“If I Wanted To Be A Surfer, I’d Buy A Board.”

If I wanted to be a ‘Surfer,’ I’d buy a board.

How too-many choices have made radio listening difficult. 


Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media.


The object of all marketing is to be persuasive.  To move your listeners to think, feel or do something.  Building a brand involves elements of persuasion and integrity.  We’re asked to deal with unprecedented change in our media world (satellite radio, HD, I-Pods, internet radio, etc). We cut paths through too-much uncharted territory, as Captain Kirk would say, at ‘warp-speed.’ 


So granted, we do too much with much less time,.  Multitasking has become a way of life for most of us. The real problem plaguing radio today is the amount of choices the listener has.  It’s become a confusing proposition to listen to the radio!  We have always felt as a society that choice is good and choice is related to freedom, which is essential to our well-being.  The more choices we have, the more freedom we have, the better off we are. 


It doesn’t occur to anyone to question or challenge that statement and is pretty much a no-brainer.  Two is better than 1 and three is better than two.  Problem is now we’re talking about 25-30 radio stations in a market, not to mention all other media options.  What was once a liberating experience is now paralyzing our ability to make a simple decision.  We’ve become a nation of “surfers” instead of “consumers.” 


In the age of radio consolidation, this has become an even more pressing problem.  We’re not persuading listeners to stay with us long-enough to enjoy their experience.  A listener may hear what they perceive to be a great song, only to start surfing the dial with the thought that there’s an even better song they’re missing!  In reality, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Good is never good-enough.  We’re chasing our tail to spite our face.


Listeners pay for our service with their time spent listening.  Yet, the inability to decide and stay with one particular station is there even when money isn’t at stake.  As choices increase, listeners actually have a more difficult time finding what they really like.  When you’re surfing you’re not consuming, therefore, you’re never fully satisfied with your experience.


At Sound Advantage Media, I’ve developed a method of increasing TSL and listener loyalty that cuts through the clutter and gives your audience ownership with their favorite radio station.  Here are a few examples:


Stay Topical & Local


Find out what interests your listeners.  What are their hobbies?  What are their “hot” buttons?  Where do they enjoy “hanging-out?”  If you don’t know, find out!  You’d be surprised how your TSL will increase once you’ve addressed what interests them. 


Is Your Programming Relevant To Your Audience?


Not only do you need to be topical & local, make sure what you do on-air is relevant to what the audience is searching for!  A good way to accomplish this is to have a staff member go through your local newspaper and cut-out two weeks worth of letters-to-the-editor.  This is an inexpensive way to research your listeners “hot buttons.” 







Is Your Imaging Local?


Focus the imaging of your station on local items of interest to your audience.  This gives you some intimacy with the listener and show’s you’re in-tune with the issues of your community.  Great opportunity to become relatable while pushing their ‘hot-buttons.”  Have local community leaders and P1 listeners record your imaging.  People “love” to hear themselves on the radio.  This will make you stand out in a very crowded marketplace while branding you as your community’s radio station.


Involve Your Audience


Become a two-way communications center for your listeners.  Not just for contests and games!  People become more attached and loyal to a station they have a personal involvement in.  By branding your station as “My Country 105,” or “My Oldies 106 WOLL,” you’ve embraced the listener on a much more emotional level.  People will take ownership of your station when they have a reason to do so.  Increased cume and TSL will follow.  People purchase items based on an emotional response.  It stands to reason they’ll listen to your radio station for the same reason.


No amount of marketing or advertising can save a bad radio station.  You need to get your “act” together before

branding your product.  People are more cynical today, and the Internet makes it too easy to listen elsewhere.

Radio has forgotten that it’s a part of “show-business.”  You must offer the “act” that’s unique in the marketplace in order to survive.  Anything that makes your listener grateful for your engaging, entertaining,

stimulating radio station means they are more likely to pass it on!  Everyone likes to be the one to share something interesting with their circle of friends.  It’s up to you to give them something to share.


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