Another important consideration when selecting your niche is marketing — specifically any low-cost marketing channels that might be available in a particular niche.
I am a co-owner of a podcast entitled The Stem Cell Podcast, and my partners and I utilized this strategy to massively grow our listener base. We contacted a local non-profit association that served stem cell scientists, and we asked them if we could develop a partnership with them. They were looking for content for their members, and we were looking for exposure.
We signed a two-year agreement that made them an official sponsor of the podcast, and in return they shared our podcast through all their online avenues, including their website and monthly newsletter. Think about the power of this for our podcast and brand. We were a relatively new show, and after this agreement, our episodes were emailed out to a targeted list of thousands of stem cell scientists, at no cost to us. That’s right, the agreement was a partnership with no exchange of money.
In addition to them sharing our content online, they also gave us a booth in the main area at their annual conference in Stockholm, Sweden. About 5,000 stem cell scientists attended this conference. We received the booth and free admission to the conference, on the condition that we conducted podcast interviews while there and published an episode around the interviews. This opportunity gave us a lot of great exposure and, of course, a trip to Sweden, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
You may be thinking, how did this partnership really help us as an online business, if we didn’t make any money off it directly? The partnership provided free marketing to our very specific audience, which we may have otherwise struggled to reach, and we turned that marketing investment into revenue, through other sponsorships.
The relationship also gave us credibility, and made it easier for us to close paying sponsorships because we had an affiliation with the field’s most authoritative association. Thus, the sponsors knew we would be securing publicity for them through the association’s channels. As an example, we met a company at that conference who ended up becoming a long-term sponsor.
This is not the only podcast that I have taken this approach with. I received a press pass for my podcast entitled The Civil Engineering Podcast that allowed me to attend a large civil engineering conference. I was not charged a fee to attend, and I was able to interview attendees in order to create a conference summary episode. In return, the association shared the episode with their membership, which consists of approximately 150,000 members, all of whom are in my podcast’s specific niche. You can see this very successful piece of content here: http://engineeringcareercoach.com/asce
I have a similar arrangement with a podcast entitled The Italian American Podcast, which is featured on a major non-profit association’s website in return for the non-profit being an official sponsor of the podcast. No money changes hands: the non-profit’s credibility is transformed into increased traffic for The Italian American Podcast, which translates into revenue from companies who pay to promote themselves on our platform. I will tell you more about this partnership, and how we have gained some celebrity interviews from it, in the case study section at the end of this chapter.
Considering possible low-cost marketing avenues when you select your niche can be critical to the pace of your brand’s growth. In my different businesses, free marketing techniques (as described above) have catapulted my content to being the most read and downloaded resources in their respective niches.
These partnerships are so important because most content marketers are self-funded, which is a nice way to say they have no money and no investors. Therefore, rapid growth through a partnership may be the quickest way to generate income.
Start looking for partnering organizations and/or other low-cost marketing channels right now.
Author of The Content Marketing Equation