1. Understand what consumer problem you solve
You’re not simply a radio station full of music that everyone can agree on. You’re a solution to the problems of your audience. What problem or problems do you solve? Are you the spot for them to hear their favorite music? Or new music? Or great background while they’re working? Or the place to keep them company in the car? Or the place they turn to for an update on news or weather? Or the spot they pick for a laugh every day? Which of these problems can you solve?
Another way to think about it: What “job” does a listener “hire” your station to do?
It may not be the one you’re programming for.
2. Know your audience
What is your audience target? And not simply the demographic target but the psychographic or lifestyle one? Who are these people and what are their lives like? How can your brand enrich their lives on their terms?
3. Clarify your mission
The strongest brands are out to make the world a better place. What is your mission, and how do you bring that mission to life every day on and off the air?
4. Do your homework
The best brands in every category are keenly interested in the wants and opinions of their target audience. You must be constantly in tune with the feedback from these consumers. Ratings may be the goal, but navigating your course by ratings is like driving by using the rear-view mirror. You need to look into the future, and being perceptive with regard to audience feedback is key. This is the central benefit of all radio perceptual, format, and music research.
5. Be unique
Understanding your audience does not mean catering to the lowest common denominator. In every market, your opportunity is defined by who your audience is and who it is not. Invariably, you must stand for something unique and compelling – something which will not be perfect for everyone, but will be perfect for your target audience.
6. Be much more than music
If you’re a music-based brand, recognize that music-delivery platforms will increasingly become commodities as digital options proliferate. That means it will be the content between the songs which sets you apart and makes those songs worth listening to on your station. What’s between the songs should be more than spots and promos. Recognize the central importance of this content in making your station a “brand.”
7. Explore all platforms and all media
We all know our brands need to live across media boundaries in this digital age. But that means much more than repurposing morning shows into podcasts or over-the-air stations into web streams. It means offering content of all varieties across all media, as long as that content fits with the brand and the desires of the audience. This requires understanding the audience deeply, and solving problems for them which go beyond simply recycling over-the-air content.
8. Let the audience participate
Once upon a time, telephone requests constituted the only type of audience participation available. Now the Internet gives us countless ways for the audience to interact with stations, their programming, and each other. Your goal is not only to build a station but to build a “tribe” of fans. And that tribe needs to communicate together and with you. Is any part of your programming “crowd-sourced”? How many ways can I interact with you?
9. Get the names and email addresses of all your fans
Only when you allow your fans to profile their likes and wants can you fully cater to those on an individual basis. If you’re a news station, why shouldn’t I get a traffic update from you by TXT every day, if that’s what I want? If you’re a news station, you’re in the “keep me informed” business, not the “radio business.” If you’re a music-based station and know I’m a concert fan, where’s my email with concert information? We need to register all of our listeners (or gather this information from the so-called “social graph”) so that we can serve them better. Ultimately, marketing isn’t about advertising your station, it’s about solving the problems of your audience by providing real value to their lives.
10. Recognize that the new world of advertising is about accountability
That means more and more marketers will be investing in marketing where the impact of that marketing can be measured. Ratings provide estimates of audience, but don’t speak to impact whatsoever. This is why the digital slice of the advertising pie is growing. It will be critical for your brands to provide accountable digital solutions for advertisers. This kind of value will not only grow the audience, it will also grow the revenue.