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How to Get Great Guests for Your B2B Podcast [Outreach Templates]

Business podcasts are an amazing opportunity to showcase expertise, share knowledge, and build your audience. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to execute a podcast. When done right, they innately hit on several of the biggest prongs of a true content marketing strategy including consistency and differentiation.

The success of any B2B podcast is predicated on multiple factors, but none bigger than the quality, kind, and diversity of guests (assuming you’re creating an interview-based show style). Getting amazing guests – whose personal brand and expertise align with yours – is vital, but it’s often an afterthought.

I share strategies and templates that my team and I have used to get more than 25 top-of-the-line guests for our podcast Marketer + Machine.

Your Guests Make or Break the Program

You can have a bomb idea, a killer strategy, tons of resources, and sincere intentions to launch a podcast – but without high-quality interviewees, your show will fall flat.

Consider these factors when thinking about who you want to have on your show:

  • Theme – Does the prospective guest’s personal brand align with your message?
  • Goal – Are you doing the podcast for brand awareness, niche technical insights, or something else?
  • Subjects – What category of people will you need to land for the interviews? Independent industry influencers, clients and customers, employees, end users of your products and services, or a permutation of different groups of people?
  • Reach – What kind of social following, follower engagement, and credentials/qualifications do these prospective guests have? Will they effectively spread the word about your program?

Since your guests indirectly represent your brand – and hopefully will promote the heck out of it – pick relevant well-respected people whose audiences overlap with yours.

Our weekly podcast is targeted to e-commerce and digital marketers. When we launched a year ago, we wanted to do it with a bang and that meant getting well-known, independent e-commerce industry authors, speakers, and consultants in the martech space.

Here’s how we went about this process.

Step 1: Develop a working list of potential guests

Create a little black book – a list of people who would be an ideal fit and make great guests. Surveil the space, do some research, and talk to others who are familiar with your industry.

If you’re like most B2B podcasters, you’ll interview a slew of industry experts. If you don’t know who the leading voices in your industry are or want to learn more about building a thriving influencer strategy, check out these resources to aid in that discovery:

If you have an influencer program, the guest list process should be easy. Go through that list and identify who would be a good fit for your podcast.

TIP: Create an influencer collaboration spreadsheet. Include the following columns: name, position, expertise, email address, LinkedIn profile, Twitter profile, Twitter followers, notes, etc. Always include a column to track your outreach too.

In the excitement of launching a new podcast, you might be tempted to contact dozens of people right away. Resist that urge. First, get all the logistics set. Know how your show will work behind the scenes first. Be ready to answer questions about the show, its theme, technical details, and promotion.

Then reach out to a narrow group (see next steps). Aim to launch with at least a few confirmations from high-level names to really get attention from your audience. I recommend a test run of three to five big names.

TIP: Look for prospective guests who have a timely reason to promote themselves or their work. For example, if the person recently authored a book, she might be more interested in participating in the podcast so she can promote the book.

TIP: You won’t get everyone you set out to land. I’ve found that a 75 to 85% success rate is good for us. That rate will vary depending on your list and industry.

“No matter what, stay true to your show, your brand, and your audience. It’s not about gimmicks and celebrities; when it comes to attracting great guests it’s about creating an experience worth sharing.” – Rachel Downey, President, Share Your Genius

Step 2: Begin outreach to land initial guests

Consider your outreach process malleable and dynamic, and don’t be married to a script. But here are a few suggestions and some scripts to consider.

Ideally, you and your company both follow the prospective guests across social media and engage with them prior to any official ask. If not, don’t make the ask until you at least engage on social with them.

If you feel your ask is intrusive or “asking too much,” offer to create content (unrelated to your show), such as a contributing article, for the guest’s owned channels. Tell a story about a subject matter the prospective guest discusses. You also can offer to publish the prospect’s content on your company’s owned channels.

The initial ask should be customized. Do your homework. See what other podcasts they’ve appeared on, places they’ve spoken, or books they’ve written. Make outreach timely and relevant to them.

Brevity and clarity are critical. In the B2B space, email and LinkedIn are ideal ways to connect.

