To promote a podcast, a host must use every option available. One option is in-person events. There are several different types of events that a host can attend or host. These events take preparation, but the potential ROI may lead to more than listeners.
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A host should hand out stickers at an event. Stickers are better than business cards. Someone can put a sticker somewhere and will think about the podcast every time they see the sticker. How many stickers should a host bring to an event? Less than 50. A host should only hand stickers out to people that seem more interested than others. A host should make sure that people know the sticker is for a podcast when they get home. How can a host make sure people remember the sticker is for a podcast? Add elements to the sticker that make it clear that the sticker is promoting a podcast. The word podcast or a microphone on the sticker would make that clear. If someone puts a sticker for the podcast on their laptop, that is the holy grail for a sticker. Why? Imagine someone putting a sticker on their 6-month old laptop. That person will use that laptop for two to three more years. People will ask, "what is that sticker for?" The owner of the laptop then has to explain the podcast. That makes the laptop an ad for the podcast.
If a host has stickers leftover from the event, there are several options. One option is to sell the stickers to their current audience. The second option is to wait for the next event, stickers do not go bad. A host can promote the old stickers as vintage stickers at next year's event. Stickers cost about $0.50 per sticker. The more stickers per order, the less each sticker costs. Bring stickers to every event.
The first course of action a host should take to host a live event is to create an invitation on a meetup website. The purpose of an invitation is validation. A host can validate an interest in attending their event. Creating an invitation gives a host an idea of how many people want to attend. If nobody registers on the meetup website, the host knows that no one wants to attend. If 50 people register for the event, then there is a lot of interest in the host's event. A host has to keep in mind that people tend to register for events and not show up. This validation does not cost a host any money.
Think of companies that would gain from the meetup. Then, contact someone from the marketing department of the company. Ask if they would allow a meetup event in their office. For a podcasting event, there several companies that would gain from hosting a meetup. Podcast players, microphone companies, or podcast hosting companies are a few.
The next best option is a coffee shop. A host can find a coffee shop with big tables. Get to the coffee shop early and set the table up. Have a piece of paper that lets people know the table is "reserved" for a meetup. Show up early to make sure a big table is available, depending on how many people registered.
A host should target a small group of people for a meetup. A host can get to know the people at the meetup. A larger meetup means less time for the host to get to know the people attending. If I hosted a meetup, I would invite "software engineers interested in podcasting." The number may be small, allowing me to get to know everyone. the more one-on-one time I would get with each attendee
A host can have attendees sign in. Even if it's on a piece of paper. Why? Having attendee sign-in will allow the host to get the attendees' emails. If a host has their emails, the attendees can get the next meet up information. Making it easier for those same people to attend the next event. When the host needs to promote anything, they can use the list of people from the meetup to send the information. The host has an email list of local people. Which they can use if they need help on a local level.
A host needs a plan for a meetup. A host should get to know the people attending the meetup. Ask questions related to the topic of the podcast. At a podcasting event, I would ask podcasting questions. What type of podcast do you want to start? What's stopping you from starting a podcast? Then, I tell them that "I have done episodes about podcasting for BAIB. If they would like to learn from other people, I run a podcasting community."
For attending meetups, a host should go to the more casual meetups. Do not attend presentations or workshops. There is not much time for casual conversation at presentations or workshops. People will be listening to a speaker or following directions. They will not have time to have a conversation with hosts. At a casual meetup such as a dinner, attendees will be more willing to have conversations.
For a host to find an event specific to the one they would create, it is unlikely. The next best option would be to attend an event general to the podcast's topic. Instead of looking for an event inviting "Software Engineers interested in podcasting." I would attend a podcasting meetup.
At the event, ask people what podcast they listen to. The host should bring up their own podcast if an attendee brings up a similar podcast. If an attendee shows above-average interest, a host should give them a sticker.
There may be a trade show or convention and in a host's area. A host should try to get a booth at the event. Getting a booth could be as simple as filling out a form. if a host cannot get a booth, they should try to attend the event and hand out stickers to other attendees
In the event, a host does get a booth, they should hand out pens along with stickers. Pens are more expensive, $1 / $2 per pen. Pens are more effective because people are less likely to throw away pens. Pens have a use, and people keep them for writing. Pens are different from stickers. People might throw away a sticker immediately because stickers have no purpose. Stickers are for fun. An attendee can use a pen for years before they run out of ink.
Some conventions or trade shows might be looking for people to give presentations. A host can give a talk. This will put a host front and center with everyone that attends the event. The talk is an opportunity to promote the podcast. A host would need to have material to discuss in advance. There are several topics to use for a talk.
A host can give a talk about their most popular episode. They can discuss what the episode was about, the numbers, what they learned from that episode. For my podcast, the title of the most popular episode is "dogs and web development." For the talk, I would discuss the origins of the episode and why it is my most popular episode.
If a host has an interview podcast, they can talk about guests. A host can give a talk about the general themes that they have learned. Also, patterns that they have seen between guests and about interviewing.
A host should create an invitation similar to hosting an in-person event. The difference will be the location for the event. The location of the event should be a link to the host's favorite streaming platform.
The host can do an event similar to live streaming a podcast recording. The host can stream for an extended amount of time than usual. For answering anyone's questions after recording.
An advantage of hosting an online event is a host does not have to prepare items to bring for attendees. People are more likely to show up to the online event because they do not have to go anywhere.
Hosting and attending events gives a host a pipeline for guests and listeners. Some people will not only want to listen to the podcast but be a guest. An advantage of an in-person interview is being able to bring the gear anywhere. A host can bring the podcasting gear to the guest, lessening the chances of not doing the interview.
Going and hosting events builds a personal connection with the people at the events. The personal connection built at events might be stronger than the connection. When compared to the people, a host interacts with online. The in-person people might be more willing to help a host out in their time of need.
Meeting people in the local community well build up a reputation for a host. Building a reputation might mean a host gets more than listeners for the podcast. Someone might offer a host a job because they listen to the podcast and have a better idea of a host's skills.
Going to an event may cause some people to have anxiety. Hosting an event may be too much for them. Preparing might cause some problems. For example, the stickers might not look like they did online, or the venue might cause some problems.
For an event, a host has to spend money on things such as stickers or at the actual location. There is no clear ROI on the amount of money spent and the return. A host can spend $100 on the event, and they might make more money from the event, but no one knows. The event will not lead to the host making $110. A host might make nothing from the event.
People tend not to show up to meetups. For example, I hosted a meet up with 20 tickets. The meetup sold out. On the day of the event, 7 people showed up. My guess for why they did not show up is because they did not know me or know what to expect. They would rather not show up instead of having a bad time. The meetup went well. The small number of people led to everyone getting to know each other. Having more tickets than space to account for no-shows. Instead of 20 tickets for 20 seats, have 25 tickets available.
(That meetup is the origin of the niche down idea.)
Events do not scale. A host can only attend so many events. A city might only have one or two events per year, make them count. Even if only one person becomes a listener, then the event was worth it.
For a comedian, a meetup event is equal to performing stand-up. For most comedians, stand-up is their main job.
At the end of a show, some comedians will do a meet-and-greet with fans. Meet and greets are an opportunity for comedians to sell merchandise. During this time, comedians will sell t-shirts, stickers, and DVDs.
In-person events allow a host to know their local community. For a host to go to or create a local event might take work. Finding people with similar interests close by makes the event worth it.
This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. Which is available for purchase here.