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Tapping into the Power of a Podcast to Sell Books

I remember a couple years ago, some thought the rise in podcast use was just a trend–a quick “in and then out” blip on the media map. It seems, though, that podcasts have put a stake in the ground. Not only will they be with us quite a while, I’d guess we’ll continue to see them rise in popularity, with more consumers listening and more brands/names joining the game.

Podcasts tap into our love for story. In a way, they tie into the age-old oral storytelling culture… yet through a medium that perfectly fits our busy lives. Tune in on your commute, from the gym, or while you’re cleaning house. Our busy society loves efficiency and multitasking, right? So hello, podcast.

There is immense power in the podcast platform for marketing–specifically, book marketing. If you’re an author and you’re not thinking about to tap into the podcast space, you’re missing out.

Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016, and I predict we’ll continue to see growth in the years to come.

Studies show that 64% of podcasts are listened to on a smartphone or tablet. It’s no surprise that mobile is so popular. And of those who listen to podcasts, the average number of shows consumed per week is five.

We’re currently seeing that one in five Americans, aged 12-54, have listened to a podcast in the past month. These numbers decrease significantly when we get into the older demographic of 55+.

So, if you’re building a brand, enhancing a platform, or trying to sell a book, podcasts are a strong medium to consider. Get right in the ear of your target audience. It’s intimate, it’s brief, it’s non-intimidating (you’re not asking them to stop driving or stop lifting weights, right?).

A podcast is a prime opportunity for content marketing at its best. Give away valuable information– “valuable,” as that word pertains to your unique target audience–and then prime your audience to buy, even as you build authority and empathy.

A podcast is a prime opportunity for content marketing at its best. Click To Tweet

When we talk about tapping into the power of a podcast to sell books, that could mean two things: selling books through your own podcast or selling books through other people’s podcasts. Below, I’m listing a handful of ways to do both.

How to promote a book through your own podcast

If you have a podcast, chances are your audience sees you an authority and already wants the information you have to offer. There are strategic ways to tap into that brand trust with prompts to purchase books. Here are some ideas:

  • Build a podcast series around the content of your book. Let folks know that this multi-part series is related to a book–and tell them how to buy it. Whet their appetite for the subject, and then strategically leave them wanting to go deeper through reading.
  • Record your podcasts as usual, but have a strong Call to Action at the end to buy your book.
  • Similar to above, craft your podcast content as usual, but have a Call to Action at the end. This time, send people to opt in for a free item (like a free eBook or PDF download), which then gets them into a strategic email sales funnel that points to the book.
  • Include mentions of your book and hyperlinks to your book landing page on your website, in your show notes, or wherever you house online written content related to the blog.
  • Do a book giveaway with your listeners.

How to promote your book through other people’s podcasts

If you don’t have your own podcast, never fear. There are other ways to leverage the medium for your book. Seek the spotlight on other people’s podcasts. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you don’t have warm relationships, work with a publicist (or pitch yourself) to different podcasts. Tweak each pitch individually to make your message fit that individual’s podcast and add value to their audience. A blanket, generic pitch will not work.
  • If you do have warm relationships, go out to those folks early and ask to come on their show! The kicker is always clearly demonstrating the value you’ll add to their audience.
  • Ask the host to mention your book in your introduction or bio.
  • Ask the host to do a Call to Action at the end for listeners to buy the book.
  • Do a book giveaway with the host’s audience.
  • If you’re doing an interview, work your book into your answers. Be subtle, be story-based, and show some “behind the scenes.”

Keep in mind that all pieces of your branded media should work together. If you’re doing a podcast, it should also be mentioned on your website/blog, in your social media, in your emails, etc. Let each piece of your content be unique–but connected to the whole.

With that in mind, don’t silo your book’s spotlight on a podcast. Whether it’s your own podcast or someone else’s, use your other platforms and assets to talk it up. On the podcast, be clear in stating the URL of your book landing page (or of another place where they can buy the book), but remember that hearing a static URL isn’t the same as seeing a clickable one. Populate your assets with the clickable URL, as well, and see results.

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  • As both an author and a podcaster, I’ll say our advertisers definitely see the best ROI on their ad spot on a podcast (as opposed to just the blog). I’m pretty sure the main reason is because podcast episodes have a much longer shelf life than a blog post—people will listen to a podcast episode years after it first launched without hesitation. Also, the host (a good one, anyway) can read the ad in a natural, humanizing voice, which goes much farther than an image ad in a sidebar, or even in words written in a blog post. Ad sponsorship on a podcast seems to be a solid move for a marketing budget right now, and we’ve heard nothing but good from people who’ve sponsored one of our podcast episodes.

    Also, I love having fellow authors as guests because we can talk about the book-writing process, which adds fun behind-the-scenes stuff to a book, and it also humanizes the author, which is always a good thing. It is important to let the podcaster do her job and not ask for too much—a good one knows to have a good CTA at the end (mentioning the book link in the show notes, etc.). In discussing the talking points ahead of time with the host, the topic your book covers should organically come up, so you don’t need to sweat too much making sure she brings up your book. It also goes a long way to send the host a copy of your book several weeks ahead of time, so they can brainstorm talking ideas.

    Anyway, just wanted to add my $.02 to this conversation! I like that you’ve brought up podcasts, Chad, because it’s my main (non-book writing) platform focus these days.

  • Wow. I guess I’m one of the few people who dislike podcasts. I get distracted too easily by others talking. I don’t live in an area that uses mass transit frequently, and work is about a 10-15 minute drive at best. I’m usually focusing on the drive. I want to give a podcast my full attention, but the medium of a podcast doesn’t allow me to review previous material in the same way the written word does.