Have you noticed that there's a lot of talk about new media versus traditional media? It's causing some consternation in the radio business. Let's face it, many people simply don't know what to make of this thing called 'new media'. It's an interloper; an uninvited guest at the media table. First it was ignored; maybe it would go away. Then there was a rudimentary acknowledgment; stations started building simple, almost obligatory websites (some were pretty bad...some still are), now...many think that they've 'arrived' because they're streaming their station. I think they're kidding themselves.
Why is new media so attractive?
Why has it become the golden boy of the marketing industry?
I think it's because it gives the user the feeling that they're getting something valuable for free. Of course it's an illusion but a well executed one? Look at Google...what a story they have to tell. That company has truly partnered with their patrons. Every time you go to their search engine you feel like they're giving you something; be it quick and easy answers, information at you fingertips, marketing opportunities and even powerful free software. The average Joe is so enamored with Google, the brand name has become a part of our lexicon...like Kleenex. How many times have you heard someone say..."Well then why don't you 'Google' it and see what you find"?
But wait...they're a company...they're worth billions...how can they give away all of this 'free' stuff? Like I said before...it's an illusion. Google is one gigantic advertising machine. There are paid announcements all over their site. And the good thing about the Internet is that they get paid up front. They've got your credit card and you've given then authorization to charge their fees to that piece of plastic. There's no waiting thirty to ninety days for their money. Their cash flow is excellent.
So what is radio to do? How does it compete against this attractive newcomer? You don't fight it...you embrace it. It's not an adversary, it's an opportunity. You can incorporate and blend the two medias. Instead of your station's website being an afterthought, it can be an integral part of your operation. And make it immediate and alive, just like your radio station. Include cross-promotional contests; sometimes they can win by going to your site and other times to the station. Make your radio clients want to be a part of your web presence. Give your listeners a chance to download, for free, certain station promotions and features; work out a licensing deal with a software company and give it away on your site. Stick a camera in your studio and 'and make your talent TV stars'.
And don't charge 'club' membership fees. Maybe certain programs and personalities can get away with this, but you want to make it as easy as possible for your listeners to access and use your site...fees are an obstacle and a turn-0ff. However, make it attractive for advertisers and potential advertisers to use their credit cards to buy advertising packages and opportunities online; get in on some of that instant cash flow. Right now you make your money by having your salespeople market advertising opportunities on the air; you can do the same here. And you can track your growth almost instantly; the more people who visit your website, the more you can charge.
Hey radio...'carpe diem'! 'Seize the day!' You have a terrific opportunity here.