(By Gary Begin) Listeners recycle your radio station an average of every 20 minutes. You always have a fresh audience joining your show. So you need something original to sample, demonstrating your ability to entertain. Always leave them wanting more.
Define your station before you promote yourself to others. It’s called “positioning.” How can we explain to others (promotion) what we do if we aren’t clear about it ourselves. Having a focus makes it much easier for the listeners to spread the word about you.
I understand we hate labeling things—it pigeonholes us. But in your audience’s ears it helps to define what we do. Besides, it’s better to pick a label than let your listeners hang one on you. Is your radio station Blues formatted? Is it Country? Rock? News/Talk? Jazz? AC? Oldies? Maybe a combination of those or something completely different. What else do you do well? Concentrate on your strengths and market those.
Part of promoting your station is knowing what your target audience does on a daily basis. What do they read? Where do they hang out? What websites are they browsing? Do you have a Twitter and Facebook page? Does your station have a website? Does it stream? Knowing an audience means figuring out who they are, what they want, where they are, and how much they are willing to spend.
Promotions are very basic things. You can embellish them as much as you like, after the basics are in place. Radio people sometimes find themselves developing full-blown, bells-and-whistles, flash-and-dazzle promotions, losing sight of the importance of simple things like first impressions, preparation, knowledge, and good humor.
You must be visible everywhere. You should strive to present a positive image, to establish and nurture relationships, and make each event enjoyable for everybody, whether they’re faithful listeners (P1s), strangers to the station, or format, or the clients themselves. We all know it takes being out there to make those numbers happen. What we ought to know is that we need to be out on the streets all the time! If a client event isn’t going on, find out what’s happening in the community and tap into that. It’s as simple as checking out the newspapers and calling the Chamber of Commerce.
The key to any successful promotion, whether you’re promoting your radio station or client event, is total preparation. Hook your call letters into existing events. Start simple. Get permission to have your station van parked at the entrance of a local ball park. Find out if there’s a need for an emcee for an event and offer the professional services of a popular air-personality.
Develop an entire line of logo items: caps, t-shirts, sweats, polo shirts, jackets, handbags, wallets, sun visors, etc., all sold at events to benefit local food banks. Approach event coordinators explaining that items sold don’t benefit the station financially; proceeds go to local food banks in the county where the event is being held. The chance for on-air support plus that all-important “warm & fuzzy” created by doing something for the community, opens doors.
Remember, take pictures at the event and include them on your website and include crowds. Thank the sponsor for the opportunity to be involved in their or your event, and express the desire to return. Always promote in keeping with the station’s sound. If it’s not right, walk-away!
Gary Begin is the founder and president of Sound Advantage Media, a radio programming consulting firm. He has over 30 years programming experience. His book Radio Programming and Branding—The Ultimate Podcasting and Radio Branding Guide is available on amazon.com. Contact Gary at [email protected]; www.soundadvantagemedia.com; 731-437-0536