How to Pick the Right Podcast Booking Agency

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Definition of annoying: most pitches from podcast booking agencies.

They’re not personalized.

Clearly, no research has been done.

They’re frequently off-topic.

And sometimes they use the wrong name.

Agencies using these types of agencies are getting bad deals.

It’s hard to get a guest on podcast, so you can't use a company that does a poor job.

Having received so many bad podcast guest pitches, I asked Jakub Zajicek from Speak on Podcasts for insight and advice on how and when to use a podcast agency.

Since launcing in 2020, Speak on Podcasts has booked more than 2,000 guests and represents companies like @gong and @paddle.

The key to finding the right partner is simple: research and being clear about your point of view and who’s going to do the talking.

As important, companies need a strategic plan that integrates how podcasts will fit into the marketing and sales mix.

I can't tell you how many crappy emails that appear in my inbox from agencies looking to put clients on my podcast. It's obvious that they've done little or no research about my podcast focus or the guests who have appeared on it, and they've definitely not listened to an episode. A lot of podcast agency leaks clearly used a shotgun approach to promoting podcasts. They reach out to dozens, if not hundreds, of podcasters and hope that someone says yes. If you're a client paying an agency doing this kind of outreach without research, they're doing you a disservice and it's a waste of money to provide insight on how podcast agencies should operate. I'm happy to be speaking with Jacob z e Check, co founder and CMO with Speak on Podcasts, which not surprisingly is a podcast agency B two B founders and executives. Welcome to marketing Spark. Jacob Mark is so happy to be here, and thanks all for pronouncing my name correctly. That was a bit of a challenge that we got it. Let's start by telling me about Speak on Podcasts. How long has account of you been around for? And, as I mentioned, you do, sir, B two B founders and executives, So get a little more specific about that in your target audience. Sure. So we're in business for a little over two years and since then we've booked almost two thousand interviews, mostly for B two B founders and executives, and we work with subject matter experts from B B brands like Gong Battle, Hope in Genesis, and what we do for them is that we basically find the right podcast that these subject subjects experts should speak on and we get them booked h there on these podcasts as a guest. You know, usually the goal when the when a company um like Gone Core Battle approach us, approaches us is they want to you know, share their message, They want to drive and they want to increase brand of aarterness or they simply just know they simply believe that speaking to their target audience at scale and delivering value will help them grow their business. And that's one of the main beliefs our customers have before they start working with us. So you started the company just after Covid arrived. What was that like to start a business at a time when there was a lot of economic volatility and I suspect. This was before everybody realized that the BDB sas BDB ecosystems would actually thrive during COVID as a lot of companies embraced digital transformation. So we went through a lot of transitions since the beginning. You know, when we started um the target audience, it was really closest to my heart. I wanted to work with individuals, you know, consultants, coaches, agencylinders and so on. Yes, we started during during COVID, and I think that they actually helped...

...us, you know, because a lot of stages got closed, people couldn't attend conferences. The podcasts were actually the first and obvious choice that people start thinking about, you know, what can we do where can we allocate this budget that we would normally spend on speaking on stages and going to conferences. So there were actually a lot of people you know, approaching approaching us UH to learn a little bit more about how they can leverage podcasts. The transition into into B two visas happened a little bit later when we started growing as an agency, and of course the overheads and expanses started to grow, so we needed to think about how we can reposition our service, we can actually increase the price and actually increase the quality as well. So we needed to obviously go more upmarket and target bigger brands UH that that see the value and can actually afford our service. So we are now currently serving pretty much exclusively B two B sas brands that already have that belief that speaking podcasts or having a podcasting streat that you will help them sounds good and it's good to hear that you've been successful amid interesting times, to say the least. Before we dive into the world of podcast agencies, i'd like to take a step back and get your thoughts on the BDB podcast landscape now, given the economic times that we're in and the focus on driving leads, which seems to be an obsession for a lot of bTB sas companies, our company still exploring podcasts or has that changed. It's an interesting question because I think that you know you and I we we both work UH and we bill we we are in the podcast bubble. You know, I, I book people on podcasts. You run your own podcast, and we follow create. There's like Chris Walker and people who are already like paving the way for podcasting. So it almost feels that, you know, all B two B brands are talking about podcasting and hef some sort of podcasting strategy. Um, but I'm seeing that it's still not the case, you know, so I think that, uh, it's we are actually still quite early, um in the game. And just a quick anecdote, you know, one of my daily routines is that I always want to interact with some with some our ideal customers on LinkedIn, you know, in sales navigator, I have a list of people I want to interact with, head of Imager and CMOS, VP of vpiece of marketing and so on. Most of the stuff they post it's about events, it's about conferences, it's about press releases, and maybe just one out of twenty is about podcasts. You know, this is an interesting podcast. I appeared on this podcast. It's still not that frequent. You know. Most most B two B brands, I think, are still not fully considering and realizing podcasting as a as a viable strategy. But I think that it's definitely going to the right direction. As I mentioned, there are brands that are creators that are paving the way of podcasting and that they're talking about as a great channel to...

