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The Myth of Radio P1s

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip May 12, 2004

By definition, a P1 prefers our station more than any other. P1s are, more often than not, “fans.” And we believe that even if Arbitron randomly swings south, our true “fan” count remains roughly the same. Our P1’s, we believe, are the only folks we can count on. That belief is wrong. And you are going to be shocked to discover the truth.

P1s Migrate

On occasion, I have conducted studies across time for the same group of listeners. That way you can monitor not just how many P1s a station has – but are they the SAME people or not over time. Guess what? Not only are they NOT the same people, they’re not even CLOSE to the same people. It turns out our P1s are anything but static. A radio station is an audience reservioir – some P1s drain out as others pour in. And what happens to your ratings depends on which direction is flowing faster.

In one recent large-market study, for example, only 52% of the average station’s P1 audience was retained for six months. Only 52%! Yet the overall P1 figures were unchanged. That means nearly half the P1s are ALL NEW PEOPLE after only six months!

P1s are Gypsies

P1s, it turns out, flow through a station like air through a room with open windows. One gust replaces the next. In other words, P1s aren’t residents of your audience, they’re gypsies. They come and they go.

This reminds us how important it is to prospect, nurture, nourish, and grow P1s all the time. It reminds us why word-of-mouth and marketing are so important. It explains why numbers rise after a strong direct mail campaign and fall a few months later (you have temporarily altered the P1 flow). It explains why an all-P1 music test is a scary proposition (up to half those respondents wouldn’t qualify just six months later).

What have you done to grow Fans?

If we view our P1s as an immobile asset, if we take a “where else will they go?” attitude, we’re being naive. P1 listeners not only can but DO go – anywhere and everywhere.

Our bias should not be on defending P1s – nor should it be on “growing Cume.” The most effective strategic approach is to GROW FANS, to nurture new P1s. Pure and simple. The only way your numbers will rise is if P1 migration works in your favor. Fix the “flow.” Grow a fan today.

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