Throughout this pandemic, the resources and strategic thinking being made available to stations by consultants in and around Christian music radio has been extraordinary. Thought leaders such as John Frost, Chuck Finney, Todd Stach and Fred Jacobs are consistently up to the challenge of helping CMB members navigate the current moment and are sharing “can’t miss content.” Consultants that work outside the format are also delivering strong perspectives, which includes a recent column by Lee Abrams, The Winning Format Of The Future.
In the article, Lee observes, “The programming model today is based on a circa 1980 (and before) playbook. This ain’t 1980 anymore. We’re in a transformational era – culturally, socially, and technologically, and for any medium to be locked into decades-old thinking is terminal at a time when the future will be ruled by those riding the new wave of innovation. Radio brands need to get back to the business of creating fans.”
These sentiments are echoed by Rishad Tobaccowala, a senior advisor to the global advertising giant Publicis Group who said, “The future will not fit the containers of the past.”
We can certainly see that within our own industry. Although platforms like Spotify and Sirius XM don’t encode for PPM measurement, in diary markets listeners write down whatever they listen to, which results in an expanded definition of measured media. As a result, we’re seeing AM/FM radio (including station streams and HD channels) currently accounting for just 65% of the AQH Share among A25-54 in some diary markets.
Tobaccowala continues, when it comes to building the future, “We look ahead and above. We watch market leaders and today’s visionaries – and time after time we are surprised that the future did not come from where we were looking but from those we looked down upon or were never on our radar.” Even for a market leader like Spotify, sometimes their “innovations” are accidental.
Discover Weekly is a personalized list of 30 songs delivered every Monday to tens of millions of users. The original version of Discover Weekly was supposed to include only songs that users had never heard before, but early on, a bug in the algorithm also included a couple of songs that users had already heard.
After Spotify identified and eliminated the bug, engagement with the playlist actually fell. According to people at Spotify, “If we make a new playlist for you and there’s not a single thing for you to hook onto or recognize – to go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a good call!’ – it’s completely intimidating and people don’t engage.” The “bug” was ultimately part of the secret sauce. Not to be outdone, chocolate chip cookies, microwave ovens and penicillin are staples of modern life that came about by accident. While innovation benefits from strategic planning and consistent resource allocation, the most important ingredient doesn’t require a line item in the budget, simply give yourself and your team the freedom to fail.
Back to Lee Abrams, formats of the future and Christian Music Radio. Faith-based messages of hope and encouragement are timeless. The ability of your team to bring your ministry to life with great music, engaging personalities, dynamic programming and compelling sonics can be enhanced and monetized by station brands that build out podcasts, merchandise, social media platforms and live events.
This 360-degree brand strategy is matched with a similar approach to marketing your station. At DMR/Interactive, we design and deliver multi-dimensional, off-air messaging that actively engages the employed, heavy listeners who commute to work and have the most listening to give (and money to donate). As we leverage data analytics including audience and donor data, we identify opportunities to personalize your messaging as we accelerate their listener engagement journey across touchpoints and 360-degree station platforms, empowering you to build Super-Fans and spread the Good News.
CMB is truly a learning community. What do you think about this format of the future conversation? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your insights.
VP of Marketing Strategy
DMR/Interactive is the leading strategic marketing partner for the broadcast industry. DMR/Interactive provides radio stations with integrated marketing strategies that include precision-targeted, multi-contact personalized campaigns across mobile, digital, social, telephony, direct mail, e-mail, word-of-mouth and database marketing services. DMR/Interactive also provides data analytics and business intelligence services to clients. For more information, visit www.dmrinteractive.com