If you’ve ever thought about developing your authority in your market, then surely you’ve thought about being a guest on a podcast.
There are tons of great reasons to do it: it’s a (relatively) small time commitment, someone else shoulders the load of production, and the podcast host has gone to the trouble of building the audience for you.
I get a lot of pitches for guests on my podcast, and most of them are…underwhelming, to say the least. I’ve also recorded hundreds of episodes as both a host and a guest, and I’d like to help you avoid the mistakes I’ve made.
In this post, you’ll learn:
- How to send a cold email pitch to get onto any podcast, including Top 10 shows
- Four ways to to find shows in your niche
- How to be a great guest
- How to get the most marketing push from your appearance
How to Send a Cold Email Pitch to a Podcaster
Here’s an example email pitch I received for my Modern Sales podcast:
I’ll dissect this email for you, one step at a time, and tell you how to do better. Each number corresponds the numbers on the email.
- Subject line: starting with “Re:” is a cheap trick because it implies that he’s responding to a previous message we’ve exchanged. Lying is a bad first impression. But yes, I am tired of awful guest pitches so he has my attention.
- I’m a big fan of using video in email. It shows that he actually went to my site and did some homework, and I can see the landing page for my podcast right in the thumbnail. But I’m not yet ready to commit to watching a video…
- Okay now it all falls apart. He doesn’t have to wonder who my ideal guest is – he could take a look at the episodes in the public feed and make an informed guess. Strike one.
- I don’t care how old your company is. This sentence should be removed. Strike 2.
- Too much work! I could take the time to hit reply here, but I assure you that it’s very easy to land prominent podcast guests. I don’t need anyone’s help, so this sender had better make it easy on me. Once again the sender could’ve done a little homework to make guesses on this front. Lazy. Strike three.
- He already struck out, but this is strike four. End cold emails with a call to action that’s easy for the recipient to perform.
- And #7 “have an amazing Sunday” is pretty insincere. Skip it.
Now that I’ve critiqued the email, I’ll tell you what I like about it. It’s short and to the point, and it’s clear who the person is and what he wants.
Now I’ll show you the alternative.
This is an email I sent to a Top 10 podcast in its category, and was asked to be a guest after the first email:
Here’s a breakdown of the thought that went into this email:
- A simple, direct subject line that’s short enough to be fully rendered on every device.
- A video made specifically for the host, with a GIF thumbnail and the name of the host and his podcast clearly visible (you can’t see that part, but trust me, it’s there).
- Proof that I did research about his show by referencing a recent episode, plus the number of episodes he’s published.
- A customized line that includes the name of the podcast I’m pitching (which is blurred – but again, you’ll have to trust me).
- A reference to recent episode themes, and a pitch that fits into the theme with a specific topic idea for an episode. This makes it easy for the host to say yes or no.
- Humor about me not being a crappy guest – this is a big pain point for interview shows – along with some social proof to build credibility.
- A simple yes or no question as the call to action.
So that’s the formula: direct subject line, proof of investment in the outreach and interest in the particular show, a simple pitch, social proof, and a call to action to close.
The only critique I’d give my own email is that it should be shorter, and could probably lose the video, but this particular host quite liked it.
Finding Shows In Your Niche
If you’re not sure which shows you should be on, the process to finding good ones is quite easy. I have four methods for you: categories, keywords, markets, and doppelgängers.
Every podcast is listed by its owner in one or more categories. Categories range from “business” to “marketing” to “technology” to “comedy” and everything in between. If you’re targeting shows that fit in a particular category, this is a good place to start because categories are self-selected by show hosts and producers.
For keywords, simply type in the name of the keywords of podcasts you’re looking for. For me, that might be “sales” or “prospecting” or “marketing” or similar. It could also be “entrepreneurship” or “psychology,” though the latter will return a lot of irrelevant shows.
