If you hear another person say we are living in transformational times, you will likely throw up. It’s true. radio sees consumers gaining power all around them and many in our industry are trying to figure out how to reshape with the changing times. This power-shift includes everything from what has happened in the music business for record labels to what is taking place now in automotive (if you are not up on consumer demand changes in automotive, I suggest you visit your local Ford dealership and ask about apps in cars).
The question is: How much longer do you wait before you take aggressive action to build a digital business right alongside your “legacy” radio assets? How do you build a business that works with your existing business without killing it?
Digital reputation takes time to build and radio can see the exploding digital revenues in market after market. Meanwhile my sister-in-law recently asked me why radio station websites are so stupid. When I asked her why she thought they were stupid, she said they offered nothing for her. She sincerely didn’t understand why there was – in her words – no value on the websites of her favorite radio stations.
This brings us to four important questions about how you are viewed outside of your signal and inside the “e-technology” of direct contact for smart phone users and users of technology (that likely fit nicely into your target listener group)?
1. What does your website do for listeners? Most radio station websites are all about what the radio station wants. When you look at your Web-based assets, you should ask, “What does this do for my target listeners?” Without value to them (to bring them back often), you really have nothing to sell advertisers of any significant value. If you go to your station website right now and look at it with this in mind, it is very likely you may have some work to do. In addition, you can brainstorm on how solving problems for listeners often leads to revenue possibilities from retailers who may be eager to advertise with you because your website does actual things for listeners that are interesting, timely, and profitable for the advertiser.
2. What does your app do for listeners? Don’t have an app? Hmm. Did we mention this is about being in transformational times? Consider this: If your app only lets listeners listen to your station, then the app is only about what you want. What about value for them beyond just listening to the station (after all, they likely have opportunity to listen to you at work, at home, and in the car already)? Again, listeners are using transformational tools to help them get more accomplished, enjoy their lives more and feel empowered. Does your app do that for local listeners?
3. What does your loyal listener email do for listeners? Do you send out loyal listener email that simply announces a concert or gives them an “offer” on tires? What about presenting them with something that says you care about them? What about including connective details every time you send an email to them, including a concert calendar, local event calendar, an opportunity to get a prize just because they emailed you, and perhaps tips on what to do this weekend? I always tend to think you have opportunity to add revenue if you have valuable assets that deliver real content. If your loyal listener email steps up, I bet advertisers will too.
4. What is your sales team doing in the digital world to become the go-to resource for local advertisers in your market beyond trying to sell them advertising on your stations? I know we always seem to focus on listeners, listeners, listeners, but radio is a connective experience for advertisers who want to attract our listeners. It seems to me that every radio cluster should have a small- and medium-size business expert (salesperson) who writes content about business success tips. That should include tips on advertising, social media, event marketing, and a variety of other ways advertisers can mix it up and get more customers. It might also lead to seminars on media and customer generation. After all, having a resource for these things tied to your radio station will likely draw more advertisers to your cluster.
Think beyond the way we did it in the past. Think about how you can change the future by reinforcing the value to listeners and advertisers associated with your off-air products as well as your on-air. Just beginning by improving these four basics you will be setting a path to think about how you can create local value in assets other than just your on-air.
Times are changing. If we stay in the 20th century, radio’s value will fade. If we change with the times by making sure that value to listeners and value to advertisers is “up front” and easy to see across the board, we will connect more often with m-o-n-e-y. We’re 13 years into the new century. Don’t leave money on the table. Think of ways to build on what radio does best: Local. Do that and you will grow relevance and new revenue. That’s just a fact.
*Content originally appeared @ RadioInk.com. For more content on radio, go to RadioInk.com. Look for my column on social media and radio on the left-hand side of the homepage behind my picture and the word “Engagement.”
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Loyd Ford is the Direct Marketing, Ratings & Social Media Strategist for Americalist Direct Marketing. He works with media brands all across the country to improve ratings and participation with custom contest strategy, telemarketing, strategic direct mail and social media for radio clients. His interests include social media, digital local-direct revenue and non-traditional revenue for radio. Contact him directly @ 877.475.6864 or Americalist1@aol.com.