(By Mike McVay) What better time to focus on reinvention and improvement than during a pandemic? The rating services themselves are suggesting that advertising buys are not to be made using the current rating results. Advertising sales are off from projected goals, budgets have been discarded, expenses are being cut.
It makes sense to take advantage of the situation to improve your product and to prepare for that time when we see the economy return to a point where we can take advantage of it.
Ten tips to improve radio through reinvention:
1. Focus on presenting the best product 24/7/52. Program for every hour of every day and do not fall into the trap of worrying only about Monday-Friday 6a-7p. That may be the area of interest for advertisers, but your listeners opinions are formed every time they listen.
2. Play fewer commercials and have fewer interruptions. We all acknowledge that we have degraded the listening experience, but no one has the stomach to raise rates and air fewer commercials. I’d suggest that we go to an hourly unit count versus a minute count, but we’d all accept an overall reduction in commercial minutes per/hour.
3. A commitment to investing in research. Marketers and retailers will tell you that if you don’t know what your consumer wants, you’ll never be able to satisfy the customer, and you won’t increase sales. We’ve become an industry of copycats. We look at national charts and national trends and mirror them. One fails, many fail, and we wonder why our total audience decreases every year.
4. Invest in talent and Invest in coaching for your talent. Be they local or imported, talent is the one element that cannot be easily duplicated by a competitor and talent create day-to-day tune-in. Talent endorse and sell products for our advertisers. We’re now seeing the DSP’s add talent to their line-ups as they understand that personalities aid in the development of loyalty.
5. Bring back marketing as a tool to continually build cume for your station, to fortify it against your competitors, and to send a message to your own advertisers that you’re committed to exposing their products and services to as many ears as possible.
6. Commit to Promotion as a way to build share of listening and to add excitement and participating to your station. Contests, appearances and events are a part of the necessary development of a stations’ “personality.” That is, what’s the “personality” of your station? Promotions support and develop that stationality.
7. Being in a community means that you should be connected to the community. Be that talking about what’s going on it the community, or supporting the community’s charities and interests, or simply being everywhere and being seen in a community, that connectivity is very important if you’re competing against a nationally delivered format or syndicated product.
8. Focus on great imaging. Your audio product is being judged against Netflix, Disney+, Network Television, highly produced and refined entertainment or produced messaging and more. It’s an excuse to claim that its impossible for you to have great imaging for the station, well produced commercials for your advertisers or to be able to have enticing promotional messaging. There are companies available for barter or cash to provide the service as outsourced.
9. Be known for something. Own a position. Are you the first choice for a specific format, for an emotion (makes me feel good, relaxing, up to date), and be memorable. Be the listeners first choice for “something.”
10. Make having the best audio output a priority. Sound cleaner, louder, crisp. The perfection of audio, on-air and on-streams, appears to be a lost art. People won’t listen to what they can’t stand to hear.
Aren’t you tired of hearing listeners complain about radio and opine about better days gone by? I know that I am. We can make radio better, if we’re willing to make the sacrifice to do so.
Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]