Podcast Production vs. Podcast Guesting

You’re considering podcasting as a marketing channel for your business but aren’t sure which route to take. Should you produce your own show or be a guest on existing industry podcasts?


Production vs. Guesting: Which one is better for your business?

This guide will help you compare the benefits and challenges of producing a podcast for your business versus going on a podcast tour. Before we dive in, here’s a quick summary of the 4 types of podcasting channels you could consider for your business.

  1. Branded production – creating a company podcast for your ideal customers
  2. Podcast PR tour – being a guest on multiple industry shows 
  3. Sponsorships/ads – advertising on podcasts that target your ideal customers
  4. Internal podcasting – creating a private podcast for your employees

Today, we’re focusing specifically on branded production versus podcast PR tours and why you should consider one or the other depending on your business goals.

Want to dive further into the other podcasting channels? Check out this guide or listen to this episode of Brands that Podcast.

Benefits of producing a podcast vs. benefits of guesting on podcasts

Both creating a company podcast and guesting on existing shows help you raise awareness of your brand and build trust with potential customers. However, it’s important to distinguish the unique benefits of each channel and how they may align differently with your business goals.

Producing a branded podcast may be better for you if you want to:

Build and own an audience

One of the most important benefits of producing your own branded podcast is you’re able to build and own your audience. Rather than borrowing an audience from an existing show, you have the opportunity to create a loyal base of listeners. Over time, these listeners get to know the personality behind your brand, trust your opinions, and see you as an expert source in your field.

Of course, the caveat here is it takes a lot of time and effort to build that audience. It’s not something you can take a “build it and they’ll come” approach. But we’ll talk through the challenges of this later on in this guide.

Create a content flywheel

A branded podcast can also act as a source of content to fuel your other marketing channels. From each episode you produce, you have the opportunity to create 20+ pieces of content (social posts, video clips, newsletters, articles, etc.) you can share with audiences that may not be podcast listeners. You could also use these episodes throughout your sales cycle or as case studies to share with prospective clients.

For small businesses with no set content calendar, a branded podcast can act as the single source or flywheel where all their other content stems from. And for larger businesses with more complex content calendars, branded podcasts can be used to supplement their existing strategy.

For a complete guide on podcast marketing and repurposing episode content, check out this guide.

Develop business relationships

With both branded podcasts and podcast tours, you have the opportunity to develop business relationships with either your guests (if you’re producing) or the hosts (if you’re touring). But it’s easier to build those key relationships through branded podcasts because you’re in control of the interview.

For example, you could reach out to the thought leaders or decision-makers from your top 50 dream customer accounts and invite them to be guests on your podcast. Rather than leading with a cold sales email, you’re presenting them with an opportunity to share their expertise with your audience. Not only will this help them reach a new audience of potential customers, but it will help position them as an expert in their field.

It’s critical to note this is not a bait-and-switch approach. This isn’t a time to sell to these dream customers. Instead, use this as an opportunity to learn from them and share their insights with your listeners. It’s natural for serendipitous relationships to develop out of this, and we’ve heard of some amazing partnerships that have developed as a result, but that shouldn’t be the primary reason why you bring them on as guests.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of a podcast tour and how those may fit into your overall goals.

Podcast guesting may be better for you if you want to:

Leverage established listeners

One of the most important benefits of going on a podcast tour is you don’t have to put in the time and effort to build your own audience. Instead, you can leverage existing audiences from established shows in your space.

The hosts of the shows you want to guest on have already done all the work to create trust with their audience, market and grow the show, and define a position for themselves in the market. All you have to do is bring as much value as you can to their listeners and give the best interview that show’s ever had.

Have a long-form channel to share your story 

It can be hard to tell your brand story through short blog posts, character-limiting tweets, or 60-second video clips. Being a guest on a podcast gives you 30-45+ minutes to really dive deep into your story. You’re in the listener’s ear long enough to make a memorable impact, which can be hard to do with other marketing channels or more traditional PR opportunities.

Build your leadership profiles

If you’re a believer that people want to buy from people and not brands, then going on a podcast tour is a great strategy for you. With a podcast guesting tour, you’re able to build the profiles of the leaders on your team. You can have your founder go on business podcasts, your CFO on financial podcasts, your CMO on marketing podcasts – the possibilities are endless.

By giving your leadership team the opportunity to tell their unique stories and expertise on podcasts related to their field, you’re able to not only reach a wider audience but help them establish themselves as experts in their space. The more you build up the people behind your brand, the stronger the affinity grows for your company as a whole.

Enhance your SEO strategy

It’s more often than not that podcast tours help increase the number of backlinks to your website, which can then increase your domain authority and positioning on Google.

Typically, every episode you appear on as a guest comes with accompanying show notes. Within those show notes, the host will link to your website or any free resources you mention in your interview. The more backlinks are created to your site, the better your SEO will be.

