It’s Supposed to Suck at First: The Product Life Stages of an Air Personality

Staff Writer

Everything has a life cycle. There’s a shelf life for a gallon of milk, the latest and greatest mobile phone and the most top-of-mind celebrities. It looks like this:

Your radio station, your show, your personality and each of your features are subject to the same life cycle. Performance should vary based on each stage:

Here’s a quick summary of each:

Introduction Stage

You’re new to a market. Or you’ve moved to a new station in the same market. Or the station you’re on has changed format. Listeners are unfamiliar, and may be trying you out. The fan base is low. In this stage, expect:

High costs (time and resources): Very few products are successful without investing in development. Hire a talent coach. Get the show prep materials. And PD’s: Spend time with the show to get it right. Daily. It’s an investment in development and growth.

Mistakes: What happens when (not if) ideas fail? How do you sharpen the plan? How will you know when it’s not working? Fail fast, correct it and move on. Realize it’s supposed to suck at first. Just don’t let it keep sucking!

What, not Who: In the introduction phase, your success is all about what you do. That’s how they get to know you. It’s not about who you are.That comes later. Marketing and promotion messages should be benefit oriented:

Growth Stage

You’re familiar to the market and begun to establish a fan base. Momentum starts to build. Your performance has to change!

Add fuel: This is the time to market aggressively. Though promoting those established features and appointment tune in fusion force moments should be a key focal point.

Build a fan database. When you start gaining attention, competition will begin targeting you. Be aware of competitors but ignore their advances. Do not acknowledge other stations. Focus on your own growth. This is the time to solidify that relationship one-to-one. Start building a listener database.

Leverage word of mouth. In the growth phase, listeners are starting to listen more frequently. P1 percentage is rising. Your fan base is building. They’re starting to appreciate your show for who you are, not just what you do. You’re becoming a part of their personal story.

Results seem to happen quickly. The size of the market will increase and there will be a greater demand for the show, often exceeding the format boundaries on the station. High profile talent in the growth phase can reach listeners who prefer other formats for specific reasons.

Invest in success. Ratings and profits are at their highest during the Growth stage. Now is the time to insure that a product has as long a life as possible, and reaches the largest potential. reinvest profits in marketing and promotion during to deliver continued growth and reduces the threat from competition.

Maturity Stage

Your personality is established, and most of the market share has been harvested. New competitors are attacking your position. And you’re starting to lose some of those early adopters.

Overall ratings peak: After the steady increase in during the growth stage, the market starts to become saturated and there are fewer new listeners. The majority of listeners who are ever going to become fans have already done so. The bucket is leaking listeners, and it’s crucial to continue refilling it.

Competitors begin chipping away. What you did in the past is no longer new and exciting. It takes more to satisfy, surprise and delight your audience. They start taking you for granted. Yet you’re a part of their habits and they have expectations.


Profits decrease: This is often compounded by increasing commercial inventory or compromising brand principles to hang onto as much revenue as possible. This accelerates the maturity phase, inflicting brand damage and bringing on the decline phase.

Decline Stage

Eventually, the market for all brands shrink. This is the decline stage. This shrinkage could be due to the market becoming saturated (i.e. all the listeners who are candidates have already been recruited), or because they’ve switched to a different choice.

Decline may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be death.

Remain contemporary and relevant. Drop worn out features, replacing them with new, fresh and exciting.

Develop your social agenda. Have a plan to be involved in the community and build your appeal to the heart. That could mean a charity gala, a big party, a festival, a sporting event, a golf tournament, etc. Be active and capitalize on your celebrity.

Build your own cause. Find an angle that you are truly passionate about and do it. Make sure it’s something you can do frequently. Jumping on a bike race twice a year won’t be enough.

Keep responding….Don’t be the show that forgets how to court the listener. Over time, they are harder to impress, meaning you have to work harder just to stay even.

The goal for every brand is to accelerate introduction, expand growth, extend maturity and delay decline.

For more information, check out this on-demand webinar.

Where are you in the product life cycle? Would you like some help with it?

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