Of all the times you’ve decided to listen to a brand new podcast, how often did a featured guest persuade you to press play? A lot? Me too (I’m looking at you, The Next Big Idea).
Landing top guests on your podcast can make or break your show. But convincing them to join your show is much easier said than done.
Fortunately, we’ve asked some of the top podcasters in B2B marketing — Jay Acunzo, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, Ash Read, Megan Hostetler, and Wistia’s own Sydney Rutman — how they manage to land renowned guests on their shows.
Take these tips on how to land podcast guests and start crafting your perfect pitch.
One of the easiest ways to land a guest on your podcast is by reaching out to your connections. People who personally know you are much more likely to reply to your pitch and join your show.
“We have a large number of customers who are excited to raise their hand, come on the show, and tell their digital marketing story,” she says. “When we do that, we try to scale their time by also creating a blog or complimentary webinar, for example. It’s also a great way to capture quotes to use in marketing materials throughout the year.”
“We have a large number of customers who are typically excited to raise their hand, come on the show, and tell their digital marketing story.”
While sourcing guests from your customer base can be convenient, it might not be a good fit for every company or show. That’s why it’s crucial to grow and leverage your network. Hostetler recommends connecting with other podcasters in your niche so they can join the show and then introduce you to other potential guests who could be a good fit.
“We’ve also partnered with other marketing podcasts,” she says. “For instance, Douglas Burdett, who has been a guest on the show, runs the Marketing Book Podcast, so he helps us find award-winning authors to bring on.”
When you’re pitching to potential guests, timing can be everything.
For example, when Buffer reached out to Emily Heyward, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer at Red Antler, about presenting at Built to Last, she had just released a book on a similar topic. This release was a perfect way to persuade her to join the conference — she could market her book to a new audience.
Timing goes both ways, though. If you pitch guests who are hunkered down, grinding away on their projects or guests whose schedules are packed with other talks, you likely won’t get a “yes” from them. To time your pitches just right, Ash Read, Editorial Director at Buffer and Co-Host of Breaking Brand, recommends doing some homework on your guests.
“Timing can make or break your pitch. So, do your research to try and figure out the best time to invite a guest on to your show,” he says. “Have they just released a new product, book, course (or anything, really)? If yes, they probably want to talk about it.”
“Timing can make or break your pitch. So, do your research to try and figure out the best time to invite a guest on to your show”
Writing outreach emails is a lot like copywriting. You have to immediately grab your potential guests’ attention, hold it for your email duration, and compel them to respond.
To do this, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, Educational Content Director at Marketing Profs and Co-Host of The Backpack Show with Chris Brogan, recommends demonstrating the value of your podcast right off the bat.
“When you pitch people that you have no relationship with, they all want to know two things: First, is this legit, and second, is this worth my time?" she says. "You have about 15 seconds to prove that the answer to both questions is YES.”
“When you pitch people that you have no relationship with, they all want to know two things — is this legit, and is this worth my time? You have about 15 seconds to prove that the answer to both questions is YES.”
But how exactly do you prove your show’s legitimacy and worth? According to Jay Acunzo, Founder of Marketing Showrunners and Co-Host of 3 Clips, a crucial first step is telling your guests why your show exists.
“You need a clear premise that aligns with the guest’s beliefs,” Acunzo says. “For instance, your show’s premise could be that you’re not just another expert interview show. You’re the only show about creative careers where world-class makers dissect one favorite project — a few pieces at a time — to help inspire more of the world to be creative.”
After laying out your show’s premise, the next step is to highlight the benefits of joining your show. For Ash Read, this step is one of the most critical parts of his pitch when he asks guests to join Buffer’s podcasts.
“When you’re pitching guests, emphasize the benefits for them. Why is being on your show worth an hour of their time?” says Read. “The size of our audience has been our go-to benefit because we’re lucky to have over one million email addresses in our product database that we can use to launch our shows. But depending on your industry, even reaching 100 people could be impactful for your guest.”
“When you’re pitching guests, emphasize the benefits for them. Why is being on your show worth an hour of their time?”
“Use whatever advantage you have. For us, it’s the audience; for you, maybe it’s something else: the show concept, other show guests, etc. Put this front and center of your pitch email — in the opening lines or even the subject,” Read adds. “When you’re pitching, you want to hook the guest in ASAP by showing what’s in it for them before you get into the details about your show and what you’ll need from them.”
Your potential guests likely receive multiple pitches per week, so a generic outreach email won’t get anyone’s attention. To cut through the noise, Jay Acunzo recommends pinpointing exactly why your potential guest would be an excellent fit for your show.
“Assign them a purpose for how they’ll serve your audience and give them a reason to get excited beyond discussing their ideas more generally,” says Acunzo. “This shows you did actual research on them. If you didn’t, don’t reach out.”
Following Acunzo’s advice will help you prove to potential guests that you understand them and show how they’ll genuinely resonate with your audience. After you establish why your guests will be a good fit, consider spotlighting your episode’s angle to pique your guests’ interest even more. If your hook is unique and creative enough, it can nudge them across the finish line.
“Instead of saying ‘let’s talk about marketing,' be as specific as you can,” says Read. “For instance, you could say, ’I’d love to interview you about X campaign you ran on Instagram' or ’we’ll be talking about building a brand, but I’d love your expertise on the importance of focus when you first launch.'“
Landing top guests on your podcast won’t happen overnight; it’ll feel like an uphill battle. You’ll likely receive a lot of “nos,” and most people may not even reply. But if you give up, landing a top guest will never happen. That’s why it’s essential to stay positive and persistent.
