The Profitable Podcaster

It’s Easier to Renew Former Sponsors Than to Do Cold Outreach

They say it’s easier to sell to current customers than to get new ones. It makes sense, right? Those customers have entered into a relationship with you, have shown they trust you, and have proved their open to giving you money.

The same thing can be said of sponsors. Many people forget that sponsorship is a relationship, and as the creator, you can help the brand. So when a campaign is over, don’t assume the relationship is too. Most of my sponsors from the past year have been former sponsors that renewed.

Here’s what I do to keep sponsors returning, and what you should do too.

Check out Justin Moore’s Creator Wizard newsletter.

Get all of the show notes and a transcript at https://makemoneypod.com/211

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I very nearly lost one of my long-time sponsors of my main show, How I built It. I kind of just assumed things were status quo. And I would reach out to them in November and say, “Hey, you wanna re-up at $15,000 for another year?” And then towards the tail end of the pandemic, I did the same thing and I got word that they were reevaluating their advertising budget. And honestly, my show was one of the lower performing ones, but still cost more. And instead of just saying, “All right.” (Well, say levee, I guess) I worked with them. I asked them what their goals were. I asked them what they have seen work for them. And I came up with a custom package that included podcast sponsorships and a few other things to get their name out across my other channels. And I said, “ Let’s try this for a few months, and then we’ll see where we’re at.”

Well, at the end of that campaign, they were very pleased with the results and they re-upped for the rest of the year. And I’m telling you this because there’s an adage in business, in running a business not just like, I just thought of that meme of the guy on rollerblades in a business suit that’s like haha, business. But there’s an adage when you run a business that it’s easier to sell to current customers than to get new ones. And it’s a bit of a problem that a lot of business owners focus solely or mostly on getting new customers. The same thing can be said in my estimation of sponsors. But a lot of creators and podcasters assume that at the end of a campaign, if the brand wants to sponsor again, they’ll ask you. That’s not the case. 

So today, I want to talk about how to cultivate relationships with your current sponsors. How to stay in touch, and how to win them back for new campaigns. I’m also talking about this now as I record this, it’s September, and while it seems strange, now is the best time for you to do outreach for the next year. So that’s what we’re gonna talk about today on Make Money Podcasting.

Joe Casabona: Hello! And welcome to Make Money Podcasting, where I teach you how to make your first $10,000 with your podcast. On this show, you’ll learn tried and true methods to increase your revenue and turn your podcast from a money pit into a money maker.

Hi! I’m your host, Joe Casabona. And my podcasts have been making money from day one without a lot of downloads. I’ll share everything I know with you here on Make Money Podcasting. 

I thought about this because I was having a conversation for again, my main podcast, How I Built It with my friend Justin Moore. And while I hadn’t intended on talking about this, we both kind of mentioned that sponsorships are a relationship. 

By the way, if you don’t know Justin, I highly recommend you check out his newsletter, Creator Wizard. It’s great. I’ll link it in the show notes which you can find over at [makemoneypod.com/211]. But we both talked about how sponsorships are our relationships. And this was a bit top of mind because this week I started reaching out to former sponsors in preparation for filling up the rest of the catalog this year as well as booking sponsors for next year. And I came to this realization that the last four sponsor checks I got came from former sponsors I stayed in touch with. And you shouldn’t think about sponsorship as this ephemeral thing, right? Don’t just think that because a campaign is over, so is the relationship, right? You’re not selling a one-off thing to sponsors. They’re going to keep advertising as long as it keeps working for them. You should follow up and ask how the campaign went. Get feedback and see if they wanna try it again. Justin said that following up is a win-win. You either get them to renew or you get helpful feedback. 

So here’s my process, or here’s what I recommend for nurturing a sponsor relationship from the beginning through the end of the campaign. 

First, ask them what makes the campaign a win and then help them win. Again, I’m pulling from Justin’s newsletter a lot here but he talks about three ways or three goals for brand campaigns. It’s not always about conversions. It can be about awareness. I have one former sponsor, Ahrefs, who wanted to raise awareness that they have a free version of their tool now. And so that was their goal. Yes, signups are great, but their goal was to basically say like, “Hey, this thing that used to be $99 a month minimum has a free tier now.”

