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I remember a time when folks in podcasting thought trailers were an afterthought; something they had to do to submit new feeds to podcatchers, but not something to spend a whole lot of time on.
But a good trailer can be absolutely magical. It’s a small taste of a larger project that, when done well, can make it impossible for listeners not to hit play on the first episode.
So, what makes a good trailer? And how can you make yours even better?
We’ve put together this guide with some of our best tips, tricks, and secrets that the pros use to make their shows shine in 60 seconds or less.
First things first. When we talk about podcast trailers, what do we mean? You’ve seen trailers for movies — podcasts trailers are audio-only previews for a show. They’re great audience development tools, promotion tools and, honestly, having one will make you feel like a super-professional podcaster. And isn’t that what we all want?
At their most basic, podcasters use them as the required piece of audio on a feed before submitting to podcatchers like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. But they can also be vital tools for introducing your show to an audience, teasing out special episodes, cross-promotion, and so much more.
Trailers are likewise great sales tools. The quickest way to describe a podcast to a client isn’t to describe it at all — it’s to bring it to life by playing a trailer.
Think of it this way: potential listeners and sponsors don’t generally have time to listen to a full episode, but they can make time to listen to a two-minute trailer.
There are two key times to make a podcast trailer: before a show launch and, if your show is seasonal, before each new season. Outside of these two moments, trailers can be useful for cross-promos with other podcasts, big pushes around timely episodes, and in audiograms.
People are less likely to listen to trailers if there are full episodes on the feed, so just keep that in mind if you’re thinking of posting a trailer after making a podcast for a long time.
1. Before show launches:
Before show launch, trailers serve a key technical function: before you can submit your podcast RSS feed, an audio file needs to be uploaded to the feed. A trailer is a great thing to use for this purpose because it allows you to test the feed on all platforms prior to your launch date, at which point there’s more pressure to get your first episode up on time.
From a promotion perspective, having a trailer up before the first episode also gives people a landing page to subscribe to your show. That way, when the first episode drops, it’ll automatically appear in their podcast apps.
2. New season:
For similar reasons to before a show launch, trailers are useful tools for promoting new seasons. They create some buzz, and remind previous subscribers that your show exists — and that it’s coming back for more.
3. Timely moments
Does your show have an episode around a big media moment, like the Oscars, elections, holidays, and so on? Or are you covering a topic that’s currently a big conversation in the media cycle, or on social media? Putting together a trailer in these instances can be an incredibly valuable way to do some on-the-fly cross-promotion.
Acast recommends putting together two versions of your trailers. Firstly, one that’s 1-3 minutes long, which would live on podcast platforms — where listeners may want a bit more to dig into before pressing play. The second trailer should be no more than 30-45 seconds long, and can be used for cross-promotions or on social media, where people have shorter attention spans and are more likely to scroll away.
We recommend writing a script so you know you’re including all the vital information. You can check the length of your script or talking points using this very handy tool: http://readtime.eu/.
Now, just because we’re recommending a script doesn’t mean you want it to sound like you’re reading from one. Talking points should be guidelines that you build on to make your trailer your own.
Here are some must-includes:
Think of your trailer as your first impression, and make sure it showcases the best of your show.
Ones and Tooze: Great introduction, great use of music to set a mood, and a great use of clips to show listeners what the podcast is about, versus just telling them.
Kasich & Klepper: Bit of a longer trailer (used on the podcast feed as opposed to promotion). The hook at the top shows how the podcast will subvert norms within the space. It moves into an introduction and show description, and then really leans into a casual show description. A great long-form trailer.
The Nobody Zone: The first time I heard this trailer, I literally gasped. It’s so simple, it sets such a clear mood. It doesn’t follow every rule from the guide, but I think it’s good enough that it doesn’t need to.
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