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Should You Host or Guest?

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(By Tom Schwab) Should you start a podcast or be a guest on other shows? Hosting works best if you’re trying to connect with existing customers on a deeper level. If you’re trying to reach new customers — being a guest is a more efficient use of your time.

Some pros of being a guest: Someone else does all the hard work for you. And you get a taste of what making a podcast takes before you commit.

Guesting on someone else’s podcast is more than a transaction: Treat it as an opportunity to turn a conversation into a long-term relationship.

Podcasts have become important parts of many companies’ marketing strategies. The medium is growing in popularity and reach. So even a small but consistent number of downloads can help improve brand awareness and loyalty.

The catch is that creating a podcast — especially a good one people want to listen to — takes a significant amount of time and dedication. If you haven’t done it before and aren’t sure how well you’ll take to it, diving right in is risky. Starting one and giving up isn’t a good look.

One way to benefit from the marketing power of podcasts without completely draining your time and resources is to guest on other people’s podcasts.

But which approach is right for you? And when does it make sense to consider podcast guesting vs. launching your own podcast? After appearing on more than 1,200 podcast interviews, I’ve gained unique insights on the process. I had the opportunity to share some tips on how to make the decision with Peter Winick on an episode of his Leveraging Thought Leadership podcast.

If you’re deliberating whether to commit to hosting your own podcast or guesting on established podcasts, here’s my advice.

What are your marketing goals? When building your podcast strategy, start by identifying the marketing goals you’re hoping to achieve. - Are you trying to build deeper connections with your existing clients? - Or are you more interested in generating new leads?

Your answer will help determine whether hosting or guesting is a smarter move for you right now.

Hosts build connections with listeners If you’re hoping to use a podcast to connect further with people who already know you, consider hosting your own podcast.

Podcast lovers already know that regularly listening to someone speak about a topic they (and you) are passionate about fosters a unique connection.

Podcasting consistently puts you in your audience’s ears and their minds, and helps create what feels like a personal relationship with you and your brand.

Guests reach a new audience If your main marketing goal is to expand your audience and find new customers, being a guest on other people’s podcasts is a more effective strategy than hosting your own.

Appearing on someone else’s show is an opportunity to introduce yourself and your brand to their audience. While there is an investment of time, you don’t have the costs of podcast production when you’re the featured guest.

When you’re looking for podcasts you’d like to guest on, choose shows that are in line with your brand, with an audience that is likely to be interested in your message and what you offer. For example, if your specialty is seminars on SEO strategy, there’s little point in signing up to appear on a podcast about cat grooming.

Another factor to consider when identifying podcast guest opportunities is how well their team promotes the podcast. If the episodes come out on a random timetable only the host understands, if they never promote the shows, or they don’t have an active social media presence, you’ll have limited reach.

How much time do you have? Here’s a detail people often miss: consistently making a podcast is hard! It requires a regular commitment of time, effort and energy, especially if you need to do research or find guests.

Testing the waters and calling it quits if it’s not working isn’t a great option, either. Brands have less leeway than individuals for exploring podcast hosting. If Joe Bloggs gives up on his podcast about his “Star Wars” figurine collection after two episodes, no one cares. (Sorry to break it to you, Joe.) But if you launch a show as part of your brand and peter out within a month, it doesn’t reflect well on your ability to meet your commitments.

If you’re unfamiliar with making podcasts, unsure about how to use the medium, or not sure that you have enough time to publish consistently, guesting on other people’s shows gives you an insight into the process without the long-term burden.

The other benefit of going on someone else’s show is that they’ll take care of all the time-consuming parts of podcast production, like research, editing and promotion. So not only are you spared the commitment, you don’t even have to take time out of your day to create the final product.

Bottom line when it comes to your time: While podcast guesting will require some inputs from you, it is far less time consuming than making and marketing your own podcast.

How — and why — to go from one-time guest to friend of the show. When you’re a guest on someone else’s podcast, you’re not only connecting with their audience, you’re networking with the host.

You’d be surprised by how many guests fail to take advantage of meeting someone else in their space, who has connections with lots of other people doing similar things!

Don’t treat your guest spot as a transaction: use it as a chance to form a relationship. My upcoming Podcast Guest Profits: How to grow your business with a targeted interview strategy,” is about how to leverage conversations on other people’s platforms as opportunities for professional and personal growth. Make every podcast interview one of those moments.

Here’s how to be the kind of guest hosts want to work with again: - Do your research before approaching the show. There are three reasons to do this: First to make sure it’s relevant to your brand, second out of respect to the host, and third because blathering your way through a pre-call or interview without knowing the context of the show is pretty embarrassing. - Promote the episode. It’s astonishing how many guests — half or maybe more — don’t bother to promote podcast episodes they’ve appeared on. You lose the opportunity to bring attention to your brand, and it’s ungrateful to your host. - Follow up. Stay in touch with the host. If you ultimately choose to start your own podcast, invite them on. Hosts often reuse content, so if you see your episode repeated, promote it again and say thank you. This basic level of politeness and professionalism ensures that when you have something new to promote, you’ll get a warm welcome back to the show.

Tom Schwab is Chief Evangelist Officer of Interview Valet, a podcast interview marketing company he founded in 2015. Tom is a keynote speaker and the author of both “PODCAST GUEST PROFITS: Grow your business with a targeted interview strategy” and “One Conversation Away,” scheduled to be released in October 2021.

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