Sometimes we get so close to our jobs of serving radio audiences that we lose touch with what they're actually thinking.
Oh, sure – we know their music preferences or the types of topics they enjoy hearing the morning show talk about. We know from the ratings services how many there are and when they're listening.
But the power of emotions on their listening behavior and perceptions often escapes us. That's especially true when it comes to contests.
It's true the vast majority of listeners don't participate in station giveaways. Or we refer to that small percentage of regular players as “contest pigs” – people who make it part of their life's mission to win prizes from many stations in the market.
For the rest of the audience, there are lots of reasons why people don't compete to win radio contests. They're too busy, they don't they think they can win, or they're just not oriented to try to win a prize.
Sometimes, it's the prize itself that's the problem. Stations wrestle with the concept of the one winner/one big prize (trips, cars, etc.) or the chance for many people to win lots of smaller prizes (concert tickets, movie passes, etc.). And there's no certainly no “one size fits all” solution.
But it's also true that when you work in radio, one of the perks is the privilege to attend shows, events, and concerts without having to pay. We're used to being comped, sitting in VIP sections, and getting all sorts of freebies.
And so the net effect of working in radio for years is that it is easy to lose of sight what these prizes actually mean to real people. I would venture to say many radio pros don't have a clue what concert tickets cost anymore. An evening out for two to see even a B-level band is expensive – not to mention the extra costs of parking, food, and beverage prices. And maybe a babysitter.
So the short video below from WDRV/Chicago says it all. A “correct caller” contest hosted by afternoon driver, Steve Seaver, for a pair of tickets generated this very real moment caught on video by the winner's kid. (It is NSFW.)
It's not a new car. It's not a trip to Hawaii. It's not $1,000 cash.
It's a pair of great concert tickets.
If there was ever any question about radio's ability to elevate moods, make people feel good, validate them, and maybe even change their lives, it is answered in this 1 minute video clip.
When stations throw away giveaways, treat them as just another element on the clock that needs to be executed on time, mail them in, or simply take them for granted, we lose that opportunity to make an indelible, lasting impression. It's not the size or price of what we're giving away that matters – it's the way it's presented, it's the way we make listeners feel, and it's the powerful effect it can have on a larger audience.
And when we talk about listeners as “contest pigs,” we minimize the larger opportunity radio has to connect emotionally with the audience as few other media outlets can.
It is notable that Pandora dumped its concert ticket company, Ticketfly, late last week, losing well more than $100 million after just a year of purchasing the online ticketing specialist. Clearly, Pandora was unsuccessful at integrating the concert/events experience with the passion its fans have for music. For broadcast radio, the connection with the concert business is a traditional one. Both businesses have the remarkable ability to promote and market one another.
Prizes as mundane as a pair of concert tickets may not seem like a lot, especially compared with larger expenditures like outdoor advertising or direct mail. But to an average fans in Crystal Lake, Homewood, or Des Plaines, they just may be the thrill of a lifetime.
It's a reminder to all of us about the value of entertainment – and the impact our stations have.
Thanks to Rob Cressman and WDRV.
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 1,200 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.
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