January 23, 2007

Ask me what I want

You know when something comes out of leftfield? A hard decision, pregnancy, a car accident, restructuring announcements at work etc - mostly come as a shock to the unwitting. In radio, things like programming changes are part and parcel of the deal. You have performance reviews, listener feedback and most of the time, ratings.

Over in the states, a lot of marketers, musicians and creative houses are involving their target audiences to participate in the very campaigns, that are addressed to them. It's Consumer Generated Marketing (CGM). Jacob hits 'the dark side' of the issue, with many links across the structure of his point (an interesting read), which below I have pulled across:

There's a price to be paid for inviting everyone to participate in the station's programming and marketing.

1: Stations have to live up to the promise. If you ask the audience for input or to take your survey, be prepared to show them the results, followed up by our action plan.

2: You have to stay true to your plan to deal listeners in. Too often, stations start an "Ask The PD" or help-us-create-something process, but then the entire campaign runs out of gas. If you ask for input and ideas, there needs to be a logical follow-up and payoff.

3: Your product has to be in place before you start asking for input. If the morning show is fledgling - or just plain mediocre - save the time, money, and aggravation. Preston & Steve or Mark & Brian can ask for creative ideas. But not all morning shows and personalities should be playing the CGM game.

4: Don't be afraid to air some laundry, even the dirty stuff. Not all comments are going to be positive, and your CGM campaign will have more credibility if listeners hear kudos and complaints. Address the addressables and let your audience know that you'll fix things that are broken. Chevy learned this the hard way during a recent campaign for their Tahoes. The anti-SUV crowd came out in force.

Finally, be careful what you wish for. If you're asking for ideas and help, there's a certain entertainment value in "Gong Show" type amateur entries. That's what the early "American Idol" shows are about - exposing some of the worst submissions and auditioners. But you also have to have a conclusion, and it's even more credible when the winner is something that listeners actually choose.

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