Cupcake Listening

What can you do to grow your radio brand in 2012?

Lots of radio folks are working on trying to be more compelling, more creative, more entertaining than ever before this year.  Some people are even working on adding extra streams of content online and in social media that don’t really have anything to do with their brand, but they hope the cavalcade of total entertainment they want to offer will make up for that confusion.

Some others are hoping that being on more social networks and posting more frequently and being on top of new technological developments will drive their success.

Being more entertaining … or being more digitally relevant.  Both are ideas based in fear and driven by the belief that radio just isn’t good enough as it is.

The single biggest potential success idea for radio this year is to quit leaving listening on the table, and ask for it instead.  There are still plenty of programmers and air talent who think if they work harder, their ratings will go up commensurate with the level of entertainment they provide.  This line of magical thinking comes from a sense … a hope … that Arbitron ratings somehow measure satisfaction with the job we’re doing.

From the listener’s perspective, they can listen for quite some time (and it turns out that listening for quite some time means for maybe 10 or 15 minutes at a sitting), and they can feel totally satisfied with the experience.  They may enjoy their time with you, and their mood may be changed sufficiently … that they don’t think about listening again for a long time.

So, instead of our fans waiting breathlessly for the chance just to turn us on again, we give them a cupcake … they eat it … and they’re satisfied.  Then, they move on to other situations and concerns, and don’t think much about cupcakes for a while.

For most radio consumers, radio is cupcakes.  Making even more delicious cupcakes is not going to get most people to consume more cupcakes.  Making technologically advanced cupcakes … same thing, no extra cupcakes being sold.

What do you think our sales people would say about this?  Maybe we need to remind people to eat more cupcakes?  Maybe we can create reasons and occasions to enjoy cupcakes?  Maybe we need to use our digital tools to get people back into the brand for an extra cupcake or two?

How come sales people know this, but we programmers and promoters don’t?  If we want more listening occasions, we don’t need to work harder to be all the more entertaining.  We need to create listening appointments … practical, timely, specific reasons and times to come back to the brand before our listeners might normally, naturally turn us back on.

When they’re satisfied with what you do, they feel … satisfied.  They don’t feel the addicted need to simply get more of you, no matter what else is going on.

So create meaningful reasons … that have to do with your brand … for your fans to come back in and listen some more.  Your biggest fans are up for even more listening than they already give you.  They just have to be reminded.

This means, it’s not just enough to do something creative on the radio.  You have to spend at least as much time on a plan using your broadcast and your digital tools to remind people to come back and listen at that particular time.

Let ’em know when you’re serving your best cupcakes, and make sure they come back.

UPDATE:  Click here to read “Overcoming Cupcake Listening,” about using your social media to get more listening occasions.

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