Increase Ratings with Promotions
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media
The right radio promotions get listeners talking about your brand, and create tune-in occasions that will increase ratings. The following are Win-Win-Win Radio Promotions that are helpful for your station, sponsors, audience and community. I’ll cover radio promotion ideas that go beyond the usual “We Pay your Bills,” “The Phrase that Pays,” and “The Secret Sound” because there’s so much more!
It’s critical that you maximize your listener’s engagement with your contest. Incorporate several tactical objectives. The most effective radio promotions, contests & sweepstakes concurrently achieve one or more of your tactical programming goals. These may include:
• Positioning your radio format
• Building your images
• Defining your USP
• Creating free publicity
• Causing brand awareness
• Expanding brand recall
• Setting tune-in appointments
• Increasing listener cume
• Propelling market share
You’ll also broaden sponsor revenue, find new advertisers and upgrade non-spot income. Let’s take a look at several creative radio promotions from across the country. Even if you don’t use these, they might trigger an idea of your own you may implement on your station.
“The Million Dollar Cash Drop” This is an opportunity to take money giveaways to that next higher level. You allow contestants to skydive landing on a grid of squares—each representing a different amount of money, with one spot (or all spots together), being worth 1 million dollars!
“Free Business Window Advertising” Your cash spotters roam your market, searching for storefronts featuring signs saying,” WXXX Is My Favorite Radio Station!” The spotter awards a $50.00 bill to the person who put up the sign, t-shirts and pens to everyone else at the place of business (i.e. t-shirts and pens to employees and customers alike).
Make sure your contest is exciting for your entire audience. Promotions, contests & sweepstakes should entertain listeners who don’t participate.
“The Hidden Mic” This is a creative variation of “The Secret Sound” but it’s actually a hidden microphone. At regular intervals, play audio from that location, providing clues as to where it can be found. You may call a random phone number every hour (choosing from people who have signed up) allowing the first listener with the correct answer to win! Radio promotions like this are perfect for the ‘theatre of the mind’ medium of radio! They will increase brand awareness, as listeners will ask one another if they know where the mic is hidden. Connect your station brand to your promotion, as “The KC-101 Hidden Mic.”
“The Great CD Rush.” Listener has ten seconds (or time limit tied to your actual frequency) to name all the current titles & artists of CDs possible. The listener is awarded all the CDs he/she manages to name within the time limit. This is a great promotion for CHR/Hot AC and Urban radio stations.
Astrology: “What’s Your Sign?” Make this promotion a monthly event, issuing invitations to callers and social media signees who were born under that particular month’s sign. Feature an astrologer who will provide personalized horoscopes. You can also use the party to perform some listener research, using a not-too-long questionnaire.
“Beat The Clock” We hear the ticking sound of a clock, while a cash prize is increasing every second—but the listener participating can be disqualified any second. When the alarm sounds, all the money is one! Because no one can predict when the clock will ring, you have a contest that’s exciting for your entire audience. Pre-produce some sound files with both the clock and alarm sounds in them, and let them rotate. Instruct your jocks not to open the sound file upfront, as the wave file would show where the alarm goes off. The DJ will feel the same excitement and surprise as the participant and respond authentically—also to avoid any possible feeling of ‘contest fixing.’
“The Fugitive” This is a more compelling promotion where the listeners will join a ‘bounty hunt’ for a mysterious person on the run. Throughout the hunt, give listeners cryptic clues concerning where the person is hiding. The first listener who tracks down and actually identifies the runner wins your prize on the fugitive’s head. The great benefit is you’re moving listeners into physical action and get them on the street to do something. This allows them to become much more involved with the promotion as well as your station! It can even go viral, as listeners will share clues and answers on social media and their followers.
“Easiest Audience-Recycling Contest Ever” This contest has been performed by hundreds of stations and works well with recycling your quarter hour maintenance. To win, the caller must know both the question and the answer—both of which have been aired on the station. Give the answer during PM Drive while the question is given during Morning Drive. Both are clearly identified, so it’s just a matter of listening to the radio until they’re given and then go scrambling for the phone when the DJ asks for the question and answer. Make it worth the listeners while, give them something genuine like a minimum $100.00 cash prize. Have the DJ who gave the money away give it to the listener who won. It’s a more personal gesture.
An “Entertainment Guide” Publish a pocket-sized guide listing phone numbers, addresses and open/closing times for movie theatres, “actual” theatres, any drive-ins still around, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, skating rinks, sporting parks and arenas, etc. Sell advertising to entertainment and non-entertainment clients, to pay for the printing and provide a profit. Gives the guides away at public appearances, ball parks, books stores, restaurants, etc.
“Free Miles Friday” Have your station draw from e-mails and social media entries, awarding chauffeur-driven limousines to and from work (or school) every Friday for a month. Broaden the scope of the idea to include secretaries (the limo drives the winner & her co-workers to lunch at some nice restaurant, waits while they eat, then returns them to work ). You can also include housewives. The limo driver picks them up at home, drives them to the supermarket while the chauffeur pushes the grocery cart inside the store. Then drives her them home. For maximum effect, use the longest, blackest limousine you can find.