These days, many stations and broadcast companies are grappling with the role of the DJ.
Gone are the days when “four and out the door” was acceptable. In 2012, personalities and hosts need to bring more to the table – social media skills, blogs, video, agency calls, and a host of other duties and touch points that help market their brands.
With all the technology available to connect with listeners, sometimes it’s the simplest lines of communication that work the best – in this case, a personal call.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a feature on Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson (R). His claim to fame? Johnson personally calls an estimated 4,000 constituents every year. Now there are 700,000 people in his district, so there’s no way he’s going to get them to all.
But by working his cell phone during breaks in the day (walking to the office, hanging out in Washington, while working out), Johnson manages to reach out to thousands of voters, most of whom are shocked and pleased to actually hear from their local representative in Congress.
Johnson points out, “I came to the conclusion that the problem with government is that they were too out of touch with people and had very little individual relationships.”
And how do his constituents react to a personal call from their congressman, Tim Johnson? “In most cases they were happy, in a few cases tearful, I guess at the thought that a congressman would talk to an individual from a small town in central Illinois…”
A number of our clients have quietly been doing something similar – divvying up the database list among the airstaff, and calling listeners on their birthdays. The stories and emails that I receive from PDs who forward emotional listener comments and “thank you’s” reads a lot like Congressman Johnson’s quotes.
It’s a small thing, it’s unquantifiable, there’s no ROI or click-throughs. That’s because it’s personal. And to hear from a local DJ in an era where everything is numbers-driven and on a spreadsheet, it seems like the high-touch approach stands out even more.
This afternoon, I’ll present our Techsurvey8 for the first time at the Worldwide Radio Summit in L.A. It shows that once you get beyond good songs and popular DJs, a key motivator to listen to broadcast radio is that “it keeps me company.” That personal aspect is something consumers just can’t get from the other digital media. Because so many consumers listen to radio by themselves, the presence of a DJ that matters turns out to be very meaningful. Personalizing music is one thing – personalizing the radio listening experience takes it to a whole new level.
To be effective and make the local radio model work, programmers and air personalities may need to rethink how they use all the different avenues and touch points that are now mandatory in our changing media environment.
When every song ever recorded is available at the click of a mouse or the touch of an app, what is it that a DJ brings to the table in 2012? The answer may be difficult to quantify but listeners sure feel a strong emotional bond when a station or key personality acknowledges them. That customer experience – or CX – can be a difference-maker for radio, especially as we continue to grapple with new media competition.
If you remember author John Naisbitt’s Megatrends, that concept of high-tech/high-touch was an emerging idea way back in the early ‘80s. Today’s consumers may even have a greater longing for eye contact and recognition.
“Smartphone retail radio” may not be in everyone’s tool kit, but it should be. It might end up being the most cost effective, high-touch marketing you’ll ever do.