Pretty much everyone in southern Maine listens to Portland radio. To be exact, 706,438 adults tuned-in last week. In contrast, 72,118 fewer people watched a local TV station. Half as many read local newspapers.
It turns out that traditional AM/FM radio is used by more Mainer's each week than all other media. This includes smartphones, internet apps, satellite radio, Pandora, and Spotify. This ubiquity among consumers is the reason so many small business owners depend on Portland radio to successfully market their goods and services.
For a business's radio advertising to be effective, the owner has about 170 words to establish an emotional connection with a listener. No connection...no sale.
So, how can a Maine small businesses create this personal connection with tens-of-thousands of people they can't even see? We asked Maine Association of Broadcasters Hall-of-Famer Chuck Igo that question.
Mr. Igo is currently the morning host on Portland radio station Rewind 100.9. He has been constructing quick connections with unseen Mainers since the first time he turned on his microphone at WCSH-AM in 1979.
"One of the first things I learned," says Mr. Igo, "was to be bright but conversational and to keep those thoughts limited to just one person. And if relating something of a personal nature, there is hopefully a common connection point with that one person who can say “Yeah, I know what you mean…”
The first step to creating connection on the radio is to be heard and remembered. "I try to apply my self-standard of attention & retention," says Mr. Igo. "I ask myself what am I going to say, is it going to be brief enough to get attention and also be something worthwhile to earn a listener’s retention. I also try to keep what I do light, relatable, and neutral. There is enough negativity in the world without me adding to it."
Mr. Igo says while he is in the studio he operates in a void, but when goes into the community, his connection becomes palpable.
"It’s the unexpected feedback," explains Mr. Igo, "about a comment or a story I may have made or related from a friend, or a random person in line at the grocery store who might say 'I thought I recognized that voice.' Also, if, as I try to relate to life as a neighbor or community member, I mention a fun or neat thing happening, we get feedback from the event’s organizer saying they were surprisingly pleased at the number of attendees who mentioned hearing about it on our station. The bellwether is witnessing a response to, or hearing about the impact of, something in which we took part in helping to communicate."
Making Radio Visual
Mr. Igo marvels at his medium's ability to be a very visual medium. As an example, he cites his favorite radio commercial of all time which was created in the 1960s by Stan Freberg & Paul Frees. He calls it a "masterpiece".
"The commercial was actually part of my college copy writing curriculum," says Mr. Igo. "It was produced for the Radio Advertising Bureau as a vehicle to convince advertisers to use radio. In essence, they turned Lake Michigan into a giant ice cream sundae – the ultimate example of theater-of-the-mind." To hear this commercial, click here.
As an advertising medium for Maine small business owners, Mr. Igo points to radio's inherent benefits. "Aside from being affordable and locally-sourced, radio can be extremely flexible," he says. "Literally a message can be crafted and on the air in a mind-boggling brief period of time." He compares this to other media which demand, "painstaking production requirements."
To illustrate this benefit, Mr. Igo recounts the time the general manager of his station called him on the phone from a prospective advertiser's office. "Chukie," said the boss, "I need you to produce a 30-second commercial for this business and it needs to be on the air during the next newscast. Make it happen." A daunting command, because the next newscast was moments away.
"I had to grab a phone book and double-check the client’s location address and phone number," says Mr. Igo. Fortunately, he was familiar with the business and had a general working knowledge of their products.
Immediacy and Relatability
"Approximately 10 minutes after that phone call," continues Mr. Igo, "A 30-second commercial aired as part of that newscast. Turns out, my boss turned the radio on for the prospective client to hear. My boss sealed a $10,000 advertising deal with a local business who had been thinking of spending most of that budget on other media because we could offer something the other venues could not – immediacy and first-hand relatability."
Mr. Igo has spent 38 mastering his craft. He has been on the air for almost 40% of the time Portland radio has existed. His appeal and reach has been unscathed by a continuous barrage of new media including Facebook, You Tube, Pandora, XM, and iTunes.
Maine small business owners face similar challenges from an onslaught of new tech-based competition. Perhaps, Mr. Igo's hall-of-fame insights for continued success can serve as inspiration to succeed.
More Insight For Maine Small Business Owners
- Maine Small Business Owners Should Taste The Rainbow
- How To Build Your Business's Brand On Portland Radio
- Portland Radio Tops The Charts. Maine Small Business Owners Notice.
- Is Your Maine Small Business Ready For Prime Time?