Stations planning on bringing back contests this summer may want to check the latest edition of radio programming and broadcast consulting and research firm Lund Media's “The Lund Letter,” which is essentially a crash course in contesting, including a half dozen ways to maximize results.
“Stations program contests to excite the cume and boost listening levels,” Lund Media President John Lund says, advising stations to keep contests simple – along the lines of classics like “Song of the Day” or “Secret Sound” – and “hit the hot buttons” when it comes to prizes. “Money is always the most wanted prize, followed by groceries and gas,” Lund says. “Listeners also like to win things that make their lives better [so] give away what’s hot, [such as] the newest cell phone and the latest Alexa-enabled device by Amazon.”
Lund also stresses the importance of programming contests for what he calls the “vicarious majority” of listeners, as opposed to active contesters or those who don't care about them. “The idle group of about 50% is the vicarious players that may 'play along' without actually participating on-air or being tempted to try to win an intriguing prize,” Lund says. “Play to this majority, just as TV game shows like 'Jeopardy' and 'Family Feud' are designed for viewers to play at home.”
As important as the 'what' is the 'when,' as in how often to play and to promote. “Give listeners set times to play your contest,” Lund says. “You’ll still get the average listening time per tune-in, but you’ll get more times at bat with that listener with more listening times each day.” At the same time, contests need to be mentioned at least three times an hour. “Too many stations don’t get the desired effect from contests because the promos and supportive teases aren’t heard often enough to impact the audience,” Lund says. “Repetition builds recognition.”
Finally, Lund reminds stations to take advantage of production to make contests more attractive to listeners. “Utilize music beds, sound effects, and previous winner calls to dress up the promos,” he says. “Capturing the winner’s excitement for recorded promos helps sell the contest and entertains the audience as well.”