...learn a little bit more about your target audience, to generate tons of content, uh, and really become that brand that is stope of mind in your category. So I think it's going through the direction, and I still that we are actually still I still think that we are actually quite early in the process. Well, that leads perfectly into my next question. You know, many CEOs and entrepreneurs have a hard time seeing the benefits of our podcast. They're very KPI focus, especially in B two B sas so the metrics for them for a podcast would be downloads, streams and subscribers. And as you mentioned, the benefits are actually quite different when you think about thought, leadership, brand awareness, the ability to take a podcast and extract a tremendous amount of content from it. How do marketers show CEOs and entrepreneurs the way to the promised land? How do they convince them or at least educate him about the fact that a podcast is more than looking at the number of downloads And in some respects do you think that podcasts are a leap of faith for many business leaders? I think in general, like the whole mindset around considering podcasts as a as a strategy and measuring podcasts are right, really needs to change, you know. I think that many CEOs and entrepreneurs they have unrealistic expectations about when they can actually see the results. So maybe they would give up too early, you know, maybe they give up up the three months podcasting and whether it's you know, appearing on other podcasts or hosting your own podcast, three months is just too little to see some results, and especially the results that these entrepreneurs and CEOs who are really focused on metrics that they can put into spreadsheet are focusing on. Three months is just way too way too little time. That's it. I think that um, you know, marketers, I think that they should they should talk to these decision makers more about all the positive signals that can happen like along the journey, you know, before they actually get to the level of generating revenue predictably. And we have already talked about generating content, you know, through the podcast that you appear on or either the podcast that you host, or talking to your ideal customers. I mean, look at you, like you're talking to tons of marketers. You you have Chris Walker on your podcasts and other crazy creators on your podcast and you have unique important to have conversations with interesting people, you know, and it is very intangible, you know, like it's it's you cannot really measure relationships. But if you really look at the look at podcasting and again it's same like same with hosting or guesting. It is after all like almost like a networking strategy because you get in front of people, uh you in that you actually can partner up with, they can refeew customers and so on, and that's the un guaranteed interaction that you will always have. And...

