PD = Providers of Delight?

Delight.  According to Merriam-Webster it’s “something that makes you very happy; something that gives you great pleasure or satisfaction.”  In other words, it’s what most music radio stations strive to do for listeners every day.  For many years, simply the continuous stream of well-chosen songs was enough to be delightful:  “We let our music do the talking.”  But, with a growing number of options for delivering music streams, station brands need that something extra to thrive.

Recently, Pandora grabbed a bit of attention for rolling out a campaign spotlighting “Thumb gift” contesting and connecting random users who’d liked (“thumbed,” in Pandora parlance) an artist on the service with a unique gift or experience connected with that artist.  The artist cited in the New York Times’ coverage of this new Pandora initiative wouldn’t have been a great headline act in a typical radio station contest.  But, the coverage of the initiative was valuable to Pandora and likely delighted the users who were connected to private online performances by the artist.

The only apparent action required by a Pandora user to have been entered in these giveaways is to have “thumbed” an artist involved in the promotion.  Digital pure-play services like Pandora have a tremendous advantage here, as they’re able to identify so much about the user selected.  Compare “thumbing” an artist to the “all you have to do” verbiage connected with many radio station contests: register at a website, remember to listen at 3 or 4 preset times through the day and be prepared to then call or text to win.

While radio stations want contests to influence behavior, there are limits in terms of what can be expected from people.  Even asking them to remember a set of benchmark times can raise the bar too high today.  To make it easier to remember and more intriguing to participate, stations are better off structuring listen-to-win contests to be played every hour during the workday (which is now 8-5 for many).  Requiring minimal information to enter or using allowable social media interactions as contest entries can increase registration and deepen overall engagement.

While artist experiences like the ones Pandora is experimenting with won’t be big enough draws for broadcast radio formats, our research shows that cash prizes as low as $100 are pretty strong bait in today’s economy.  Neither $100 nor $1,000 are truly life-changing prizes for most people – but either would delight a winner.  And, for the same budget you can delight 10 times as many people with the smaller prize.  Respondents tell us all the time that they often turn on the radio to make them feel good – who wouldn’t feel good if they were given $100?

Maybe the new meaning of the PD title should be Provider of Delight (for listeners)?  Wouldn’t we all be better off if stations consistently provided delight for those who listen?

Next week: What else broadcast radio does to delight listeners – and how to delight more listeners, more often.