Benefits comparison:

Challenges of producing a podcast vs. challenges of guesting on podcasts

Creating a branded podcast is not for you if:

You’re on a tight budget

Producing a podcast can be costly and will always be more expensive than running a podcast tour because creating and distributing high-quality content requires a higher investment in both time and money.

You can manage your podcast production in-house to keep costs low, but this will require your team to spend more time creating and editing episodes every week or every two weeks, depending on your cadence. Alternatively, you can hire an external agency or allocate internal spending to create a dedicated podcast team, which would of course require more money but less of your time.

You can’t dedicate 12+ months to your podcast

Remember, podcasting isn’t a “build it and they’ll come” strategy. It’s something that requires at least 12 months of your time. On average, it takes about 3 months to develop your show strategy, branding, and marketing plan, and produce enough content to get you through the first 2 months after you launch.

After that, it’s all about promoting and growing the show. It’ll take time for your listeners to garner enough trust in you to not only keep coming back for more but to share your show with their circle of peers. The more consistent you are with your content and promotion, the more likely you are to grow a loyal listener base.

It’s important to ask yourself, “Is this something we can execute well for the next 3 years?” If not, then podcast production may not be for you.

You don’t want to manage guests

If you’re planning on creating an interview-style podcast, you should keep guest management in mind. It’s a job in itself to manage bookings, rescheduling, and all the touchpoints required to give your guests a great experience.

It’s also important to note that in order to increase the chances of your guests sharing your show with their audience, you need to provide them with the marketing assets to do so. We’re talking graphics, video clips, show notes, and even examples of social posts they could share. Think about this when deciding whether your team has the time and bandwidth to manage a podcast in-house.

Podcast guesting is not for you if:

You want to own your audience

In a podcast guesting tour, you’re borrowing the audiences of existing shows. While these listeners may end up following your brand on social media and consuming your content, they may very well not. Which means you essentially lose them after your interview. 

It’s important to remember though that if you make enough of an impact and bring value to these listeners, they may end up converting to loyal followers or, better yet, they’ll consider your product or service when faced with the problem you solve.

However, if it’s critical to you that you own your audience and can create a community out of them, then podcast tours are not for you.

You don’t have strong internal expertise

Your leadership team needs to bring value to the table. That means you need to have interesting stories to tell with important takeaways. You need to bring answers to questions the listeners have been struggling with. You need to have enough experience and expertise to make a compelling case for podcast hosts to bring you on their show.

Podcast guesting is for companies with heavy internal knowledge that helps the listener succeed in an important area of their life or business. It’s for companies that aren’t afraid to give away their expertise for free. It’s not for companies that want to use this as a platform to sell their product.

You can’t be consistent with your pitch and follow-up strategy

Just like guest management and production can be a full-time job for branded podcasts, guest pitching and follow-ups can be a full-time job when executing a podcast tour. This is something you really want to dedicate your time and attention to because a poor pitch strategy will not only land your guesting opportunity in the trash but could leave the hosts with a bad impression of your brand.

A successful podcast tour requires very manual and highly personalized outreach. If you send a templated, generic email to your top 50 podcasts, you might end up with 7 responses, of which 3 say yes. The problem? You burned through your list of top 50 and will have a hard time gaining interest from the 40 that ignored you.

Check out this episode of Brands that Podcast for all our tips on how to pitch and win shows for your brand.

You don’t typically invest in channels that are hard to measure

Your podcast guesting strategy is going to require a certain level of trust in the unmeasurable. The most important benefits or “returns” you’re going to get from investing in a podcast tour are things like: brand building, raising awareness, creating deep trust with the listeners, positioning your leaders as experts in their field, and prompting consideration of your product. 

Increased leads, new customers, and shorter sales cycles may come as a result of all the direct benefits we just listed, but they shouldn’t be the primary reason why you go on a podcast tour. If your company isn’t used to investing in channels traditional software can’t track (i.e. organic referrals and dark social), then this isn’t for you.

Check out this article for a complete guide on how to define and measure podcasting ROI.

Challenges comparison:

How do you pick the right strategy for your business?

Now that you know the benefits and challenges of both producing a show and going on a podcast guesting tour, it’s time to pick the right strategy for your brand.

Step 1: Define your goals

The first and most important step is defining your business goals. What are you trying to get out of the channel you want to invest in? What does success look like for your brand?

Some examples could be:

  1. Raise awareness for your product/brand
  2. Expose your thought leaders
  3. Build trust with your ideal audience
  4. Position your brand as an educator in the industry
  5. Build your perception as a market leader
  6. Create partnerships and joint ventures
  7. Build a content machine to fuel marketing efforts
  8. Increase your sales enablement to convert more prospects into customers
  9. Build a community of superfans

While you can have multiple goals, it’s important to narrow these down to your top 2 or 3 so you can align them to a single podcasting channel and really make the most of your investment. 

Step 2: Determine your budget and level of commitment

Speaking of investment, how much time and money are you willing to commit to this strategy? Both producing podcasts and running podcast PR tours require time, money, and dedication.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Does my team have the bandwidth and expertise to execute this strategy in-house?

