Getting Your Podcast Ready for Promotion

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Whether you plan on spending real money or expending real energy, you need to do some prep work before you start your podcast promotion campaign. You shouldn’t rush your promotional campaigns, but take the time to carefully plan and execute them. Failure to do so can not only be a huge waste of time and money, but it may also result in turning off potential listeners to your show, making it many times more difficult to attract them back for a second chance.

Polishing your presentation

Most podcasters need a few episodes under their belts before they hit their stride. If you’re on podcast episode number three, you likely haven’t fleshed out your show. Granted, you may have been planning your podcast for months on end, or have previous experience behind the mic on another medium, or have nailed it from the beginning. If so, great.

But understand you’re in the minority. And much like a new TV series with experienced writers, producers, and directors, experienced podcasters launching a new show should consider releasing a few shows until that show is running like a machine.

Even though each person is different, give yourself at least five full episodes to find the sweet spot. Experimentation is part of the format, so play with a few things along the way to see where your strengths as well as your weaknesses are.

Checking your bandwidth

The are some negative aspects of having too large an audience. Each new listener means more of your precious bandwidth being consumed. For podcasters with limited bandwidth, getting more listeners can be an expensive proposition.

If you’re using the services of Liberated Syndication or another unmetered bandwidth podcast hosting company, you don’t have to worry about your bandwidth.

Many podcasters start out using the standard web hosting service to host their podcast files and are quickly surprised when they run out of bandwidth. We’re more surprised about how poor their math skills are. Suppose that you have 100MB of monthly transfers allowed for your site. On the 10th of July, you log in to your bandwidth stats page and see that you’re already at 60MB for the month. Will you make it? Here are the formulas to figure this out:

  • Bandwidth consumed / number of days so far this month = Daily bandwidth rate
  • Daily bandwidth rate ×31 (the total number of days in the month) = Total bandwidth needed

Now you plug in your numbers to find out your daily bandwidth rate:

60MB ÷ 10 = 6MB

You’re consuming about 6MB per day. Now multiply this number (6MB) by the number of days in the month (31) to get the total bandwidth you need for the month:

6MB × 31 = 186MB

It’s inevitable; you’re not going to stay within your 100MB limit. You will be roughly 86MB over your 100MB plan.

That sounds — and is — simple. As a real-world example, Chuck Tomasi checked his bandwidth usage on July 18 and found that he had used 256.65GB in the first 17 days.

First, he needs to find out his daily bandwidth:

256.65GB / 17 days = 15GB average daily transfer rate for July

Then, he must find out his total bandwidth for the month:

15GB × 31 days = 465GB

As you can see, he needs 465GB of bandwidth to get through the month, assuming his traffic stays steady and doesn’t increase. If his bandwidth ceiling was 500GB, he’d need to think twice before starting an advertising campaign, as he’d likely hit that ceiling, and his hosting provider would likely shut down access to all those brand-new podcast listeners he just worked so hard to get. Not a good way for anyone to spend his or her time.

As a good rule, you need to be using less than 50 percent of your monthly allotment of bandwidth before starting an advertising campaign. If you’re using any more than that, you’ll run out of room and will have to seek alternative hosting options before proceeding.

Figuring out your USP

USP is a marketing term, and it stands for unique selling proposition — a message that sells your podcast to potentials listeners. Although you probably aren’t charging money to listen to your podcast, make no mistake that you need to sell it to potential listeners if you’re considering advertising.

Why should a potential listener listen to your podcast? And more importantly, how can you, as the podcast advertiser, present a message that makes a potential listener want to listen?

Plenty of books, websites, seminars, and post-graduate degree programs are dedicated to the subtle nuances of marketing and advertising. We’re not suggesting you go that far, obviously. But you should take a good, hard look at what you produce every week and come up with a concise and consistent message with which to promote your show.

For example, when Chuck was looking at advertising for his Technorama podcast, he found that the market for another tech podcast was saturated. Several dozen shows repurposed the same news about Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Instead, Chuck chose to spotlight the strange, bizarre, and unusual items that are typically passed via email from geek to geek — the steam-powered Nintendo DS, the motorcycle that folds in to a briefcase, and who can forget the device made of wood that adds binary numbers. Thus, the USP for Technorama goes like this:

Technorama takes a light-hearted look at the world of tech, science, sci-fi, and all things geek.

Sometimes calling in help from the outside can be a good thing. Ask your friends and family, or even your listeners, to come up with some key points of why they listen to your show. We’re not talking about a catchy slogan or jingle of the sort a Madison Avenue marketing firm might designate as the perfect thing to attract new listeners, but plain English (or your language of choice) ways to tell interested folks what your show is about and why they should be listening.

There isn’t a step-by-step outline for this one. Spend a few days on it. Try it out on some folks first. When you find a message that fits, you’re ready to proceed on your advertising quest.