So ask them what makes the campaign a win and then help them win. Start off on the right foot by making sure you have a good ad read that their incentive if they are looking for conversions, is good that you have your links set up properly and get off on the right foot. Then follow up 30 days after the first spot runs. 

So I have a minimum of four spots for How I Built. You can’t buy fewer than that. And so 30 days after the first one runs, I’ll follow up and I’ll ask them, “Hey, it’s been a month since the first ad spot ran. Did you see what you were hoping to see?” And then if there are more episodes and usually there are, right? If it’s long campaign, sometimes I’ll have all of those episodes scheduled already. But if there are more episodes that they’re sponsoring, make small improvements based on feedback. 

One of the things that worked for all of my sponsors earlier this year was shortening the ad read. So, what I was doing mostly because I saw this done on Relay FM where they do live ad reads, like right in the show is I was doing a two or three-minute ad read where I was just talking about how much I liked the brand. The problem with that is most people will skip ads that long. And so they’ll hear me talk about it for a while, and then they just want to get to the content. So they’ll miss the call to action. So instead, I shortened all of my ad reads to 60 seconds. And my sponsors started seeing conversions after that. So if you are working with a brand and you’re 30 days in and there are still more episodes to do, work on the ad read. See what works and what doesn’t. Experiment a little bit and make some small improvements based on that feedback.

I’ll also tweet a little bit more, especially if it’s a first-time sponsor like I’ll try to introduce them to my audience and talk about why I’m excited, you know, via Twitter.  And try to make this first campaign a win. Then 30 days after the end of the campaign, right? So this is 30 days after the last episode ran. So all the stats are in. Most of the downloads have probably happened at this point. Ask them how they feel it went and say like, “Did you get the conversions you wanted? Are you happy with the results you saw to decree buzz?” Whatever it is that the call to action was.

And be ready for feedback because your response to this answer is crucial. If it was good, then ask them straight away if they wanna do another run, right? Sometimes I will offer a small discount for kind of re-upping right now, right? Like, “Hey, if you do this right now, I have got spots available. I’ll give you a 10% discount.” 

If it didn’t go well, this is when you get creative, right? I think a lot of people want sponsorship to be passive income or at least passive once they’ve gotten the sponsor. But it’s not, right? It is for some companies where they just do dynamic ad insert but those podcasts, right? Those companies and those podcasts have millions of downloads and they can charge $20 CPM and make thousands of dollars because people just wanna get in front of their audience. But for smaller guys, smaller gals like you and me, we need to work a little bit if we want more than that $20 CPM because a $20 CPM for most people is gonna be $20 or less. For me, it’s about a hundred bucks. I get a lot more than a hundred bucks for a sponsor so you’re forging this relationship. So if they say it didn’t go well, ask them how they wish it had gone better, and then get creative and present them with a new package. Say, “I totally understand that. I want this to be a win for you.” Sometimes I’ve offered make good episodes, right? Where I’ll give them an extra spot at no extra. But usually, it’s, “Why don’t we try a new campaign? Maybe throw in and make a good episode there where we also do this, where I also make a YouTube video.” And then I point people to that YouTube video so that they can see your product in action. Or if you have a big Instagram following, instead of just mentioning you on Instagram, I will do a dedicated story with five slides or whatever the story screens are called.  I’ll do a reel, right? I’ll post that reel on YouTube shorts, Instagram reels, and then TikTok as well. Get a little bit creative and see if you can win them back a little bit.

Both of these techniques, right, where I just straight up ask if they wanna do another run because it went well, or figuring out something that could work for them. Both of these have worked for me, right? The story at the beginning of the episode tells you as much. I’ve won back former sponsors because I’ve made adjustments.

After you do that, follow up every six months or every quarter, right? Whenever you have inventory. Reach out and say, “Hey, I’ve got some open spots. As a former sponsor, I wanna give you the first write of refusal”, right? This is a term that I use that like publishers will use, right? Where if I publish a book with a company, they get the first write of refusal on any future books, that I want published. But you can give it to these folks tool, “Hey, you sponsored before. Your sponsorship is up. I wanna give you the first write of refusal on this next batch of episodes. I know you’re probably setting budgets for the next quarter. Let me know if this works for you.” 

