By Peter Yiamarelos
It starts with one listener
Every radio station no matter how high the ratings started with one listener. This individual person has been on a journey with the station from the moment they were “exposed” to that station. This article gives an example of how this one listener has been present over time with a radio station and its brand. Starting from the very beginning when that listener was “exposed” or “discovered” that station as a “non-fan” to the stage of being a loyal “super- fan or Evangelist”.
A typical music format station has a number of content elements in place.
Such as Station name, Format, Breakfast show, Workday line-up, Drive, Night & Overnight shows and Weekend shows and features.
Digital content is important to the brand of the station but should be viewed as an extension of the ‘product’ of the station and not part of it.
The listener journey cannot move forward without a consistent product or content.
From the first moment the listener is exposed to or discovers a station, whether on AM/FM/DAB+ , Satellite, Stream app aggregator, they begin a journey that takes them through various states that will change the way they consume that station. While they may not be listening exclusively to that station they may have 2 or 3 favourite stations out of a world of choices. Ensuring the listener has your station as one of their main choices is one of the toughest challenges a Content director / Marketer, Host or content creator has to deal with.
The journey begins with Awareness, one way or another a listener becomes aware of your station. This awareness can come in various forms on various devices or platforms.
The initial stages of this journey begins with Exposure, Exploration, walking past a live Outdoor Broadcast, an Event, a Billboard promoting the station, Word of mouth from a friend or social media post from an influencer. The goal at the end of the day is establishing Loyalty with the listener and without Awareness this cannot be achieved.
Causing a listener to become aware of your station or brand through “Discovery” is so powerful because they establish a form of ownership or loyalty with your brand. Aside from the wins you will get with ratings gains along the way, they will be more forgiving when they become loyal listeners if they are served content they feel does not fit with their expectations.
The listener journey could be from the moment you launch the station or it could be from the first time the listener becomes aware of your station. Either way these steps and stages still apply.
Form of listening: at this stage your future super-fan may or may not listen into the station. In fact they may not be consciously aware of the station. Your listener leads a busy life, they may not even know what a radio station is. For now you can definitely assume they are in the “non-fan” stage of the listener journey.
Now your listener is aware of you via your product i.e breakfast show, workday line up including drive, nights and weekend programming and the noise you generate daily via various forms of marketing i.e traditional and digital marketing campaigns, OB’s, events as well as TVC’s. The journey has begun with some listening but they may not be returning to your product on a daily basis.
The next step is to convert their “awareness” into “attention” and then covert the listener’s “undecided” state to an “established” stage on the way to “loyalty”.
Attention is an amplified state of “awareness” in radio X’s listener journey , which essentially is a continuation of the awareness stage with presence through website , social media peripheral content further marketing in that space and some great PR.
The ability to really have people talking about you in the market place from what you’re doing with your product will extend to great interest and attention in the listener and of course clients. Noise created the awareness & attention stages shows confidence in the product and that is infectious towards the listener as well as clients.
At this “undecided” phase the listener may be listening to your station daily, well done! Let’s call it “general listening” or “sampling” your station.
But they’re still far from being a loyal “super-fan” because they’re listening to other stations as well. In some cases over a 7 day period they’re possibly tuning into another 2 or 3 more stations. This is seperate to that listeners “other “ forms of media consumption such as Movie streamers eg Netflix, podcasting, Youtube and social media.
At this point research is one of the tools used to ascertain ‘what content the listener is consuming’ and ‘why they haven’t switched over to your station’ on a daily basis or have not yet become ‘super fans’ yet.
While research should be used from inception to launch and the day to day running of station X. Here is where asking the right questions and interpretation of the results of the research study will help steer the sound of the station in the right direction and convert the listener to a loyal fan.
The results of that study could convert that listener over with a simple a cash prize competition or the best suited content being delivered in station X’s breakfast show.
Regardless, this is where the majority of your marketing should be focused, getting as many new listeners “sampling” your station. Especially as they have already become “aware” of you and that you now have their “attention”. Your marketing should do those key things to make them aware of you, get their attention daily and ensure that the marketing has some form of call to action to get the momentum towards loyal listening.
FACT: 80% off your listening hours are driven by 10% of your loyal audience.
This means that as you get listeners sampling your station many will stay to become super fans and many will leave, but may also come back. Don’t give up, so long as you have people sampling your state you will continue to convert new listeners to become loyal fans.
In part 2 we will explore some further interesting aspects of the radio – listener relationship.