My Name is Denis Lindo and,
In Week 2: Knowing your audience - how can you turn your listenership into money?
I made several outline points as an introduction to this topic and subsequently, the members below namely;
Archibold , Calvin Duttu Jilala , Christian Maduka , Denis , “ He Touched My Life”… ., Immaculate , Jaspher Wit Laurie ,Jovine , Leila-Ndagire, Mwape Martin , Obolo- In Ghana , Odongo Wendo Boniface , Onomah , Petronilla Simwenyi , P-kichiwa , and S-Mawerere .
…….made several contributions in regard to the subject which submissions I found to be passionate, deliberate and well meaning for our learning process on this eDiscussion project.
In their discussions, I found out that several topics came at play and it’s against this background that I love to add my voice in shedding some light to the topics they discussed as in below;
• Competition for Radio & Program Attention,
• Content Developing,
• Funds Sources,
• Niche Programming
• Radio Station Planning From the Start,
• Radio Ownership,
• Sovereignty of the Listeners,
• Staff Motivation
• Strategies to beat the competition and,
• The Challenge of Community Radio Listenership Numbers
Last week I stated that, ……“As part of Media business, Radio Stations can only get money from advertisers if they can ONLY deliver to the Advertisers the “value” within their listenership”
I also stated that “you can’t deliver any value from a listenership that you do not have”. It’s from this listenership that funds are received both from sponsors and advertisers.
The journey for listenership acquisition starts at the “Radio Station Planning” stage. At this stage we determine “what”… we want to do with this Radio Station and “for whom”? That stage greatly determines the radio station’s future and actions that follow suit. Unfortunately, many Stations later find out that this question was not adequately thought about at inception.
As we plan for the station, what should have come clearly into mind is the “Radio Ownership”. This “ownership” could be broken down as follows and namely;
a) Statutory Ownership – this refers to the Official/legal registration at the Registrar of corporations / companies detailing who are the investors/vision bearers of this project. These are core owners.
b) Customers /Listener Ownership- this is not official/legal but nonetheless the reason why the enterprise was formed. This ownership is what keeps the entity into business and supports the business to stay afloat amidst the prevailing competition. Once this kind of ownership is generated to get to the level of brand loyalty,…then one can walk to the bank laughing.
c) Other Stakeholder Ownership- This is in relationship to other stakeholders who may not directly benefit from the entity for example on the day to day basis but nonetheless benefit indirectly from the existence of the Radio Station.
For a Radio Station, the Listeners and other stakeholders (e.g. advertisers) “Co-Own” the non- legal stake in the radio station business. In this case, the Radio Station is a vehicle through which their needs are met. Noteworthy though, the Statutory Owners must endeavor to keep the “owner s” in (b) & © above happy for the business to survive.
Before the Radio Station begins, a proposed “Pre-Start” audience –Research should be done through the Market Viability confirmation process. This should determine if both the radio station and the planned programming are viable or, that there is a need for them. If there is a go-ahead to launch the radio station based on the findings of such a research, then most likely 50% of the road leading to get to the audience shall have been covered.
From the “proposed pre-start audience research” appropriate programs should be designed to meet the Audience/Listenership needs. Here we look at content per program and any other program specifics that should at play.
We then hire and train the appropriate staff to run the program content at the designate time and format. We hire and at times fire but most importantly should be, to keep each of our staff motivated for the job.
Being a community Radio Station, you need a highly motivated set of program and other staff in order to survive. These guys greatly determine your success. So the question is; how motivated are the presenters and other staff? ……How suitable and practical is your manpower planning process?
When the programs begin running, your staff and audience will undergo a number of dynamics up to the point where it should be possible for the radio station to “own” the listenership and audience. The danger lies in the reverse when the presenters own the listenership. When such a presenter moves stations, a sizeable part of the listenership/audience may follow such a presenter. Many stations struggle with this scenario and the better approach should be that, the station remains aware and takes care of this eventuality in the event that it happens.
The listeners are sovereign. They have the power to switch you On/Off. Bad and poor programming will cause a station listenership exit and a possible total listenership migration. It’s therefore in the interest of the station to handle these powerful listeners with a great deal of care and respect. This will earn a station loyalty. Listeners want respect, relevance, station predictability and orderliness, resourcefulness and appropriate program content enabled by excellent delivery by drivers called presenters. Taken care of…the listenership should grow and grow! This is potential for money!
In order not to take the listener for granted, a Continuous-Audience Research MUST be done appropriate times of in the station’s life cycle. This enables the station and programming function to remain relevant to both the audience and the listener. Here you are checking for shifts and adaptations or changes in wants and needs; as well as preferences. You will probably also, tap into knowing where they find challenges with your station or program content. This should help you plan for the better.
However, getting to the Audience shouldn’t be for selfish station needs only but also, for reaching out to the listener and attempting to give back a little to them as recognition of their continuous and un- wavering support. In this case, give-aways, promotions, Barzas, etc , etc, should make them feel appreciated by the station management.
The right programming and “continuous-audience research” should help in creating and attaining a superb station niche as well as a program niche. The two niches should upset any threatening competition because a niche often translates into a loyalty to a product or service. This may later translate into a brand loyalty… So let’s curve out our niche the earliest way we can.
Whereas it’s true that a community at a local/county regional level may be much smaller than a community at a national level, this shouldn’t worry the community stations whatsoever. True that many listeners are desirable for any station, but also, it’s much more important to have listeners on whom there can be a value attached no matter the size. What matters most is their spending pattern, consistency, frequency of consumption, value of consumption, spending power and their capacity to generate revenue for their spending needs. This information should be at the fingertips of every station. This is the information that we should package and vend to the sponsor/advertiser. Our Audience relations surveys should bring it out for future analysis and use.
Competition only knocks out the least prepared, the procrastinators, the one with fear to try out the less ordinary. Competition will even find you in areas where you offer the ordinary or a new creation. Other players will join after knowing that business is lucrative in that line of business. However, to be competitive is to provide the best of the service at fairly affordable terms ( value) at a precision, pace, price, quality and customer care that is un-offered like before. Good competitive practice shall inevitably give you the much attention you deserve. From such attention, you will indelibly Attract, Inspire and Affect whomever you come across …may it be listeners, stakeholders or advertisers/sponsors that you need.
To Attract, Inspire and Affect whomever you come across and for this to happen successfully, the entire station workforce needs to work as a team, with criss-crossing support from the bottom-up, up-to the bottom and horizontal to the diagonal angles of the business. It is at that point that the funds shall come to station verily!