Podcast usage increased dramatically over the last five years, you might want to think about leveraging your podcast to grow your business or brand. One way to do that is to up-level your guesting strategy. In the podcasting business, having the right guests empowers your show. Tracy Leigh Hazzard highlights the four different types of podcast guests you might want to include in your guest finding and vetting strategy. Incorporate one or all of these different types of guests and watch it increase your listenership and boost your show.


I’m Tracy Hazzard going solo to talk about guesting strategies, how to up-level your guest strategy. We want to be careful here because we want to talk about how that helps us grow our business, our show and how the right podcast guests empower your show and keep you energized. If your guests aren’t exciting you, then you’re not going to stick with it, and we want you to stick with it. That’s what I’m all about here. I’m going to talk about the four different types of podcast guests that I use on my show. I’ve heard from successful podcasters on The Binge Factor again and again, that they employ one or more of these types of guests to get their show growing. That’s what we’re going to be looking at now.

The first guest type that I usually use, and it’s the most important one to do when you’re starting your show. I want to make a brief mention here of the difference between startup strategies versus growth strategies. When we’re starting out our show, sometimes we’ll take any guest possible. We want any guest we can get because we want to make sure that we don’t miss our episodes. We can keep it going. We get them in line. We get them moving through all of that. At some point, we don’t want to just have any guests. It’s going to tip over and we want to get the best guest possible. If we can do that from the beginning, if we can get really good guests, sometimes that is a booster to our show.

Remember also that I’ve talked about getting celebrity guests before. We have a whole feature brand episode on it. We have had a coaching call on that for Podetize listeners. Celebrity guests though don’t always share your show really well, but they can get you other great guests that might share your show. This is where we want to look at that as a starting strategy. We want to get those just right, and I call them authority associations with our guests, and sometimes those are going to be celebrities and sometimes they’re not. We want to continue them as a growth strategy going forward, but once we get through that startup authority setting stage, we don’t always have to have them every single week. That’s really important.

The number one category that I always look for is authority associations. What I mean by that and why I’m not using the term celebrity is that they’re not necessarily a celebrity. They’re going to be a celebrity within your niche. That’s why I say they’re an authority within your niche. They’re the person you want to be seen as, seen side by side with, be on stage with if you were thinking about it from that perspective. We want to raise our authority in the marketplace so that we’re seen like them. That’s the guest we want on our show. In the podcast industry, for me, that was getting Pat Flynn on The Binge Factor. When I got Pat Flynn on The Binge Factor, that was big because that was putting me right up in authority association with him.

I was also invited to his show, which was an even bigger authority boost. That’s your hope with the authority associations is that they’ll invite you back on their show or invite you on their stage or invite you into whatever their community is so that you’re actually a bigger part of their community. That’s part of the ultimate goal. Even if it doesn’t happen, just having your name and their name side-by-side is extremely important. That’s why we consider authority associations extremely important at the start of a show. We want to continue them through because we don’t want to lose that authority. Even though we started making a name for ourselves as our show is growing, we want to make sure we’re staying up-leveled in the marketplace. I always look at my guesting strategy, and when I mentioned that I have four, I’m always rotating through these four. I’m trying to get one of these a month, or at minimum, I look at it as ten a year. I’d like to up-level my authority in the marketplace by ten each year. That’s how I look at it.

I don’t always get ten. I might get 8 in one year, but I might get 6 really amazing ones that really up-leveled everything. My goal is to keep moving that forward and looking out for those things that raise our authority in our niche and in our marketplace. That’s the number one category. I hear again and again from people that they use it as a starting strategy, but then they don’t continue it. Some of them use it as a starting strategy and they use it as a strategy to say, “I had these people on my show, that’s why you should be on my show too.” It helps them get better guests as they move forward.

That’s why starting it out that way is a good and important place. You might be heavier on your authority association needs at the start of your show. You might be doing 4 of those every single month, instead of 1 of those every single month. Be thinking about the balance of what you’re looking for. Did it get you what you needed? Did it get you to the level you wanted? I don’t need that anymore really in my show because I’ve had lots of authority associations, but I might want to have some new wondery podcast hosts to come on my show because they’re doing something really great and cool. The authority of having a wondery podcast host on my show and the wondery name associated with my show, even though I’m not a wondery podcast, might be of value to me. I’m always out there looking and keeping up on that and saying, “What would keep me at an uplevel, raising my authority in my market and in my niche and in my category, on Apple or Spotify?” or wherever you’re looking at your categories. Be thinking about that authority association, they’re important in the scope of everything.

