Lighting Up Your Market: Is It Time?
By Loyd Ford Americalist1@aol.com 877-475-6864
As you prepare your station for fall 2010, there is good reason to be optimistic about the new ratings book and the potential to increase revenue in 2011.
Market managers know that fall 2010 will be a key time to make sure they have strategy in place to capture revenue next year. Some companies are taking advantage of this opportunity at the expense of competitors who have scaled back their marketing to dangerous levels – levels that may actually or have actually damaged their brand. Changes in your own market, along with a return of some advertisers, may also put more revenue at risk for 2011.
The question becomes, “Is now a time for your team to put a jolt into your brand (or brands) and connect with participators who will influence your ratings and your revenue over the next 12 months?”
I know. A lot of radio companies have been pulling back on expenses for years. We have seen so much consolidation for so long that you might be tempted to think radio won’t ever reassert itself. For a long time country radio stations have had to “go it alone” because they felt they couldn’t afford reasonable options to support and move the needle in today’s economic environment. Many are now finding they can move the needle for less than they thought. Things have changed. You may have the opportunity to take advantage of that this fall.
In a variety of markets, market managers and programmers are seeing opportunity to apply strategic direct marketing -- using a limited budget -- to catch competitors flat-footed. It couldn’t come at a better time, as broadcasting companies try to set up the most successful revenue opportunities they can for 2011. While many really couldn’t afford to do anything last year, this year is different because most recognize that their 2011 numbers are going to be solid only with great ratings. Market managers and those in charge also understand that they will be judged more harshly on revenue numbers in 2011. We are experiencing the best timing in terms of taking advantage of real opportunity with limited dollars because advertisers that avoided radio in 2009 have returned. But that return is still timid and will be more judgmental than before over the next year or more. If you want the buy, you will have to be the clear winner.
The question is more about what specifically can give you opportunity to really push ratings without breaking the bank. That often means some kind of direct marketing focusing on three key components: specific listeners who are most likely to participate with your station, your competition, and ratings influence. You can start with marketing that doesn’t cost much at all. Developing social online media to support the relationship between listeners and radio stations has proven to make a real difference while not making a budgetary dent.
Additionally, smart stations will employ cost-efficient tools to help boost ratings without spending too much. This doesn’t mean using a “discount provider” for direct marketing. It means getting great value and opportunity to do more with less. Always look for a provider with innovative ideas for stretching your budget and providing you with opportunities to move the needle.
Judging from my experience at Americalist Media Marketing, it is clear that programs such as Neighbor Selects™ (for reaching neighbors of current listeners), Quick Calls™ (for reaching a targeted audience with a powerful phone message) and AWEPOP™ (for increasing contest participation through targeted emails) can cost-effectively make an impact on the specific listeners who influence ratings.
In many markets, it has been a long time since any real external marketing has taken place. Some stations have seen problematic stumbles in ratings and others have watched their ratings seriously decline. Still, other companies see competitors in even more trouble. These companies are stepping up their own marketing efforts now to bridge the ratings gap, move further ahead, or even drive competitors from serious contention for dollars in 2011.
When you lose your place on top of the ratings, it is hard to get it back. We all know this. If this sounds like you or someone you know, maybe it is time to explore targeted direct mail, residential and at-work telemarketing, viral email strategies and other stealth marketing tactics.
Ratings & Marketing Strategist
Americalist Media Marketing
You can join my “Social Networking for Radio Stations” group on Facebook for free and network with almost 1,600 other program directors, market managers, promotions + marketing directors and personalities that are getting ahead with social media. Loyd Ford has been the marketing and ratings strategist for Americalist Media Marketing for seven years. Before that, Loyd programmed for seventeen years and has done almost every job inside a radio station throughout his broadcast career. You can reach Loyd directly at 877-475-6864 or Americalist1@aol.com. You can also enter to win free station T-shirts with your logo at www.BoostMyRatings.com.