Best Practices for Creating Promos for Your Podcast

It’s the reason that many podcasts join podcast networks — the opportunity to place promos for your show on other shows. Not just for audience growth, but for audience multiplication. 

This used to be possible by reaching out to large podcast networks to buy space to run a promo on other shows, or, reaching out to individual shows. But that wasn’t for the faint of heart, or those short on time. 

In the age of programmatic advertising and dynamic ad insertion, independent podcasts can now enjoy much lower friction routes to promo swaps or paid promo placement. 

You can leverage DAI from your podcast host (like Omny Campaign Manager) to run promos across a network, use a matching service like  Audry  to find relevant podcasts to do a cross-promotion with, or you can place ads for shows to accept your promo on a marketplace like  Podcorn. 

 Audry Promo Swaps

Audry makes finding shows in your same topic area who are interested in Promo swaps easy. 

The reasons to promote your show on other shows is obvious — you’re exposing your podcast to other habitual podcast listeners, guaranteed, as they’re currently listening to a podcast when they hear your promo. 

Promo performance 

So, how do you make your promo perform at its peak? Our podcast hosting platform, Omny Studio recently ran a trial with a select group of podcast publishers, which delivered a significant number of promo impressions. Here are a few of the common denominators that we saw amongst the highest performing promos: 

  • A clear ‘reason to listen’ was given. 
  • The structure of ‘search’/‘catch’ + title + ‘wherever you get your podcasts’ was used, so you don’t need to worry about saying specific podcast apps in your promo. 
  • Music was used in 4 out of 5 of the top performing promos. 
  • Promos with music had appropriate, and not overly loud, soundbeds. 
  • The podcast hosts introduce themselves by name, where applicable. 
  • The copy was straightforward and clear. 
  • ‘Textured’ promos with several voices and recording quality (archival, etc.) were used by both higher-performing and lower-performing promos. 

This last point led us to infer that there’s no guarantee that making a ‘busy’ or ‘sonically interesting’ promo with such a short duration leads to higher performance. 

Recent research from Veritonic (May 2021) has performance and music strongly linked, with “consistent use of a signature piece of music across the show’s ads is a driving factor, a strategy that’s also consistent with highest-performing sonic brands. Melody works.” 

And for some other learnings from ads, like how to structure your promo, coming from creative agency OXFORd Road courtesy of Sounds Profitable. 

“Podcasters can sell underwear, so why do they struggle to sell themselves?” 

That was the question Bryan wanted help answering when he reached out to me for pointers on what makes a live-read work. He thought maybe podcasters just need to be told how to write an ad. After talking for a few minutes, we decided to make an ad for Sounds Profitable by going through the creative process I use when developing ads. 

Promo particulars 

Promos are usually either 30 or 60 seconds, so it’s ideal to create two versions of your promo for either of those durations. Use soundbeds or theme music to more easily come in at the exact duration of each duration. 

What should you avoid in promos? 

  • Speak about your uniqueness and what makes your show different, but avoid being regional. The beauty of podcasting is its wide reach. Speak to the niche of your content, but be aware your listeners could be anywhere (unless you’re targeting the promo by location, using DAI). 
  • For example, for a show about some aspect of the culture of the US state of Florida, speak to the unique aspect of Florida your show is about and why it’s of interest to anyone — don’t position your show as only for those who live in Florida. 
  • Don’t be confusing, or too referential. If you reference a name or event in your podcasts’ topic area or niche, be confident it’s going to land and be understandable. If in doubt, don’t use your scarce time on references, instead be descriptive using plain, clear language. 
  • If you have multiple hosts in your promo, take the seconds to have them introduce themselves. This helps the listener develop an attachment to your hosts, and show. 
  • Don’t use overly loud, or badly contrasting backing music on your promo. No music is better than the wrong music. 
  • Volume mixing is important to do well on a promo, so everything is easy to hear. If in doubt, listen back on headphones, speakers, and in a noisy environment. 

Mastering Promos 

Not in the sense of ‘mixing and mastering’ (ensuring the right volume levels through the content), but in mastering the right blend of information, levity, tension and intrigue in just 30 or 60 seconds is hard. 

Rest assured, it will get better, and easier, with time. And whether you are taking your promos to market for placement on other shows, or using them on social media (using Headliner to make them video) to promote your show, the more promo spots you make, the better they’ll be. 

Did You Know Trivia: Ira Glass from This American Life got his start making comedic promos for his college radio station. 

Now more than ever is the perfect time to get started if you’re not cutting promos already — and if you are — then we hope the best practices above will help you raise your game, and increase your success. Let us know how you go! Share your promos with us using hashtag #omnystudio , we’d love to hear them!