The Balancing Act of Successful Radio Promotions

posted by Stephanie Theisen

Creating a great radio station promotion is a work of art. It requires creativity, and thinking outside the box. What you hear on-air is the final product. That product took many weeks – maybe even months – of meticulous planning. Promotions and/or contests are strategically and methodically planned out.

Part of that process is finding a perfect balance of three value items:

  • Listener
  • Station
  • Advertiser

Balancing all three can be tricky, but that balance can mean the difference between a successful radio promotion and a flop. I’ll expand on each value item below.

The Balancing Act of a Successful Radio Promotion

Listener Value

If you tuned to your favorite station and discovered they’d doubled the amount of commercials and taken away the announcers, you wouldn’t keep tuning in because there’s no value anymore. Listeners want a balance between their favorite songs, local news and events, relatable announcers, fun giveaways, plus a handful of memorable commercials.

Radio Station Value

Radio stations have two needs to satisfy. The needs of listeners and the needs of advertisers. Without listeners, they can’t sell ads to local businesses like yours, and without advertisers – they can’t survive. This is why they can’t play ads all the time, and also why they can’t play music all the time.

Advertiser Value

As a local business, you need more customers to grow your business. Your customers also happen to be our listeners. This is why radio is a great choice for advertising, and why so many advertisers opt to use radio to market their business.

A Balancing Act for Successful Radio Promotions

Now that you understand the value needs of the listener, the station, and the advertiser, we’ll put them together for a promotion.

Let’s say you want to give away a snowmobile on one of our stations. Your first step is to let your account rep know what you want to do. They’ll ask, “Why? What’s your goal? What do you hope to achieve by giving away a snowmobile?”

You may already know what you want to achieve. Perhaps it’s better top-of-mind awareness, more foot traffic to your store, or just an increase in sales over the winter months. Your goal is related to the advertiser value as discussed above.

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The Promotions Director at the radio station will be responsible for figuring out how to turn your snowmobile giveaway into a successful promotion. It’s their job, along with the sales rep and announcers, to brainstorm ideas to make your giveaway a big hit with the listeners. Maybe there’s an existing promotion it could be tied in with, or perhaps, they’ll create a brand new promotion to draw the giveaway out over several weeks, culminating in a live event at your location to give the snowmobile away.

Here’s what it might Look Like

The entire promotion revolves around your snowmobile giveaway. What are some natural products and services that work well with snowmobiles? Well, there’s winter wear like gloves, hats, snow suits, and boots. There’s also sporting goods stores with a great selection of products for winter use.

Are you starting to envision the promotion coming together?

The radio station could team up with a sporting goods retailer for gift cards, and a clothing retailer for hats and gloves. Your business would give away the snowmobile at the end of the contest.

Using the gift cards, hats, and gloves, the station can create qualifying prizes for the listeners, and use appointment listening by designating specific contesting times throughout the day. At those times, the station takes caller number 10, and they win the qualifying prize. Plus, they’re eligible to win the snowmobile at the end of the contest period.

On the date of the big giveaway, all of the qualifiers need to head out to your place of business for the live drawing to determine the winner of the snowmobile.

A Win/Win/Win Promotion

This could be left as a simple snowmobile giveaway, but that wouldn’t provide much value to anyone. By turning it into a several week long contest with qualifying prizes and culminating in a live broadcast to give away a grand prize, all three parties see enormous value:

  • Listeners - Have the chance to win qualifying prizes several times a day, and then are entered to win the grand prize at the end of the contest.
  • Station – The radio station sees more value because they can bring in listeners several times throughout the day. It also creates hype in the community when listeners talk about the contest they're hearing on the radio.
  • Advertiser – By extending the giveaway over several weeks, your top-of-mind awareness increases. It also increases for the qualifying prize sponsors. Finally, by holding the final drawing live at your store, it brings more foot traffic, which likely results in additional sales.
As you can see, pulling off successful radio promotions takes a great deal of planning and behind-the-scenes effort. But, it will pay off dividends in the long run if done properly. This is one of the many reasons we love working in radio. Bringing value to your business, whether it’s through a branding campaign, or a promotion like this, is what we find most fulfilling.
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