Marketing 101 is a series of blog posts in which we will explore a variety of different mediums, methods and strategies along with some basic ideas for making them work for you. We hope you’ll continue to check in with this series as we go and share your ideas and insights with us.
Owning and operating a radio station with competition from CDs, iPods, DVRs and other devices that deliver similar programming are a true challenge. I know, because for 20 years, I had the good fortune to be the program director and/or on-air talent at several radio stations within the Pittsburgh market.
Radio stations operate not as jukeboxes or newsrooms, but as businesses. They are profit centers for the companies that own them. Radio stations have multiple means of generating revenue, which out of necessity may take precedence over your favorite song or a juicy talk show spat! The largest of these means are commercials. Stations sell airtime to advertisers as a way of increasing the merchant’s bottom line.
As the commercial repetition heard on most stations indicates, radio works really well. At Yearick-Millea, we purchase radio air-time for some of our clients, and we retain media buyers whose specialty is the proper use and budgeting of radio advertising. It really works!
But if you want music rather than commercials from your station, know that the music is actually sponsored by the advertisements. How’s that for some cruel irony?
If too many listeners tune to an alternate radio station, the remaining audience may influence lower ratings for the station, which over time, translates to a loss of revenue. So, how does a radio station build a strategy for battling today’s fierce competition for attracting and holding an audience? Many times, the station will change its format — rock to country, or oldies to news/talk — to take-on a new brand/identity.
It may lure new on-air talent or reporters to expand local news coverage. If the dollars are available, a radio station may even stage events where listening to the station is required — a guaranteed method of boosting both ratings and revenue. Even multimedia ad campaigns are often utilized in promoting a station’s awareness.
Unfortunately, all of these actions do not automatically result in more people listening and continuing to listen to a particular radio station. But a loyal audience is best maintained through a consistent format, coupled with personalities who nurture the on-air product.
A radio station‘s success (high ratings/revenue) will only be realized if it learns to “listen” to its audience – and not just the other-way-round.