You’re Hosting a Party on September 16!
You’re throwing a grand party on September 16. Parties on Thursdays are unusual – hopefully people will take notice. If you program or manage a radio station in the US, September 16 starts the Fall book for both PPM and Diary markets. You’re probably hoping that something north of one person in six in your market is going to attend your open house every week through early December. You’re counting on many of those attendees to drop in daily – and at least some of them to come over a few times every day and hang out for a while – maybe the whole day.
Since you’re throwing a party, you’ll need a guest list. Or, in this case, use Big-Data help build the list of those you want to invite (that is, target) through your marketing. While you’d actually like as many people as possible to attend, in this analogy, you want to limit the number of people you have to pay to contact. Big Data helps do that.
You send out party invitations well in advance; these days people use digital tools like Evite or Facebook for invitations. External reminders to listen as we head toward the Fall ratings periods make great sense, whether they’re within your stations’ organic outreach or via paid promotions. (Disclosure: NuVoodoo provides such services, including the Big Data targeting. Digital campaigns can be spun up quickly; so there’s no problem with tight deadlines.)
Mailed invitations are still used for important affairs – and direct mail is a great tool. A physical piece of mail in the listener’s hand has strong impact for people ages 25 and up (younger people are less likely to look at the things delivered by the postal service). The first contact for many Nielsen respondents is at the mailbox, so direct mail stands an outsized chance of connecting with the right individuals. When costly printing and postage is involved, however, it’s critical to keep the list as efficient and employ all the advantages of digital printing. Here, again, Big Data is key. (Disclosure: NuVoodoo has tools and techniques that can minimize waste and maximize impact.)
Preparing for a party, it’s common to ask those you’re inviting what food and beverages they like. Careful planners give consideration to the kind of music their guests will enjoy. Some guests will stop by for just a few minutes – but you’re hoping that some will spend a huge part of their day(s) with you. Making sure your music research is up to date, so you can tailor your playlist perfectly is critical. (Disclosure: Yes, NuVoodoo provides music research for lots and lots of stations and has options to get testing done quickly and on a budget.)
Getting the house ready, cleaning the bathrooms, decorating for the party – follow this part of the analogy where you will. But, it IS important to have anticipated what you’ll need during the Fall book. Sufficient staffing for your events team. Key on-air staff members locked in to be on the air throughout; vacations finished until after Thanksgiving. Station vehicles spruced up and serviced. Transmitters maintained and ready. On-air chain ready. PPM encoders working. Booths and banners cleaned and ready, etc.
At the party, the host greets guests, thanks them for coming and spends time making each guest feel welcome. Thanking people for listening gets forgotten sometimes. Done well, it makes listeners feel good (and, ultimately, good feelings are a huge reason that people tune in/come to your party). Great hosts ask about their guests, steer the conversation to things that will be interesting to guests – and avoid talking about themselves incessantly. Make sure between-the-songs content meets the goal of being interesting and/or entertaining to listeners.
Great hosts introduce party guests to other guests. The analogy here is shoutouts to people who are listening. There are examples of stations and hosts that do this effortlessly. It’s another way to make people feel good. Dale Carnegie famously said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” The more you say names on the air and the easier you make it to submit names, the more people will participate.
We like parties in part because we like shared experiences. That bond, being able to talk to someone else about a shared experience is important. It’s one of the huge benefits radio retains over Spotify/Apple Music/Amazon Music/Pandora/etc. Even if you don’t know “Craig and the guys from C&R Glass in West Chester,” you may be able to relate to the town or occupation. If you put enough names and towns on the air, something relatable is likely to come up. Hearing a friend’s name or workplace may inspire someone to contact that friend … and talk about your station.
We’re eager to hear where this party analogy takes you in your pre-book planning.