I would really recommend that really the first three six and maybe even twelve months, I wouldn't even worry about a number of downloads, but I would worry about all these little things that are happening along the journey, whether it's learning more about your customers, creating content, networking with the host and so on. So I think that's it really comes down to education. You Know. What I find interesting in these days when I look at the bdb sas landscape is there is and desperation for leads a lot of companies. The last couple of years, the rising tide lifted all ships and it was easy from a marketing perspective to bring in leads. Now times are tougher, a lot of entrepreneurs and CEOs are are a little bit anxious about keeping the business moving forward. One of the things that they're focused on is is conversations. Is getting in front of prospects and customers for that matter, and having conversations about why they matter and what they can do. What I find really interesting about a podcast is like it's like a trojan horse in many respects, is that it gives you an excuse to reach out to prospects, influencers, customers, the media and asked them to have a thirty minute conversation with you. And that's a big ask if it's not a podcast. But what I find is at podcasts, I also describe them as digital catinet. It's really hard for people to resist an invitation to a podcast, And the two years that I've run a podcast, I would say a couple of people only a couple of people have actually turned me down, and everybody else says yes. Because a podcast is easy to appear on, you really don't have to do a lot of preparation because most people know the answers inside out. So if I'm a CEO and I'm looking at a podcast and I want conversations, I would be all over them. I would see this as as one way to do a solid marketing that's gonna have a lot of benefits. But they still don't see that, and that's very puzzling to me. Yeah, I agree, And I think that this really comes down to the concept that I think James Scarborough from sweet Fish Media described quite well content based networking. When your left creating content together with your ideal customer or a partner, it's easy to to really ask for their time. You know, everyone is happy to jump on your stage and share their point of view. It's it's not a bait and switch like bait and switch strategy, you know, like both parties win if it's executed properly, and if if the creator of the content is treating it as a way to deepen the relationship, to establish the relationship. And it's not like that you finished recording a podcast and then you start pitching me your services. I mean that that really wouldn't work. That would leave a very bitter taste in my mouth. If that would happen after this recording. What will happen after this podcast? Is that Yes, I will interact with you more on on LinkedIn, will be sending you more guests, you know, and over...

...time, when there's when when I will need more help with positioning, I will think about Mark who can actually help me, you know. So, so it's a way to establish relationship, it's it's it's a way to network with interesting people. And you really need to be in the right mindsets to believe that this will lead to results. You know, if you're a very transactional marketing and entrepreneur, this wouldn't make much sense in many respects. Podcasts are sexy and cool. There's a lot of talk about launching a podcast, but often it's just that talk. How would you suggest that a company gets started with a podcast, because from the outside looking in, it appears that there's a lot of moving parts. It takes a lot of time and effort. I think there's probably some concern about expenses in terms of what kind of investment you need to make. So I think it keeps a lot of companies on the sidelines as opposed to jumping into the fray. What would be your eyes for companies that want to want to launch a podcast, but they're just they're holding themselves back for some reason. Well full disclaimer, I'm not a podcast production expert. You know, we help people to speak on existing podcasts, but we talk to a lot of companies that are maybe considering clunching podcasts, but they're not ready to launch a podcast just yet. And usually it's lack of time or lack of expertise, or they're realizing that it will be a huge commitment. You know, you don't want as a brand to commit to something like like podcasts that it's really very often indefinite activity that you are running right like you are, you will be doing it for for years, and you don't want to commit to something and just stop after two months because it just doesn't look good right if you if you don't keep doing it, and really the trust is built through consistency. But if there's a B two B brand that is considering clunching podcast, I think that's the first app would really be to choose like what you want to talk about and what will be your unique point of view, and then like choosing the right subject matter expert that can represent you and fun fact, it doesn't have to be your CEO, you know. Um, if there's someone else in your company that understands your target audience more than your CEO. Maybe they worked in the industry, then they might be better better host for the podcast. And I heard about companies that are actually hiring people externally to host their their podcast because they simply don't have so deep like industry knowledge that they would speak on a level with very like often technical terms with their buyers. So I think that it's about finding your point of view, finding your your topic, finding your little space in the market, and that then having the right host that can actually commit to it and keep doing it for a very, very very long time. That's great advice. One thing that I would offer is it's okay to take...