And then every September, I reach out to everyone who has sponsored my show that I still think is still a good fit. This is the thing, right? If a campaign goes poorly twice, maybe it’s just a bad fit  And so I won’t reach out to those folks again. I’ll kind of understand that it’s a bad fit, right?  But for any sponsor who I still think is a good fit, I’ll reach out to them about campaigns for the holiday season and then the next year, right? Because in September or October, they’re probably setting budgets for especially bigger companies for the next year. So if you can get in right there, now they’re allocating the budget for you. Instead of saying, “Oh! Well, we’ve spent most of our advertising budget. So like we gotta see what we can do.” It’s gonna be a lot easier to get in on the front end. 

And that’s the other thing I wanna talk about today. I sent an email about this to my newsletter at the beginning of the summer. But one of the lessons that I learned the hard way, is that bigger companies don’t spend money like smaller companies or individuals were, especially big money, right? If we’re talking like $10, $20,000, right? That’s big money for us. That’s not big money to them. But like anything over a certain amount, they probably need to allocate a budget. And so they have a process. Bigger companies do. They have red tape and they have a marketing calendar. Larger brands are already setting up their campaigns for what’s coming out in the next few weeks. And they’re looking at the next quarter or the next cycle whether it’s back to school like they’re thinking about back to school probably in June, right? They’re thinking about Black Friday In July. And so you wanna get them when they’re planning their current campaign. And even if they’re not quite ready to spend, you wanna get on their radar, and you wanna make sure to follow up. The follow-up is so important.

And so sponsorship can be a little bit of a long game, right? So this is why I’m telling you like you have current sponsors, stay in touch with them. Ask them how things are going. And then ask them periodically if they want to re-up. How did the last campaign go and what can we do better in the future?

So the last thing I’ll tell you here, right? is that most brands aren’t going to spend money unprompted. They won’t just renew unprompted. Unless they just have a ton of money burning a hole in their pocket, right? But big brands, and big companies are probably working with other creators, and other podcasters. And they probably don’t have all the last episodes set. So it’s up to you to be like, “Hey, just wanted to let you know your last episode is out in two weeks. How is the campaign going? What can we do to make it better?” That sort of stuff. You need to ask. If you are not asking current sponsors to renew or how you can be better next time or following up until they tell you to never come like I’ve had sponsors who are like, “Look, it’s just never gonna work out for us ever again.” And I know to stop contacting them. At least for a couple of years. If you’re not doing that, then you are leaving money on the table. Because let me tell you, you probably know this already, warm outreach is way better than cold outreach. And that’s what you’re doing with most brands. You’re doing cold outreach. And so the current sponsors you already have, they’re warm weeds. They know what you’re about. They know you’re trying hard and you wanna… If you can keep giving them wins, they’ll happily keep paying you for those wins. 

So that’s it for today’s episode of Make Money Podcasting. The big takeaway, if you have current sponsors, follow up with them. Don’t assume they’re just going to want to renew. Some might, right? Some might just be like, “Yeah. We still have money and we want to give you money.” But most are probably not going to be aware of exactly when their podcast episodes run out. And most are not going to reach out to you again. Most are going to wait for you to follow up because now it’s something on their plate. Now it works for them. We don’t want them to give us money to then give them work. We want them to give us money so that they can reach our audience. That’s the service we’re providing. The easier we can make it for them, the better.

So again, that’s it for this episode at Make Money Podcasting. I hope you liked it. You can get all the show notes and a transcript of this episode over at [makemoneypodd.com/211].

If you like this episode, leave me a rating and a review in Apple Podcasts. I really appreciate that. And from what I understand, it helps other Apple podcast users want to listen to the show. I’ve seen pretty good…I’ve seen, you know, incremental growth over the last few weeks, which is very exciting. So I’d like to keep that going. I’d love to get this podcast up to, maybe not the same numbers as my other one, because I have a broader audience for that one. But I’d love to reach more podcasters to help them make money. So, [makemoney pod.com/211] and leave a rating and review in Apple podcasts. 

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Make Money Podcasting. 

And until next time. I can’t wait to see what you make.

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