Coleman Insights

When well executed, a radio contest can increase not only listening but also positive brand identification, says Coleman Insights Media Research Executive VP John Boyne in this week’s “Tuesdays With Coleman” blog post titled “Using Contesting As Strategic Image Building.”

“Contests can add brand depth to stations, on top of being known for great music and/or personalities,” Boyne says, “but only if they stick with it. We have seen large-scale promotions such as Double Your Paycheck, Phrase That Pays, and Pay Your Bills have remarkable association with the radio stations that run them.”

In Tuesday’s blog, Boyne cautions stations to avoid “inside thinking,” as in not viewing the brand as normal consumers do, when looking at the results of a major promotion and “assuming your listeners are paying close attention to everything your station does.” “If ratings aren’t as good as hoped, they are quick to blame the contest and proclaim, ‘Our listeners are bored, it’s time to change it up,” Boyne says. “So when it’s time for another contest, the inside thinker will [either] move on to a totally different contest, run the same contest but change the rules and execution enough to ‘keep it fresh’ [or] add layers of complexity to ‘goose listening’.”

Building a contest that makes an impact takes time, marketing and consistency, according to Boyne. “The ‘outside thinker,’ who adopts the mindset of the consumer, recognizes that listeners have more on their minds than your contest. If you stick with it, you may find that it benefits you more and more as the audience gets to know it better and better each time you do it.”

Boyne also points out how different contests help build the brand in different ways. “Some are fantastic at driving habituated listening, some build music or personality imagery, some create market buzz and some are just plain fun to play along with.”

Most important when it comes to contests is to “pick just one and go all-in,” Boyne says. “Make it easy to understand and easy to play. Do not change the rules. Promote it internally and externally. Make it a ‘franchise’ promotion that runs year after year. Then watch as your audience grows, and you build strategic images.”