While it is true that PPM measures exposure, not listening, we still need to get listeners to try out the station. Every station churns listeners. Listeners drift away and need to be replaced.
Marketing raises the station’s top-of-mind status, increases curiosity, and brings new listeners to the station.
We now have potentially more persuasive new-media marketing options in addition to the traditional “brute force” methods of the past. Today with the help of digital options, we can more effectively market to listeners at a personal level by communicating with them directly.
New media marketing options offer new opportunities to strengthen the bond between station and listener. The key is to focus your energy on doing a few things very well rather than dabbling in the enture range of possibilities, particularly with the reality of today’s skeleton staffs and limited budgets.
So how do you decide how to market the station? What are the most effective new-media tools, and how can you use them in the most efficient way? Read on.
Email. Email should be the foundation of every radio station’s marketing strategy. Email has the potential to be the most powerful marketing tool at our disposal because of its ability to reach nearly every listener, its low cost, and its flexibility.
Making email an effective marketing tool requires continual attention, however. Your database of addresses has to be represent a significant proportion of your audience. It has to be regularly updated and old addresses purged.
Emails should be useful, relevant, and informative. And don’t over-use email.
Social Media. Some believe that social networking has supplanted email as the primary way people stay in touch with friends. It is a little more complicated than that. For our purposes, the two media are complimentary.
Email is the best way to touch an individual, social media is the best way to touch an entire audience.
Social media should be for general audience information. It is a broadcast, an extension of what the station does on air.
If your email efforts are up and running, then the next step is adding social media, primarily Facebook.
The challenge is creating a steady stream of station posts.
The task needs to be under the control of the program director and assigned to someone who understands the station’s listeners and what listeners will find interesting. Dull pointless posts turn listeners off and raise questions about the station’s relevancy.
Twitter has more buzz than Facebook, but it is much more difficult to overcome Twitter noise. With limited resources, investing in email and Facebook should be a station’s top priority.
YouTube has created multi-media marketing opportunities for stations, but at some risk. Viral videos are generally entertainingly quirky. Few radio stations can pull-off creating a genuinely entertaining video. Too often radio station YouTube efforts end up as desperate attempts to appear cool.
Unfortunately, most radio station web sites look pretty similar, and pretty bad. They are painful to look at, too busy, visually shouting at the viewer.
The problem is that too much of the screen has been given over to the sales department. As a result, too many websites are really anti-marketing tools, undoing a great deal of the work put into creating a positive station image.
Cluttered flash-festooned riots of color and movement hawking and pitching everything from the morning show to who knows what drive listeners away. As a result, few listeners visit radio station web sites more than once, and when they do, they spend very little time on them.
Product people need to get more involved with website design and make sure the site leaves listeners with a positive impression of the station and encourages them to turn on the radio station.
Mobile. The next frontier in digital marketing is mobile.
The telephone is becoming the Swiss-army knife of communication, but at this point, three out of four mobile users are using a plain simple phone. That means it remains primarily a tool for individuals to communicate to other individuals by voice or text.
Don’t get sucked into the hype about smartphones. With only one in four cell phone users having a smartphone, like an iPhone or Android, mobile marketing is still in its infancy.
Don’t design a marketing campaign where participants need a smartphone to participate. Your marketing needs to reach all your listeners, not just mobile early adopters.
At this point, mobile marketing should focus on voice or texting.
Texting has replaced voice as the primary means of mobile communications for younger listeners. On average, teens send an average of 3,339 texts per month.
If your station targets listeners under the age of 30, it has to have a texting strategy.In-bound texting should be part of a station’s polling, requests, and feedback.
Outbound texting offers additional marketing opportunities, but should be used carefully. Research suggests that 9 out of 10 people resent unsolicited messages.
On the other hand, texting is the most immediate means to reach young listeners. Since listeners who text generally have their phones with them and on, it can be a very effective call-to-action tool.
The key is to first make sure listeners want you to text them. If a listener has given you her mobile number, she has granted the station a privilege that you should not abuse. Use texting sparingly and only for important things.
Save outbound texting to very high value opportunities.
Regardless of the means you ultimately focus on, remember these important rules:
- Regularly communicate with listeners.
- Make sure listeners understand how important they are to the station.
- Be sure your messages are relevant, useful, and entertaining.
- Integrate social networking to make your communications a two-way street.