Markets and verticals are another option. “Financial advisors” or “wealth advisers” is a market. “Personal trainers” is a market. “IT providers” and “school teachers” are both markets. The idea is to find a market that isn’t covered by a category.
For doppelgängers, just draft the tailwinds of leaders in your field. So if I were to look for marketing podcasts to be on, I could start by looking for shows that have featured Seth Godin, a popular marketing author. Typically you’d look for market authorities to use with this technique. Think authors or thought leaders as a good starting place.
Keep in mind for all of these that you should target your search based on the audience you want to reach.
Being a Great Guest
Being a great guest means having something to say. Being original helps, but being interesting and memorable is far more important.
Before your appearance, have a clear picture of the show’s target audience, the show format, and a main point you can make, with three supporting points. That’s really all you need to be a great guest.
I’ve interviewed over 100 guests and have recorded 300+ episodes, and I can tell you that people who regularly write are typically better guests. Sure, there are authors out there who make for bad radio personalities, but I generally find that authors have better internalized and organized their subject matter.
Know your topic. Be prepared to talk concisely about it.
I’ve heard people say “I’ll just wing it – the point is to have a good conversation.” Sorry, but no it’s not. The point is to give the audience what they’re showing up for. In some cases, they are showing up for good conversation, but it’s unlikely that you have the street cred or charisma of Neil deGrasse Tyson on Joe Rogan.
Most of the interview shows I appear on are 20-30 minutes. Sketch out what you’re going to say in a few bullets – even write an essay about your main topic, just once – so that you’re concise and intelligible. Some hosts will provide you with themes or questions ahead of time. If they don’t, it’s good to ask if there’s anything in particular that they’d like to cover.
Your tech is also a consideration. At the very least, use an external mic on your computer or phone. But for $100, you can sound about 10x better without having to be a professional audio engineer. For specific recommendations on microphones at various levels, check out my article on remote selling that has links to my mic recommendations on Amazon.
Getting the Most Out of Your Appearance
I’ve made this mistake a lot.
I spend the time to reach out to a podcaster, book the podcast, prep for my appearance, then nothing comes of it.
I subscribe to the idea that some marketing is better than no marketing, but it’s also worth it to put in the marginal effort to get more results.
Here’s a list of everything you could get out of an interview, though you probably won’t get all of it every time:
- A new podcast recording (you’ll always get that)
- A link back to your website
- A call to action that drives email subscribers or sales
- A mention to the host’s social media and/or email audiences
- New content you can share with your own audience
- A relationship with the host
- Referrals to other shows
- Referring friends or colleagues to the host
All of this is pretty self-explanatory except for the call to action. Which is to say, if people hear you on a podcast, what do you want them to do? Most guests (including me) make two mistakes here: they give too many options, or they’re too generic.
Most guests have a generic CTA like “add me on Linked” or “visit my website,” but this is pretty weak. Be specific. Even a CTA like “sign up for my newsletter” is better than “go to my website.” If you have a CTA related to your appearance, even better. Authors will tell you to buy their books, but a more adept author will say “download the first chapter of the book for free at mysite.com/chapter.” If I talk about “the four sales fundamentals” then my CTA would be for my free sales training video.
Then there’s the issue of giving too many CTAs. I think it’s fine to give out two links: one general, and one specific. But a lot of guests will give 5 or more options like “I’m on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, my company site, my newsletter, and Twitch…” Don’t do that. Pick one general place (i.e. your website or LinkedIn or Twitter) and one specific place tied to your CTA, which is typically a specific URL. As an example, I use the CTA for my newsletter or free sales email course.
Getting onto podcasts isn’t hard, it just takes effort. If you’re at all interested in developing authority in your market, being a podcast guest is one of the best things you can do to establish yourself.
It helps you sharpen your message, reach new audiences, and improve your public speaking skills.
Start collecting options, contacting hosts, and prepping for your appearances, and you’ll be surprised by the results. Even if you’re not sure about your radio voice – trust me – you can still be a great podcast guest.
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