Community Media/MARAA/Community Radio/Participation/Marketing

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Participation by community in Marketing

In India, given the restrictions on various kinds of programming, especially news, and also lack of government seed funding or other donor funding, marketing and advertising assume importance as perhaps the sole means of financial sustenance for a community radio station. If you have marketing skills then you can provide valuable support to your radio station. The two main areas of marketing and advertising in which you can get involved are:

  • Collecting advertisements from local shopkeepers, vendors, retail outlets as well as getting contracts for sponsored programs from government agencies can play a huge role in taking the pressure off a radio station. Before you start collecting adverts, you need to take some data to show others. This would be the number of listeners, categorised by age groups (at least), the shows which are most listened to, timings of each show, a copy of the latest program schedule, a copy of the map detailing your coverage area, and perhaps a small brochure detailing how your community radio benefits the local communities, therefore hopefully motivating the client to buy time on your radio rather than commercial radio. You could even negotiate with the management of your radio station to give you a small commission on every advert you get to the radio station. This would keep you personally motivated as well.
  • The other important part of this area is the marketing survey. This is a complex area of work and one which has been implemented by commercial radio stations a long time ago, and with some degree of competence and skill. Our recommendation would be to find out if you know any one from a commercial radio station close by, someone who you could trust. Build a comprehensive market survey with their help. One good way of starting this exercise is to imagine some key members of your community (men, women and children, rich and poor, all castes), and list out every single product they might use from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. Then next to each product, list out all the local, regional and national brand names which sell that product in your coverage area. The next step would be to approach some shopkeepers or small businesses which you know personally, and ask them which are the brands which are selling well, and which are selling poorly. Based on all this data, make a list of brand names and products, list out their contact addresses, and contact person. To the brands which are selling well, you can tell them that advertising on your radio will further deepen their reach, and to the brands selling poorly, the sales pitch is obvious! The other thing you would have to do, is religiously follow advertising on all the rival radio stations. Make a list of all the brands which come on radio, what time they're coming on, what is the length of the ad, how often each ad is listed, and which programs are they attached to. This will give you a realistic idea of how the market is responding to radio at that point in time.