You’re reading an excerpt of Stop Asking Questions, by Andrew Warner, a veteran podcast host of 2000+ episodes. The book explains how to lead high-impact interviews and learn anything from anyone. Master the craft of interviewing with this complete digital package. Purchase now for lifetime access to the book and extensive audio and video resources.

The startup stage was defined by selling single-episode ads to individual sponsors. My goal during that stage was to acquire data, not make money. With data in hand, I felt confident to move to the next stage of ad sales: revenue growth.

I hired Sachit Gupta, a business development consultant, who helped me realize that my reputation was strong enough for companies to invest in long-term relationships with my audience. Before I started working with Sachit, my sponsors were companies with relatively low-cost products. They needed to acquire a lot of new customers to make the ads worthwhile.

To increase my ad rates, Sachit suggested going after businesses with high customer lifetime values (LTV). That meant they only needed a few new customers to be profitable, and they’d be willing to spend more to acquire them.

A good example of a high LTV sponsor is Toptal, which helps businesses hire top developers and other professionals. Though prices start low, it’s not uncommon for a Toptal client to spend tens of thousands of dollars per year on developers. Customers don’t make that kind of decision after just one ad. It took time and repeated exposure to Toptal ads. Sachit realized that based on my reputation, Toptal would be willing to invest in a long relationship and multiple ads.

He was right. His insight took our sponsorship revenue from under $50K annually to over $200K within a year. He doubled it the following year and kept growing it by working with sponsors that earned more from their customers by establishing longer relationships with them.

Maturity Stage

The maturity stage of the ads journey can be traced back to a little link that’s been on my site for over a decade. It simply says β€œSponsor.” It links to a form where businesses that want to sponsor my interviews can tell my team about themselves and schedule a call to talk about buying ads.

Today, every single show sponsor uses that link to start their relationship with me. Ad buyers find it because of the reputation my site built over the years. Each interview I publish draws in new listeners. Some of those happen to be ad buyers who want to buy podcast ads. Each link to my site adds to my reputation with Google, which helps me show up higher in search results done by ad buyers. Each new article written about my work is another potential source of sponsors.

My job isn’t to hunt for new sponsors anymore. It’s to talk to each potential sponsor and make sure that what they have to offer would be a good fit for my audience.

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