By Holland Cooke
Talk Radio Consultant
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Few marketing opportunities can generate more new business than local talk radio…if you use it properly. Thus all the buff stuff we hear on weekends, specialty programming that becomes appointment listening, and moves product and services for hosts who do fundamentally good radio, principally inviting callers’ questions.
Listeners use these shows for two things:
- Information: Consumers rely on experts for specific advice about products and services they’re shopping for. That’s you, if your show includes news about your area of expertise, new product reviews, and interviews with guests who can explain and simplify what might otherwise seem complicated, even scary, to listeners. In every city in the USA, Saturday/Sunday radio fare includes shows about auto repair, food and wine, health and fitness, home improvement, gardening, the law, pets, consumer electronics, and other specialties.
- Interaction: At its best, talk radio is two-way radio. So THE MOST valuable use of your airtime is answering callers’ questions. “The lawyer is in, the meter is off” is a very inviting proposition…and attorneys who host radio shows get lots of new clients by offering “free samples” in this fashion. It’s remarkable how callers themselves will ask the law show host, “May I call you Monday at your office?” Demonstrating your expertise on air is more powerful than a mere advertising pitch, and makes you seem more approachable than a Yellow Pages ad for your competitors. So, generally, the more callers the better. Each caller’s situation will be relatable to lots of listeners who don’t call…all of whom could become your customers.
Not getting enough calls?
- DON’T squander time at the beginning of the show with overly long hellos, or small talk about the weather (which aired at the end of the newscast just before your show began), or other off-topic blah blah blah.
- DO introduce yourself, and succinctly explain how you can help the listener: “I’M CHUCK THOMPSON, THE CHUCK FROM CHUCK’S AUTO REPAIR, AND I’M HERE TO HELP YOU GET MORE MILES OUT OF THE-CAR-YOU’VE-ALREADY-PAID-FOR.” If your business has a slogan, that should also be the mantra for your radio show, because listeners may recognize the slogan, and to keep your on-air message consistent with your other marketing.
- DON’T wait! Give out the call-in number right off the top, even if your first segment is an interview or you reading news/product reviews/etc. During that interview segment, your call screener can be lining up callers.
- DO solicit calls overtly. Come right out and invite their questions. And announce the phone number REAL slowly, like you’re reading the winning lottery number. And say “CALL ME RIGHT NOW.” And at the end of each call, offer that “THAT OPENS UP A LINE FOR YOU,” and re-announce the phone number.
- DON’T assume that anyone but you hears your whole show. Listeners constantly tune in. So…
- DO “re-set” throughout the hour. Come out of each commercial break as though the show was just beginning. “WELCOME BACK TO LARRY EXPLAINS THE LAW. I’M ATTORNEY LARRY JAMIESON, ANSWERING YOUR LEGAL QUESTIONS RIGHT NOW ON WXXX. SO CALL ME! [phone number, nice and slowly, twice].”
- DON’T have friends call in pretending they don’t know you. That always sounds phony.
- Make the fact that you do a radio show prominent on your web site and/or Facebook page. Use that space to invite live callers, and invite questions via email which you can read on air.
- Use Twitter. Tweet at the beginning of your show (“answering your home improvement questions til 2:00 this afternoon on KXXX radio AM1260”). And during your show, invite Twitter users to Follow you, because you frequently Tweet out useful tips about your area of expertise, even when you’re not on radio.
- Are you doing everything you can to tell your existing customers that you do a radio show? Can you print a little blurb on monthly bills you mail, or maybe enclose a refrigerator magnet with the station’s call letters and dial position and your show name and airtime? If you run newspaper ads, use that space to invite tune in.
- Is there a sign in your store?
- BEST source of callers for your next show? Callers who couldn’t get on your last show! If you end up with more callers than airtime, well done! Make an appointment with those who didn’t get on to be first-up next time.
- Next-best source of callers? Voicemail. Can you set up a 24/7 voicemail box where listeners can ask questions?
The well-executed show sets the table for what marketers call “conversion,” moving prospects through the sales funnel. And the how-to hosts I coach aren’t just producing new leads. Making what comes out the speaker as engaging and informative and relatable as possible also racks up more Average Quarter Hours for the station. “Brokered” is NOT a four-letter word.
See/hear/read more from Holland Cooke at www.HollandCooke.com; and follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke.