So you've got your own brand-new radio station. Great. You can’t wait to get out there – play some cool music, and watch as your listeners multiple and advertisers pour in. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming – what is wrong is not doing something to achieve the dream. Before you start basking in the potential glory of thousands of listeners hanging on to your every word and thousands of dollars in advertising – do yourself a favor and recognize the fact that the time has now come for that all-important next step. The step that separates the good from the great and the aspirants from the wannabes– the step that is the real reason why The Avengers made $1.5 billion while no one watched The Informant. Yes folks – we’re talking about marketing.
Wouldn't it just be wonderful if you just started a radio station, played some songs, talked whatever came to your mind and people would just tune in and listen? Unless you’re Kim Kardashian and willing to shoot a sex tape, that’s not the way the world works. Remember – telling people about your radio station is as important as having one. These days, success is to marketing what Charlie Sheen is to drugs, Lindsay Lohan is to rehab, and politicians are to lying - inseparable.
So here are six of the best, tried-and-tested methods to get the word out. Although following them won’t make you an overnight success, they will certainly bring you one step (or five steps) closer to the Holy Grail:
1. Decide the budget beforehand
Deciding how much dough you want to fork out is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. First of all –the answer to this question is not the same for all radio stations. Don’t try to compare yourself to other stations and their marketing budgets – one size doesn’t always fit all. Instead, try to make a plan (ideally before launching the station) based on your own unique genre, requirements, direction and future strategy. Consider your target audience and niche and plan accordingly.
2. Join the herd
Submit your radio station to the many radio directories on the internet. Radio directories are sites where thousands of radio stations are classified according to specific criteria. Submitting your station in one of these sites can be the best way to get that traffic flowing in. Plus – you get dedicated traffic that is genuinely interested in radio stations – not some random user who popped in via a Google search.
A few popular directories are iTunes Radio, Windows Media Guide, Radio Tuna, Comfm, Shoutcast etc. Most of them are free. Certain sites have certain criteria that your station would need to satisfy, while some are relatively easier to get into than others. Try to get yourself listed on as many such directories as you can.
3. Organize contests:
Organize contests on your radio station with attractive prizes, and don’t forget to announce the name of the winner(s) on the air. Encourage viewers to call in by giving away a special prize for a lucky winner.
And remember – the prizes (and the contest itself of course) should be related to your niche. For example, if your niche is heavy metal, you might want to give out a Metallica special edition CD as a prize.
The contests need not be limited to the radio station – you can have them on your website as well (You do have a website don’t you?). And speaking of websites…
4. Go social: Eat, Poke, Tweet
In today’s day and age, no one can afford to ignore social media marketing. Invest some time and resources in developing cool pages and accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the like. Study the pages of other famous radio stations. Try to think of funny one-liners and anecdotes. Post news and current events (anniversaries of bands/artists etc.) relevant to your niche. Conduct promotional campaigns on social media to make them truly social.
When someone follows you on Twitter or likes your Facebook page, send them a personal thank you message. This might seem cumbersome at first and not worth the trouble, it will pay off in the end. Visitors and fans like to know that you recognize their efforts, and that you are more than just another statistic to them.
Remember – social media can make or break your entire marketing campaign. Ignore it at your own peril. As a wise man once said - social media giveth and social media taketh away.
5. Go old school
Promote your station at local events. Get your own booth at fairs and other similar social gatherings. Put up banners in your city at strategic locations. These old school techniques matter more than you think. Moreover, they’ll help you get local traffic. If yours is the only radio station in your city in that niche, use the fact to your advantage.
6. If you’ve got a higher budget…
There’s nothing like having more moolah to work with. There is really no end to the possibilities when you have enough money to spend.
Try to get some big names into your studio. You can start with a local celebrity and then move upwards. You can also sponsor concerts and other events in your niche to increase your popularity. One single tweet by a famous artist mentioning your station and you could be set for life.
As you promote your station and get your hands dirty, you’ll yourself start noticing what works for your particular case and what doesn’t. Marketing and promotion is rather like education – it never ends. It is one of the most important (not to mention rewarding) things you’ll ever do. It’s rather like that philosophical anecdote – if no one knows about your radio station, does it really exist?