Well, it’s official: the Business Machine Podcast is picking up speed.
Months ago, when our CEO Brian Town realized that he could host a podcast just as well as anyone else, he jumped right in. And we’re all glad he did: the podcast has been a great way to build a community around startups, entrepreneurs, and marketing junkies like ourselves.
We started with a pool of guests we already knew through Lansing’s own NEO Center and The Hatch. We’re proud to help showcase local talent and inspiring entrepreneurs. But at some point in every podcast show’s life, the real work begins: it was time for us to actively seek out new guests.
And so, as my last project before my internship ends at Michigan Creative, I’m kickstarting the podcast outreach–everything from finding the right guests, to researching each one, to contacting them with a personalized message. Whether you already host a podcast or have been considering it for a while, I’d like to share a few tips and tools that have helped me streamline the process.
- Mix up your content. Even if your podcast is focused on startups, there are so many guest options: a product or a service, a founder or app developer, a recent author or touring speaker. Whenever you have an hour or two set aside for searching potential guests, try focusing on one area at a time. It will make it easier to pick up where you left off.
- Find experts on Amazon. Chances are, your podcast area of interest has its own book section on Amazon. If you search New Releases in that area, as I did below for “Small Business & Entrepreneurship”, you’ll find authors who would appreciate the chance to promote their book on your show. (Take note: the books with hundreds of 5 star reviews probably don’t need the promotion as much as those with a few dozen.)
- Find lists. They’re everywhere, not just Forbes 30 Under 30. Look for annual award winners and nominations at your local or state level, in your area of interest. For us, that might be Michigan’s Small Business Awards or the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship profiles. You could even consult this extensive list of previous Shark Tank contestants. (Again, take note: the list includes whether each contestant received a deal or not. Likely, the guests who did NOT receive deals will better appreciate the positive publicity from your podcast! Be their champion.)
- Include just ONE link in your message request. That link should lead to your guest application page. Any other links can be included on that page. On our Business Machine Podcast Guest Application Page, we include a simple application form and links for the schedule, show questions, and waiver form. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for your potential guest to get started. If you send five links from the get-go, they might feel justified in putting it off until later (which, when they forget, will be never).
- Get creative with contact strategy. If you can’t easily find a contact’s email, look for a contact form on the most closely-associated website. If no contact form, try a shout-out on Twitter (with a link to your podcast application page), a request through a Connect invitation on LinkedIn, a comment on the Facebook page, etc. Not all of your potential guests will be on the same platform, and that’s okay. Just meet them where they are.
- Make it a business opportunity. Keep your eye out for potential guests who you’d also like to do business with, whether soon or somewhere down the road. Sometimes during your research process, you’ll get the sense that they’d benefit from your business services.
- Use social media. One of my favorite ways to research guests is via the Accounts tab on Twitter search. in the example below, I searched HubSpot accounts to find current and previous employees. Turns out, you can learn other key details from this simple search page: side projects, previous company employment, recent book releases . . .
When all is said and done, your potential guests might still be hiding in plain sight. Look at the guest list for podcasts similar to yours. Follow up with your own podcast guests to ask for referrals. (Chances are, if this guest was a good fit for your audience, he or she will have a few connections to happily recommend as guests.)
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