by Tracy Johnson
Every programmer would love to double their ratings, but most don’t think it’s really possible. It’s even less likely if the station already has a 15-share. The math doesn’t work, does it? Yes, actually, it does. And a station in Canada doubled their ratings by following my Double Your Ratings success plan.
Many programmers think the success plan is designed mainly for a market that’s measured by meters, not diary. But that’s not true. Double Your Ratings targets actual listener behavior, which translates to gains in both ratings methodologies.
94.7 Rouge FM is a Hot AC station in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. The city of 140,000 is served by 7 in-market stations, plus quite a few signals that come in from outside the city.
BBM (Canada’s equivalent of Nielsen) measures the market with diaries. For many years, Rouge ranked as the #3 station in the market, trailing their direct format competitor Energie 102.3.
A year ago, the station earned a 15-share in their target demographic of 25-54 year olds. Now there’s nothing wrong with a 15! Who wouldn’t want that?
But as General Manager and Program Director Marc Thibault studied the principles of my Double Your Ratings strategy, he set his sights higher and challenged his team. He knew the station could rise to #1.
So the station adjusted the music mix a bit, then set out to retain their existing audience to more quarter-hours by focusing on teasing and pre-promotion.
Simple math powers the philosophy that makes it possible. Even the best listeners (P1s) tune in to a specific radio show just 2 days per week and about 3 quarter hours per day. That’s a mere six quarter hours per week from P1s.
If we can just get one more day per week (3, instead of 2) and one more quarter hour per day (4 instead of 3), six quarter hours become 12. The ratings have doubled.
To do that, I teach stations to create less content, not more. And make sure that content is truly great.
The next step is to recycle and repurpose that content to get maximum benefit from it. Many personalities simply create too much “B” and “C” level content, and never get enough value from their best breaks-the hits!
But then, it’s critical to promote that material so listeners actually hear it, by promoting it aggressively. And that’s how Thibault and his team saw their greatest improvement.
Thibault dug in, teaching his entire team how to promote ahead more effectively by exploring the concepts in my seminar on demand, The Art Of The Tease.
The station attacked the project with a passion. They kept it simple, but made a commitment to studying how and when to tease, with the goal of creating more urgency to stay tuned in.
In Marc’s situation, causing the audience to remember the content by making it seem more important is just as important as getting the tune in, because Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA) drives recall
We had worked in the past on teasing what is to come in the next 10 minutes, but we had a gap in promoting to other appointments. So we focused our game plan on the tease factor of creating additional appointments.
But Marc didn’t just tell the staff to promote more often. Effective teasing is about being specific and making appointments important to the audience.
The personalities on Rouge made the commitment, then held each other accountable to implement the strategy. Thibault continues:
According to our evaluation, the personalities were very good. Talent was not the problem. The talent found the steps in Tracy’s presentations simple to follow. Pushing further, we realized that we did not tease often enough, and often it was generic. And, as pointed out in the presentation, often it just was not that effective. So we monitored every break for a few weeks to really evaluate our tease actions.
At the beginning of the project, the station took an unusual action. They enlisted the help of a commercial copywriter to be part of the project and coordinate an all-out teasing and promotion strategy.
This is a brilliant decision to invest in the brand. Teasing and pre-promotion is part of marketing. It’s not as simple as giving listeners a list of what you have coming up. And a professional copy-writer will know how to find the emotional essence of the content.
Then they solved another problem. It turned out that most of the air staff didn’t know what was happening in other time slots on the station. To manage the flow of information, they created a private Facebook group for each host to highlight what was coming up in their shows.
This made it easy for each personality to stay up to date. And they knew exactly when highlights would take place. It also held personalities accountable to be more prepared each day. In turn, this allowed Marc to stay on top of the show prep process and better guide the creative direction of the station.
Finally, the station set up daily on-air priorities for talent to follow. In addition to live promos, the copywriter created a series of daily promos that promoted appointment tune-in times in each daypart.
Their personality promos now had a a call-to-action for specific content, which is one of the three objectives for effective recorded promos.
In the following year of focusing their team, the strategy paid off.
In their target demo of 25-54, Rouge has grown from 15.2 to 21.7 to 27.4. They are now the #1 at-work station. They’re just 10% from a ratings double!
Double The Ratings isn’t just theory. It’s a strategy that works for any station. Of course, you must first have programming content worth promoting.
When you do, create a promotion strategy to cause the current audience to tune in just one more quarter hour per day and one more day per week. That will result in a ratings double.
And the best part of it? This fits your budget. Because it’s free.
Like Marc, it takes a team focus, coordination and communication. Try it on your station and let me know how it works for you!
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