Then we look at the second category. You can rotate these in any priority order you want, but I consider it my second because my listeners are of utmost importance to me. Because my listeners are of utmost importance to me, I want to make sure that I’m serving my listener community with what they want, what topics they need, and do I need to find a guest to speak on that topic because I’m not an expert in it? In my particular case, someone who’s doing great work on getting the word out and the publicity out on their show, then I want to go find a successful podcaster that meets my minimum criteria for my show and bring them on because they can talk on that topic. I constantly want to serve my audience in that. I’m always being sensitive to what guests they want to hear from, what topics they want me to talk on? Even if I’m only doing 100% of my shows are interview-based or guest-based, then I need to find a guest who’s an expert in the topic so that we can discuss that topic together.

Even if I’m not doing topic big shows, I want to have a guest that is reinforcing that topic as well and might be a greater authority in that topic than I am, even if I am already an expert in it. These are the things that I’m always looking for. I want to have huge community serves. I want to make sure that I’m doing that at least two times a month. That’s my goal for it is I put a little heavier weight here. That’s because I don’t have to put the heavyweight on the authority for my particular show at the stage that it’s at, which is well over 100 episodes. I don’t have to worry about it as much anymore. I want to keep serving that listener base. What’s really important is that you do not forget about your listeners in the scope of things.

Some of our podcasters and some podcasters, in general, get so focused on what I’m going to talk about. Number three, they get so focused on the guesting strategy being all about them and what they want and what they need, that they forget to create a good listener experience at the end of the day and putting those listeners first. I believe that a long-term sustainable strategy and what makes your show bingeable and what makes people find you and recommend your show, again and again, is having a listener focus strategy. That’s why I put mine right up there as my second need and my second guest type that I’m looking for to grow my show.

The third type is the type that many of our podcasters in our Podetize community, as well as the ones that I’ve talked to on The Binge Factor because they’re building business-based shows, is clients, partners, business growth guests, whatever you’re looking for. If your podcast is a funnel of future, either JV partners or referral partners that you’re looking for by building a rapport on your show so that they will bring you clients, and/or you’re doing a funnel that is creating a funnel to get you, clients. You’re interviewing them, and then you’re going to have that sales conversation later, or you’re going to upsell them later. Whatever it might be, that is your funnel process there.

Some people put that as 100% and that’s all the shows that they do. I don’t like that. I don’t like to put 100% of my value overall. What I try to do is do two days a week. I do eight shows in a month, make 50% of my shows about that guesting strategy and make the others a mix of the various things that I might need. If you need to do this on a weekly basis, if you need to get a certain number of leads in through this, I would add shows of the other types just to make sure you’re balancing things out for the listenership, because I consider that listenership of high value.

If this is your strategy, if you’re running a funnel strategy, you want clients and partners and business growth people that you’re going to be coming through your podcast. If you’re not doing that model and you’ve been so listener-focused or authority-focused in the past, now is the time to add some of that because some of the ways that we get growth in our show is by having the right people recommend us, or the right people to be on our show so that they share with the right audience, and that gets us more listeners. This might be the positioning where you do your podcast hosts swapping as a part of your guesting strategy. It’s business growth, it’s listener growth, so I need to have other podcasts on my show so that they’ll have me on their show, and then we’ll be sharing audiences with each other. It’s going to get me more listeners in the long run. I’m going to get a net listener growth overdoing both shows in that way, doing that host-guest swap.

You might want to do that for a concerted period of time. Maybe you want to do a twelve-week podcast host swap thing going on, and that sounds really great to you, but it might not be such a great listener experience. Keep that in mind because you might be jumping all over because these podcast hosts might be in real estate and finance and all over the place, and you really wanted to focus on your general topic and your category, which is a limited amount of shows in these other areas or ancillary areas. That’s okay. What you want to do is make sure that you do those interviews in a row, but you’re spreading them out and adding in other shows in between that to keep that listener experience going. While we know that’s important, let’s space things out.

Remember, pretty much everyone that you’re going to podcast-walk with is all at different paces of publishing as well. They might publish in 2 weeks, one might publish in 1 month, one might publish in 6 months. Don’t feel like you have to cram them in and have to air them just because you interviewed them in that order. Mix them up, make sure that you’re building that broader strategy overall and you’re being listener sensitive. I always like to look at my show catalog, my episode listing like a record album. When you want to build a record album, you want to have ballads and rock songs, whatever it is that you want to do, you want to create this flow through it. I’m anxious to get to the next song. I want to be anxious to get to the next episode, find out what’s next, find out what’s going on. I want to build momentum through it and keep that flow going.

