The world we live in is loud
Everybody is screaming and trying to sell you something. At the same time, you are also yelling and trying to get the attention of others.
We live in the attention economy. With so many choices around us, just getting someone to notice you is a big win.
The quality of your product and service is essential, but it doesn’t matter if people don’t notice you.
No attention – no money.
With unlimited choices of what to do when we have nothing to do as a radio we are fighting against YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Instagram, TV and of course Radio itself.
What does your audience
Typical radio research will tell you (probably):
- Best music
- Most music
- Wide music variety
- Entertaining morning show
- Short News
It will also give you a list of music styles that help you build your music rotation.
All of this works until everyone starts talking to the same audience and playing the same music.
Suddenly on the same market, you have three HOT AC stations that are trying to be the lifestyle station your audience needs.
You can (and should) invest heavily in marketing so that they pay attention to you. However, this isn´t working as it used to.
The fact is, they said they care about those things because we asked them about those things.
What I think is that the research will give you the broadest possible format that people will not mind listening.
However, what your listeners care about is a huge list of different interests:
- LGTB rights
- Black and white movies
- Sex in public spaces
- Running (this is a cult!)
- How many Instagram likes they get
- Human rights in South Sudan
- Americans politics
- Things happening around them
- Politics local and national
- Where their taxes go
As human beings, when our basic needs are fulfilled, and we feel safe, well fed and a little bit secured in our life, our interests change.
With unlimited choices of entertainment and information sources, understanding this could be a high starting point for your show development.
Four questions to help you define your show!
When working on a new show, four questions can help you to:
- Focus on your audience
- Define what you at trying to do
- Identify the ones you should be talking to first
- Make sure that your product has noticeable differences compared to the competition
Question 1 – Who is it for?
Who are you creating your show for?
You are creating something for someone. Without that someone what you create is worthless! So always keep them in mind.
This you have heard from every consultant and old fashioned Program Director, but my experience showed me that in so many stations this is anyway just a theory.
Question 2 – What does it do?
What will people get if they listen to your show?
A great exercise is explaining it on three levels – full page, one paragraph, and just one sentence.
It is much harder then it seems, and it will take you more time than you think. However, it is worth it. If you can’t do it, then you can’t explain it to others.
I read somewhere that this is what the authors of the first Iron Man movie did. The sentence that described the essence of the film – “Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man.”
Question 3 – What is the smallest possible audience you can connect with?
In the first question, it was about creating ideal listeners – everybody who can get something out of your show.
Now, go deep. Focus on those, who are most likely to talk back and share what you are saying with people around them.
When you are talking to everybody, you are talking to nobody.
Question 4 – What makes you different?
Is it the music? The treatment of the topic? The guests? The personality of the moderator?
Whatever it is, it needs to be something people care about.
Being different for the sake of being different is pointless.
Being different in a way that it changes the experience for your audience for the better – that is what you are looking for.
The smallest possible audience you can engage with
Going deep and identifying the smallest possible audience that is most likely to connect is the fastest possible way to grow in a meaningful and lasting way.
Some disclaimers at the start:
- Your format is clear
- You have your general target audience locked in
- Your product is at least as good as the competition
- The show you are working on has a strong personality who can pull it through
If the competition is not making significant errors, you won’t be able just to change people’s habits. Moreover, the station you listen to most often is a big habit of changing.
However, if you go deep with some parts of your audience and connect with them – and I mean really connect with them – your station and show stop being part of the yelling propaganda machine.
You are starting a conversation about things (some part of) your audience cares about.
What those things differ from market to market, format to format and personality to personality but it is something that can give your show an identity that will make your distinctively different.
You don’t change the music, your positioning or mix of information you give them in each sweep or hour. However, those things make you only good enough.
Example – Saturday morning show.
In this example, I will try to explain it on the Station level, and the show level.
The idea is not to lose the big picture – that is the station level but to identify what you need to do to connect with some fans (show level). If you do it right, your regular listeners will not mind what you are doing (they are still getting their music and usual content), but you will serve that smaller audience better.
Who is it for:
- Station – everybody who likes the music we play and listens to the station through the weekdays
- Show – people with an active and healthy lifestyle who want to travel, and just do stuff outdoors
What does it do:
- Station – give me the best mix of the music I like and love plus all the news and info I am used too
- Show – it is a community-based show where you can dream with other like-minded people about your next destination and share experiences from different locations you already visited
What is the smallest possible audience that connects to you:
- Station – everybody who is already listening
- Show – the super fans that spend their weekends either on the road to some new destination or are planning the next trip
- Station – for the fans of the station there is no noticeable difference to the other shows and the usual listening experience
- Show – people like us listen to the show like this. We travel, we go for weekend trips, we know. While other shows will give you the tips what to do, we will tell you exactly where to eat, what to avoid and what is the best view to take a selfie that will get you most likes ever! We know!
It takes time.
We overestimate what we can do in the short term, but underestimate what is possible in a year or two.
People need to find you first, pay attention to what you are saying, and listen carefully enough to notice that what you are doing is great for them. Moreover, even then they will not come back soon. Some people will “find” a few times before they start listening on a regular base, and you become their first choice.
You can always speed things up a little bit. Depending on the topics you choose you can go to different internet portals and groups and engage directly with them. Ask them to be part of the show, share the content you are doing for the show in those groups, organize events, use micro influencers who are already established and pay them to spread the word.
Experiment in a
The off-time shows are great for experimenting. Don’t change your Morning show or Drivetime. Play with Weekend mornings or Night shows. On many stations, those shifts are usually afterthoughts. Something left for the better days when we will have more time.
Recently in Croatia, we started with a House/EDM based show on Saturday evening. This was not something this HOT AC station needed, and the audience didn’t say they wanted it. Our Drivetime DJ said he would like to go back to his DJ days and if we are willing to try this. He does one hour of mixed music – most of it we already play, but in a different remix.
The response on social media was unbelievable — so many passionate fans are sharing how they listen to the station on Saturday evening.
The rule I like to use is – play it 85% safe and risk the other 15%. If the thing fails, start with something else.