From a recent workshop on how best to book guests for your podcast, webinar or event, we’ve brought together this sweet guest outreach guide.
The guide will cover:
- Referrals and introductions: how to use existing contacts to connect with new guests
- Going direct – research: discovering how guests can benefit from featuring on your podcast
- Composing your message: how to initiate contact, including seizing their attention with your subject line
- Channels: which method of communication is most effective?
- Following up: a look at some effective techniques
- Creating an exemplary guest experience
You can boil down the most important aspects of a good podcast to who the guest is and what their area of expertise is. The better the quality of guests, the better quality the content. That makes securing your guests your top priority. In this guide, we tell you how.
Referrals and introductions: use your existing network to get a foot in the door.
We use referrals as often as possible to book guests. You email the potential guest, drop your connection’s name, and immediately your proposal has more credibility. Introductions are even more effective, as they involve you being put into direct contact with the potential guest. Often, the potential guest is already familiar with your show and knows how they can benefit from featuring.
One of the most challenging parts of booking guests is getting them to listen to your offer and maintain interest in your proposal. You cannot control this; you can’t force them to read your email and agree to attend.
Referrals and introductions cut out that uncertainty when reaching out to new guests because you know they want to hear the proposal and they have more of an obligation to answer.
The method we use is:
- Message the previous guest a couple of days after the podcast has gone live. This allows them to reflect upon the experience and digest the external feedback they receive
- Mention the podcast performance and positive feedback since the promotion
- Then, be specific with the request – ask whom they want to highlight. Here is where your research comes in
Going direct – research: discovering how guests can benefit from featuring on the show
Researching your guest is an integral part of the booking process. It helps you:
- Make the initial connection as relevant – and thus, as effective – as possible
- Tailor the questions to make each interview unique
- Create a good relationship with the guests
When conducting your research, the two most important things to focus on are the guest’s work history and their key achievements.
Here are some things to look for, to make the interview more distinct:
- How long they’ve been in their current role – You don’t want to congratulate them on their success at remaking the company if they’ve only worked there six months
- How their role links to the broader strategic goals of that business – if you know the business is rebranding, find out what they’re responsible for
- What qualifications they have
- What causes they are devoted to and passions they have – take a look at their social media activity; what are they following, liking and commenting on?
- Whether they have featured at conferences, events or other podcasts – if they have, watch/listen to them. See what your guest talks about at specific events and the topics they are invited to speak about
The employment history and achievements they’re proud of are usually broadcast in their LinkedIn bio, but if you’re struggling to find the more personalised information, remember: Google is your friend.
Composing your message: a breakdown of what to write in your copy to secure the guests.
Now that you have a broad understanding of who your guest is, you need to get in touch with them. There are two parts to your message: the subject line and the copy.
The subject line
The subject line is the first thing your guest will see, but it will be one among hundreds. To stand out, it needs to be intriguing. It needs to be:
- Short – only the first few words will be visible, and CEOs and CFOs don’t have the time to read every long subject line from unknown emails
- Specific – keywords to do with their industry and the word ‘podcast’ should create enough interest to read the rest
We use “Invitation to appear on business podcast”. It’s short enough to fit in that tiny subject line bar and the words “business podcast” are intriguing.
The message is the main selling point. You need to succinctly explain who you are, what the podcast is about, why they’re a great guest and how they benefit before they lose interest and go on with their busy lives.
We’ve devised a five-step method for composing your message:
- Be concise – keep the message as brief as possible so you don’t scare them off with long blocks of text
- Keep it relevant – ensure the industry you’re referencing is the one they are in.
- Appeal to their ego – show that you want them because of the great value they could bring to the podcast, as a ‘smart and influential business leader
- State what’s in it for them – what do they stand to gain from the interview?
- Social proof – demonstrate that you have interviewed guests of their industry or their stature or above
Channels: which method of communication is most effective; email or LinkedIn?
In our experience, we receive faster responses with emails, purely because business leaders tend to check their email more often than their social media messages.
We have found that it matters less how or when you send your message, just that you do.
Ultimately, the booking process is a numbers game and the wider you cast your net, the more fish you catch.
Following up: a look at some effective techniques.
The truth is, there is no hack for this one. We recommend keeping follow up emails very short, but otherwise, there is little we can control when it comes to chasing guests.
Our guests are very busy people who don’t always have the time to message us back immediately. Sometimes, we follow up after a month or two and then gain a booking within a day. Other times, people just aren’t interested.
Try not to focus too heavily on badgering a handful of candidates when there are so many fish in the business sea. As we always say, it’s a numbers game.
Generating an excellent guest experience:
A massive part of podcast production is ensuring that everyone involved has a positive experience. How can we expect our guests to recommend us when they don’t enjoy the process themselves?
To ensure that your guests have the best possible experience, we have a few best practices:
- Pre-interviews are essential – it’s that human touch.to break the ice before the full interview. so the guest feels comfortable enough with your host for them to build a rapport and for you and the host to get a better sense of the guest’s personality
- Always ask the magic question: “What’s a win for you?” – you must service your guest as much as your audience. Ask what they hope to get out of the episode; once you know this, you can craft your interview with their interests in mind, and once it’s released, they’re sure to support it
- Explain the process – this reassures your guest they won’t be thrown for a loop mid-interview
- Keep your word – do what you say you are going to do. Again, nothing is more unnerving and frustrating for your guest than being badly surprised
And there you have it
And a huge thank you to podcast extraordinaire Nathan Anibaba for guest writing this insightful blog.