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What successful radio DJs know that you don’t


I have written and produced hundreds of radio spots (maybe thousands, I didn’t count). I have also produced hundreds of hours of live radio. In more than fifteen years as a radio and television producer, I learned a lot from trial and error. I also attended several professional radio advertising courses.

Producing radio content is similar to producing web content; it’s all about connecting with your audience. Creating a strong personal connection is key; this cannot be overstated. If you can connect with someone on a personal level, you will earn their trust. Once you earn their trust, you can more easily and successfully ask for their commitment (to subscribe, buy something, join a mailing list, etc.).

There are obviously strong parallels between radio and podcasting, but what may not be as obvious are the similarities between radio and blogging. Some of the tactics radio producers know very well and use everyday can be applied to blogging, podcasting and video blogging to create stronger, more compelling products. I want to share a few of those here.

1. Talk to one person.

This is easily the single most important, most overlooked and most easily fixed issue.

Write to one person. In a video, talk to one person. Stay away from phrases like “you guys” and “everyone out there” as much as possible.

Here’s why: With any luck, more than one person will read your post or watch your video. However, it is highly unlikely that people will do this in groups. Blogging (vlogging, podcasting, radio advertising, etc.) is a 1:1 medium. It can be very intimate—and should be, if you want it to be compelling. When you use phrases like “you guys,” you break the illusion that you are writing or speaking directly to each member of the audience. Using “you” instead of “you all,” for example, brings each reader or viewer closer to you, strengthening the connection between you.

Making this subtle change will increase your professionalism tenfold. People won’t even know why, but they’ll feel more connected to you. It’s because you’re now talking directly to each of them instead of talking in the general direction of all of them.

You may think using these words makes you sound more successful. You may think referring to “all the fans out there around the world,” makes you seem more popular, but it’s counterproductive. It disconnects you from your audience. It distances you from each and every person who consumes your product, so stop it.

2. Remember: It’s about the audience.

This is absolutely the single toughest thing to drill into the heads of young producers. Each new producer is management’s savior, on loan from God to rescue the station from mediocrity and generate record listenership with their golden voice, stunning creativity and extensive pop culture knowledge. The good ones quickly realize this is completely wrong.

The audience—the reason there is a show to begin with—is the star of the show. If you build a strong, meaningful connection with the audience, you can become a star, but it will have nothing to do with your voice or how much you know about Katy Perry.

Similarly, you may be the most clever person you know, with a wicked command of the English language and a never-ending trove of amusing stories. However, if you don’t focus on what your audience wants and needs—if you don’t humble yourself, provide something of value and connect with them, you won’t get anywhere.

Blogging is mass salesmanship, just like radio. Good blogs are those that produce results (sales, contacts, leads, etc.).

A post that works is one that motivates a reader to act. This hinges on the connection you build with each member of your audience. As you might suspect, few people who think it’s all about them create strong relationships built on trust. Yes, there are exceptions, and you are more than likely not one of them.

3. Sell a cure instead of prevention.

The most effective way to sell an idea, a product or a service is to figure out what problem it solves and sell that solution.

In other words: Don’t tell me about your grass seed; tell me about my lawn.

For this to work, you must know your audience. You know at least a little bit about them based on your own products. For example, you probably know which posts they have found to be the most compelling or valuable based on traffic.

Tell a compelling story about the problem, relating it to your audience. Ask them (each of them) if they haven’t experienced the same thing. Present whatever you’re selling as the solution to this problem. Wrap the story around your core message or call to action.

Selling prevention is intuitive. It makes sense. It’s logical. However, people seem to be wired to commit resources more quickly to fix something rather than to prevent something.

4. Make people laugh

Humor is powerful. However, not everyone is funny. People who aren’t funny shouldn’t try to be funny because that’s usually painful for everyone involved.

One way to use humor is to hold up a mirror to your audience’s lives. A lighthearted story about a really bad day is likely to raise a smile because everyone can identify with a situation when it seems like nothing is going your way. The more honestly and accurately you portray these experiences, the better your response will be. When people identify with common experiences—when we see ourselves in something someone else is going through—we connect. Share honest, entertaining experiences to inject some humor in your products and build the connection between you and each member of your audience.

To recap:

Talk to one person.
It’s about the audience.
Sell a cure instead of prevention.
Make people laugh.

Following the simple tactics every good radio producer understands will boost the professionalism of your blog posts, podcasts and video products, and generate better results.

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