Do any of us really understand the physiological impact of how songs, jingles, and advertisements somehow get stuck in our cranial cavities - sometimes over decades or more?
That's the case with me and those old Tareyton cigarette ads that were designed to promote customer loyalty. "I'd rather fight than switch" became a powerful slogan for that brand, and promoted the value of sticking to your guns - or in this case, cigarettes.
Contrast that old campaign to the impact the recession is apparently having on brand loyalty. According to the Financial Times, a new study indicates that as many as half a brand's most loyal customers have switched to competitors. That's a scary stat, especially given how little in the way of advertising and marketing that is being designed and implemented.
I was thinking about that study while reading a different research report by Crowd Science, showing that 4 of every 10 smartphone owners would rather have an iPhone. Of course, research like this underscores the challenge that BlackBerry, the Palm Pre, and other device manufacturers have in unseating Apple's rising dominance in the mobile space. There's no doubt that Steve Jobs and company are looking at their ubiquity with iPods, and strategizing how it can reoccur in the smartphone sector.
For radio companies, it should serve as a lesson about the value of brand loyalty and customer enthusiasm. Too many radio professionals came up through the business at a time when AM/FM radio was the only game in town. The notion that radio had a monopoly over audio content or in-vehicle entertainment is rapidly becoming history. In 2009, loyalty and engagement have to be earned, bad economy or not.
In PPM, regularity and loyalty are key components because of the nature of the panel sample. There is no better time than now for stations to awake to the value of an audience that happily comes back, day in and day out.
Radio continues to focus on the meat and potatoes aspects of its product - test the songs, which DJs are most familiar, and which tactical contesting works - often at the expense of determining how to satisfy a rapidly changing, restless consumer audience that's in the process of rethinking everything.
A recent MediaPost article by Kevin Mannion - "Zen And The Art Of Online Selling" - spelled out the simple formula for how any media/entertainment outlet can drill deeper into audience tastes and desires:
Identify passionate site users and regularly speak with them.
Create user advisory boards comprised of passionate, engaged users.
Survey users on why they are there, what they are seeking to accomplish, and whether or not they were successful.
These are all steps that we've prescribed to our clients for years, and in this era of diminishing budgets, there is no better way to get to know your cume and your core. What motivates them? What can you do to improve the listening experience? How can your local presence provide with entertainment and community service they can get nowhere else? How can you make them a bigger, more significant part of what you do?
And don't forget that "research is marketing." The very act of getting to know your listeners better will enable more loyalty and connection to your brand. And if you go the extra mile of integrating their ideas and feedback into your strategy, you're even closer to ensuring that your audience isn't gong anywhere - recession or not.