Practice What You Preach

Radio stations frequently prompt the benefit of radio advertising to prospective advertisers yet spend very little marketing themselves. 

The usual reply is: “It costs money”. 

But stop and think for a second: What do the companies who run adverts on your station do? They are spending their money with you. 

What would be the outcome be if your advertisers took that same view when wanting to promote their companies? If they too said “It costs money” and stopped advertising, do you think that your station would exist?

Stations need to use the “secret weapons” in their armory not just once, but consistently, to generate continued listener interest. And sometimes that costs money - and sometimes it doesn’t.

Six places at once

At a station I was involved with running a few years ago, if it was one thing I think we did right, out of the many things we did either not so well or just plain wrong, it was that we relentlessly promoted it. 

In the summer months, when the fairs and festivals were held, we were sometimes at six venues in a single day; At the very least with a station vehicle handing out stickers, maybe doing live links into the station by phone from others, sometimes a road-show and very often a full outside broadcast at the larger events. 

I am convinced that by being present at all these events, being seen by the public, gaining newspaper column inches as a result and continually raising our profile in our TSA, was sole the reason we landed one of the major super-market chains as as sponsor of the breakfast show for £30,000 year. 

And that deal was achieved without paying agency fees or being a member of RaJAR.

20140712 supermarket trolley

My station was not off it's trolley when it landed a major supermarket to sponsor the breakfast show

Radio station management often fall into the trap of thinking that, as they are a broadcaster, then their own transmissions are all they need in order to promote themselves. They couldn’t be more wrong. If you’re taking a stance of “Buying advertising space is something local business needs to do. They don’t have a voice. We do”, then you are in for a rude awakening. 

Learn from what Sky did

Cast your mind back to the late 1980s and the launch of Sky TV. Sky used newspaper advertising (usually, I concede, in their own newspapers) but they also used ITV. Initially there was a refusal from ITV about accepting Sky advertising money as they classed them as a competitor but, and the reason why escapes me right now, this was overturned and Sky adverts dually appeared on ITV. Sky knew (and still knows) that it has to use both competing and non-competing media to get its message across.

Now I’m not suggesting your station splashes out on expensive television adverting, to launch and sustain any meaningful TV advertising campaign takes literally hundreds of thousands, but a little lateral thinking in terms of where, and by what method, the station can advertise and promote itself will work wonders for the continued profile raising of  your station. 

In a “conventional” business a wise lesson to learn is to employ “partner marketing” in promoting a venture. And this tool can be used to market a radio station too. Buddying-up with a complementary and non-competing business in a joint promotion will work wonders for both parties. It doesn’t even have to be a business to partner-up with; supporting a charity will do wonders for the station’s credibility in the community and generate much good will too.

Earlier I mentioned “secret weapons” in a stations armoury and without doubt the biggest weapon any station can roll out in order to promote itself is the outside broadcast. It is the one thing I urge radio stations to get out and do as it will generate the biggest return in terms of promotion for the time and money invested. Just doing sticker hand-outs, whilst useful, simply don’t cut it in terms of promotion “bang for the buck” return.  Think about it: The local take-away gives out flyers in the High Street. Road-shows are ok, but Disco Dave can do those too. They are not the unique promotion tool that a business could employ in your transmission area.  But you can.

What sets a radio station apart in the promotional arms-race is the ability to turn-up, broadcast live and put the public on the air. And despite the increase, diversity and distractions of competing media, the public still like to hear themselves on the radio. 

OBs are the answer

Do outside broadcasts – either as staged broadcast, created by your station or as “drop-ins” to an existing event. If it is the former, then put effort into partnering with other businesses, getting the public involved and creating a buzz. It if is the latter, then make your presence at an existing event felt by bringing something more than just a few songs to the party.

You owe it to the concept of the radio station: The listeners and current/potential advertisers to continually promote the station in order to make it something special in the community. 

Without this continued promotion your station will just be narrow-casting to the same few hardened listeners and not moving forward.

And that would be more than a pity. It would be an opportunity lost and potentially the end of the station.

20140712 Preacher

So practice what you preach . Because it matters that much.


Iain Betson