Most radio promotions start with the question, “Who is my audience?” It's a question that gets drummed into our heads over and over through the course of our radio careers. And it's one of the most important questions we can ask … but when it comes to planning promotions, I challenge people to start with a simpler question: “What do you want to accomplish?”

Why start with that question? Because how you answer that question determines how you go about reaching your audience and creating promotions that work. But first, a warning: answering the question requires a lot of thinking … and it requires you to set – and stick to – one basic goal.

If you're ready for the challenge, here's how to answer the question, “What do you want to accomplish?” It starts with a SMART answer.  SMART is a project management tool that many people use, and it's a great tool to use when planning your next promotion. SMART is an acronym for:






Here's how to fill in the blanks:

SPECIFIC GOALS: Answer how many people you want in attendance. How many sales an advertiser needs. How phone calls you need to fund a project. Be very specific, but realistic. Set the number so you know what to work towards.

MEASURABLE GOALS: This explains how you'll track your specific goals. Will you check attendance at the door? Estimate crowds at a concert? Need X-dollars per hour? Plan “checkpoints” along the way so you'll know you're reaching your goal.

ATTAINABLE GOALS: Your client or advertiser will judge the value of the promotion based on the specific goals you've agreed on. So be realistic. Look at your past track record and know your limits. But don't be afraid to stretch a bit. Did two hundred people come to the last event you sponsored? Would 250 be a reasonable stretch goal? Better to underpromise and over-deliver than the other way around. Help your client understand what's realistic. They'll appreciate your honesty – and learn that their business matters to you and your station.

RELEVANT GOALS: Know what matters to your advertiser or sponsor. If you're promoting a womens' conference … and expecting to host 500 women, then plan all aspects of your promotion to reach those 500 women. Know where to promote, how to promote and what you need to do to connect with your target audience – and don't allow anything to distract you. “Mission creep” happens when you invite an unrelated project in to the event – a coloring contest for kids who might attend with their moms – and suddenly, you've diluted the goal of your event. Beware of good, but irrelevant goals.

TIME-BOUND GOALS: Your goal as a promotions person is to urge people to act. But setting time limits to a promotion, you're imposing scarcity:This is valuable, and it's only available for a very limited time. Get it or lose it. If something is always in your face, you tend to tune it out or avoid it. If, however, something is presented as limited, you want to snatch it while you can. The same applies to promotions.

Now it's up to you. Put the pieces together – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound – to answer the question, “What do you want to accomplish?” Now you're getting SMART … and you're on your way to creating highly successful promotions.

Bill Arbuckle CMW    

Bill Arbuckle is a media and marketing pro with over twenty-five years experience in creating media promotions.  You can connect with him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it....

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