Friday, January 25, 2008

Listener Imaging

There are a lot of great companies out there producing a lot of great imaging tools, and listener drops are one of the handiest things that they offer. Sure, cool sound effects are nice, but without some “meat” in the middle of that imaging sandwich, sound effects are just a couple of pieces of dry bread. But as nice as it can be to get a big pile of listener drops all neatly packaged for you, the generic stuff always leaves me wanting more. I heard a promo on WSOC recently that cemented that feeling. They used Luke Bryan’s “All My Friends” say as the background (and, sometimes, foreground) of the promo. And the promo was filled with REAL LISTENERS saying REAL THINGS about the station and the morning show (“Tanner in the Morning”).

Take a listen to your current imaging. First, do you have any that contains listener drops? If not, get some. Second, how many of those listener drops are really about you and your station? The more specific and local they can be, the better. There is such a huge difference between “I love you guys” and “I love WSOC.” “I wake up with you every morning” vs. “I can’t start my day without Tanner.” “I drive home with you every day” vs. “Charlie and Debbie help get me home every day.” “Nobody in town plays better music” vs. “There’s only one station in Charlotte that I listen to.” If you can work in an appropriate song like “All My Friends Say,” all the better.

But how do you get drops from those real listeners? I realize that your request lines probably aren’t burning up with people giving you no-editing-necessary, air-worthy praise, but that shouldn’t discourage you. First, make sure every jock rolls tape every time they answer the phone. You never know what kind of a gem you might get. Second, if you get somebody on the phone who exhibits the kind of “vibe” that you’re looking for (right demo, fun, excited, etc.), ask them some questions about the station and the personalities: Why do you listen to us? When do you listen? Where do you listen? Who do you listen to? What do you like about us? How do you feel when we play your favorite songs? How do you feel when we make you laugh? Do your friends listen to us, too?

Have fun with this. Make these listeners a part of the “in” crowd. Make them stars and let them know that we appreciate their support. Tell them to listen for themselves on the air very soon. Encourage them to have their friends listen. Heck, have their friends call in and be “stars,” too.

You won’t be able to use everything from every caller, and you’ll need to make sure you don’t run the same pieces too many times, but soon you’ll have compiled a collection that’ll connect you and your listeners and your market in a very special way.

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