Expert Columns

We're addicted to new technology. Actually, to be more honest, we're addicted to new, shiny things. Whether it's the latest iPhone, the newest in-dash technology, or apps that control the home thermostat, we've been conditioned to look for the next big thing. And that seems to be a problem for radio. How can you possibly keep up with the latest trends and provide all the flash that consumers say they want?
The truth? You can't. The good news? You don't have to. People like toys, sure. But they also want consistency and dependability. They also want a person on the other end of the line. Someone who understands what they're dealing with and can help them through the issue. The latest issue of Trendwatching.com's report says it this way: “There are plenty of new technologies, clever concepts and even trends that could help brands offer better service to consumers. But too few brands understand that amid all this rapid change, the fundamentals of great service remain the same. It's about the feeling of being recognized. Listened to. Valued and cared for.” (Trendwatching, September 2014)
Here we are in a time of rapid change. We're wondering what's next for radio. Drones delivery? In-dash song and dance? Or does it matter how technology changes as long as you let listeners know that they're being recognized, listened to, valued, and cared for?

I'm still trying to convince myself that I like U2's music. Nothing against the band – or their music – I've just never caught the U2 bug. But I was paying attention last week when iTunes released “Songs of Innocence.” After all, it's not every day that I get a free, brand-new album from a major band delivered to my inbox.
The publicity stunt grabbed a lot of attention. Some of it negative. Chris Richards, pop music reviewer for the Washington Post went so far as to call it “rock and roll as dystopian junk mail.” But whether you're a U2 fan or a hater, there were some good promotions ideas that you can take from the iTunes/U2 launch. Here's what I took away...maybe some of it will work for you.
1) People still like to receive gifts and surprises. Do you know anyone who turns down a gift? People still like receiving things...especially free things. Gifts/giveaways still get attention and pique peoples' interest. No matter if you're giving away refrigerator magnets, ballcaps, or front-row concert tickets, people like receiving tangible gifts. Always find room in your budget for these types of things.
2) Co-Branding is a powerful tool. Especially when both brands have a similar focus. Not only is iTunes a name brand associated with “cool” and “pop culture,” but U2 has worked to build a similar reputation. By themselves, each group has achieved significant success...but when combined, they gained significant attention. Is there someone – or something – in your market that would help you achieve similar awareness? Are there festivals you should be sponsoring? Concerts? Popular personalities? At first, this sounds shallow. But the goal is to remember that you're looking for someone who shares a similar purpose. Combining efforts means that you can both work to build each other's visibility and brand awareness. Connections allow you to achieve far more than you could on your own.
3) A good promotion is bigger than a one-time event. Why did iTunes and U2 give away an entire album? When you consider how much money could have been made from album sales, it seems like both groups left a lot of cash on the table. Or did they? Truth is, they'll both gain from the promotion. The album is most likely a loss leader – a sales gimmick retailers use to gain revenue. The strategy is simple: Offer one product at a steep, below-the-market price discount...but surround that product with similar – or ancillary – products so that people make an impulse purchase and buy more than they intended. In this case, both iTunes and U2 profit because they can sell an entire catalog of music. Like the new album? Then you'll probably like some of their older songs too. How does this mindset relate to your station? Start thinking about all of your promotions as a way to point people to your main product. Do all of your events, remotes, and sponsorships remind people to tune in to your morning show? Do people know where they can listen? What they can expect? Do you leave people wanting more of your product? That should be your main goal as a promotions person: Keep people wanting more.
The iTunes/U2 partnership is a great example of companies connecting with customers and creating a lasting conversation. Use those marketing tips to your advantage and remember: Keep people wanting more.

The nation has been watching events unfold in Ferguson, Missouri. You know the story: A white police officer shot a black teenager. Social unrest has been the result, and will likely continue to be in the headlines for quite some while.
What does all of this have to do with your station? Your target audience may not be watching the news closely, but her kids are hearing about these kinds of events at school. Is this something your station can address? It's a tough issue. But if you choose to address it, here are three things you can consider.
1) Build connections with pastors in your community. Do you have a relationship with ethnic churches? Remember to include them in your regular communications. Do you invite pastors in to pray on-air? Add a new voice that represents the ethnic population in your market. Not only will it reflect on the diversity in your community, but it can demonstrate unity in the Body of Christ.
2) Get behind local outreaches to various people groups. Have you ever promote Big Brothers/Big Sisters? Junior Achievement? Keep your eyes open for civic events. It may not be core to your audience, but if it is an opportunity to help kids in your community, you can bet that mom – any mom – will take notice.
3) Hold a Day of Prayer for Ferguson. This could be as easy as building a day long promotion that includes 60-second vignettes of local pastors praying for Ferguson (or other major events). Create conversations with local churches by letting them know about the Day of Prayer. This type of promotion can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it.
Events like Ferguson are difficult to address head-on. But there are little things that you can do to start building bridges in your community. And it's surprising how God can use those simple day-to-day things to make an eternal impact in your market.

Did you know that nearly half of NFL fans are female? The National Football League does and they’re going gangbusters to cater to their fans.
This season, the NFL is partnering with Marie Claire magazine to provide a season pull-out chart, pre-game rituals, and more. (Marie Claire is expanding last-year’s successful Fan Girl Guide and plans more through the season.) The NFL has even revamped its apparel line. Out with the pink jerseys. In with real team colors.
You’ve always known that mom is aware of football. She attends her kids’ games, right? But now she’s sharing the sofa with dad and the kids…and snitching the Doritos during the pre-game show.
So with that in mind, you could…
Talk some Friday Morning Football. (Thursday is the new night for games)
Create a Family Football Night and give away some couch-surfing gear covered in station logos. Chip bowls? Can Kozies? Cushions? Nerf Footballs?
Try a Football Theme at your next station remote.
Score Some Interviews with Players – especially Christian players. If you can’t do that, then interview the team chaplain. Be sure to share your station demographics with the press office when asking for interviews. It helps to show the publicist that your audience matches theirs.
Don’t Forget Social Media! Have some fun with it!
This is one of those “real life” themes that connect with listeners, so take advantage of it and start a new conversation!

There are a hundred different ways to plan a great promotion. And there are thousands of great ideas and opportunities available to keep your station forefront in your listeners' minds. But there is one rule that you need to remember in order to keep your promotions running smoothly. It also helps make an impact with listeners. It's easy...and it seems like a “duh.” But once you start planning and preparing, you'll be tempted to throw it out the window in favor of something more elaborate. But if you stick to this one rule, you'll be head and shoulders above other promotions planners in the market. Ready to hear it? Here it is:
Keep It Simple.
That's it. Keep it simple. Disappointed? You shouldn't be. Simplicity can seem like a negative. We like to produce things with a lot of splash and moving parts. We like carnivals and midways and flashing lights. Simplicity sounds just the opposite. But it's not. Simplicity offers a clear goal, and tells the listener what they need to do and how they need to do it. Once you've nailed down the basics, then you can provide whatever flashy lights and décor are needed to enhance the promotion.
You'll never go wrong if you keep things simple. Build your promotional framework, set clear goals and timelines, and make sure that listeners know exactly what they need to accomplish. Then, launch that promotion and have fun!

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