Well, this election is finally over. Whether you’re elated, satisfied, shocked, or crushed by the outcome, the incessant campaigning is over – for now.
But looking back on the past 19 months (yes, it seems even longer), the candidates started running around Iowa and New Hampshire and they didn’t stop…until yesterday.
And while billions of dollars have been spent by PACs and the candidates themselves, the inexorable truth about these campaigns is that getting in front of voters is essential to a winning strategy whether you’re an outsider or an incumbent. It’s about the age-old “retail politics” approach that has been with us since the beginning of time.
As groundbreaking and counter-intuitive as the Trump campaign may have been, he followed protocol by showing up in city after city, making personal appearances in front of thousands of fans and followers. As Larry Rosin schooled me many years ago, a key variable in driving the vote (aside from party loyalty) is whether people have met the candidate.
And that’s a reminder the same rules hold up in the radio business. For years, we’ve referred to it as “retail radio.” These days, we’re seeing increasing signs it may be coming back in style. Getting in front of listeners matters – perhaps even more than it did just a few years ago.
Truly, social acknowledgment in an otherwise impersonal world has become important for many listeners, especially those on the younger end of the spectrum. A like, a follow, a retweet, or a comment from a DJ or a station provides social bragging rights. It’s like a digital autograph to be proudly displayed and shared.
But as powerful as social has become as a viral sharing tool that connects people all over the globe and all over your local market, it’s the personal appearance and station events that are of greater value and importance. We talked about it in a recent blog post – “Radio: Up Close And Personal.” It’s a topic that resonates even more today as more companies have cut back on promotion teams and even station vehicles themselves.
A popular promotion over the years in Classic Rock circles has been a variant on “The Workforce City Of The Week.” Often chosen strategically, the station converges on an area town, brings the promotion team, and broadcasts live – a great way to celebrate the many cities, towns, and burbs that make up a metro area. This promotion amps up the pride residents have for their communities, and gives the station a chance to have some eye-to-eye contact with listeners all over the landscape. As more stations are cloistered in their clusters, the ones that get out and press the flesh have a decided advantage.
And it’s always comforting to run across unique ways to pull off unique community connections. I found it fascinating to read the recent story about Phoenix public radio station KJZZ. As reported recently in Current, the station has come up with an interesting way to approach market visibility and our obsession with food – at the same time. They’ve created a combination production vehicle and food truck.
Called “Soundbite,” the vehicle is expected to hit Phoenix metro streets next month. The combination kitchen/studio is novel to say the least, with a goal of reaching out to area residents. Here’s KJZZ’s Chief Content Officer, Jon Hoban:
“If you’re going to be a community resource, you have to be visible, and you can’t just be holed up in your studio expecting people to find you on the radio.”
While the KJZZ vehicle is elaborate ($475,000 investment supported by donations), more and more stations are dusting off diary and PPM zip code analyses to smartly engage with fans. In a radio era where visibility is confined mostly to client appearances at car dealerships, phone stores, and pizzerias, the chance to engage with listeners on their home turf in unique ways can be indelibly powerful.
I continue to moderate focus groups where listeners tell me about a station encounter they had a couple decades ago. These interludes are memorable, leaving an imprint on audience members they talk about for year.
And of course, local market visibility is only something that radio can pull off. How that plays out for your station in 2017 is a calculation and strategic investment you have to decide on. It takes effort, focus, investment, and a commitment to truly earn a great street presence, but in the race for top-of-mind awareness, these efforts can pay off.
How can you adopt an effective “retail radio” strategy to better connect with your audience where they live?
In a world where marketing increasingly takes place via algorithms, social posts, and search, a hi-touch “retail radio” strategy could be your station’s secret sauce.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.