How to be the world’s greatest podcast sponsor | Schaefer Marketing Solutions

By Mark Schaefer

Tom Webster and I have had the honor of hosting great podcast sponsors on our Marketing Companion show for more than five years now. And we’ve learned a few things about what does and doesn’t work with a podcast partner. So here are some tips for all you wonderful podcasters and advertisers out there to make the relationship work well.

Podcast advertisements primarily fall into two categories (basically evenly split):

  • Baked in: These ads are part of the actual podcast and are often read live by the podcast host. They will live on for eternity inside the podcast content. Everyone who downloads the podcast hears the same ad.
  • Dynamically inserted: These ads are inserted after the podcast ends, via an ad server. Not all users will hear the same dynamically inserted ad when they download a podcast.

Listen in

Before you become a sponsor, familiarize yourself with the show. You’re becoming part of the brand so make sure the tone, topic, and professionalism fits your company culture. Don’t become a podcast sponsor just because of potential reach. Listen to the hosts and learn about the pace, the tone, and the demographics of the audience.

Laura Pence Atencio is host of the Social Savvy Geek show and said: “Sponsors need to get to know the podcast host and be unafraid to say no to a poor fit. There should be synergy between both partners and the audience. It’s also critical that both parties are crystal clear on expectations and deliverables to make sure you are working toward common goals.”

Take advantage of organic advocacy

The power and beauty of podcasting is the validation you receive from the trusted podcast hosts. There are many advertising formats but at some point the podcast hosts will discuss your sponsorship with their listeners. Don’t make your ads overly-scripted. Let the host talk about you with natural enthusiasm. I love it when our sponsors provide “talking points” and then let us roll. We’ve even sung songs about our sponsors!

You should provide access to your product so the host can promote your company with authentic enthusiasm.

Have a compelling offer

Here’s some good news: 75% of podcast listeners not only pay attention to podcast ads, but they also follow specific calls to action after hearing them. Podcasts are one of the few mediums left where the ads get through!

Make it easy for a person listening to a podcast in the car or working out to remember your offer and your website. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Make a blockbuster offer they can’t refuse.
  • Make the URL (website name) easy to remember
  • Don’t “gate” the content. Make it easy to access.

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is the award-winning host of the wonderful Marketing Smarts podcast. She adds: “Work with the host to provide trackable URLs or gated downloadable assets — ways to track and attribute revenue back to the sponsorship. It’s possible to go beyond podcast downloads, but only if the sponsor will help lay the groundwork!”


Why do see the same TV ad over and over? One reason. Repetition works.

One of our sponsors passed along a great success story. They said people were coming up to meet them at a trade show because they had heard about them from our show. It’s unlikely that would have happened if they had only advertised for 2–3 shows. This sponsor had stuck with us for two years. Nothing builds awareness like repetition. We recommend at least six months for our sponsors.

Rotating offers

Most shows have loyal listeners who can’t wait to hear each episode. But over time an offer can get stale and they may tune it out. So every couple weeks, refresh the offer.

Podcasting pro Douglas Karr, host of the long-running MarTech Interviews series, said “I include our sponsor’s offer in the feed notes and show page with a trackable URL back to the sponsor. We also ask our sponsors to build a custom landing page to track inbound traffic.”

Help them help you

I’m amazed at how many of our sponsors haven’t supported their own sponsorship efforts by promoting the show through their social media channels, internal and external communications, and even paid boosts. Podcast sponsorship is a great value, but get the most out of it by promoting the show!

My friend Phil Gerbyshak adds: “To be a great sponsor, think like a partner. Create some graphics to share, actually have your team listen to the podcast and review it, and then share it on the company social channels, not just because you sponsored it or you like the host but because someone listened to the show and took away a nugget or two.”

Common podcasting terms

If you’re just getting started with podcast advertising, here are a few of the most common terms you’ll need to know to get started.

  • Pre-roll: an ad that gets mentioned at the beginning of a podcast.
  • Mid-roll: an ad that plays in the middle of a podcast.
  • Outro: the last few words of a podcast where the advertiser can slip in a final call to action.
  • Offer code: a coupon code that the host gives to the audience to track conversions directly to the ad campaign.
  • Native ads: advertising that matches its delivery platform, as if it is an extension of it.
  • Direct response: marketing or advertising that can be measured and tracked — for podcasts this is usually in the form of a URL or offer code.
  • CPM rate: an ad expense measurement of the “cost per mille” (or per thousand) listens of a podcast.
  • CPA rate: a measurement of the “cost per acquisition,” or cost to acquire one new customer as a result of an advertisement

What other suggestions do you have for a podcast sponsor? I’d be happy to add it to my list!

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for {grow}, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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Originally published at on December 10, 2018.




Keynote speaker, strategy consultant, Rutgers University marketing faculty and author of 9 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Cumulative Advantage.

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Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, strategy consultant, Rutgers University marketing faculty and author of 9 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Cumulative Advantage.

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