Q: I have an inspirational early-morning Sunday community radio show with no budget. I interview authors, entrepreneurs, and high achievers. I would like some creative ideas for promoting, marketing, and making money with this show.
—R.P., New York City
A: You're in a much better position than most entrepreneurs, because you already have direct access to a medium through which you can promote yourself and your show. Ask your station how you can get audience numbers and demographic information that you can use for publicity. Does the station promote your show during its other programming? If not, can you purchase ads for the show at a reduced, in-house rate?
Remember that building an audience and attracting advertisers will take time and creativity, so have patience while continually improving the quality of your content and the guests you book.
Comb through your social circles looking for influential people or people who know influential people, and ask them to listen to your show and help you promote it. "Now more than ever, success is all about networking and who you know," says Georgette Pasquale, president and CEO of Pasquale Communications in Pittsburgh.
Obviously, your major income stream will come from advertisements and sponsors, as well as sales of show-related merchandise. Before you can sell anything, however, you'll need to develop an audience and some credibility for yourself and the program. "Develop some clips by pitching your show to print publications that write about the inspirational topics you tend to feature. The radio industry trade publications also might showcase you if you pitch the editors," Pasquale says.
Be RealisticDon't start out with unrealistically high expectations and get discouraged when your efforts seem to go nowhere. "I have clients who want to shoot for Oprah, but I tell them to start with their community newspaper" or local access cable shows, Pasquale says.
It's not difficult to create a decent Web site for the show at little cost and then use that to promote your interviews with upcoming guests. "Once you get a few good clips, make sure you put links to them up on your Web site as they will lend street cred to your efforts," Pasquale says.
If you haven't already, set up fan pages for your show on Facebook and other free social networking sites. "Get an account on Twitter that you use to promote upcoming show topics and guests," says Greg Sterling, founder of online consulting and research firm Sterling Market Intelligence. "A blog could also be used to discuss shows and subjects or authors in more detail and potentially archive or host past show content," Sterling says, noting that posting regularly to a blog takes more time and effort than updating social media sites.
In order to cut down on the time involved in social networking, learn shortcuts. For instance, "status updates on Facebook and Twitter can be tied together or updated simultaneously using a number of tools," Sterling says. Within Facebook, you can find instructions for how to sync status updates.
You can use event posting sites, such as Zvents.com, Eventful.com, and Yahoo!'s (YHOO) Upcoming, as free venues for promoting upcoming shows. Ask your guests to help promote their interviews as well. "In networking, one hand washes the other. Remember that the people you've invited wouldn't come on your show if it was a waste of their time, so ask them to help disseminate your message at their businesses, book signings, and other events or appearances they make," Pasquale says.