...a walk before your run approach to podcasting. So a lot of people may look at a podcast and think I have to do one every single week. But my advice would be for a B two B sas company is start with one podcast a month. That's all you need, a thirty minute conversation with someone. Then then to get our y to learn and to educate yourself. Start extracting content for blog posts LinkedIn, post Twitter updates, answers on Cora, things that you can post on Instagram. There's all kinds of goodness that comes out from just doing one podcast a month. One final question before we get into the podcast agency ecosystem, what do you see is the biggest mistakes that companies make with podcasting? And you mentioned it in your in your last sentence, and I think that it's whether it's host single guesting. I think it's lack of distribution. Very often, podcast hosts and the companies who are running the Boodcast or companies who are appearing on these podcasts, they are really looking at the number of downloads, number of listens. If I don't know your podcast and your episode is thirty minute long, it's a very big ask for me and quite big risk to take to tune in for full thirty minutes. And I think that companies need to shift their perspective from driving all traffic to the full episode and really produce all of these podcast episodes and appear on podcasts with a distribution in mind, because what really matters is that you get the message across that the listener of the podcast or the person who will be watching that snippet on social media will get bought into your point of view and they will like what you're saying now. If that happens, it really doesn't matter where it happened. The job got done. You you change someone someone's u some some person's way of thinking, how they approach, how they think about problems, And it doesn't mean that that they didn't go to Spotify and click your episode and listen to the full thing if they've seen five of your two minute videos featuring the best parts of the podcast natively in their LinkedIn feet. So I think hosting or guesting really think about distribution and how it can how it can fuel your social media growth and in general content marketing. From the outside, looking in, the podcast agency landscape strikes me as the wild West. There are must be hundreds, if not thousands, of podcast agencies battling to place guests on podcasts. As I set off the top, I get five to ten outreach efforts in my inbox every single week, and most of them are pretty crappy and and I am curious about your take on the...

...podcast agency ecosystem. What are the barriers to entry and what should companies know about agencies that book clients on podcasts before they make a commitment to them. I think barriers of entry are super low, and that's why it might seem the directional. A lot of players who are doing it, a lot of consultants, a lot of agencies who are doing it now. They are not like so many agencies. Definitely, they are way more podcast production agencies than podcast guest booking agencies. But there are a lot of them, you know, and because many of them really take that spray and pray approach. From a podcast host perspective, I can understand how that it feels that you're that there are like thousands of people who are doing this thing, but through this quite different. You know, there are not so many podcast booking agencies, and there are even less podcast booking agencies. We're doing it well. I have a lot of conversations with with podcast hosts, and usually it's it's they they're saying the same things as as you're saying. If you produce one podcast a week and your podcast is like, let's say, quite successful, you know, you get thousands and thousands of lestens. People are interacting on social media. Let's say that you know, fifty people reach out to you during the week. You can only accept one person from all these people who reach out to you. You know, because fifty two episodes a year. If you have a weekly podcast, when you are working with a podcast booking agency, you know, the outcome is usually the same, you know, it's booked podcast interview, but the price for booked podcast interview is very different. You know, it can start from like two hundred dollars per booked podcast interview, and it can go more than one thousand dollars for one podcast interview booked. And there are a lot of factors that go into this pricing, you know, and if you if you're on a cheaper side, you are really paying just for the placement and the quality of the podcast, and the relevance of the podcast is questionable. You know, these agencies they very often want to hit the target and they don't care about almost like if if the podcast is like super relevant to you. So, for example, if you want to reach demand generation marketers, you know, they might reach out to marketing podcasts, but that might be too broad, right, and there might be like B TWOC marketers, right, and and people who who are not really relevant for you and for your business. So on paper, they are reaching out to marketing podcasts, but in reality, you know, it's not serving your your your brand. So when you're on cheaper side, you know, the relevance is not always uh, relevance of the podcast is not always so good. Then there's coaching, you know, speaking of podcasts still for many people something completely new, and um, you need to actually be a good...

