Podcast Copy Execution 101

A few weeks back we published a piece on THE 5 DEADLY SINS OF PODCAST MARKETING. While each of the “deadly sins” can undermine your success, the greatest misstep we see, or rather hear, marketers committing lays within their creative execution. This is worthy of extra discussion because there is no greater lever you have at your disposal than your creative to make every media dollar work harder and make the difference between a successful and failed campaign.

We talk frequently about our Audiolytics™ formula for originating, scoring, and optimizing ad copy. In this week’s Influencer, we will set aside the 71 Sub-Components of Audiolytics™ and focus on the 9th Key Component: “Execution”. A great podcast ad allows you to leverage the uniqueness of the medium for specific best-practices in Execution to maximize the impact of your campaign.

To summarize, let’s look at 5 Key Elements of a proper Podcast Execution. They are:

  1. Keep it Short
  2. Don’t Force Style
  3. Provide Options
  4. Personalize by Genre
  5. Remember the Burgundy Rule

Keep it Short

For the sake of argument, we’re talking about baked-in, host-endorsed reads, not dynamically inserted or producer-read ads. Unlike their radio counterparts, podcast hosts are not generally bound by time-clocks and schedules, and therefore, their reads can go on as long as they want. It seems logical then that you should feed the hosts more copy to read – wrong!

Some hosts will go off script, but if you send them a commercial that is longer than is required for a :60-sec ad, you run the risk of the hosts doing the editing for you. Send them copy that would be fine reading verbatim and do everything you can to empower the host to go off-script; the result can be an ad that goes 2-3x longer than contracted. LISTEN HERE for an example of hosts going above and beyond to deliver a read that’s more than twice as long as promised.

Longer than expected reads like this are a result of genuine enthusiasm for the product or service which comes from a proper onboarding of the hosts and room for the host to breathe. When possible, ensure hosts have used your product or service. The few dollars you spend in giving the hosts your product or allowing them to try your service for free will return in multiples with their ability to speak freely about your company from a personal perspective.

The flexibility to go off script also has potential drawbacks, however. Don’t give the hosts the ultimate say in how your company is portrayed in the ad, instead, provide lane lines. Give the hosts a clear understanding of things they must say in the commercial and those the must not. These rules prohibit the host from going too far in their ad-libbing, ensuring they hit all of the key points you want them to say.    

Don’t Force Style

Forcing style is one of the worst things you can do in your podcast script. Podcast hosts are (usually) professionals and their listeners tune in to hear what they have to say, not what your creative team wants to shove down their throat. Writing copy in “your” voice often results in a disingenuous read. Don’t use phrasing the hosts wouldn’t say outside of the context of your ad and please, please, I beg of you, never write jokes for comedians. Instead, give the hosts the most important details, establish lane lines, and let them create their own take on how to approach your copy.  

HERE is an example of a podcast read where the host (Tim Ferriss) had all of the facts needed to go above and beyond to deliver a spot that was in his in his unique voice.

Provide Options

Despite the desire to let the hosts come up with a uniquely brilliant way to showcase your business, it’s important to give options to facilitate the process. When writing podcast copy, provide solid body copy that doesn’t change, a call to action that is personalized to their specific vanity URL or promo code, and then offer multiple idea starters. Two to three is usually sufficient to get the hosts thinking about how your business pertains to them and facilitate an excellent read. Even if the host doesn’t elaborate, a pre-approved list of intros will set the tone for the rest of your ad.  

HERE is an example of Dan Bongino taking an idea starter and running with it for the rest of the read while hitting the major copy points provided.

Personalize by Genre

Podcasts are a niche medium, and the listeners to these shows have a specific reason for downloading the content. Use this to your advantage. If you’re on a finance-focused podcast, have the host talk about how your company can impact their finances. If you’re on a self-improvement podcast, have the host talk about how your product will help improve their lives.

HERE is an example of how Gretchen Rubin of Happier showcased how Boll and Branch can help you get a better night’s sleep, and therefore a happier, more fulfilled life.

Remember, Some Hosts are Ron Burgundy

Despite your best efforts in onboarding and encouraging personalization, you will have hosts that will read every word on the page. Worst yet, some will even comment on your copy in real time. Bill Burr is one of the best performing podcasts in the space, but if your message is ambiguous or bogus, he will trash your creative in front of his hundreds of thousands of weekly listeners, in real time. Some advertisers get outraged, but a hosts like Bill Burr is simply giving voice to the inner dialogue of what your audience is probably already thinking. A great example of Bill at his best is from a recent read for the company Robin Hood (not an Oxford Road client).

Don’t let this happen to you. When writing podcast copy, make sure every word on the page is clear and that you’re answering questions the intended listener is probably already asking. When a host like Bill Burr reads your ad without making fun of it, you’re winning.

While the proper execution of ad copy is just one facet of a successful podcast campaign, following these best practices for your podcasts creative will have you well on your way; but the work is just beginning. Once your commercial is set and trafficked to the hosts, it’s important to monitor every read. Feedback, both good and bad, are integral to ensuring your podcast campaign is working at its fullest capacity, and hosts are surprisingly happy to implement the recommendations into their next iterations. Not every podcaster will have the unique voice of Tim Ferriss, or the amount of personalization that Dan Bongino provides, but following these steps will ensure even a live-wire host delivers the maximum performance for every ad and makes a key contribution to growing your business.

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