Wednesday, September 23, 2009


In fall 2009, your strategy should be all about preparing to take more market revenue share from your direct format competitors and across-the-street clusters. Industry leaders who are marketing now are preparing to do just that. Those who are not marketing this fall are likely to take reported and electronic listening losses that will be far more expensive than their small budget cuts. They may take significant hits to their revenue share as well.

While there has been stress in the economy and some cutbacks in marketing spending, the leaders in various markets are often the ones who do what radio tells their own clients: now is the perfect time for marketing to increase your revenue share in 2010. If you are not marketing now, you should be aware that this activity is happening not only in radio, but in all brands. When you read Fortune, The Wall Street Journal and other business or advertising resources, it is apparent that smart companies of all sizes have shifted focus to more than the bottom line – they want to boost their market revenue share against the competition.

How do you plan to help your station, cluster and company take revenue share in 2010? That has to be your question and your mission in this economy. When I was lucky enough to program radio stations, I enjoyed doing it every single day. Of course, I worked to make sure the stations I was responsible for had great music, a winning morning show and solid marketing.

I also played a game with my stations called “Where’s the ball?” At any given time (and certainly at key times) the mindset of your market is focused on a certain thing or something that is important to them. Our job beyond making the music great, making sure the morning show sizzles and connects, and the marketing focused on the important participators is to “be the ball,” or help our listeners find what they want more easily. If we do this consistently, their love of our product will grow, and they will spend more time with our brand. This is simplistic when you focus on things like what listeners are going to do after work or on the weekend. It becomes more complicated when the answer does not just pop out at you. It can be easier when a September 11 happens but more challenging in everyday life.

In times when broadcast companies are focused more than ever on cutbacks and reductions, it is critical to make sure that you seek out any resource you have inside your building and in partnerships inside or outside the market. Employ all the tools available for your use that do not create major budget barriers for you. There are always additional resources around a radio station. Use creativity to find and use them now. This is part of the reason that we have a Facebook group called “Social Networking for Radio Stations.” It’s free for you to join, and it focuses on specific ideas you can use to communicate and connect more effectively with your audience. If you are on Facebook, search for “Social Networking for Radio Stations” and click on “become a fan” for instant access.

My direct marketing work with Americalist is designed to help stations build their value and boost ratings for more than a single book. While we can help clients grow temporary ratings, we work hard to give clients tools and information that can be critical for building more long-term success and protecting themselves against attacks from other brands. We work to help stations expand the occasions of listening and the length of time listening at each occasion. This increases value and creates hardships for our clients’ competitors. Responsible marketing is about focusing where you can build the most value and get the best return on investment. There is more than one way to do this, and that is where we add extra value over other direct marketing companies.

Times have changed. They always change. People who are serious about changing with the times know that now is about focusing on market share and revenue share growth against direct competitors. Marketing is a big part of that strategy. It’s not too late for your fall ’09.

While we can talk a lot about how businesses adjust and times change, the basic ideas that build and support great radio stations don’t change. The best music, morning show, companionship and marketing win -- time and time again. Now it is up to you to lead. Good luck.

Loyd Ford is an experienced programmer and marketing strategist. He has programmed for Capstar, Citadel, SFX and Entercom, to name a few, and has worked for Americalist Media Marketing, helping radio stations boost ratings for the last six years. Americalist Media Marketing has worked with radio to create higher ratings since 1987, providing telemarketing, direct mail, design, e-mail and database marketing to help stations and clusters grow value. Americalist is market exclusive.

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