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  • Writer's pictureDrake Donovan

Being Memorable For Alexa's Sake: How Old Recall Tactics Are Relevant In The Smart Speaker Age

I just had a conversation with some radio pros about what we as an industry need to do to be more memorable in the age of smart speakers that rely on listener recall to find the right station and the right app. Some of our old techniques from the diary days just might be relevant once again.

From an imaging standpoint, I think there are a few things we can do between the songs to help listeners find us in the moment on an Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple Homepod.

1. Choose a consistent Name/Position Statement for use across all platforms.

There are lots of stations with the same name and/or same frequency out there. So, unless your brand incorporates the call letters, you’re gonna need something unique to you.Simply asking your listeners to “play Kiss FM” can result in them listening to a station that isn’t yours and having them latch on to a different station in a different market all together. When I was with the now-Entercom cluster in Pittsburgh, we adopted Y108Pittsburgh as our handle for all the station’s social media accounts, so it was natural to use those to identify our Y108 as the country station in Pittsburgh, PA and not the rock station in Toronto, ON.

2. Eliminate dead segues

PPM led to less audio identification between the songs, because with encoding, we didn’t need it. Now, more than ever, we need to drill it into our listeners’ brains who they’re listening to between every song. Utilizing “blinks” or “shotguns” in place of dead segues that reinforce the station name/position that finds your station on smart speakers and Apple Car play/Android Auto as well.

3. Listener education sweepers

Most stations have done a pretty good job at this, but there are multiple ways to approach it. Amazon’s Echo has a “Simon says” feature that allows you to get Alexa to deliver lines you write for her (within reason as she self-sensors any questionable content). But, having Alexa talk about attributes of your station or market can be a fun way to incorporate her into your local programming while educating the audience on where to find your stream.You could also record Alexa, Siri & Google having an argument over the best way to listen to your station. There’s a lot of fun to be had while teaching our listeners how to consume our brands in new ways.

4. Taking things a step further, beyond the imaging, is possibly the most radical idea of all to bring back…outside marketing

Radio makes its revenue marketing other brands to its audience. We work day-in and day-out expressing to clients the importance of branding, frequency, calls-to-action, etc. Yet, for the better part of the past two decades, radio’s own marketing efforts have completely vanished.

Billboards, bus boards, TV commercials, and at the very least, cross-promotion among cluster mates can help expand your brand and embed that recall in your listeners’ brains. And then there’s also the idea of merchandise. I’ve written on this subject before and it’s possibly even more relevant now. Check that sample out here.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as our audience adopts more listening via smart speakers and connected cars. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for a potential panel discussion on this subject at this summer’s Conclave 44, happening June 19th-21th at the Delta Hotel in Minneapolis.

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