Bill Pasha founded The MBMI Companies, LLC®️in 2010. MBMI provides marketing, operational, and research strategies and tactics for broadcast, hospitality, and consumer goods manufacturers worldwide. Bill began his radio career in 1973 in rural Nova Scotia, and has served as Vice President of Programming and Research for CBS Radio, Entercom, and Paxson Communications.
Culture dictates consumer behaviour.
There is no denying that our interactions with products, services, and even one another, are dictated by opinions, perceptions and actions that surround us in our day-to-day lives. Constant bombardment of advertising messages, celebrity endorsements, and simple word-of-mouth, drive consumer choice and product sales.
Marketers invest untold millions of dollars to weave their wares into the fabric of our subconscious, in an effort to stand out in noteworthy ways. When they are successful, those products and services become part of our collective culture. This fact is not lost on those whose brands greet them each morning in their mirrors.
Television and movie stars, singers, fashionistas, models, chefs, and artists of all persuasions, are, in fact, products. They “sell” their talents and skills to consumers.
For decades, celebs understood Radio’s value as the middleman. Broadcasters served as the conduit between product and consumer lifestyle usage of the personal brands that radio helped to create.
Radio’s choice to familiarize vast audiences of radio listeners with pop culture was not altruistic. Our industry’s efforts weren’t about growing individual fame or creating a benefit for the artist. Instead, our goal was to provide “backstage access” to people and lifestyles that most listeners would never meet nor experience. Doing so elevated the collective audience experience.
Radio’s association with cool performers, hot trends and non-stop glamour, gave our own presenters panache and gravitas. The very connection that we created between our followers and Hollywood, made Radio that much more attractive and popular. For better or worse, if you’ve been to high school, you know that attractive and popular kids make friends.
Radio made tons of friends. Some would say that we created evangelists for our brands. Then, before we knew it, other platforms peeked into the top hat and figured out the secret of our magic. They copied, they reverse engineered, and they innovated. They maximized new technologies and trends, and capitalized upon developing consumer attitudes. Soon, broadcasters noted shorter periods of listener engagement and longer spaces between listening occasions.
Panic ensued. Radio programmers moved away from nurturing artist friendships, supporting careers, and building bridges between listeners and their idols, in favor of focusing on platforms and content that they could never claim. Many consultants instructed performers to incessantly talk about Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, and TMZ, but they did little to teach programmers how to stake claims to their own content or put it in a station-identifiable context. Study after study, those stations declined in top-of-mind awareness. The very tactic that had long been the opportunity and basis for their listeners to engage with the station, be entertained by it, and enjoy it enough to once again become top-of-mind, went unexploited.
Luckily, reversing these missteps is not terribly difficult. However, success requires you to study your audience like a top consumer behavior specialist.
In the past, Radio used these tools to engage and entertain:
- Insider information about musicians, singers, actors and trendsetters,
- Content that personalities could white-label as their own (Remember joke services?), and,
- Its position as a bully pulpit, to increase frequency and recall of station names, call letters and frequencies, and present desirable content in many different ways.
Great operators knew that repetition of meaningful messages and a listener-focused presentation, made stations sizzle and moved ratings needles.
They still do. Some of the most competitive and intelligent radio pros have figured out how to reactivate listeners and meaningfully engage them in a way that makes consumers think differently about their favorite stations, and advertisers reframe Radio as a valuable vehicle to reach highly targeted consumers.
Turnkey content from COVERmedia and WENN Media
Top programmers and sales execs are turning to white-labeled, high-definition, lifestyle-driven images and compelling stories that focus on the Cult of Personality that consumes consumers. They prominently display these stories on their station websites, and then provide ample on-air opportunities for their air talents to use and cross-promote online content in the ways radio once used to showcase their music and the icons who created pop culture.
Imagine taking proprietary ownership of the entertainment and lifestyle content that your station publishes on its website, where you control the recycling tactics between online and over-the-air broadcast. No longer would your radio station be at the mercy of the social media distractions that tempt your listeners to turn their attention elsewhere. From your breakfast show to late nights, your team suddenly enjoys the benefits of on-air content that they integrate with online, and then entice listeners to return to your frequency, to get more from your programming.
Two of the world’s biggest providers of white-label high-def images and well-written lifestyle news are COVERmedia and WENN Media. Both services have stringers and staff photographers all over the globe, executing their mission to provide your audience with up-to-date scoops and photos to share with friends. COVERmedia also offers professionally narrated daily video feeds. As part of their very affordable cash or barter agreements with broadcasters, both companies also extend to their clients publishing licenses for selected copyrighted mages. This practice ensures that broadcasters always stay on the right side of the law.
In addition to the reasons discussed thus far, broadcasters embrace these services because they are totally turnkey and they present formidable revenue opportunities to the licensees.
Broadcasters choose from a menu which services they wish to present on their websites. Generally, they select from categories like TV, Film, Celebrity, Music, Art, Fashion & Style, or Food. After completing the simple step of creating a website “frame,” these services open floodgates of constantly updating photos, editorial, and video. Some stations archive old content online or on a server, as new stories replace earlier ones. Others keep all the stories on their webpages until they grow out of date, but no one at the station need ever again be bothered with the details. Best of all, content is available in seven languages, including English and French, which is perfect for the vast majority of Canadian listeners and readers.
Revenue generation is a snap with these services, because there is no required story or image attribution. Your listeners experience the content directly from your station. Advertisers may sponsor a single category or several. Logo placement on the included video players is a breeze, and creative points of contact between advertiser, station, and listeners are just a few clicks away on push notification programs that appear on smart phone screens. Of course, there are no commissions to pay to the services. How you choose to utilize the content is totally up to you. This is truly the definition of “The Good Old Days.”
One final thought:
It’s a new year. If you are not implementing some strategy to wrestle away consumers who are rightfully yours from “new media,” you are giving in to accepting the same, or worse, ratings and revenue results as last year. That is unacceptable by every definition.
Listeners want to like your station and use your website. It is their way of staying informed and feeling like an insider. Present real motivations to engage and entertain them with remarkable multi-purposed content, and gain the benefits of when they enjoy the medium that is both exciting and familiar to use.
Give them those reasons.