I don’t want to have all highs in a row and then all lows in a row. We want to also make sure that we’re working through that. If we think that a certain episode is really good, we want to balance out one that might not be as great and make sure that we’re surrounding it with shows that are just right for it to lead up to it. Then maybe go down a little bit because it’s going to happen after you have a great show, but it doesn’t drop you immediately down and they think, “What happened to the show quality? What happened in that process?”

I’m always looking at balancing that. Feel free to mix up your interview schedules, mix up your show schedule to make sure that you’re doing this balancing out in this guesting strategy. That’s also a way to keep growth happening is making sure people come back and listen again and again. We want to do that, and that’s why I don’t always mention what shows are coming up on my show. I mentioned shows in the past because I know I’ve done them, but I don’t mention shows going forward because it makes for a mess of trying to reshuffle my shows, just a little hint in there of how I operate on that so that I don’t feel boxed in. I can’t shuffle the shows.

We went through authority associations, community service or service type shows, podcasters, business growth in general, or it might be funnel leads and that kind of thing. For future clients, you might want to think of them. The fourth area, the area that I like the most, and this is the area that keeps me from podfading is I chose my podcasting topic. I chose the topics of my shows so that I could learn and grow as well. If I’m not serving my curiosity for growth and my interest in learning something new, then I’m not likely to be all excited to go interview yet another podcast for this week. I’m excited to learn from something they’re doing that’s really cool.

I get a lot of applicants that aren’t really ready for the show yet. Sometimes I get applicants that don’t even have podcasts, and I usually turn them away. I have an interview with someone and I’m going to be his 99th podcast guest opportunity. He’s about to hit 100 and I’m his 99th interview. I chose to bring him on even though he doesn’t have his own show because after doing 99 interviews, he’s going to have a sense of how it is on the other side as a guest. I’m bringing in something that’s a guest’s perspective. If you let your team vet these things out themselves and you don’t ever take a look at them, sometimes you don’t know, “That would make a really great episode. That would be super interesting to me to learn what other podcast hosts do and what they don’t do. What makes a good guesting experience? Who did something amazing that he could share with me that I could learn from that made it easy for him to publicize his guest spot?”

I’m looking forward to that. That’s what I call curiosity satisfying interviews. I’m curious, I want to learn something, and if I satisfy that, it’s going to keep me wanting my show to move forward. These are the people I want to make time to have a phone call with. I can’t normally make time for them in my regular business day, but if I could double use my time, have double use for it, being able to get a podcast interview out of it and being able to have a great phone call with someone who’s really interesting, who’s not going to become a client, who’s not a JV partner, who’s not a part of my normal business growth. I now have an excuse to have a phone call with them, and I’ve managed to also learn something and share those learnings with my community.

It satisfies me on all four fronts. It doesn’t always give me that authority piece. Maybe it doesn’t give me that unless they’re a really famous author. I have done that where I interviewed a famous author, Shane Snow, who wrote a couple of great books, one about teams that I absolutely love called Dream Teams. It’s part of how we based our team growth. I love talking with him. I’m a fangirl. I read all of his books and his articles. When I had him on, because of his authority as an author, it brought a tremendous amount of listener growth and Google ranking into my process of having him on my show, even though he wasn’t a podcast host. You’d be surprised sometimes the results and the authority that can come from these things that you’re curious about. If you’re curious about them, chances are there are lots of other people out there googling that, searching for that, and curious about that as well. When you bring that expert in, all of a sudden that’s moving you up the ranking as well and authority builds.

To recap here, if you want to up-level your guesting strategy, you’re ready for that next stage and after you got your start in your show, you might want to think about either adding one of these four types of guests to your show, or you might want to think about letting go of one of them, maybe one of them is not working for you, and not being so heavy in one type only. It might be time to mix these up. If you feel stressed out about the idea of it, add one at a time every couple of months. Add a different guest type, mix it in, broaden and expand your guest vetting process to include some of these.

The four types again are authority associations, community service ones, clients, partners, JV, business growth, whatever you look for as to how you’re doing business and how that podcast serves that business. Those are in that area right there. Also curiosity satisfying guests, guests that satisfy your own personal curiosity. Those are four categories that I think might help you move your podcast, up-leveling it, adding listeners, and actually, improve the overall satisfaction you have and the growth that you see from your show. It’s going to balance things out for you if you start to incorporate some of these new different types of guest levels. With that, I’m going to make sure that we’re back here with Tom next time because I think we’ve done a few separated episodes right now, partially because our schedules are so busy. I think we’ll be back together next time and we’ll make sure we have another episode for you on Feed Your Brand.

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