by Tracy Johnson
Today’s programmers are hyper-focused on keeping their stations tight, short, and as clutter-free as possible. That’s good. But in some cases, the emphasis is on being short, not tight. And there’s a difference. Some promos are little more than bullet points of information, read quickly. Others are overloaded with so much information listeners can’t sort out what’s important. This isn’t about promo length. Rather it’s about the importance of promos and how they can deliver ratings gains. But first, programmers must answer a simple question: What’s Your Number?
Every station is struggling to find an extra AQH here and a quarter-hour there. Many aspects of The Ratings Game are out of our control. But every station has a tremendous opportunity. The potential of massive share gain is waiting. And promos can be the key that opens the ratings vault.
Most of my work is with personalities. The goal is to find ways to grow the fan base and increase ratings and revenue. After improving the show’s performance, the easiest way to increase results is by leveraging the strengths of the radio station.
So one of the questions I ask programmers is: What’s your number? The number is the percentage of the total station cume that does not listen to a specific daypart. Most have no idea. It’s fun to ask them to estimate before checking it out. They’re usually way off.
The number is easy to calculate. For example:
Here’s a graphic that demonstrates a typical station’s cume percentages:
In the example shown in the graphic, 68% of the station’s audience never listens to the morning show. And 91% never listen at night. As in golf, lower scores are better.
Do these percentages seem low to you? Probably. Most programmers estimate much higher than reality. Many factors should be considered (number of stations in the market, competitive situation, etc.), but a general guideline is:
If Your Number is More Than 80: The show is in trouble and needs immediate help. Or, looking at it another way, there is much to gain by fixing it. The highest number I’ve seen in recent years is 83.
75-80: The show has a lot of work to do, but may have a fighting chance.
70-75: There’s potential,
60-65: This is a strong show. Believe it or not, personalities that attract more than 1/3 of the total station cume are not as common as most radio pros believe.
If Your Number Is Lower Than 60: Congratulations. This is a high-performing time slot.
It’s quite rare to see a show with a number lower than 50. The best I’ve seen is 41. That means an amazing 59% of the station’s cume tunes in at some time in the morning.
Imagine an Italian restaurant that wants to grow its customer base. Who would they like to promote to? People who like Italian food, of course. But to reach those folks, they advertise to a much larger audience, so much of the cost of delivering the message is wasted.
Now imagine they can direct ads only to those that have been in an Italian restaurant in the past week. Wouldn’t that be an effective way to advertise? Of course.
Here’s the thing: 100% of your radio station’s audience likes something about the radio station. They’ve been to your “restaurant” in the past week. They’re the perfect target audience. And you can promote to them for free.
Invest time and energy to write amazing promos that accomplish at least one of the three goals. But the primary goal should be to influence a listener to take action. In other words, to cause an additional tune-in at another time of day. It’s the same strategy Starbucks uses to recycle their audience.
It’s hard to inspire listeners to change habits and tune into radio stations at different times of the day. But it’s possible. The very people that are most likely to be influenced by an advertising message (and that’s what promos are) already listen. All you have to do is give them reasons to listen more.
What’s your number?
Working with talent is a lot like raising a puppy. Learn the methods to train, coach, and inspire great performances from air personalities. Every programmer should adopt the principles in this book to help their station sparkle.
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