DCMarktingPro.com: WTOP and WTOP.com are one brand, but 2 different products. To that end, has your marketing reflected that difference, and if so, how and why?
LeMay: My answer to this question is different today than it would have been a few years ago. When we did a redesign on wtop.com several years back we treated it as its own separate product and marketed it outside the radio product – we introduced it via online advertising and in-car metro advertising. The goal was to inform people that wtop.com was a full service website with all the news and information they got from the radio, but more. Research showed us people still thought of wtop.com as just another “radio” station website, where you can go to see pictures of the air talent and to win prizes.
Instead, we are far from that. We have grown our product and we recognize that WTOP is a NEWS product. Not JUST a radio station and not JUST a website but a news product that Washingtonians consume through multiple distribution platforms, wherever they are. So while we still cross-promote the products, more and more we are becoming ONE brand and that is reflected in our marketing strategy and marketing mix.
DCMarktingPro.com: FederalNewsRadio.com is a unique product and highly targeted. Is your marketing and advertising different than with WTOP? If so, tell us about it.
LeMay: FederalNewsRadio.com is very different from WTOP. This product is niche vs. mainstream and our marketing is niche vs. mass appeal. We rely heavily on federal partners and events - gaining exposure to 500-5,000 people at a time vs. over a million on WTOP. But they are the RIGHT people. We strategically work with partners and events that cover a variety of topics so we also aren’t hitting the same audience at each one. For example, we do homeland security events, technology, mobile, financial, contract management, defense, and human capital management…just to name a few.
And at 15-20 of these events, we actually showcase our radio product, broadcasting live during morning drive. The organizations putting on these events love it because it gives them exposure, adds a little sexiness to the event and highlights our competitive advantage. FederalNewsRadio.com competes with, and has more monthly web traffic than, most of its federal competitors which are primarily print and digital. But when you add the radio broadcast portion of our product to the mix, it’s a game changer – we give a voice to the business of the federal government and offer another avenue the competition cannot.
DCMarktingPro.com: WTOP sends email and text alerts, which means you have a database of listeners and viewers. How have you used your database to help with your marketing?
LeMay: The use of database marketing allows us to have another brand extension on the digital front. It’s another way to reach our listeners anywhere they might be with the information that they need. And it provides great virality…if you are at your kid’s soccer game and get a breaking news alert from WTOP that there is a tornado warning - well not only is this information you really need but people share that information and word of mouth is great viral advertising. (Click here for a story DCMarketingPro.com wrote on viral marketing)
It doesn’t hurt that our editorial team is fantastic and more often than not sends out our email and text alerts before any other news outlets. While we pride ourselves on “first getting it right, then getting it first” but from a marketing standpoint, always being one of the first to inform sets us apart and makes us the only source anyone really needs. The database is also like having a focus group at your fingertips whenever you want it – these are highly engaged users, so we will often survey our database on things that help make our product better.
Recently, we sent a survey to 50,000 people in our database. The response rate was 10%...so 5,000 listeners /viewers gave us their opinion. That is 3 times as many who respond to the Arbitron surveys that end up determining the listening habits for all radio stations in the Washington DC area. We wanted to know what was important to them. What information we provide them that they wanted more or less of. Information like this is very helpful in improving our product!
Stay tuned for part 3 of this Q & A with Mary Kay LeMay, Director of Marketing and Advertising for WTOP Radio, WTOP.com and FederalNewsRadio.com.
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