Building Communities

Ahh, there’s the rub…

I’m always surprised at the number of radio stations that think they’ve built a community of passionate listeners because they’ve assembled a database.

Most radio station databases have been built through contesting.

Surely you don’t believe the majority of your listeners are motivated by your contests.

I’m not saying the majority of your listeners will leave your station when you run a contest, but that’s very different from saying the majority listen because of your contests.

So, we accept that a minority of your listeners listen because of your contests. You and I have seen lots of figures thrown out there by researchers over the years, but let’s be generous and say that minority totals 10% of your total cume.

Now, understand that only a minority of that minority might actually go to the trouble to sign up, revealing all sorts of personal information about themselves, in order to have a chance to win something.

See where this is going?

Your database is not a community.

Until you invest the time and money into separating the big numbers into dozens, perhaps hundreds, of sub-groupings, based on individual likes and dislikes, all you’ve got is a big, generic mailing list.

And when you send email to a big generic mailing list, most of us call that “spam.”

What if you used some of the interns you’re still allowed to “train” to reach out and begin a conversation with a few of these listeners at a time. What if they were able to offer a small, but useful, prize — perhaps dinner out for 4 — in exchange for answering a series of questions that would enable you to begin building your sub-groups?

Isn’t it better to start somewhere than just throw up your hands and rage at the absurd lack of funding radio programming gets these days?