How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (3/4): The Campaign

Last time we talked about The Problem that talk radio faces today.

Now for the fun part: The Campaign.

After locating suitable on-air talent, a Seattle talk radio station would have to tailor the show to the preferences of Millennials and then market the heck out of it using The Seven Touches Method.

Let’s say that you’re a producer at a Seattle talk radio station. You’ve managed to find some hot on-air talent.

He’s a young, energetic, smart kid with a great radio voice, a keen grasp on the issues, and strong writing skills.

You’re all set to put him on the air, but then you realize that you need to build some buzz for this new show first. (Let’s call it The Mark Dogero Show.)

Enter me, a marketing consultant you hired to help with this task. After sitting down and talking with you and the talent, I present you with a seven-touch marketing plan.

The seven-touch marketing plan is a tried-and-true method of marketing which is even more pertinent in the social media age.

The saying goes that your audience needs to hear about your product (The Mark Dogero Show) at least seven times before they’ll buy it, or in this case, tune in to the show or listen to the podcast.

Before you do anything, be sure that the show itself will appeal to your target demographic. Up to this point we’ve been saying that we want to reach “Millennials,” but we have to get more specific.

For the purposes of this scenario, let’s say our target demographic is college-educated Seattle-area 18-34 year-olds with a Christian background who lean libertarian and who are most concerned about social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and abortion.

As for the show itself, I’m no expert on radio (that’s your job, Mr. Radio Producer), but my experience tells me that the key to appealing to Millennials is to take the moral high ground.

If you can convince this particular target demographic that your viewpoint is morally superior to that of the opposition, then you’ve got them hooked. Millennials want to on the side of the good guys.

Be sure to back up the style of morality with the substance of facts and figures. Millennials (I’d like to think) aren’t complete idiots.

Now, on to The Campaign.

The first of your Seven Touches is a face-to-face encounter. Send Mark on a speaking tour of every college campus in the Greater Seattle Area.

Have him speak to (the admittedly small-numbered) every on-campus chapter of the College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation, free of charge.

Identify other groups, large and small, of like-minded persons, such as local conservative and libertarian Facebook groups, and promote speaking engagements to them as well.

Use targeted ads on Facebook to spread the word to people matching the target demographic to attract more people to these meetings.

The ads should use buzzwords like “justice” and “equity” and “economic empowerment,” which when applied to a libertarian idea, will attract Millennials from left, right, and center.

For example, you could run an ad on a lecture series on rent control, the minimum wage, and zoning regulations.

Titled, “The Injustice of Progressivism”, your ad would have copy saying: “Learn How Regressive Laws are Hurting the Most Vulnerable and Keeping Our City Poor.”

So people come to the speaking events, and word gets around about Mark’s new show on the radio, which you’ll emphasize is available on SoundCloud and via your radio station’s app.

People will sign up at the meetings and events for subscriptions to Mark’s blog, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and get email updates from your station!

These email updates are the second touch. They will include Mark’s written thoughts in addition to the show and video clips from the show itself.

These will keep you stuck in the mind of your audience, even if they ignore most of Mark’s emails.

That’s where the third touch comes in: social media updates. Mark will be most active on social media platforms where the target demographic is most active, namely Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Since the target demographic is very attuned to video, updates on these channels should include short video clips of Mark speaking about trending issues and topics, taking questions from the audience, and interacting with relevant guests.

Speaking of guests, that brings us to touch number four: Influencer endorsement! That is, have someone on the show whom Millennials trust and promote clips of their appearance on social media.

This one was a little tricky to figure out when planning this post, as most influencers who resonate with our target demographic tend to lean left or else do not have much to say about the issues that The Mark Dogero Show would care to discuss.

What I mean to say is that most public figures whom Millennials pay attention to are Hollywood actors, musicians and bloggers, along with the occasional politician.

The obstacle, as so eloquently popularized by Ryan Holiday, is in fact the way forward.

In addition to inviting recognized conservative or libertarian figures of note, also invite persons of the opposite inclination to be on the show.

When Mark is talking to an influencer whom he agrees with, very good.

But when he’s talking to an influencer whom he may oppose on policy issues, it will give him an opportunity to show how “fair” and “tolerant” he is by having such guests on his show and hearing them out.

A focus on local personalities and figures would be best. Remember, your audience lives in Seattle!

Touch number five would be to distribute free or low-cost pamphlets or eBooks written by Mark to your followers that can be easily shared with friends.

Readers should be able to recommend Mark’s books enthusiastically, so they’d better be good!

Touch number six would be to promote the eBooks and pamphlets on Facebook and Twitter through targeted ads. You’ve gotta love those things!

Combined with the word-of-mouth generated by their being a great product, those pamphlets will spread Mark’s philosophy in written form my leaps and bounds!

The final of the seven touches is an email invite to an event hosted by the radio station, featuring this Mark Dogero guy that everyone’s been talking about.

An example of such an event would be a debate or a lecture. Since it’s an event being put on by the radio show, it could be broadcast over the airwaves.

It could also be live-streamed on Facebook, recorded and posted to YouTube, and, of course, put on SoundCloud!

But remember, the key here isn’t quantity of platforms. It’s better to focus on where your target demographic is hanging out. Promote the event ahead of time using targeted ads, calling on people to tune in on the radio or online.

Use the opportunity this opportunity from people signing up to attend the debate or lecture to build your email list for further marketing efforts.

Also use it as an opportunity to upsell other shows put on by the station, not to mention those eBooks and pamphlets.

If this strategy has been properly executed, The Mark Dogero Show will be a knockout, and advertisers will be clamoring to get behind it.

These seven touches can overlap a little. Some of them can be expanded to make a total of nine or ten touches. In today’s wonderful wired info-saturated world, some marketing gurus have suggested that as many as thirteen touches may be necessary.

But the principle remains that with a good product, followed by a disciplined marketing strategy such as the one detailed here, a large following of Millennials can be attracted to our imaginary talk radio show.

So, Mr. Radio Producer, what’s next?

We’ll talk about a few miscellaneous details that we haven’t covered yet in the fourth and final installment of this series: Review.

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (2/4): The Problem

The fact is that most of my fellow Millennials aren’t listening to talk radio.

There’s no reason they shouldn’t.

My personal observations and at least one poll indicate that many Millennials identify philosophically as libertarian. That’s a start.

But conservative talk radio, which relies heavily on programming which appeals to older audiences, is slowly waning.

Social media allows ideological opponents to harass the medium online faster and harder than pundits can react.

It generally lacks the same internet presence that can allow it to beat back such attacks.

The result is that talk radio continues to fall back on the old stalwart of older blue collar folks.

But insofar as I can tell, stations aren’t attracting large swaths of Millennials, who should be welcoming them with open arms.

This is The Problem.

Changing demographics and inflamed social media reactions have resulted in talk radio both losing advertising money and failing to attract new audiences.

The main issue that talk radio faces today is the blunt reality is that there just aren’t enough young listeners to sustain the medium.

In an interview with Forbes, media scholar Jeffrey Berry summed up the numbers game that talk radio faces today:

 

And it’s a shrinking demographic. For every white farmer in the heartland who dies, he’s being replaced by a 25-year-old Hispanic living in the Bronx. It’s just the way America is going right now.

People are obviously listening to talk radio, and will continue to do so.

Unfortunately, the audience that most talk radio shows are aiming for isn’t the type that media buyers want to target, that is, Millennials.

Meanwhile, firestorms on the internet instigated by ideological opponents haven’t helped either. In fact, they may account for the lion’s share of the blame.

A 2015 article for The Wall Street Journal reported that controversial comments by Rush Limbaugh directly led to advertisers choosing to avoid buying airtime around such shows.

The article reads:

Local and direct-response advertisers, such as flower-delivery and financial services, continue to advertise on conservative talk shows. But overall demand has tanked among national advertisers for anything else that could air on the same stations, putting some syndicators and stations in a bind on their programming.

As a result of various reasons, having to do with the philosophical inclinations of Millennials and sloppy marketing work, Millennials typically don’t listen to talk radio, conservative or otherwise.

A Nielsen report, for instance, states that only an average of 3.7% of persons aged 18-34 listen to news or talk radio.

The report also notes: “On average, radio reaches nine out of 10 Millennials across all three life stages each week.” (The report breaks down the age group’s preferences by life-stage.)

So Millennials are listening to radio in general, but most of them aren’t listening to talk radio.

The talk radio format still has a hope of reaching Millennials and expanding its audience, thus attracting more advertisers.

If by some marketing miracle this can happen, then the newfound popularity of talk radio among Millennials will make airtime an investment worth the risk for cautious media-buyers.

To accomplish this feat, conservative talk radio will have to do two things:

  • Present a product (programming) that will appeal to the tastes and ideology of libertarian or conservative Millennials.
  • Execute a marketing strategy that will reach this demographic and make the medium attractive to them.

This post discussed The ProblemNext time we will discuss The Campaign.

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (1/4): Intro

My day job is listed on my Twitter account as “Marketing Director at the Renton Printery.”

My family’s print shop is a brick-and-mortar, blue collar establishment.

To while away the countless hours working on the machines, starring at computers, or even sitting at desks occasionally, we listen to a lot of talk radio.

