Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This Week's Sponsor

Type & printing history told in a letterpress volume by Glenn Fleishman - $10 off with code SIXSIX

By Jason Snell

All of you are reading this right now

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

I’m going to state the obvious. Because sometimes the obvious is the thing you miss, like when I stare into my refrigerator looking for the milk and can’t see it even though it’s right in front of my face.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about marketing, it’s that the best place to reach people is a place where they are. Like I said, it sounds obvious. And yet let me give you an anecdote from my own past to indicate just how easy this one is to screw up.

A few years ago, I decided to run a contest—shamelessly ripping off the one on The Flop House—asking listeners of The Incomparable to review the show on iTunes. I’d randomly select the writer of one review and allow them to pick the subject matter for a future podcast episode. It worked—we got lots of reviews. I picked through them, country by country, using the now-discontinued app CommentCast, and selected a winner randomly.

The winner, posted in the Australian iTunes store, was a user name (rlg74) that wasn’t connectable to a name. I looked at their review history, did web searches, the works, and there was just nothing I could find that would connect them to a real person I could contact about winning the contest.

So I went on social media, tweeting from The Incomparable’s account—and retweeting from my own—in an attempt to get the winner’s attention. A few weeks and several tweets went by, and there was no response.

Finally, I decided that I couldn’t avoid it anymore—I needed to ask for the winner to contact me by announcing it on the podcast itself.

Guess what? I got a response within a day. Because it turns out that while some fraction of my listenership follows me on Twitter, nearly 100% of my podcast listeners listen to my podcast. It was an important lesson—that as fun as interacting with people on social media can be, they represent a small subsection of the total audience.

An Overcast ad (bottom).

I was thinking about this the other day when Marco Arment was discussing his new ad model for the Overcast podcast player. Overcast, being a podcast player, is used entirely by people who listen to podcasts. That means that while you could advertise anything inside Overcast, by far the most successful type of ad would probably be one for another podcast. Not every podcast will appeal to every podcast listener, but 100 percent of the user base at least knows what podcasts are and cares enough to have downloaded a third-party podcast app.

We’ll have to see in the long term how Marco’s Overcast ads system performs, but I’d bet that the ads for podcasts will do pretty well, because of the simple fact that they’re perfectly aligned with the users of his app.

The best way for me to reach Six Colors readers is to post something on this site, not to say something on a podcast or use social media or even mention in the newsletter that Six Colors subscribers receive every month. All of these different avenues can be valuable in their own right, but there’s only one place where I can be in front of everyone who reads my website, and that’s my website. If you’ve got a podcast, the best place to send a message to your listeners is on the podcast, not in the ancillary material. And so on.

Like I said, obvious. And yet, somehow easy to forget.

If you appreciate articles like this one, support us by becoming a Six Colors subscriber. Subscribers get access to an exclusive podcast, members-only stories, and a special community.

Search Six Colors