle, Baldev, Thank you both for your time and insights. If you’re reading this and attending BlogWorld (and have a BlackBerry device), feel free to bring it to the BlackBerry booth to receive complimentary tips and general assistance from members of their customer service team.

BlackBerry Help:
Twitter: @blackberryhelp
Website: http://helpblog.blackberry.com/

David Armano:
Twitter: @armano
Website: http://davidarmano.com

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