I’m generally fine with talk radio, even though I don’t usually tune in outside of the shop.

I have a short commute and don’t drive much, so that nixes opportunities to listen to full broadcasts of Rush or The Great One.

The point here is that without a lot of Millennials tuning in with our smartphone apps that can stream radio and podcasts whenever we want, older talk stations are missing out on a sizable chunk of listeners.

Meanwhile, their primary audience, the older folks who crew the shop where I work, are slowly shrinking in numbers and influence.

Thus, the only advertisers interested in leasing airtime on talk radio are peddlers of mattresses and men’s health products.

This is The Problem.

The other day, the Marketing Guy-half of my brain sat down with the half of my brain that was listening to Michael Medved and put together a thought:

“There must got to be a way to get more people my age to listen to talk radio! I like it just fine when it’s convenient, so there must be others like me who think the same.”

Enter The Campaign.

I began constructing in my head what it would take for my local talk radio station to make me, a representative of a sought-after target demographic, want to go out of my way to listen to their programming.

The goal of this series is to explain the current marketing funk that conservative talk radio has found itself in, how it might lure a new demographic into its audience, and what the benefits of such a circumstance could be.

Talk radio’s listener base has few young people in its audience, myself included. But with a targeted marketing campaign tailored to millennials, new life could be breathed into it, leading to The Reward.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, in which we discuss The Problem.

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Writers, Actors, and Singers: Please Stick to Writing, Acting, and Singing

I was watching a football game or something a few weeks ago, when I suddenly informed by an asinine commercial that Leonardo DiCaprio planned to release a new documentary on “climate change.”

Last time I checked, DiCaprio is not a meteorologist, or an ecologist, or a biologist, or a chemist, or a physicist, or an astronomer. He is an actor.

I also know that he has been making such documentaries and promoting such nonsense since at least 1998, when he established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which is when they were still referring to climate change as “global warming.”

(For the record, I’d be pretty scared if the climate wasn’t changing.)

I then reflected that this DiCaprio is probably a better actor than he is a scientist or policy analyst.

But his behavior falls in line with that of many other writers, artists, singers, and actors who attempt to play those roles yet have absolutely no business doing so.

Meanwhile, people like Lena Dunham and Jay Z are suddenly being treated like they’re the smartest people in the room because of their stances on hot-button issues.

In Dunham’s case, she wants “straight white men” to go “extinct.” As for Jay Z, he apparently likes Clinton enough to belt out obscene song lyrics at one of her campaign events.

The only reason people pay attention to the political statements of actresses and singers is because they’re already famous.

Whatever they say is going to sound like pure wisdom to their fans, and it will attract the attention of the media because it’s political, thus giving them even more unwarranted credibility.

In other words, it doesn’t matter what these people say so long as it’s them saying it.

Granted, some political views are more palatable to the blogosphere, tabloids, news aggregates, click-bait sites, and the mainstream media than others.

Chris Pratt’s enthusiasm for hunting hasn’t won him much attention from such parties. The same can be said for Adam Baldwin of Firefly fame, who endorsed Ted Cruz via Twitter last year according to Wikipedia.

The effect, however, remains the same. When some actor suddenly announces his stance on a feel-good cause like climate change, it grants him an aura of sophistication and charity.

Think about it like this: People are naturally suspicious of politicians, but they love it when celebrities make political statements because they already like them.

If they happen to agree with whatever vacuous tripe the celebrity is saying, they’ll love them even more and do whatever they say, which usually means voting for Democratic politicians.

The problem isn’t so much that people unqualified to give opinions regarding such topics continue to do so. It’s a free country. They’re free to say what they want.

The problem is that these people’s sincerity is, at best, questionable. DiCaprio is without a doubt mouthing whatever lines some intern is feeding him just so he can beef up his personal brand.

Ditto for Donald Trump, who’s taken this principle to the Nth degree by becoming a major contender for President of the United States of America. Heck, he’s been running for president since 2000.

The two-pronged point I’m trying to make is that when people who are famous for acting, singing, or writing begin talking about politics, science, or public policy, plug your ears. They have nothing to say worth listening to.

I highly doubt that any actors, singers, or writers of note are reading this blog post, but if you are, please stick to acting, singing, and writing.

If you must talk about politics, go and spend your free time reading good books on things like history or economics, like Ronald Reagan used to do. Please avoid major periodicals for a while.

Or if you’re more technically inclined, you could be like Hedy Lamarr, who invented a nifty anti-missile jamming system during World War II. If she could do something like that, you could easily bone up on mathematics or chemistry or engineering or something.

In a word, actually learn something about what you’re talking about before deciding to soapbox about it. That’s all I ask.

Image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

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