...st too, you know, make sure that people actually keep listening. The host will go the extra mile to promote it and so on. So um, some agencies for coaching, some don't, and hence the price is different then of course, of course, like level of support. Some agencies will just connect you with the host and they tell you handle everything go on on your side, you know, between two of you. Some agencies will handle everything for you, so you just show up and speak. Yeah, there are some additional services like content repurposing and so one that that can influence the price as well. So there are a lot of things that go that go into choosing the right agency, but those are the main things that would I would say influence the cost. If I have a podcast, I'm looking for an agency because I need I need to appear on the right podcast at the right time for brand awarness, lead generation, content marketing. How do I figure out which agency is the best fit. There's so many options out there, and it can be hard from the outside looking in to figure out that this agency is successful and has the right network of podcasters versus another agency. So from a research perspective, how do I narrow down my choice and how do I know I'm making the right choice. So obviously it needs to fit into your budget, right, I don't talk about that. There are different different UM packages and different prices that you can you can UM you can pay for for guest booking UM. But I think that I would always look into the clients that this agency is working with. You know, we are very on a B two B SaaS side. So uh if if yoga coach will reach out to us, our pricing and our messaging won't resonate, you know. And there are agencies that are helping way more people and they're like more target audiences, and they're very often cheaper, you know. So I think it really boils down to budget UM and choosing the agency that has relevant case studies and that is promising you what you actually want, you know, because the truth is you might don't need coaching, You maybe don't need content for purposing uh and you maybe don't care about the relevancy of podcasts and you just want to be on a lot of podcasts too, for example, generate back links, you know, for your for your webs for your website, then you might go with the cheaper option. But if you really want to integrate speaking on podcasts into your mind generation strategy, I would definitely spend a little bit more time researching the right when there. So let's look at the other side of the coin. As someone who receives a lot of inbound email from podcast agencies, providing with some advice on how I can tell whether the agency has done its homework, whether it knows my podcast and has at least listened to one episode, whether it understands the focus, and whether the guest is...

...a good fit, because in many cases, it seems like they're standing at a template and they simply put my name in the box and hope that the one size fits all outreach strategy is going to work. And I feel that I can I can tell immediately that this is the case. I can I can tell that they really haven't put their homework in and the reality is, and this is a sad reality for their clients, is I'll hit delete extremely quickly. I won't even bother to respond to them and say sorry, it's not a good fit because it just takes time and they haven't done enough effort for me to actually put an effort in return. So what are your thoughts on how a podcaster can tell of an agency knows its stuff and it's serving its clients in the right way. I think mark you as a gazos, you really have an unfair advantage because you have a very like inside the look into how these agencies actually craft their pitches because they literally land in your in books. So if you are considering, you know, speaking on podcasts, I would really look in the pitches that you've accepted, you know. So if you receive pitches from some agency that you regularly you know, except guests from, then this agency would probably be the right fit to represent you as well, because they go the extra miles so they pass your immediate delete filter and you you actually accept their guests on on on your show. So I think that that would be one thing that I would definitely look into when um if if I would be you, and I would consider appearing on podcasts. Now, most brands most market that don't have this luxury, right, they don't run a podcast, so they make a decision this way. I would really just set up a few goals with some agencies, and I would ask some questions about, you know, how they how they handle their process. So, for example, how many customers one account manager or booking agent UH handles. You know, there are there are companies that one person can handle fifteen customers UH speak on podcast one person handles like four to five people maximum, UM. And we designed it this way because we want to provide that experience that people actually feel that they're taken care of. UM. Then I would also ask about how they evaluate podcasts importanties, you know, how how they evaluate if the podcast is it And very often it might tell you one metric example, number of reviews on Applied Apple Apple Apple podcasts or global rank...

