In an exclusive conversation with Media Samosa, Rajat Uppal divulges details about the ISHQ FM marketing strategy to deal with the pandemic woes, the radio station’s digital marketing play, and content IPs.
It has been an interesting year for the Radio industry – from the lockdown effect to fluctuating listenership & AdSpends, a lot has happened. However, the industry continues to thrive. For Ishq FM, the idea is to be an ‘Entertainment Brand’ and extend/strengthen the brand to other verticals like Digital, Events, and Content IPs too. Rajat Uppal, National Marketing Head, 104.8 ISHQ FM speaks at length about the company’s growth trajectory, social media marketing strategy, and why original content is now the king.
What are the marketing lessons from your past work experience at a competitor radio platform that you sought to implement at ISHQ FM? How’s it different?
Radio players have widened their product offerings extending to mediums beyond on-air i.e. Digital, Events, IPs, Podcasts, and other content formats.
While other players are also playing in these vertical, the task is cut out to make our offering differentiated and be pivoted around love and romance. 2020 has been a challenging year for all marketers where they have had to re-invent the way they marketed their brands. The year has given digital accelerated growth and ‘Digital Inclusive’ will be the approach for Ishq FM as well for the next few years.
What are some of the key innovative radio campaigns seen in the last year?
The Covid-19 lockdown resulted in the radio reinventing itself. The biggest challenge for radio was to broadcast live, generate new and fresh content to make it interesting, both on-air and digitally. Due to no access to studios, RJ’s had to broadcast through temporary setups done at their homes. Digitally radio brands reached out to their listeners through engaging content, Instagram and Facebook Live, and digital content IPs.
One of the initiatives where the radio industry came together was #RadioForIndia where various radio brands together created awareness about these uncertain times, Covid 19 and helped in building positive vibes amongst their listeners.
To help brands create integrated solutions – what are some of the ad packages you offer? Are RJ & radio station’s social media profiles offered as a part of the marketing package too?
As I said earlier, we are not a radio brand only but an ‘Entertainment Brand’, interacting and engaging with our audiences across various platforms. At Ishq FM, we believe in extending integrated brand solutions to our clients. We suggest the right mix of media to maximize the ROI on our offerings, depending on the audience, the narrative and content of the campaign the brand wants to promote.
How does the original content strategy help the radio station?
Earlier ‘Content was King’ but now it’s only ‘Original Content’ which cuts through. Original content helps a radio brand like Ishq differentiate itself from the rest in the pack as its created, customized and tailored within the content parameters of the brand and also helps in strengthening the brand promise. Most of our content is pillared around love and modern day relationships and is clearly differentiated.
Please elaborate on your social media strategy. What do you think works? How do you calculate ROI for this medium?
At Ishq, we believe that compelling content is the way forward on social media too. Trying to deliver original and topical content is what works. Engagement with content in form of likes, comments, and shares is one yardstick for ROI, and the perception of being a worthy content platform amongst the digital audience is the other.
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With the impact of COVID-19 on the entire A&M sector, how have things been for the radio industry? In which areas have you seen the strongest impact?
COVID-19 has made the world see unprecedented times impacting professional and personal lives globally. The pandemic has dramatically changed consumer & business behaviours. Some of these changes might become permanent and undoubtedly, many of those behavioural changes will remain long after the pandemic is over. Marketers will have to keep track of the way consumers change to remain in the game. Radio Industry has been impacted significantly like most of the others in the A&M sector with advertising revenues hit the maximum. In nutshell, the business impact has been on revenues and consumer impact has been on behavioural change.
With brands re-evaluating their budgets & marketing strategy, how are radio Ad-Spends impacted?
With consumption of brands and services reducing, brands will spend judiciously and the investments will be far more calculated and more ROI-based. The world is experiencing a shift in consumer behavioral patterns and forcing brands to re-imagine and re-align their ad and marketing budgets.
Adopting integrated solutions for brands with a holistic approach and offering on-ground, digital and on-air elements will be the only way forward and will be mostly ROI-based.
What does the marketing spend, and strategy blueprint look for ISHQ FM for the ongoing quarter?
Brands will have no choice but consider how the current crisis will also change long-term communication strategies, media platform affinities, social interactions, events, and what products & services will better serve their consumers. With squeezed revenues, marketing spends will be more ROI-based and pragmatic at Ishq FM too.
As the world pushes through these challenging times, compassion in advertising will be critical to ensure that brands remain in a positive light. Brands that take a compassionate approach to advertising will ultimately build long-term consumer trust, satisfaction, and loyalty. At Ishq, empathy & compassion in our advertising and communication will be an integral part of our marketing and communication strategy.
It could be observed that a few players have shifted their focus from being only a radio platform to getting converted into a wholesome entertainment one with the advent of OTT and various digital initiatives. Do you think the move stemmed from a popular notion that the medium is somewhere losing grounds?
Radio as a medium has withstood the test of time. It’s a mass medium with a strong one of one connect with the listener. Radio is not losing ground but being agile and radio brands are trying to extend their offerings on other mediums like digital which are growing in affinity and consumption. Radio brands like us will continue to grow through brand extensions created to reach newer audiences elsewhere.