Position your request focusing on the benefits for the potential guest – the value of their input, your plans to promote, etc.

I share templates below for four outreach options that you can tailor for your pitches.

Cold email

Let me introduce myself. I am [name + title] and a team member for [company’s] new podcast, [name of show] that I think you might find valuable. 

We love your great work in the industry. (I especially liked your recent [blog article, media interview, etc.]) We would be honored to feature you as a guest on an upcoming episode.

I am eager to answer your questions, discuss your interest, our promotions, etc. in more detail. Please reply to this email or give me a call [number].

Warm email

I hope all is well at [recipient’s company]. I wanted to reconnect about a new initiative our team is launching at [your company] – a podcast, [title]. It focuses on helping [audience and benefits of show]. It is hosted by [name and title].

As we are preparing to launch the show, I thought of you. You would be a perfect guest on the show. We’d love to share your excellent insight and thoughts with our audience. And we also would be pleased to include you in our promotion of the podcast across our owned, social, and paid channels.

I’ll follow up with a call in a couple days to answer any questions. Or if you prefer, simply reply to this email and we can get the process started.

LinkedIn invitation to connect

I’d love to connect!  

I also wanted to invite you to be one of the first guests for a new podcast [title] our team at [company name] is launching soon. We would be honored to have someone of your insight and expertise on the show.

Happy to pass along more info. Let me know if you’re interested.

LinkedIn message to existing contact

I hope you are doing well.

We are launching a new podcast [title] at [company name] soon. Given our familiarity with your fantastic work, we would be honored for you to be one of the first guests on the show. Our audience would greatly benefit from your insight and expertise.

Let me know if you’re interested in learning more, and I’ll be happy to provide more details, including our plans to promote your appearance.

TIP: Share numbers in your outreach to demonstrate credibility and pique the interest of guests. For example, mention your total email subscribers and how the podcast will be featured in your e-newsletter outreach. Or detail the numbers around your social media channels or website traffic.

Step 3 (no response): Follow up respectfully

As you invite potential guests, don’t forget to document how and when you asked on your influencer tracking spreadsheet.

Set a calendar tickler for follow-up at least a week after your original communication. Consider using the opposite channel (LinkedIn on second contact if you used email first and vice versa). Reiterate your interest and detail the commitment you’re requesting (e.g., we can record the interview remotely and it will take no more than 30 minutes).

Follow up once with your cold contacts and no more than a couple times with your warm contacts. You don’t want to be seen as a pest or too demanding.

If you don’t get a response or get a preliminary no, don’t delete them from your spreadsheet. Plan to reach out again once your podcast is more established. Then you can detail its success, audience size, etc.

Step 3 (confirmed): Make plans

When you get a positive response to your outreach, be prepared to respond quickly and efficiently. Be respectful of the guest’s time.

Follow up immediately to express your appreciation and next steps. Detail the format, recording options (in-studio or remote), schedule (available dates and times), and interview structure. Ask for the guest’s input on questions, topic preferences, special requests, etc.

Step 4: Say thanks and make it easy to promote

After recording the interview, send a thank-you note to the guests. When the publication date is set, send another email to identify how the guests can let their audiences know about their appearance on your podcast.

The easier you make it for your guests to promote, the more likely they are to do it.

Here’s sample text:

 Once again, we appreciate your participating in the upcoming episode of [podcast name]. We are eager to share your great insights with as many [target audience] as possible. While we will be promoting your appearance (and linking to you) on our channels, we would really love it if you could:

  • Listen to the episode, subscribe, and/or leave a short review on iTunes.
  • Share the podcast across your social channels.
  • Let me know of another leader you think should join the show as a guest.

Attaching some posts if you would like to use or edit them.

Please feel free to let me know any questions or feedback. Thanks so much.

Go for launch

Even though launching a podcast requires planning and due diligence, when it’s aligned with your larger strategy it can be the most effective pillar of any content marketing approach – like it has been for my team.

The most important thing to remember regardless of who, where, or how you reach out to potential guests is to tell them why they should give you their time and energy for free. Sharing the benefits of participating, other big names participating, the value other guests have seen, and more will inspire people to want to be a part of something amazing.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute