Marketing situation analysis for community radio
Participative Marketing for Local Radio
Audience Dialogue has continued to be busy on different projects hence it has taken us a few months to release this newsletter, sorry for that.  

In this edition we cover marketing planning, situation analysis, mail surveys, station format strategy and also a new health check resource for community radio 
. Enjoy reading.
A marketing plan for community radio

As someone involved in community radio perhaps you are wondering "Why do we need a marketing plan? Why can't we just bumble along as we always have, fighting crises all the time, never sure what we're going to do next? After all, we've survived so far - haven't we?"

That question reveals its own answer: without a plan, you get trapped in a day-to-day existence, fighting the same crises over and over again, wasting a lot of time, but making no real progress.

A marketing plan doesn't need to be detailed, but it should be the result of a lot of careful thinking, contributed by as many people as possible. Large businesses have Marketing Departments and Strategic Planning Units. They write marketing plans as thick as books - then pass them on to other departments to implement. Strangely, the implementation often doesn't follow the plan!

A community organization like most community radio, specially if it relies a lot on volunteers, needs to take a different approach. People are not going to wholeheartedly implement a plan if they've had no say in creating it.

It is possible for one person to produce an entire marketing plan - if that person is well-informed enough - maybe the general manager. Unfortunately, that type of marketing plan usually doesn't get implemented. The other staff don't understand it, or the reasons behind it.

These days, if you ask volunteers or well-educated employees to do something, they'll ask "Why?" If they don't believe the reasons, or don't understand the reasons, their co-operation will be weak. Therefore a marketing plan needs to be well-argued. If it is to be effective, everybody who will have a hand in implementing it must be involved. So, if you're the general manager, don't just sit down and write a plan - get everybody to contribute. The joint thinking process is often the most valuable part of the plan.

What should the marketing plan look like?

Many marketing plans are massive documents, hundreds of pages long: full of tables, projections, and impressive but meaningless diagrams. You don't need all that. The more detailed the plan, the less likely it is to be circulated among all the staff, and the less likely it is to be read.

Ten pages (as we've found) is about the limit of what most people will read. If a document has more than 10 pages, they say "I'm too busy now; I'll read it later" - but they don't, because they're just as busy later. That 10 pages is for the plan itself, not the situation analysis (described below, with more depth further down) which can be much more detailed, as it is there mainly for reference.

A marketing plan won't work if it hides away in a filing cabinet or bookcase. It must somehow leap off the paper, into the heads of the people who carry it out. This usually happens only if it leaps out of their heads, onto paper, in the first place. But people forget what they've agreed; that's why you need a written plan.

It's a good idea to turn the marketing plan into a poster, and stick it on a wall in a public area. The more attractive it looks, the more people will read it. They can glance at it as they walk past or while they're waiting for something.

I suggest that you plan two years ahead, and update the plan several times a year. The further ahead, the less detail you need. So provide a lot of detail for the current quarter, less for next quarter, and so on.

What should a marketing plan contain?

A marketing plan should address these questions, including as much relevant numerical information as you can find:

1. Where have we come from?
2. Where are we now?
3. Where do we want to be?
4. How can we get there? How must we change?
5. How will we know if we're getting there?

Parts 1 and 2 are a review, while parts 3 and 4 are the main marketing plan. Part 5 is a marketing evaluation. The questions it asks, and the methods for answering them, are part of the marketing plan - but of course the questions can't be answered until the plan is under way.

1. Where have we come from?

The first section reviews the last few years. Consider how effective your marketing has been, and what evidence there is for this. It's essential to be candid, not to pretend an activity was a great success when in fact it may not have been. If this seems difficult, because it might hurt people's feelings, assign several people to the role of critic.

Compare past projections (of income, audience, etc) with actual outcomes. Did you forecast a 50% increase two years ago, and was the real increase only 10%? Why the difference?

Many marketing plans skip this step of the marketing plan, but if you don't review the past, you can't learn from it.

2. Where are we now?

This part of the marketing plan is often called a situation analysis, or environment analysis, or marketing audit, or situation assessment. Whatever you call it, you gather all the relevant information on your current situation, including...

  • Your inputs and resources: staff numbers, money earned and spent, facilities.
  • Your outputs: program content, audience size, and actions people take as a result of listening to your station.
  • Your environment, and how it affects the way in which your inputs are transformed into outputs. consider local developments, other media, and audience trends.
  • Your stakeholders. For each stakeholder group (and powerful individuals separately), consider ways in which they might help your station, and ways in which they might oppose it.

When you've finished collecting this information, it's a good idea to make it widely accessible (such as a data room, described below) so that it can be corrected and updated.

3. Where do we want to be?

Describe the ideal situation for your station in a few years' time. What could your inputs, your outputs, and your environment be? This needs a reasonable amount of detail: several pages in writing. The typical "mission" or "vision" statement isn't specific enough.

The plan can include:

  • Special programs that you are planning.
  • Clear description of the target audience, and which types of new listeners you want most.
  • Special events you will organize - and how these will be used to attract new listeners, new sponsors etc.
  • Your audience goals - how you plan to achieve them, and how that achievement will be measured.
  • Revenue goals - and the means that will be used to achieve them.
  • Staff, skills, and work relationships.
  • Development of new systems (clerical, computer, etc.).
  • Your plans for spending on marketing: how much money needs to be spent to achieve each goal.
  • How staff time will be spent on marketing.
4. How can we get there? What needs to change?

Compare your present situation with your ideal. How many more staff and money will you need, to create your ideal station through your ideal marketing campaign? How many more listeners will you need to attract? How can you make best use of the "3 legs" of marketing?

A lot of marketing plans fail because they don't make a clear link between the current situation and the desired future. You have to create a feasible path between your present situation and your desired future.

There should be a strong reason for every marketing initiative you propose. Don't just write "we'll do X." Instead, write "We'll do X, because A and B and C." This will make the plan a little longer, but it will also give everybody a chance to become involved. The most effective plans are those developed in a participatory way.

Here you list each stakeholder group, and how you will approach marketing with it.

To make it more likely that each task in the marketing plan will be implemented, it should be allocated a person to be responsible, some funding, and a target completion date. The people who will be responsible for implementation must be involved with the planning. Otherwise they're likely to say "It's impossible for this station to get 99% audience share by next week, with only a $1 budget. The management should have consulted us!"

It's important to set realistic goals. If a goal is too easy (1% share in ten years' time, with a million-dollar budget) staff won't try very hard. But if they see the goal as impossible, they also won't try. For maximum motivation (as research has found) you should set a goal which has an apparent 50% chance of success.  

In the case of a community radio, obtaining a large share of the potential audience in a rural-based community is often very achievable.

If the difference between the present and the ideal is huge (it often is) you can make it more realistic either by reducing your ideal, or lengthening the time frame. But if you compromise your ideal, people will lose their motivation, and if you extend your planning horizon from (say) 3 years to 20, it's hard to focus on the near future. Therefore, I recommend coming up with a short-term plan: how can you get some way towards achieving your ideal, in just a few years?

5. How will we know if we're getting there?

This process is called monitoring or evaluation. It's a review of the marketing you've been involved with, and how that fits in with your marketing plan. This process includes reviewing the station from the point of view of each type of stakeholder. Has the station been getting better for advertisers, but worse for the audience? (That's a real sign of danger.) Don't just guess - ask some listeners and advertisers, and other stakeholders.

For monitoring to be effective, it needs to happen constantly: an annual review is not enough. To set up a monitoring system, define some measures that will, taken together, inform you whether your plan is working. These measures, called indicators, might include:

  • Number of visitors to the station.
  • Number of phone calls, letters, faxes, and emails received.
  • Number of inquiries from prospective staff and volunteers.
  • Audience data, specially the size and satisfaction of the audience (from surveys).
  • Advertising revenue received each month.
  • Number of inquiries from prospective advertisers

...and so on. Any one of these measures, taken by itself, might be misleading, but if most of them are trending upwards, you'll know that your marketing is successful. Most of these involve some kind of audience research. Research is expensive but we can offer suggestions on reducing its cost, included also in our book.

When a radio station has been going for several years it has probably created a number of marketing initiatives. It is easy to lose track of these, and if the implicit messages change too quickly, audience and advertisers tend to be confused about what your station has to offer. So every now and again (perhaps annually) it's a good idea to step back from your involvement with the station, and try to see its image as (a) a new listener and (b) a new advertiser might.

Situation Analysis (method)

What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (or Limitations) - called SWOT?

A SWOT Analysis is a simple and powerful business technique that has been around for over 40 years. Whilst ideal for a radio station, you can also do it for a specific radio program or even yourself as an individual, to map your career development. The idea is to be realistic about the situation and environment, whether you are a new station in Bangladesh or a long established one in the USA. The goal is to have a cool clear-headed base for next steps. 

Very important to use a variety of sources of information for a reasonably factual, multi-dimensional view of your world as a broadcaster. You can also make assumptions if they are specific and more or less common-knowledge (or reasonably acceptable).  The idea is to start with something to work with, and refine later as situations become clearer. For a community radio station every form of research (or data, evidence) you can get can support the process. Whether it is feedback from listeners or group discussions, regional economic forecasts, social studies by an NGO, all of this is useful. What does a SWOT look like? It's a simple 4 box chart, see the example below, where you list your points under each heading.

Let's review these elements.

Strengths (or assets)

  • Are owned by your station and under your control.
  • For a community radio they could include your mix of programs, community-association, strong image, distinctive personalities with a strong audience, measurable listener engagement, research/feedback systems, type of advertisers and NGO partnerships.
  • Station assets could include team spirit, volunteer numbers (and ease to recruit) and positive culture, as they all make a difference.


  • Owned by your station (mainly under your control) and opposite to strengths.  The areas where your station is weak / has problems, this can include financial resources, unreliable power, low-skilled journalists, old broadcasting equipment and lack of IT.
  • This can be uncomfortable, but the idea is to fix things, and not dwelling on history and finger-pointing. Negative energies have no place in this exercise.
  • Also important to prioritise (see below) so you are not wasting time on issues of low importance.


  • Are external factors, what is happening in your environment that you could capitalise on.
  • An example is a problem with another radio station or media, such as upheaval during ownership difficulties or changes.
  • Beyond media look for changing demographics in your area, lifestyle trends, seasonal influences, new technologies being adopted, and new politics, regulations and economics.
  • Think about the impact and timing of any trends.

Threats (limitations)

  • The reverse of opportunities - what in the environment could impact negatively on your station, what you are trying to do? Think of it in terms of size of impact and timing, when it may occur.
  • For a community radio station this could include television, Korean dramas on television, the internet and new FM commercial radios.  Think of developments that may affect your audience, staff and support base including advertisers.

How do we use this data?

Firstly go through the 4 lists and prioritise (define what is more important), even just a rough sort of the most important to least important. In a meeting  you might ask your colleagues at the station to nominate their top 3 in each area (box) and then you concentrate on the most voted items.

It is vital to carefully consider what you have collected about your situation, and discuss as a group the following:

  • Strengths: that you need to maintain and grow.
  • Weaknesses: which fixes will have the most impact, short and long-term?
  • Opportunities: which have the most potential, and are practical to exploit?  As example, for a community radio the advent of Facebook is one such opportunity that can be useful.
  • Threats: which are the most immediate, and which are just over the horizon?

The next task is where you look for actionable relationships between items in the 4 boxes. As example,

  • Which opportunities best match your strengths? High priority for action to remain a leader or strong in your area.
  • If there's a great opportunity which fits your direction, but you're weak in that area, as example say folk music, then you need to re-think about your resources.
  • A threat (or external limitation) is best addressed with a strength but if it's directly linked to a weakness (as example, if you are a shortwave broadcaster facing new FM licencees) then you have a major problem to address.
  • In the minds of your listeners do your strong points (ideally tested as important to them) outweigh your weak points? 

Many community radios do not have a marketing plan and do not conduct and act on regular (and honest) situation analyses. 

That largely explains why many radios struggle to deliver consistently for the communities they serve.  But these tools can help them overcome and improve their situation.

What questions and issues do you have about analysing or marketing planning for your community station?  Simply email your story (or question) to

Station format and positioning

If your station is a brand new one, you have the luxury of being able to choose a program format. 

Radio programs have two main components: talk and music. Throughout the world, the most popular stations are the ones that play music the majority of the time. But listeners want more than just music, and a station that has no news will get a smaller audience (other things being equal) than a station with short news bulletins every hour. The most popular stations have either "mostly talk" or "mostly music" - but not a 50-50 mixture (which produces very small audiences), nor 90-10.

If you want to maximize your audience share, I suggest playing music about 80% of the time, 10% news/information, and 10% commercials.

That's OK for a commercial station, but maybe not desirable for a community station, on which listeners will expect to hear local issues discussed. A mostly-music community station would probably have several half-hour programs a day that are mostly talk, but interspersed with music.

A good format for a mostly-talk station is to broadcast lots of news, current affairs, fiction, and short documentaries - but never talk for more than about 15 minutes, and intersperse each spoken segment with popular music, with clear lyrics. (People who like talk programs on radio also seem to like to listen to the words of songs, rather than the musical qualities.)

Before deciding on a station format, you should be aware of the potential audience it will attract. Any radio station format will have an audience ceiling, because some people will not be interested in some types of program. In most parts of the developed world, a "foreground radio" station that specializes in produced talk programs will do very well to get an audience share of 10% - but it will often have a high reach, because its listeners won't spend much time with it: not because they don't want to, but because they can't spare the time to fully concentrate. A station that broadcasts mostly classical music will do well to get a 3% share, or about 10% weekly reach.

Bearing in mind the size of a station's potential audience, there's not necessarily an inverse correlation between purity and popularity. "Talking down" to your audience doesn't necessarily increase it size, nor does broadcasting complex ideas necessarily result in a tiny audience. The better you know your audience (from formal or informal audience research) the better knowledge you will have of the most acceptable forms of presentation.

Setting your target audience will also, to a large extent, set your station format. It's no use aiming for a target audience of people aged 60 and over, and choosing to play techno dance music constantly. 

To link the proposed format with the proposed target audience, you need some current audience research data. You'll probably need to commission a survey.  To learn how to do that check our website starting from here.

Which comes first: the target audience, or the format?

Well-trained marketers will advise you to set the target audience first, then find out what type of programs they like.

Experienced radio programmers will know the format they want, and try to find a target audience for it.

In practice, you need to work from both ends at once, juggling formats and target audiences (based on survey data) till you have both a viable-sized potential audience, and a format that you think you can deliver better than any competing station.

The more competing stations in your market, the harder the decision will be. If yours is the first radio station ever, it's easy: have a program for everybody, and they'll all listen. But there can't be many parts of the world still in that position.

Our book Participative Marketing for Local Radio has more information about all the topics above so click here to learn more and check out the book, available for just $20.

Do you have a healthy or sustainable radio station?

This is a question well worth asking.  Sustainability is a broadly defined concept usually including social, institutional and financial elements.  

It is a desirable state of being that most community radios aspire to but almost never achieve.

Many community radios only survive due to the support of a big partner like a University, NGO or other well-resourced community organisations.  Some survive based on relying almost entirely on volunteers.  Some radios continue even if they have limited audience and community participation such as many in India.

But let us be clear.  Survival and sustainability are not the same thing.  The radios that merely survive, like some in my home country Australia, usually have a limited program format and a small specialized audience, such as only broadcasting classical music. This kind of station is happy even if nobody is listening, as the broadcasters just love what they are doing.

Development-oriented radios such as in Africa and Asia have a much wider remit - to reach and influence their communities in positive ways.  To be enablers of social change.

Sustainability is an aspiration but for most radios the more important thing is their condition at that specific point in time, and in relation to where they want to be / their goals.  This stimulates continuous improvement.

Franz Kruger and colleagues at Wits Radio Academy in South Africa - sponsored by OSISA - have developed a practical  resource called The Healthy Community Radio Station to help community radios anywhere to understand where they are, how they are travelling, and where they need to improve. 

I simply copy Franz's comments on the topic of station health below in italics (taken from the full article here).

Sustainability” is the term generally used in the literature dealing with the challenges faced by community radio. However, the word points in some directions which are not helpful to clear thinking.

It suggests sustainability is a happy state of prosperity and stability that can be reached by a station, and which will then endure. The concrete – and understandable – expectation from funders is that after a certain period of time, stations will be able to stand on their own two feet.

In reality, stations have their ups and downs: many have failed after seeming secure, while others have fallen apart and then picked themselves up again. The struggle for survival is an ongoing one.

It’s preferable to talk about a station’s health, since health is understood as something that is not fixed, but can change from time to time. It also helps us reduce an excessive concentration on financial issues, in favour of a more holistic approach that gives due weight to social and institutional factors.

I have reviewed several assessment and self-improvement toolkits for community radio and I believe this one is the most practical and useful I have found, and it certainly could (I would say should) be used by most community radios.  I recommend you seriously consider it for your station.

To learn more and download a copy of the book and toolkit click the link below.

Learning about your audience via mail.

I often get asked by course participants about mail surveys. Many radio staff are not confident in undertaking face to face surveys or feel it will take up too much of their time and be too costly, and other self-completion methods require volunteers to drop and collect surveys.  Sometimes the most appropriate way to do a survey is by mail, using the postal system (if it is reasonably reliable). If most of the following conditions apply, a mail survey could be the best type to use:

  • You have a complete list of names and addresses of the population to be surveyed — such as members of a community group or village.
  • People in the population are able to read and write well, and have an above-average level of education. (Keep in mind it is often more difficult to complete a written questionnaire than a spoken one.)
  • The people can be expected to have an interest in the success of the community radio sponsoring the survey. For example, they are regular listeners to a radio station. Without this interest the response rate is likely to be very low.
  • You're not in a hurry to get results. It takes time for letters to be sent out and returned. The shortest time between sending out letters and getting enough completed questionnaires back is about a month.
  • The questionnaire does not include questions whose answers are likely to be different if people read through the questionnaire before answering any questions.

    Any sets of questions which take the form of "Which radio stations do you listen to?" followed a little later by "What's your opinion of FM99?" are likely to produce biased results, as many people read through a questionnaire before beginning to answer it. They'll realize that FM99 is sponsoring the survey, and many people will reward the sponsor by not criticizing it.

  • The respondents will need to look up information from some other source - concerning their finances, for example.
  • You can't afford to spend much on a survey. Mail surveys are usually the cheapest type of survey. That's why they are so often used, even when they're not appropriate.

It is generally not worthwhile to do a mail survey with the general public. Most people simply won't answer, so you won't be able to determine how representative your results are. But when small specialized populations need to be better understood, and these can include specific religious or ethnic groups, mail surveys can be very effective.

The biggest problem with mail surveys is a low response rate. In our experience the minimum response rate for producing valid results is about 60%, but many mail surveys achieve less than 30% return. To overcome this you need to make it easier and more rewarding for people to respond.

Making it easy

People who are willing to return a mail questionnaire may not get around to doing so without some prompting. For this reason it's normal to offer respondents some encouragement to mail their questionnaires back.

1. Include a return envelope

The first method of encouragement is an easy way to get the questionnaire back: a business reply or free post envelope, addressed to the originator of the survey. Free post licences are easy to obtain (in most countries), and the only costs involved are associated with printing envelopes (in a format strictly specified by the postal authority). In several countries the free post charge is paid only when an envelope goes through the mail, so if you send out 1000 questionnaires and only get 500 back, you are only charged for 500.

If you put stamps on all the return envelopes, this normally produces a slightly higher response rate than free post (because some people don't like a stamp to be wasted), but it will cost you a lot more than using freepost.

2. Give a deadline

The second incentive seems trivial, but we have found it to be surprisingly effective. Simply print, near the beginning of the questionnaire, something like this:


Please try to return this questionnaire within 7 days


The shorter the request, the better it seems to work. 

3. Offer an incentive

Surveys that don't use interviewers tend to have much lower response rates than surveys where the interviewer speaks to the respondent. It's much easier to ignore a questionnaire that comes in the mail than to ignore a real interviewer. Therefore, mail surveys need to use incentives, to boost the response rate. There are two types of incentive, which I call psychological and financial.

An psychological incentive is a way of making people feel good about filling in a questionnaire, for example "If you like to use our products, please help us improve them by completing this questionnaire."

A financial incentive is money or goods given to the respondent. This can be in two forms: either every respondent is given a small gift, or every respondent is given what amounts to a lottery ticket, and a chance to win a large prize. In some countries, the lottery incentive is illegal. In others, a special licence must be obtained from the authorities - which may take months. 

After experimenting with incentives of various types and sizes, we have reached two conclusions:

1. A small chance of winning a large amount works better than the certainty of a small amount. It is also much less work to give out one large prize than lots of tiny ones.

Judging the size of the incentive is something of an art: if the incentive is too small, many people won't bother to respond. But if you are offering a huge prize for one lucky respondent, some respondents will send in multiple questionnaires - probably not with identical answers, some even answered at random - simply to try to win the prize. 

Very large prizes produce diminishing returns: when the prize is doubled, the response rate rises only a few percent. An amount that I've found effective is the value of about a day's wages for the average respondent. For most people, this would be a pleasant amount to win, but would not be enough to make them distort their answers.

Offering several small prizes doesn't work as well as one large prize - unless respondents can clearly see that they have a higher chance with a small prize - for example, one prize in each village surveyed.

Take care that the prize offered is something which won't discourage potential respondents who already have one. In wealthy countries, the most effective kinds of prizes are often small luxury items that cannot be stored up. Vouchers for restaurant meals are often very effective. 

Don't begrudge spending money on rewards: it's usually more than saved by the number of questionnaires not printed and mailed out to achieve an equal number of responses.

2. It's best to use two different kinds of reward at the same time: psychological incentives as well as financial ones. By psychological incentives, I mean reasoned appeals to complete a questionnaire. These arguments can appeal to either self-interest or philanthropy - sometimes both. For example:

  • Please complete the questionnaire, to help us improve our programs.
  • Broadcasting works best when there is two-way communication, so please give us your views by filling in this brief questionnaire.

Because people who don't use a service much also tend not to respond to surveys about it, it's a good idea to add another emotional appeal, perhaps something like this:

  • Even if you don't listen to FM99 very often, your opinions are still very important to us. We're very keen to provide better services to occasional listeners, and without their feedback we can't do this.

Another type of psychological incentive is a promise to tell respondents about the survey's results. This is simplest to fulfil when you have regular contact with respondents, and notifying them of results could be as simple as putting an article in their next newsletter. One point in favour of this type of incentive is that it can work with people who are unaffected by other types of incentive.

Psychological incentives work well with regular users of a media service, but non-users don't usually have any emotional attachment. Non-users usually respond well to financial incentives, but regular users respond little to financial incentives - unless the prize is very large. That's why using both types of incentive will produce a better balanced sample than using only one type.

Questionnaire design for mail surveys

Compared with questionnaires for telephone surveys (which have to be read and completed only by interviewers), self-completion questionnaires need much more care taken with their design.

Before having a questionnaire printed and mailed out, it's essential to test it thoroughly with 5 to 10 respondents: some old, some young, some not very bright. Don't use your office staff, or your friends or relatives: they know too much about your intentions. Go to strangers, who have never heard of your survey before - but if the questionnaire is only for listeners to your station, obviously the strangers should also be listeners. Sit beside them while they fill in the draft version, and ask them to think aloud.

You need to make sure that:

  • there are no errors in it (specially in any skip instructions, if questions have been renumbered),
  • the questions are easily understood (even by people with a limited command of the language), and
  • the layout won't cause people to omit questions.

You'll find that even after you have produced many mail questionnaires, occasional problems still occur. Having 5 to 10 testers fill in your questionnaire is an excellent way of improving the survey - as long as you take notice of any problems they have, and any misunderstandings. If the testing results in extensive changes to the questionnaire, find a new lot of testers - 5 is usually enough, the second time.

You can read more about this topic on our webpage on survey techniques.  If you have a question simply send us an email.

Which is the best research technique?

This is a common-enough question we get asked.  The answer: No single research technique is best, but each technique is appropriate for a particular kind of situation. There’s an old saying, common among researchers, and still true: "Research can be fast, cheap, and accurate - pick any two."

In other words:

  • Quick, low-cost research is usually not accurate
  • Quick and accurate research is not cheap (and sometimes not possible)
  • Cheap and accurate research is usually slow.

