Over the years, the radio industry has gone through challenging times, surviving the increase in media fractionalization with every new generation. Yet, for all the challenges facing broadcasters, local radio still plays a significant role in the daily lives of virtually everybody in our society.
But will it keep its hold on younger, growing audiences?
As the number of audio options increases — seemingly by the minute — one factor is indisputable when looking at the future of radio: relevance. We have evolved into a mobile society, one in which local radio that listeners deem relevant can continue to play a key role in daily life. This isn’t a new concept, but it leads to a question: How can radio stay relevant to current and potential new, younger listeners?
The answer is clear: It’s about audio.
Audio isn’t just all music, all the time. Radio can and should do much more. Radio is meant to be listened to, rather than simply heard. Good, powerful audio builds your brand and makes your station a destination for the listener.
Regardless of how audiences are measured today, the true measurement of radio and its significance depends on what the listener gets from an enriched listening experience. Greater listener involvement results in stronger response for your clients, and everyone wins.
Good audio and relevance to the moment are linked. If you hear something pleasing, informational, problem-solving, or otherwise meaningful to you in the moment, you’ll stop and listen, remember where you heard it, and make an appointment to hear more.
Connecting your clients with strong audio and extending its presence across digital, social, and other platforms expands your reach as well as ROI for your advertisers. Information or entertainment audio delivers more marketing value to listeners and advertisers, without relying on commercials. Brands are built on trust, which is developed by associating with something the listeners consider authentic and valuable. You know your audience and what they like and need. Think it through. Make it relevant, informative, and entertaining.
Powerful audio has a place in any format. Make the investment in keeping and growing your audience with great audio. Our clients have seen the difference it makes, and they come back for more. Some of our most successful radio campaigns for Chrysler, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson, and others were built on custom-researched and -produced audio features integrated into music formats that delivered solid results — and greater investment in radio.
A CRN International survey of 525 consumers, conducted last June, confirmed our thinking that audio content on the radio is an expedient route to the hearts and wallets of listeners. When asked which form of radio messaging, out of six options, would make them the most likely to consider buying a product, 41 percent chose content — the most popular choice by more than a twofold margin over the runner-up tactic, real-people testimonials. Not only did the survey results support the desire of consumers to hear such content, they confirmed that listeners would remember and appreciate brands that provided it.
What’s more, in a CRN poll of marketing professionals, 57 percent indicated they were very pleased with the results of radio campaigns that employed branded content.
Here are three things you can do right away:
- Read your listener traffic on social media sites constantly to find out what’s on their minds. They’ll tell you the subjects, problems, and issues that are important to them, that could be the basis for short “lean in” features. They can be locally sponsored in a subtle way, building brand stature without sounding like a commercial. Be inside programming, not stopsets, to make it more credible. Listeners see good audio as value received for time spent away from music.
- Look at current and target clients and match listener lifestyle, interests, or needs to their product to develop a more direct connection, opening the door to relevance to them. This is the “hook” you start with to develop good audio that appeals on the basis of helpful information, problem-solving, or other needs.
- Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to subject matter. A local story or event that has impact on the community is important to your listeners, regardless of age. If it’s being talked about, your listeners are part of the conversation. The objective is to inform and motivate on their terms. They will listen to it, and if it resonates, they will depend on your station more than before. Send them to your social media channels to keep the conversation going, expanding station and client reach and exposure.
The major point here is not about audio versus more music, it’s about how good audio fits in with music by being as compelling to your listeners as a great song or mood set. Know your listeners. Know what is important to them, and give it to them, from information they didn’t know about their favorite artist to info on maintaining good health, finding a job, or dealing with social problems. Your station will be the destination they go to for getting through the day.
The most ardent young listeners looking for music can find it anywhere. With well thought-out non-music content, you keep them by giving them a reason to listen beyond the music. Make it matter, make it relevant to their world, and they will look to you for it, and pass the word along. All music, all the time only gets you so far — people need more than music. Music is the currency, we know this, but you can stop the music and deliver audio that makes an impact on the daily lives of your listeners.
Good audio is not poison. Good audio is power, but only if you invest in doing it right.
If you build it, they will come, listen, and buy, and your clients will love you for it.
Dick Kalt is the Executive Vice President of CRN International and can be reached at 203.407.3339 or [email protected]