It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Typically, stations that make the switch to holiday music enjoy a substantial increase in listenership. Interesting when you think that the holiday music phenomena goes against virtually all of the rules of programming.
Change formats for three and a half weeks a year? Sure thing!
Feature a VERY narrow playlist of songs that have been around for 70 years or more? Sounds like a plan!
I worked with a program director that swore that there were only seven (7) original holiday songs performed by something like 827 different artists. Some renditions were pretty predictable, Bing Crosby… Frank Sinatra… Andy Williams. Some are a bit more of a stretch, like the holiday favorites featured on the Ozzy Osborn family Christmas CD. OK, I made that one up (or did I?).
The fact is, the music of the season serves an important purpose. It provides us stability in times of uncertainty, reinforces family values, maybe even unites us in a world that could use a little unity. Ultimately it takes us back to a simpler time in our lives. Our childhood!
In this dumpster fire known as 2020, this year’s “Holiday Station” season is predicted to be bigger than ever. Program consultant Mike McVay, President of McVay Media, tells us that this year’s holiday format looks as if it will be the most listened to since the holiday season of post 9-11. Further, he reminds us that when the pandemic first took hold back in March through early April, we saw some radio stations purposely program holiday music at night. The process produced significant rating spikes as the tactic provided relief from the daily news drama and despair. Once again… stability in times of uncertainty.
We know that the music of the season is a proven winner. Our next step is to maximize the opportunity. So, keeping with the time-honored tradition of monetizing the holiday season, here are 10-tips for creating holiday format revenue in a pandemic world.
- Daily Sponsorship Themes: This first idea comes to us from our friend Derron Steenbergen! He suggests that you feature a daily theme that offers an opportunity to add a title sponsor. For example:
- Monday’s sponsorship could be titled “The Sounds of the Season!” (Brought to you by Bob Smith Ford…) This one is generic and can run next to any song.
- Tuesday’s sponsorship? Bob’s House of Socks presents another “Holiday Classic.” Run this promo next to old reliable tunes like White Christmas or Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song.
- Wednesday’s offering Bob’s Cup of Pizza presents “Holiday Memories.” Again, this one is generic and can run next to any song.
- Thursday Bob’s Appliance Center presents “Tomorrow’s Classics.” Run this with a current artist or current song.
- Friday might be Bob’s Toys and Gifts presents “Childhood Favorites.” Run this sponsor next to Alvin and the Chipmunks, Rudolf, and Frosty.
- Feels Like Holiday-Spot Block: This one comes from Bob Morrison of White River Broadcasting in Columbus, Indiana. Nothing fancy here, just a very flexible advertising campaign. This plan includes a block of 60 commercial messages that run at the client’s discretion any time Monday through Sunday 5am – 7pm.
- I’m Dreaming of a Curbside Holiday: Sponsorship opportunity that highlights area retailers’ ability to offer curbside and hands-free shopping.
- The 12 Days of Shopping Local: Clients provide prizes as part of the sales package. The twist is that the message stresses the importance of supporting the local businesses of your community.
- Holiday Happenings – Lights Guide: As we enter into our first socially distanced holiday season, many festivals, parades, and concerts have been canceled. Your station can help listeners celebrate from the safety of their cars as you identify homes, neighborhoods, and shopping centers that feature cool outdoor lighting displays. Take suggestions by email/Facebook/Twitter, and you promote it on the air and on your website.
- Zoom! Virtual Caroling: 2020 will prove to be a challenge for live holiday entertainment. Might I suggest that you invite area schools and churches to participate in a “Zoom! Virtual Holiday Concert”. Yeah, it can be a bit tricky to orchestrate 25 to 30 performers in an effort to harmonize on Zoom, but if you have an industrious tech team it could be the highlight of the socially separated holiday calendar!
- Video Holiday Cards: Sell to a retailer. Have listeners email thirty-second video “greeting cards” in front of an open-air festive background with your logo. Use an email connection at the site to accommodate the video being emailed to the intended recipient. Consider posting the best ones (with permission) on the station website.
- Ugly Holiday Sweater Virtual Fashion Show: Due to remote officing, another potential casualty of this socially distanced holiday season is the annual wearing of the ugly holiday sweater. Invite listeners to take a selfie sporting that outrageous cardigan and submit it to your station’s social media for public ridicule. Ugliest sweater wins a gift certificate to an area clothing store for a suitable replacement.
- Military Recognition: Not a new concept, but always appreciated featuring Holiday greetings from family members to deployed military personnel.
- Home Away from Home: If your home is a little light on enough square footage to accommodate the extended family’s holiday vacation, try awarding a one week stay at a VRBO or Airbnb. Entries must include the most outlandish holiday family vacation story (think Cousin Eddy).
I hope this gets the old creative juices going. Time for me to kick back, dial in my favorite holiday station, give myself a generous pour of eggnog (that stuff’s nasty!) and get ready to enjoy the season. You do the same!