Saturday, October 2, 2010

I love a parade

The Future Parade. Are You In It?
By Loyd Ford

Welcome to 2011. What? It’s not here yet? Sure it is.

Do you know how much work is being done right now on lithium batteries and the kind of technology that allows humans to have a video screen that can be applied to any surface? Imagine a world where you can apply a paper-thin screen to display active video on a coffee cup or have an interactive newspaper with live streaming video. Technology is changing our world on a daily basis. In fact, technology is moving so fast that you can’t even see all the changes at once.

Not possible? Welcome to the “Technology Century.” It’s so much more than radio vs. the internet, or television vs. cable, or newspaper vs. Craigslist. Listeners are gaining power to choose more frequently and choose their own personalized content on demand.

Where does radio fit in?

You know. It’s been there all along. Radio is personal. Radio is people. Radio is a voice when you really want to hear one. If you want listeners to choose you now, your content has to be truly listener-focused in the 21st century. More has changed than just the time.

However, radio is not a technology. Not in 2011. Not the kind of technology I am talking about here. So, what’s the good news? The power of radio is immediate -- socially and personally. Humans need humans to feel. That might be the most valuable thing in a technology-based world. Think about it. It is sure that broadcast companies should be thinking about it.

Some in radio want to stop or deny this technology, or the social shifts happening to radio listeners. Some will always see things in terms of having a beginning and ending. Others will see opportunity, and some will seize that opportunity to grow audience connection.

As a result of all this change in technology, radio has the same opportunity it has always had to influence people. We connect one on one and entertain. We shouldn’t be trying to wage a war to disconnect technology or see other forms of social entertainment as something we can derail. The future is moving. We should be a part of it. We should always engage listeners in a variety of ways that reflect positively on the experience they have with us when they want music, talk, news, weather, companionship and more.

If your broadcast company doesn’t see the personalities, programmers and people creating radio as valuable, you should yourself. You should be studying ways to enhance your brand with fans and make yourself more relevant in a future where you may be an unattached content brand.

As an industry, we should be thinking of ways we can influence radio listeners in social situations based upon how they use radio. And we should be creating ways to profit from this, because it is valuable. It is a shame that many radio stations have stopped reminding listeners about their product outside of when a listener flips on their station. Those stations will eventually fade away. With no investment in the future, what kind of future will come?

When I programmed radio stations, I always tried to play “where’s the ball?” In other words, I challenged myself and our team to find out what people in the local market were into and to put our stations at the head of that parade.

It never has been about you.

That parade is what matters.

That is what you should be doing. The parade always changes, but your strong commitment to growing your relationship with listeners, as their interests shift, should never change. It is the real power of radio to charge advertisers for access to active, engaged people who spend money. Radio successfully attracts these eager consumers by providing unique content delivered by personalities who create a bond with their listeners. You should be personally connecting with listeners and being their friend on the radio. That means you should be a content-first professional on the air and someone who engages listeners off the air in social media (the way your listeners are engaging other people on Facebook and other social media platforms).

Where is your station going to be in 2011? If you are on air, where will you be in 2011? If you are not truly engaged, it is time to start thinking about your personal social brand. It is time to take action to be more like your listener in the 21st century. Find the front of the parade. It’s not waiting on you.

Loyd Ford is the ratings and marketing strategist for Americalist Media Marketing, where he has helped radio brands in all market sizes and of all formats grow ratings for the last seven years. Americalist has been helping radio stations grow ratings since 1987 with direct marketing that gets results. If you are looking for powerful connectivity to move ratings, call Loyd directly at 877-475-6864 or e-mail him at Americalist is live and recorded telemarketing, strategic direct mail, Neighbor Selects™, Facebook marketing, viral e-mail marketing, New Movers™, database marketing, AWEPOP™ (area-wide e-mail) marketing and more.

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