Content marketing's secret weapon

The small business owner struggles to keep employees from jumping to competitors.  He’s parking his car for a doctor’s appointment and the Microsoft Office Small Business Report comes on the air with advice on retaining key people.

He stays in his car, engine running, to hear the final words including a call to action for Microsoft Office and “That’s today’s Microsoft Small Business Report from Microsoft Office Business Solutions.”

So what if he was a minute late. He listened, learned and was helped. He was glued to the radio, feeling good about Microsoft Office for providing valuable information.

That’s effective custom content marketing — on the radio.

Content marketing has never held a loftier position than it does now. Search Google and you’ll get 1.13 billion entries! The Content Marketing Institute explains: “Consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and have become so adept at online ‘surfing’ that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons.”

While much of today’s focus is about aligning content with online and social spaces, we believe radio, the original content medium, can be the secret weapon for marketers when used properly and differently.

Custom content on radio engages customers better than ads, builds brand likability and relationships, induces sales, cuts media costs, creates meaningful multiplatform extensions and provides a measurable return on business objectives.

So why would anyone not want to create custom content on a medium that delivers 94 percent of America every week?

Here are 10 tips about creating effective content on the radio: 

Choose topics that make sense.  Marketers need to ask themselves what information will both engage consumers and advance the brand. The content should not be about the brand but be relevant to it. The content of Microsoft Small Business Report was important to the target and positioned Microsoft as the company that helps small businesses — not pitches them. No ad could match the engagement and retention.

Take title sponsorship. Title sponsorships tell consumers the sponsor is providing the content, not simply buying it from someone else and lending its name to it.  Title sponsorships are recalled far more often than advertisers who tag onto an information block as “presented by” or even “sponsored by.”

Content should not be commercial sounding.  Overly produced or too much brand sell tells listeners they are hearing an ad and they will tune it out. Remember, content needs to be of real value if it’s going to be accepted.

Content should change daily.  Keep it fresh. No one listens to the same newscast or sportscast over again. Repeating content will suggest to listeners they may be hearing advertising and generate the same negative result. 

Tag content with station call letters.  Stations have great cache with audiences. Each content piece should conclude with “…on KC102,” adding credibility and implied station endorsements.

Promote.  Content should be promoted by the radio station with appropriate brand and call-to-action language. This will not only increase awareness, it will call attention to the product’s enterprise in providing relevant information to its consuming public.

Extending content extends reach.  Content should be repurposed on the products’ digital and social properties as well as the station’s digital assets.

Local is better.  An audience’s ears are attracted to local references.  Products that position themselves as part of the community earn loyalty and are remembered.

Content saves money.  If content is compelling, more people will lean forward to hear the message and brand language, requiring less frequency and, hence, less investment to break through. In addition, good content is good for the station, so stations would be more apt to provide “earned” exposure in the form of continuous promotion.

Be mindful of the balance between product messaging and real content.  Honest, solid information will set up the product message much better than a disguised effort to make a self-serving advertisement sound like editorial.