At Interview Connections, we know how to harness the power of a podcast appearance. We are a non-traditional PR firm with a singular focus on podcast interviews. With more than five years of experience in the field, we’re the leading booking agency for podcasters and guest experts. Our fearless founder Jessica Rhodes, literally wrote the book on rocking both sides of the mic.
Whether you’re newly pod-curious, a veteran podcast guest or an aspiring host, the opportunities for marketing through podcasts are endless. On an episode of the Marketing Speak podcast, Jessica talks with host and SEO expert Stephan Spencer about the strategies you can steal for getting –– and keeping –– clients with every interview.
1. SEO is the secret sauce
“We represent entrepreneurs, business owners and subject matter experts to get them booked on podcasts that are speaking to their target audience,” says Jessica, “with a goal to build their brand, to raise awareness about what they do, and deliver content to their target market.”
Guest appearances on podcasts are an efficient and organic way to generate leads and pump up your SEO. “I talk about SEO a lot on my sales calls,” Jessica says. “It’s usually not the first thing people think about when they want to get interviewed on podcasts, but SEO is a huge benefit.”
How does it work? It’s complicated –– Google’s algorithms are constantly changing. But the gist is this: podcast episodes have no expiration date, and an episode’s show notes, linked to our own site and social media profiles, can juice your search results for years to come.
Plus, as you take the podcast world by storm, your name or business float closer to the top of search results as you grow your reputation as a trusted expert in your field.
2. Content > leads > trust, in that order
Podcasts are excellent for lead generation, Jessica says. “Usually at least one person from a podcast will reach out and say, ‘I heard you on this show.’”
Retaining clients and maintaining an SEO advantage happens naturally when you provide high-quality content. By creating content that’s useful and shareable, your traffic and your search results grow. “I create podcast episodes that help my clients,” says Jessica. “Then I go on other podcasts as a guest to share valuable information that will give my clients more value.”
Ideally, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle: listeners become leads, leads become clients, and clients invest further in you as they watch you succeed.
Jessica’s frequent guest spots create the “stick factor,” she says. “When my clients see that I’m an expert, practicing the strategies I’m helping them implement and showing that they work, they stay with me longer. I can say, ‘I’m doing this right alongside you.’ It gives me a way to bond with them.”
3. Both sides of the mic, now
“It definitely helps if you have your own podcast,” says Jessica. If your goal is to get in front of a certain audience, you boost your chances by offering the host a spot on your own show. “Each interview opportunity is an interview trade.”
Established hosts can find advantages to guesting, as well. As you get to know other podcasters, doors open and you become a trusted colleague in your field.
Interview Connections illustrates this first-hand — its network is its biggest asset. “When I’m going out there and getting interviewed on shows, I’m staying connected with what’s happening in the podcasting industry,” she says.
As an unexpected bonus, Jessica’s guest spots resonate with her team. “When my employees listen to interviews I’ve done, it’s helpful for them to hear my story. They can learn more about the history of the business, and it gets them involved in the culture.”
4. Your one-sheet is your new BFF
Both when you’re pitching and after you’re booked, you want to demonstrate your value. Enter the one-sheet –– a way, Jessica says, to tell podcasters, “Here’s what we can talk about, here’s what an interview could be like with me.”
As a guest, you’ll be a hero if you make the host’s job easy.
“Even if you don’t have an agency representing you, make yourself a nice one-sheet,” says Jessica. “It’s a single-page PDF with your branding, logo, and a bio written in third person. It allows them to be instantly prepared to interview you.”
The one-sheet should be long enough to include all your bragging rights, but short enough so the podcast host can easily read that as an introduction to their show. (That’s also why third person, not the first-person “I,” is key).
Jessica also suggests adding bullet-pointed discussion topics as well as a handful of interview questions. “Mostly, a host will come up with their own questions, but sometimes I’ll hear one from the one-sheet and it’s totally natural –– the listeners don’t know. I love when that happens.”
And of course, those questions are ones you’re prepared for.
Polish off your one-sheet with your contact information, including your website and social media links. Add your Skype handle too, since you’re likely to use it for the interview itself.
5. Pitch with caution
Whether you’re pitching yourself or someone is doing it for you, make sure you’re doing it well. Like a typo-laden cover letter addressed to the wrong company, a crappy pitch will go straight to the trash.
“Sometimes I get pitches for my show, Rock the Podcast, and they make the prospective guest look so bad,” Jessica says. “I would be so careful. You can’t do this on the cheap. If you have an employee pitch for you, what’s the cost of your reputation if they mess up, if they haven’t done their research?”
If you’re not ready to hire an agency like ours, Jessica suggests the DIY approach. Do your homework, proofread, and start slow. “Sometimes with bigger shows, it helps to personally reach out,” she says. “Invest a little bit of time each week to build a relationship with the host.”
6. … but keep it light
“We brought in an improv comedian to train our staff in comedy writing,” says Jessica. “It helped our booking agents learn how to write in a more entertaining way. We’ve gotten responses that are like, ‘I get pitched all the time but I’m replying to you because this honestly made me laugh.’
“I would unbutton that figurative shirt a little bit and loosen up. Write a pitch that’s going to make the host smile and recognize you’ll be an entertaining guest. it’s not always about content. It’s about interviewing somebody who’s going to be enjoyable to talk to.”
Jessica talks about a great pitch she received from David Ralph of Join Up Dots. “The subject line said, ‘your podcast is missing a sexy middle-aged Englishman.’ I’m like, “I don’t even have to open the email. Yes, you are coming on my podcast, that’s amazing.”
7. Have a clear objective –– and one compelling call to action
As a podcast guest, it pays to focus on one goal at a time, Jessica advises. It’s unrealistic to get new clients, increase your podcast audience, and spike your website traffic from one podcast interview alone.
“Too many options and too many calls to action will leave people confused and not knowing which to choose,” she says. “Make it simple. Most people are listening to podcasts on their mobile device –– while they’re out, or getting ready in the morning, or at the gym.”
If your goal is to grow your own audience, for example, draw potential new listeners toward your podcast with a specific suggestion. Title your shows (beyond episode numbers) and direct the audience to a particular one. “Ask them subscribe so they don’t just look it up and forget about it,” Jessica says.
What about lead magnets –– the freebies so many podcast guests offer so listeners opt in to a mailing list?
“My advice is a little bit less traditional than what you’ll hear from a lot of marketing experts. I don’t think that content opt-in is always the right solution,” says Jessica. “For some people it’s a white paper; for others, it’s a webinar. But those have never been a game changer for me. Most of my current clients were not on my email list at first. Honestly, whatever works for your business and whatever your target market wants, do that.”
8. Choose fortune over fame
“My business coach, Ali Brown, always talks about going for fortune over fame,” Jessica says. “One pitfall people make, especially in podcasting, is to focus on fame and rankings.”
Instead, Interview Connections concentrates on tangible results: metrics like revenue, profit, building a successful team, client retention, and employee retention. For Jessica, podcast ROI is truly measured by a healthy bottom line.
“In my own bio, I talk about how I’ve scaled from zero to the high six figures,” she says. “We will break into the seven-figure mark with basically no advertising. I don’t have 10,000 people listening to my podcast or even on my email list, but I have a very successful business and I’ve got the results to show for it.”
Those kinds of numbers reflect a reputation with a firm foundation. “It gives me more credibility than just talking about being #1 in iTunes, which I’m not,” she says, noting that followers and rankings don’t necessarily mean real-world success.
“Most smart entrepreneurs know that you can fake your way into being a bestseller.”
This article is based an episode of Marketing Speak, which is hosted by Stephan Spencer, author of “Google Power Search” and other books.