In some situations, you don’t need very accurate research. If you have never done audience research before, and have no information about your audience, it’s not difficult or expensive to gather some data.

For example, if you don’t know the ages of your audience, you could do a small survey and perhaps find that 70% were under 30 years old. If only 100 people were surveyed (as long as they form a representative sample) you can expect that the figure of 70% may be about 5% in error. But whether the true figure is 65% or 75%, you will be much better informed than you were before.

So if you only want to get an approximate idea of your audience, it is possible to do research quickly and cheaply, and still have it accurate enough. The more you already know about your audience, the more expensive it becomes to increase that knowledge.

Like to do your own audience research?

If you do your own research, it is much cheaper - but that is because most of the cost involves labour (people-time). You need to be highly organized, and to have suitable staff with plenty of time available. You also need to be well informed - for example, by reading our books such as Know your Audience.

If you prefer to learn by training yourself / your staff and doing practical work then maybe a course supplemented by books may suit you.  Audience Dialogue offers a world-unique course on measuring and understanding your audience (listeners, existing and potential).

A quick outline of a typical course is below, topics can be resolved with participants based on needs.

  • Introduction, why is audience knowledge important, overview and situation analysis including review of surveys completed and research activities normally undertaken by the radios, introduction to impact analysis.
  • Audience data and sources/methods used, audience concepts explained and distinguished, findings about radio audiences and discussion with respect to the relevant country (data to be presented, industry and station where possible).
  • Research methods available including matching data needs with research methods.
  • Developing a research project, defining the problem, the research questions.
  • Designing an audience survey (is anyone listening?), writing a questionnaire, principles of interviewing/fieldwork and sampling (group face to face half-day survey exercise in a chosen locality).
  • Inputting/analysing (using PC software or online service, say like Survey Monkey) and reporting survey findings.
  • Other practical quantitative methods including mail (self-completion) surveys, SMS, phone-voice and group audience surveys.
  • Qualitative methods, in-depth interviews (briefly), participant observation and focus/consensus groups (including consensus group exercise).
  • Response cultivation, feedback gathering (including via listener clubs) and content analysis.
  • Using research findings effectively.
  • Developing a research action plan (exercise, for each station)

We believe this knowledge and action is increasingly important to all media including community radio in an ever fast-changing media landscape, where listeners are evolving quicker often than broadcasters and have so many more choices. 

If you believe this course content might be useful to your station or network, or have a question, story or issue about doing your own research simply send us an email.

Participative Marketing for Local Radio - The Book

Participative marketing is a new way of thinking about a timeless concept: marketing is not just something that big corporations do to consumers, but something that everybody does when engaged in purposeful activity.

What's new about the idea of participative marketing is that it sets out to weave a strong web of relationships to help bring people together for a common purpose. If it works properly there's no exploitation, but a filling of mutual needs. "Participative marketing" extends the idea of "relationship marketing" to cover all types of communications and social networks.

The book is designed to be useful for any kind of local radio station, but is especially aimed at community-owned stations.

These are perfectly suited to the participative approach, since they are generally short of money but well resourced with people, though the people (mostly volunteers) are a diverse resource that needs to be nurtured and managed effectively, as is explained in chapter 10.

Below is media professional Grace Lekuru from Uganda, another avid user of our book.

Grace Lekuru Uganda

This is not really a how-to-do-it manual, but a sourcebook of ideas, principles, and possibilities for radio station marketing, radio marketing and radio branding, and community radio funding and advertising.  It provides suggestions on how a community radio can secure an audience, generate income and become sustainable.

You can browse the content of the book here and buy it easily and securely with your credit card or PayPal account.

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You are on a mailing list called Participative Marketing for Local Radio because you bought or inquired about the book, or are involved or expressed an interest in the marketing and development of community radio. The mailing list provides news and ideas about marketing of community radio on a periodic basis.

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Your questions, problems and ideas (and examples, stories) are very much appreciated to make the book as useful and relevant as possible to community radio worldwide, so please send them to us. This includes any experience you have with listener clubs.
Contact Us

John Goslino
Principal Consultant
Audience Dialogue
PO Box 75
Crafers South Australia 5152
Mobile/cell: 0400 805 233
Skype: john.goslino

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