Radio stations are struggling to maintain attention and loyalty in an ever-expanding world of increased competition, causing many smart broadcasters to rethink their strategy. Building a brand around having the biggest reach is no longer the most important ratings component. Many are investing resources in fan marketing. Fan marketing is a simple concept: Identify those most attracted to the brand and what it represents and love on them. Consider the value of a fan and it becomes clear that this is a profitable strategy. But how does one go about it? It’s not as simple as tweaking the clocks, adjusting the music and coming up with clever positioning statements. And it goes beyond testimonials that say “It’s my favorite station”. Fan marketing is deeper than that.

A Brilliant Example of Fan Marketing

Contemporary Christian station Life 102.5 in Madison does a great job winning fans. The station has built a community of loyal fans who love the station and what it stands for. That is a common attribute for CCM stations, but it doesn’t happen by accident.
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Life 102.5 has succeeded in three notable ways.

Demonstrate The Difference

First, the station regularly shows fans how the community makes a difference. They boldly demonstrate how the station changes lives. On their website, the station encourages listeners to share their story. Some turn into audio on the air, but most remain online only messages that encourage other listeners. Occasionally one comes along that puts an exclamation point on the reason Life 102.5 fans love them. Watch this video that shares a listener’s story:  

Gifts, Not Prizes

Most radio stations give away prizes. Radio contests can be highly effective methods of manipulating the ratings system. But a fan marketing strategy isn’t about attracting another quarter hour here or there with the biggest prize giveaways.  Life 102.5 goes out of their way to show appreciation to listeners, especially donors that fund their non-commercial station. The station showers fans with high quality gifts to say “thank you”. These gifts aren’t stickers, key chains and trinkets. They invest in classy, useful items like Yeti travel mugs. Each gift is thoughtful and always points back to the station, reinforcing reasons they became fans and supporters in the first place.
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Check out the coffee mug that promotes the morning show’s (Dave & Candice) daily feature “The Impossible Question”. That’s Dave  Conour (also the station PD) showing it off. At first, it looks like the gift is a high quality, plain black mug. But fill it with a hot drink, and a clever pattern appears, promoting the feature. Sure, it costs more than a cheap plastic mug. The budget won’t buy quite as many. But that’s okay. It has fan value. And those gifts stay on listener’s desks.

The Book Club

A lot of stations talk about engagement, but what does that really mean? More posts on social media or getting out in the community for additional live broadcasts? Life 102.5 gets deeper into the lives of their fans. Candice (morning cohost) and Summer Shepard (Afternoon host) have started a book club, powered by a website, weekly podcast and closed Facebook Group. Full details are explained here. The book club is amazing. It’s exploding because they’ve made it fun and easy to participate. Fans feel closer to the personalities. They participate with an off-air activity built around common station values. And it empowers listeners to bring others into the club, where they are exposed to the station.
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Life 102.5 knows their audience, primarily 35-plus women are looking for companionship, community and belonging. They have invested their time, promotion inventory and financial resources to understand their audience. But more importantly, they have demonstrated a willingness to go the extra mile to really love on those fans. It’s a brilliant example of fan marketing.   Focus on Fans, Not P1s Build a Community of Fans By Being the Underdog Here’s the Math That Shows The Value of Fans to a Radio Station How Chaos Theory Can Help Convert Cume to Fans The Truth About Radio P1’s and Fans The Incredible Power of Fans and Super Listeners Brilliant Example of Fan Marketing