Radio stations have a problem. Due to the current situation in regards to radio licensing, FM stations don't generate enough revenues to spend on traditional forms of marketing. Consequently, the only way these brands can build themselves is through barter deals and tie-ups.
A few months back, radio stations took a fair share of the outdoor sites of various metros and cities. Communications ranging from new programming initiatives to leadership position claims to competition bashing, found its way in various media. Tall claims in radio marketing are now, however, conspicuous by their absence. Advertising is now just about programmes hitting the airwaves and most of it is on the station itself.
"The only reason you do not see too much advertising these days on hoardings, print etc. is because radio stations have been reduced to a state of complete poverty," says Prashant Panday, COO, Radio Mirchi. A point that Vehrnon Ibrahim, National Programming Head, RED FM agrees with, "In the present financial climate, radio stations cannot justify any money spent on advertising. The problem is that unless government policies in regards to licensing are changed, there isn't enough revenue to invest in large scale marketing activities."
However, it is not like the stations stopped marketing themselves completely. The steps now are in the direction of availing the dual benefit of content and making noise around it. Shariq Patel, Station Head, Go 92.5 observes, "We need to market ourselves like any other brand. But since we can't spend much on mass marketing, we do it through programming. We predominantly promote the big events we are involved in like Bollywood Badshah and College Radio challenge and we use a 360 degree approach to it."
Panday adds, "We have been involved in several forms of product innovation. Be it 'The Sanjay Jumani show' or 'Blockbuster Budhwar' - programming innovations continue to drive the Mirchi brand. In terms of marketing support, we have been involved in the Mumbai Marathon and are also into other ground activities like school and college promotions in a big way."
"You have the marketing tie ups and barter deals in place and then it is obviously programming and stations are doing it now more effectively than ever," says Ibrahim. The only way for this medium to get to their TG is through their content and the associations they can secure with the other mass events. Radio industry does hold a promise in the media scene today. However, if the issues that the industry is facing aren't settled as expected, the Indian radio industry will have a tough time growing, if they grow at all.