“Great work is never easy, and the effort you put in will be worth it to produce a great show. If you pitch ten people and they all say yes, you’re either the best in the world at this or you’re not pitching guests that will truly make your show stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other podcasts out there,” says Read.
“Great work is never easy, and the effort you put in will be worth it to produce a great show.”
“I would say this is the most important thing from my experience. It’d be easy to pitch ten people, get no replies, and then just give up. There are times it will feel disheartening, but keep going. Also, if you receive too many blanks, try different variations of your pitch email. Chances are, you won’t write the perfect email the first time around."
Another surefire way to sell guests on the value of your show? Make sure you do a solid job at marketing! Having a robust marketing strategy will not only benefit your show by growing your audience and building solid proof points over time but will also impress potential guests.
What does great podcast marketing entail? This will vary depending on your company, audience, and goals — but in general, we recommend investing in a thoughtful and consistent social media, email, and content strategy to support your show.
Not only should you do an excellent job of branding the show and marketing new episodes — you should also set your guests up for success. Having a ready-made promotion kit that you can hand over to guests will make it super simple to share their episode and spread the podcast love. This is a small but essential step to supporting guests and leveraging their audience to grow your own.
“Remember — you want to give your guest a great experience from pitch to launch,” says Rutman from Wistia. “A promo kit not only helps get eyeballs (and ears!) on your show, but it also gives your guest materials for their own use. The less work they have to do, the more likely they are to engage and share.”
Here’s an example of artwork we provide for guests on Talking Too Loud.
If you need some help crafting compelling outreach messages, we’ve collected three examples from Buffer, Marketing Profs, and Salesforce. Use these as a starting point to land top guests on your podcast.
Hi [Name]! I run a live video show for New York Times bestselling author @ChrisBrogan. I’d love to have you on to talk about [topic] if you’re into it. Is there an email where I could send details?
All the best, Kerry Showrunner, Chris Brogan Media, LLC
If they reply with an email address, I send a more detailed pitch explaining the show’s theme and making it clear that the experience is FUN.
[Remind them who you are again.] Following up on our Twitter conversation with a media invitation.
The idea behind the show is to bring on people who have insights that everyone needs in their metaphorical backpack to achieve personal and professional success.
[Personalize your ask, so they know you’ve seen their work.] I loved your work on XX movie! (That one scene stayed in my mind for hours!) We’d love to have you on to talk about it!
The show airs at 10:00 a.m. Eastern every weekday and goes live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter … everywhere!
Are you game?
[Show them a recent episode, ideally one that performed well.] You can check out the latest episode featuring Scottish comedian Janey Godley if you want to see what you’d be in for!
[Reiterate: fun, not work.] It’s super low key and conversational.
[Simple next step.] If you’re in, let me know a couple of dates in the next few weeks that work for you (or just throw me at your scheduling person). I’ll ink one in and send you a calendar invite!
All the best, Kerry
Salesforce hosts a marketing podcast called The Marketing Cloudcast, where myself and Tina Rozul interview guests about relevant topics in marketing. Since we’re in pivotal times right now, they are working on a short mini-series covering how brands are leading the way during this change.
We’d be curious to know how you’ve had to adjust your efforts with the new environment and how you’re adapting to this change. If this is something you can speak to, would you be interested in being a guest on the show?
Here’s what to expect:
- 45-minute time block — giving wiggle room to get to know you and set up
- Remote via a recording platform
What you get in return:
- Social and blog recognition
- Our blog receives 500,000 monthly visitors
- Our newsletter reaches 35,000 subscribers weekly
- Twitter: Avg engagement is ~46 per post, and tweet impressions per month are ~500,000
- Facebook: Avg reach is ~3,000
- LinkedIn: Avg engagement is ~2,000, and post impressions are ~15,000
Please let us know when you’d be available to chat, and thanks for considering!
Here at Buffer, we’ve teamed up with Wistia to produce an audio-first conference focused on building brands that stand the test of time, delivered in podcast format.
I wanted to reach out to ask if you’d be interested in being interviewed for the conference? We anticipate a 45-minute to a one-hour recording that can be done remotely.
We’d love to put together panel-style sessions focused on creating content that resonates with your target customers. If you’re interested, and someone comes to mind from the brands you work with, we’d love to feature you and one/two others to discuss how to create content that breaks through online and stands out in social feeds.
We’ll release conference sessions as podcast episodes in a private feed for attendees, and it will be promoted to our existing audience and customers (over 1 million on social, over 1.4 million via email) as well as Wistia’s audience. We’ll also be releasing it publicly as a podcast series later in the fall.
In the podcasting space, we have a weekly show, The Science of Social Media, that has been downloaded over 2 million times, and our first original series Breaking Brand was featured by Apple last fall. We’re excited to try something new with this conference.
Happy to share any additional information or answer any questions. Does this sound of interest at all?
Running a successful interview show requires a talented host, a compelling concept, and notable guests. You can’t have one without the others. Nailing all three parts of this equation will be hard work — especially landing guests. But if you take these tips and stay persistent, you’re sure to perfect your pitch and develop a successful outreach strategy.