Every Small Business Owner Should Act Like a Radio Broadcaster

There’s a lot of effort today by big businesses to “engage” their customers in conversations.

Small business owners haven’t quite adopted that approach – yet. But I suggest that you think about what might happen if you actually stop selling so hard and start communicating with prospects one-to-one. Try forgetting occasional one-way push marketing and remembering two-way attraction. See what happens when you devote your efforts to first becoming a trusted adviser and friend.

Let’s Look at the How Radio Industry Does It

Radio hosts engage their listeners in many ways. They strive for ongoing, two-way, give and take communication. To do that, they not only answer phone calls, but they get opinions through online surveys and polls. They converse through Twitter tweets and Facebook posts. And listeners send e-mail and text messages whenever they want to.

(By the way, this strategy helps the station, the listener and the radio program’s advertiser because all have greater access to each other).

Expanding Exposure

The conversation is ongoing and multi-channel. Listeners communicate using multiple kinds of handy devices. It’s clear that we can be connected at all times if we want to be.

The Dennis and Callahan Show originates on WEEI radio in Boston. You can also catch a live stream on the station’s website. And to expand exposure, the program began simulcasting on NESN cable TV earlier this year (which is good for both WEEI and NESN).

Listeners communicate with the hosts through traditional phone calls, but they also tweet and send e-mail and text messages.

Don’t Stop Innovating

Engagement won’t end there. Innovations will continue to develop that provide greater access to programs and involve listeners.

For example, Jelli is “100% user-controlled radio.” Listeners control the playlists of their favorite local programs through “real-time voting and game elements.”

Jelli turns listeners into “active users.” It’s designed to “drive engagement” with the audience, build a “social community” around the station, generate “excitement” in the market, and produce higher ratings as a result.

One radio station owner, Gerry Schlegel, president of the LKCM Radio Group, told FastCompany, “We want to transform the market in Las Vegas by engaging with our listeners directly through the web and mobile, and building a strong community around an amazing music experience.”

Have the Same Objectives As a Radio Broadcaster

Aren’t they, or shouldn’t they be, the objectives of every small business owner – to have a following of active users, to drive engagement, to build a social community, to generate excitement, and to produce higher ratings (more sales)?

All of the tools that broadcasters use are available to every small business owner. All are inexpensive and, used together, have a compounding effect and measurable ROI.

A small business marketing strategy should include mechanisms for communicating with followers regularly (depending on the product or service). That means a website that engages (not a static brochure or billboard site), audio and video podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and text messaging at a minimum.

Act like a radio broadcaster. Start conversing with individuals. Develop your following. See what happens.

Your Marketing Stool Will Collapse if Any One Leg Fails

Big time direct response marketing guy Dan Kennedy lists three critical components of any successful marketing plan – Market, Message and Media. Think of it as a tripod or a 3-legged stool. If any one leg fails, the whole thing topples.

The First leg, “Market,” identifies your target audience. Here, you describe your perfect customer, exactly. You define their income, their household characteristics, their location (by neighborhood), and the distance of their home from your office or store – every detail that you can think of.

Second, “Message” tells everyone what makes you special. It also describes the product or service you are selling, including features and benefits. Finally, it makes an offer with a deadline and guarantees satisfaction.

You reverse the customer’s risk with an incredible promise. When you guarantee their satisfaction, you take another step toward earning their confidence and trust.

Third, you select the appropriate “Media” to distribute your message to your audience. Today, email newsletters and text messages are perfect, cost-effective tools. And post cards and direct mail are great mechanisms for reaching specific selected targets. On the other hand, general newspaper print ads are less effective because they are less targeted.

Use any of these software providers to manage your email:

Overall, you must identify, explore and use all media – including the web, cable TV and radio, and yellow pages – that will help you accomplish your ultimate objective.

Message, Market and Media are essential elements of your marketing plan. Always remember that your marketing stool will collapse if any one of the legs fails.

You’re in Fashion When You Market Your Business Like This

I’m not a fashion expert. I don’t pretend to be one. I don’t wanna be one.

What I do want to do is find and report unique marketing ideas.

It just happens that I came across Fashism.com, an interactive website that invites community members to provide fashion feedback. The theme is “Share your looks and get advice so you can look your best.”

Young girls post photos and ask the community if the fashion works. Makeup, shorts, shoes, dresses are all in play. Do you “Love It” or “Hate It?” Results are tallied and posted instantly. 56% love those shorts, or 25% love the sandals, or 11% love that dress.

It got me thinking. How can small business owners use this concept to help their customers make decisions?

  • Maybe an architect might post variations of a floor plan.
  • How about a paint store or house painter showing a home’s façade with color options?
  • Or a landscaper could demonstrate various plant, shrub and flower choices.

Opinions could be submitted using survey software like:

Silly? Probably
Ridiculous? Maybe.

The idea is to get creative and interact with clients and prospects. Create a community around common interests. Ask questions. Seek opinions. Get people involved.

Speaking of opinions, I’d like yours. Do my ideas here work for you? Love them or hate them? Please post your comments below.

Books are great resources for small business marketing ideas (affiliate link).