If you’re considering producing a podcast, does your content marketing team have the ability, tools, and time to produce quality episodes in-house? Will they able to consistently record and edit episodes, manage guests (if interview style), and repurpose content from each episode to share on your social channels?

If you answered yes to these questions and are willing to take this project in-house, listen to this episode for DIY podcast production tips.

If you’re considering going on a podcast tour, does your internal communications or PR team have the bandwidth to dedicate themselves to a highly personalized outreach and follow-up guest pitching strategy? Do they have the tools necessary to research the best podcasts for your brand? Are they able to manage your leadership team’s booking schedules and provide them with prep notes for each interview?

If you feel confident about managing a podcast PR tour in-house, check out this episode for all our tips and best practices.

Will I need to hire an agency, and if so, how much am I willing to invest?

If you answered no to any of the questions above but believe in the power of podcasting and want to invest in it as a marketing channel for you business, then maybe it’s worth hiring an agency to do the heavy lifting.

If you’re leaning towards podcast production, here are a few agencies we recommend based on different budget levels:

Now, for podcast guesting tours, it’s important to distinguish between traditional PR agencies, podcast booking agencies, and podcast PR agencies.

Traditional PR agencies:

  • Pros: They have a wide range of experience, and you can use 1 company to get you on all forms of media.
  • Cons: Podcasting is a unique channel, and traditional agencies may not be well-versed in navigating and landing guest bookings.

Podcast booking agencies:

  • Pros: It’s a lower-cost option as these agencies are solely focused on “pitching” hosts and are usually cheaper than a full-service podcast PR agency. Also, depending on the company, you may get guaranteed bookings. Mainly, they save you time and effort in identifying and “pitching” hosts.
  • Cons: You risk hurting your brand (if the company uses impersonal, spammy outreach), and wasting time/money if they get you on the “wrong” shows. You’ll also have to prepare for the interview and craft your message yourself.

Podcast PR agencies:

  • Pros: It’s a full-service PR solution that specializes in podcasts. They land better interviews because they have highly-specialized outreach teams that dedicate themselves to finding the most impactful shows for your brand. They also manage your bookings and provide guidance, education, and prep notes for each interview.
  • Cons: Podcast PR agencies are not a commodity and are typically more expensive than booking agencies.

Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the differences between podcast booking and podcast PR agencies.

Can we dedicate at least 12 months to this strategy?

Both producing your own podcast and going on a podcast tour are going to require at least 12 months of your time in order to properly see results.

Growing a branded podcast takes time. It's tempting to look at 150 downloads after 4 months and think your podcast isn’t growing fast enough and scrap it. But being patient and consistent will help you see larger numbers as you go. The longer you commit to it, the higher your chances are of growing an audience. In truth, you should be willing to commit to at least 3 years of consistent or seasonal content production in order to see major results.

On the other hand, you can see results from a podcast tour more quickly. Typically, months 6 to 12+ are key. You'll generate activity in the first 3 months of your tour, but there’s oftentimes a lag from when the podcaster agrees to interview you to when the episode goes live. The first 3 months are your ramp-up period. This is where you build those key relationships with hosts. 

After months 6-12, you’ll start to see the results of you consistently showing up in your ideal audience’s podcast feeds. The more your name appears across podcasts in your industry, the more dominant the perception of you and your brand becomes. And if you have the right attribution tracking systems in place, you may start to see more leads and/or new customers say things like, “I heard about you on X podcast!”

Step 3: Pick your strategy

Now that you’ve defined your goals and determined your level of investment, it’s time to pick the right strategy for your brand. Are you going to produce your own show or guest on existing podcasts?

Here’s a quick outline to help you make the final decision.

Branded podcasts are best for:

  • Companies who want to build an audience vs. borrow someone else’s
  • Companies who are willing to invest at least 3 years of time and production in order to grow a loyal audience
  • Companies who want to build a content machine and are willing to repurpose episode content to fuel their other marketing channels
  • Companies who want to position themselves as educators in their field and want to create content that is helpful for their customers

Podcast tours are best for:

  • Companies who want to leverage existing audiences and would rather spend their time saturing all the podcasts in their industry than building an audience of their own
  • Companies who want to position themselves as experts in their industry
  • Companies who belive people buy from people and want to build their leadership profiles
  • Companies who are comfortable investing in dark channels with hard-to-track attribution
  • Companies in need of a long-format marketing channel to tell their stories

In the end, both podcast production and podcast tours are extremely effective at raising awareness of your brand, building trust with your ideal audience, and staying top of mind. All you have to do is define your company’s goals very clearly and figure out which of the two paths will get you there more effectively and efficiently.

Learn more:

How to use podcasting for business

Everything you need to know to get booked on shows

Hiring the right podcast booking agency

Build your own audience or reach someone else’s

How to run a podcast PR tour

How to create a perfect podcast

Talk to future customers, on podcasts they love.