...on listen notes. And if they tell you just one metric, run it's it's impossible to evaluate a podcast importanty based on just one metric. And we really look into tons of other tons of different metrics to to say if this is the relevant importantly for our customer. Hence only four to five customers per booking agent, because there there are a lot of like background work that needs to be done in order to find the best importanties. And usually, you know, because we do such a good job when it comes to researching and drafting emails, we establish relationships with podcastos over time because they like our approach and then it's easier to book interviews for the second time. So if the agency that you're considering can actually share some testimonials from podcast hosts that you know they're complementing their their podcast out reaching so on, that's quite good indicator that this agency is doing doing good up as well. When a company is interested in appearing on podcasts, they realize that being a guest is a good thing for lots of different reasons, and they want to get their VP Marketing or the CEO or the head of sales on a podcast. What are the balances between trying to do with themselves and use an agency. Obviously there's costs involved and effort. A lot of companies, especially bigger companies, figured that their marketing department should be able to reach out to podcasters identified podcasters and reach out to them and get the job done. When do you think is the right time to hire an agency and why would it why would a big company, for example, pick an agency rather than use the do it yourself approach. So I think two reasons to just to answer to the last question relationships. The big company might have a few friends in the podcasting industry, so they might lend a few bookings. But if it needs to be like a solid stret tog, you need to appear or on at least like ten podcasts to to see some snowball effects, then it's really nohow. On paper, it looks simple, you know, you find a podcast you want to reach out to, you send an email, and you get a booking. And this is the premise that we we started with when we started our agency. But we soon realize that it's not that simple. You know, sometimes you message the host, sometimes you message a producer, sometimes you message a co host who doesn't handle bookings. Sometimes you cannot find the email address at all. Um then finding the right podcast. You know, there are a lot of things that go into doing this consistently and predictably, and it took us year and half to to do it in a way that we know that we can on board a customer and in four months that would be satisfied customer. You know, we needed to go through a lot of iterations of our process to refine it, and along the way we built a lot of relationships. So I think that these are the main two things main two biggest bottlenecks, you know, relationships with podcast hosts and that you probably don't have time and and...

...the two maybe to to build the whole process internally. When's the rights time? I think that the right time to start appearing on podcasts is when you already have some other, um other activities going on that are generating pipeline, you know. So usually like what if you start appearing on podcasts with the expectations that you will start getting tons of leads from each interview, Uh, that's not something that we can actually promise. And if an agency is promising this to you again that that is quite like a red flag. This is more like a brand awareness play. You know, you want to use this to create tons of content to stay top of mind. But our really most our best customers are already doing tons of other different marketing related things that is building their pipeline, and this is almost on top of it that they can that that support their other efforts, you know, So for example, you appear on the podcast, then you can share it within your overall like content on social media, on websites and so on. You can share it with your pipeline when you are following up with leads and so on. So I think that have other things in place before you decide that you want to start speaking on podcast strategically. Final question, and this may be a tough one given the fact that you have relationships with many BDB podcasters, what are the BDB sas podcasts that you listen to on a regular basis. Funny enough, I get most of my B two B information B two B marketing information from LinkedIn and from books, but when I really want to listen to podcasts, you know, UM, I won't be very original, but I will say say revenue vitals. Originally it was stated with mansion UM B two B growth by team and sweet Fish, and I think that that's it really and I some I sometimes gone into your podcasts as well. But the thing is that revenue vitals, that's very often you know about about an area of demand generation. You know, they're um, they're exploring like B two B marketing from one point of view, and then I like b to be growth because they're talking about different things that are often not discussed on revenue vitals, so it offers different point of view. And you know, the frequency is crazy, like I think they post once once a day. You know it's a daily podcast. So those are those are two h slash three if I include yours as well podcasts that I I always like to listen to, but as I mentioned, mostly from LinkedIn, and I if I would count, should count all podcasts I listen listen to on LinkedIn through snippets on audio grams and so on. That would be way more, way more because I get the information from LinkedIn, including snippets from podcasts that I didn't list here. Where can people learn more about you and speak on podcasts? If you enjoy this conversation, I would recommend that you send me a connection request on LinkedIn, you know, in the connection now just let me know that you heard me on...

...on marketing Spark. If you are considering speaking on podcasts, you can go on speak on podcasts dot com and to learn a little bit more pulp what we do. We have public pricing so you can see what we charged. You can google Cole right away and we'll be happy to chat well. Thanks Jacob for the great insight about the podcasting and podcast agency landscape, and thanks to everyone for listening to another episode of Marketing Spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a five star review, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app, and share via social media. To learn more about how I have BBB sas companies as a fractional CMO strategic advisor, and how I create better position and messaging, email Mark at Mark Evans dot c A or connect with me on LinkedIn. I'll talk to you soon. Tack.

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