In radio, we often spend a lot of time and a lot of money bribing the audience to listen to our stations. Sometimes, contests have strategic value – like the “Workforce Payroll” promotion that supports at-work listening.
But for the most part, contests are steroids. They can move the needle temporarily and perhaps help “buy a month,” but their lasting value to an increasingly fickle audience is debatable.
That’s why Techsurvey 7 was an eye-opener for many of our stakeholder stations. We asked respondents about what type of relationship they want with stations, and more than a third voted for the strongest relationship possible. That says a lot.
It suggests to us that brand affinity is important. And that’s why “liking” a company or a station on Facebook continues to be more common, and shows signs of increasing overall loyalty to businesses...or radio stations.
When we then followed through and asked about the types of things they’d like to be involved in with stations, there were two very interesting findings that support this notion of brand participation that doesn’t involve winning money or concert tickets.
The top response is participating in a station advisory board – to have a say in what the station plays or programs. And right near the top of the list is taking part in charity and community events the station sponsors.
This is encouraging, and our list also contained some experiential opportunities for fans – sitting in one of the shows was a solid winner, too. And this tells us that core listeners are looking for experiences with your station.
For too long, radio has over-relied on cash, tickets, and other swag to keep listeners interested. But for true fans, the ability to be able to have “moments” with the station and the airstaff is priceless. If you take the time to set up and conduct Listener Advisosry Board groups with your core fans - the "20" in the 80:20 Rule - you'll hear them for yourself. These are the indelible memories that elevate your station above and beyond the faceless pure-play streaming companies or nationally syndicated satelite radio channels that can't possibly connect with someone on Main Street USA.
And oftentimes, these experiences aren't expensive, and they're often free. But they’re the types of experience that are so truly viral that people will talk about them, tell their friends, and “buzz” on social media sites.
I was reminded of this a few days ago when I received an email from an Obama campaign coordinator. It offered me an experience – dinner with the President. For a minimum $5 donation, here’s something interesting that is a brand builder for any fan of Barack Obama.
Here’s a piece of the copy from the brief email:
It’s clever, unique, and buzzworthy. And that’s the point.
What’s viral about your brand? What experiences could you offer your true fans that would be unforgettable, viral, and unique to your station?
As you walk down the hallways of your radio station, breezing past the plaques and gold and platinum albums, stop for a moment and think like a listener. Remember their visits to your station and how it is often equivalent to walking through a cool pop culture museum.
If you think like a listener – and consider the Consumer Experience – you might just get away from 10th caller contests and start offering the audience an experience they would truly value – and remember for the rest of their lives.