Dear Albright and O'Malley folks,
Something really, really bothers me about the Country radio station where I work. It's that the owner of our radio station 'refuses' to advertise! Obviously, I think he's wrong. What do you say? How important is advertising a radio station?
Before trying to change your owner's mind, I think you have some homework to do.
1. How is your signal compared to any other country stations also available to your prospective audience?
Before advertising, you need to be honest with yourself about your distribution and there's no sense marketing a product to people who have other superior choices from that perspective.
2. If you've been in the same format for years and your cume has been stable, you have to ask yourself: is that because the people in your city grade signal area don't know about your existence?
Or, are they aware of you, but simply don't use you?
If the problem is a lack of awareness of what you do, perhaps you should advertise inside the area where you have the best signal available to users of your format.
3. If 90% of the people inside that area do know who you are and what you do but they still don't cume you, I'd suggest you need to do some research before spending marketing money trying to compete with other area stations for new cume. Do listeners see a "unique selling proposition" that fills a need for them? Or, are they not cuming your station because they currently have plenty of other choices available to them which satisfy their needs?
4. If you spend major dollars and actually did double your cume (a huge achievement, not easy to do) would your radio station be able to charge higher rates and recoup the expense plus the profit margin your owner requires to stay in business?
A mature brand - especially a radio station which has been doing entertaining programming, community involvement, remotes and appearances for all that time - street marketing - may actually have a very high level of awareness already.
5. People like new things and are always willing to try something new. As a result, cume is always naturally eroding. So, if your cume has been stable and consistent, that makes a good statement about what you do now.
6. Do you have a database (email/street addresses) of at the very least 20% of your cume? You should. Have you been in touch with those people on a consistent basis? Do they respond to your emails and participate in your promotions? If not, cume building won't work for you. Make sure you have a loyal core of brand evangelists who love you before you consider marketing.
7. Are advertisers on your station successful? Do clients feel like ads on your station work for them?
8. Are you profitable?
If so, perhaps your owner is right.
If he's wrong, you need to convince him that there would be a good return on investment on marketing expenses.
9. Read Wikipedia's excellent beginner's guide to building marketing plans for a start.
Put it all in writing. What percentage of profits would he be willing to invest in trying to increase revenues? What are the odds of success?
10. Do the math. Don't spend marketing money until you know your product is perceived as unique and excellent by its current cume. Once that is the case, find out how many other people inside your city grade coverage area would use your station - people just like the ones you love you who simply don't know about you or what makes you unique and better.
Calculate whether getting another 20%, for example, to cume you every week would be worth the money. Usually, it's much easier to grow your ratings by focusing on improving the number of days per week and times per day your existing cume uses the radio station before trying to convince non-users to sample, convert and become regular users. Until your "time spent listening" is the best among all the other stations you compete with, I'd focus first on that.
11. Is it possible your owner is reluctant to advertise because he has concerns about the quality or your product? If so, work on growing the stats that will prove that he's wrong.
Great TSL and high exclusive cume are two simple measures of "satisfaction" with your programming.
Maximise getting your current core to use no other radio station and enticing listeners to spend more time per day with you.
How you'll know you're "there:" when more than a third of your weekly cume listens to no other radio in an average week and your average listener spends two-thirds of their total time using radio per day with your station, I'd say you're ready to do some marketing if you're not happy with your shares those above-average performance measurements will generate for you.
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9 months ago