Dan is founder and CEO of Podspike and has made it his mission to give podcasters access to easy, affordable and effective marketing services. He was one of the speakers at the London Podcast Festival Makers Weekend
The launch of a new show is an important promotion opportunity that many podcasters fail to take full advantage of. Sometimes this is because creators are (understandably) too caught up in making their show, but it’s also the case that we hear from podcasters who simply don’t know where to start or the best ways to spend their limited time and energy. So, with that in mind, here are my tips on how to create a launch buzz for your podcast.
Tip 1: You don’t need a new podcast to create a launch buzz
Podcasting every week for 52 weeks a year is a lot of work. So why not consider taking a break and dividing your show into seasons? It gives you downtime to rest, recuperate and plan, as well as a great excuse to make some noise about your upcoming new slew of content. Even better, you can choose to theme seasons around a common topic or issue, giving audiences even more incentive to listen. By treating the launch of a new season more or less as you would the launch of a new show you can reuse many of the techniques below, with the added bonus that you already have an audience to build on and who can help to spread the word.
Tip 2: The best marketing is done pre-launch
This may sound counterintuitive, but the best time to market your podcast is before you’ve published a single episode. In fact, at Podspike, we advise our corporate clients to start their marketing up to three months before they publish. Why? There are two main reasons:
a) good marketing takes time to plan and execute;
b) if you use the time before launch to create pent-up demand, it will increase the chances of your podcast rocketing up the charts from day one.
It is never too early to start planning and creating any content you intend to use during the launch – the more you can get done early, the more it will take the pressure off when it gets close to your planned launch dates. Think audiograms, blog posts, new cover art, artwork for adverts – when you ‘go live’ you want to have as much as you can at your fingertips ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
Tip 3: Use your time to shape your message and plan your outreach
For me, marketing is not simply about advertising, it’s about offering clear value to people who need it. What do I mean by this? Simple, if your target audience craves, say, gossip about the latest reality show, then you need to do two things. Firstly, make sure you offer this content from a unique perspective; and, secondly, find ways to tell prospective listeners what you’re offering. As I discussed in my last article, 10 Ways to Revitalise Your Marketing, it’s all about offering rather than asking.
Why does all this matter when it comes to creating a launch buzz? You should use your time pre-launch to truly shape your understanding of your target audience, what they need and why it is that you offer this.
You should also use this time to plan who and what you want to reach out to as part of the launch marketing, either paid or earned. Which media outlets are you going to contact? What newsletter do you really want an advert in? Which influencers or podcast hosts could you reach out to? Are there any pre-existing networks, forums or societies with audiences perfect for your show you could get involved with? Figuring out your action plan for who you want to speak to and when you want to contact them in advance will make your launch much less stressful — and far more successful.
Tip 4: Prime your audience and networks before launch
Assuming you’ve done your shaping and planning as per Tip 3, you can now start to put things into action. If you’re writing and sending out press releases, try to get them into inboxes around four weeks before your first episode drops. Even better, include a link to a preview episode (don’t email them a huge audio file) so they can listen before anyone else. Journalists and editors typically prefer plenty of notice (they plan their content several weeks in advance) and like to have access to something before it’s available to the public — so why not give them both?
Equally, now is the time to ramp up content on your social media accounts — posting entertaining and informative messages, stimulating communities, sharing knowledge and networking. Examples include behind-the-scenes photos, ‘making of’ footage, quizzes and surveys, guest and topic spotlights, and quotable moments from the first few episodes.
Finally, start reaching out to your fellow podcasts hosts, any influencers you’ve identified that occupy the same space as your show, guests who have been on the podcast and any forums, societies and networks you think might be interested in what you have to offer. Remember, it’s all about what you offer and not what you ask for. I can’t stress this enough: focus on what your audience wants and let them know you (your show and its associated content) will give it to them (taking care to ensure that you can deliver on that promise).
Offer to promote a fellow podcaster’s show; see if that amazing influencer would like some free merch (or maybe even a straight-up payment!); make sure your guests have sent you a headshot you can use for marketing and that they are on board with your launch plans (coordinating your efforts with any collaborators will extend your reach to their networks on top of your own); start posting tips, memes and gags on that Facebook group you think is full of potential listeners. The goal here isn’t to advertise the show, but prepare the ground for the final phase…
Tip 5: Make a week-long splash
Now you’ve shaped your message, planned your marketing and primed your audience and networks, it’s time for an all-out blitz as you finally launch your show. The key here is to have a full week’s worth of activities planned — there’s no reason a launch day can’t be a launch week! For instance, you could announce a new episode on Monday, post a ‘making of’ blog on Tuesday, have all your guests retweet the show on Wednesday, arrange for an advert in a newsletter on Thursday… this is where you can reap the rewards of your planning.
The other advantage of creating a week-long buzz is that the Apple Podcast Charts reward engagement over a sustained period of time, meaning it’s more likely you’ll hit a Top-200 spot (or even better). Now is the time to have that influencer post to their fans, your guests share testimonials and for you to drop a link in forums and Facebook Groups, start rolling out audiograms, blog posts and other content you’ve managed to create in the run-up to launch. It is also the perfect time to activate any paid spend, be it a featured spot in a podcast app, an advert in a popular podcasting newsletter, a targeted Facebook campaign etc. You don’t need to do paid marketing, but it’s a great way to amplify your signal over a short space of time.
Tip 6: Keep going!
Producing and marketing a podcast week-in, week-out is a big commitment, there’s no two ways about it. The key is to do as much — or as little — as you feel comfortable doing without burning out. But with a solid launch under your belt and some real marketing momentum, you may find it just that bit easier to keep the publicity wheel turning.
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