Targeting the PPM People: How Are They Different? Next Steps: Many Ways to Max Your Meters Part 1
September 7, 2012
[No matter what Arbitron says, the PPM-friendly population, pure and simple, is nowhere close to a representative sample of the population in general. Over many weeks, this series has been discussing how stations can identify and exploit the key differences between radio users who will agree to take the PPM and those who will not. This week and next few, as we wrap up this series, let’s highlight some of those ideas.]
The game today is about getting the most metered listening. Anything that you can learn about who accepts meters is valuable intelligence. Any plan to pursue those folks and thus get you more meters ought to be on the table. Simply by committing to meter-maximizing as an objective, and implementing a plan, you can more effectively pursue the folks who count at the end of the day. What if an effective “fish where the fish are” strategy, employing most of the ideas below, could deliver you in the long term an increase to five meters tomorrow for every four today (and we think that to be a conservative number). That would translate, on average, into a 25% increase in your ratings. Without spending gazillions. Without even needing to grow your net audience, maybe just shifting it and targeting it. Anyone up for that?
This is all about how a smart radio station can apply intelligence about PPM people and its audience in tilting the playing field to its Arbitron advantage. Some of the ideas we will catalogue are more tactically-focused, while others are about your long-term-health, big-picture thinking. Use these as idea-starters or jumping-off-points. Think about how you might adapt and customize them to your particular target and programming and packaging and advertising and promotion. Think about employing as many of them as possible. Right now, if you are willing to re-evaluate the ways you break out, communicate with, and target your audience, you can indeed maximize your chances at getting metered. In both the short and long term. (Note: especially in any short term, we emphasize “your chances,” rather than “your meters.” Arbitron’s scientifically-unsound small long-term samples of individuals make any consistent prediction impossible. No matter what tactics a station uses and no matter how consistently it maintains its actual audience size, it can still experience dramatic sine-wave fluctuations in its ratings, especially for narrowly-targeted or lower-cume stations, caused merely by a small handful of meters changing hands. That’s not good science. But it’s what we’ve got. So here’s some ideas on how to make the most of it.)
1. Use every opportunity to benchmark the station as a money-saving resource.
Most people who say yes to the PPM are in it for the money, and they will profile as budget-conscious, coupon-clipping types who are always looking for smart ways to save. Deliver that benefit, become known for it, and attract and hold more of that audience. In concert with your website, where they can click on all kinds of coupons, discounts and deals, let your on-air content serve this real need of the PPM Prospect. Make reasonable claims with total savings numbers, but do use those numbers. Money talks.
2. People who really love a music station or a morning show are much better PPM Prospects . To get more love, do a radio consumer research study. Not a radio station product research study.
So we want more lovers. Okay, what’s the most effective, and lasting, way to succeed with a lover? Hmmm…would it be by focusing on “it’s all about me”? Or, maybe not? Turn our focus to our listener or potential listener, not the radio station. Understanding her, especially the her who is a potential carrier of PPM, is the key to directing our content and our messaging. And ultimately to building a close relationship with her. Get to her lifestyle, lifestage, values, important living issues, feelings about her world, what brands she feels affiliated with, what she calls entertainment, especially TV, what matters most to her now, her needs, her heroes, her personality/emotion type, and lastly, how she uses music, what she uses, and benefits that radio does or can offer her. The more a station can learn about who’s out there, and who’s in or out of that station’s own research-disposed “tribe,” the more effectively it achieves its goal of close attachment. Passion…real “partisanship”…does matter. Our goal must be to make our station more loved, trusted, perceived as unique and branded, and perceived as speaking directly to her in her language about her world. And we can’t get there until we know her so well that we can become her.
3. And when we research the consumer base, let’s also look for “PPM Types” whom we want to market to, in what tone, and with what media.
Fishin’s a whole lot better when ya know how to find the fish. We want to communicate constantly with the target. So first things first. Identify, profile, and locate the characteristics that we will target when we turn around and market to the best PPM customers: Socioeconomics, family type, digital-friendlies, people who read mass advertising, commercial-text-friendlies, heavy facebook users, people looking for companionship, people who want their voices heard, and radio fans/believers. Then use that information to design the right direct marketing and social media marketing to reach and connect with the right audience.
4. Ask this about everything you do, on and off air: Does this help or hurt our appeal to those in our audience who have a “Middle-American-Mindset” psychographic/personality?
Midwesterners are the most likely, followed by Southerners, to take the PPM. Not because there is something in the water in those particular states, but because certain “types” are more prevalent in those regions than elsewhere. Target those types. Those “Midwesterners” are the kind of folks, wherever they live, who are more likely to accept a PPM. Who are these folks in your audience? How do you attract them? Naturally friendly, pleasant, cooperative, communitarian, family-oriented, tend to be more religious, neighborhood-oriented, believe in responsibility, democracy, honesty, and fair play. “Squarer,” in both senses. Less snobby. More tied to tradition. Less diverse. Less flaky. Less highbrow. More likely lifelong locals. Less hip. Less likely to embrace the new for its own sake. Much less likely to reject the old for its own sake. Less cynical. And yes, they believe in the Radio. Little-guy populists who believe in some institutions, believe in the value and efficacy of their input to institutions, and want their voice heard, and acted on, by Radio. (But please also note: we do not suggest that these “Midwestern/Secondarily Southern” types, in some liberal coastal market, would hold conservative political opinions, just because conservatism is more prevalent in the Midwest and South. In fact, in many markets, the population that best shares the “Middle American” characteristics above is the traditional, work-ethic-driven, immigrant-descended, blue-collar family, who tend to skew to labor unions, liberal opinions, and overwhelmingly Democratic candidates.)
5. Go all-out on texting. PPM Prospects tend to be texters, and are dramatically more receptive than others to radio station texts.
Efficient media targeting, right? And while they do tend also to like contesting, our texting should be about securing the long-term relationship, not the quick hit. Not so much about us. Lots and lots of what matters to her. Content value is essential. Timeliness is essential; tardy updates are of course intolerable in the insta-digital-info age. Important: always make sure we are texting in a true give-and-take communication style, not “at” the listener, and putting ourselves in the listener’s own frame of reference, values, and language. If we want to feel like a warm clubby community, and we do, it needs to start here, with the most regular and most intimate contact we want to have with our base. The folks who read their texts and wear their meters.
To be continued, with more more more ways to max your meters, next week!