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Radio: Pretend your Customers are Fans, not Advertisers

So I’m talking to a digital solutions provider who has created a platform featuring new value for consumers as part of a radio station’s online brand.

Right in the middle of his on-screen experience, surrounded by the new stuff he created for his radio client, is that particular station’s Facebook feed.

“Why is that there?” I asked, since it has nothing to do with the value proposition of the content around it.

“The station wanted it there,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because they wanted to be able to promote their Facebook posts to their audience – and do it with the comments turned off.”

“Who cares what the station wants?” I asked.

Okay, I know exactly who cares what the station wants – this digital solutions provider does, even if the station’s consumers do not.

Here’s the problem:

Consumers – people – are not the customers for this station. Advertisers – usually disengaged agencies – are the customers. And the agency’s customers are brands. And only the brands are directly beholden to consumers.

So, Mr. Radio Station, the people all your content is made for are actually the customers of the customers of your customers. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s so easy to forget about them and ignore the experiences that first, last, and always should be end-user focused.

Of course, this is the same problem faced by any media company that creates content for consumers at scale, and so it is no good excuse. Facebook and Twitter and Pandora et. al. are always talking about preserving the integrity of the consumer experience. They know that the attentions of an audience can be fickle. Here today, MySpace tomorrow.

Radio broadcasters, on the other hand, tend to imagine that universal interest and usage is eternal, some contract signed in blood with listeners who don’t care how high the commercial speed bumps are between them and the content they prefer. They imagine that consumers will always be there at the other end of the speakers simply because that’s the way it has always been.

Au contraire, mon ami. Take a close look at the time-spent-listening trends to radio and you’ll see what I mean.

The downward trend is ugly.

It takes a special brand maturity to recognize that attention at scale must be earned, even by radio.

So sweat the user experience. Ask yourself the question: What’s in it for the end-user?

Worship consumers first, not last. Recognize that the customers of your customers of your customers are, in the end, the only customers who count.

For without their attention, interest, and passion, radio is all past and no future.

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