You may think that 2022 has cornered the market on building out new tech platforms, mastering advertising strategies, and engaging audiences. Think again. One hundred years ago, the Roaring ’20s ushered in epic worldwide content creation like the world had never witnessed before. The 1920s were the new age of enlightenment. Industrialization was exploding. World War I was in the rearview mirror. Prosperity and innovation were on the horizon.
Technology was booming with a newly minted automobile industry. Telephone lines were connecting New York to California. And the miracle of refrigeration was changing food production. Then came the introduction of the radio. It brought a vital new form of entertainment and introduced a cultural revolution. As hundreds of radio stations began to populate the United States, people from coast to coast were sharing the same experience for the first time in history.
New Tech, New Opportunities
Radio programming ran the gamut from politics to sermons and comedies to sports coverage. There was something for everyone. The first commercial radio station aired its entertainment in 1922. The same year headlines stated that 1,000,000 radio sets were already in use. Fast forward to 1926 and 5,000,000 radios were gracing the living rooms of Americans. Innovation and creativity were ramping up. Everyone wanted in on a piece of the radio pie.
Access to information had never been more available to the public. Each day brought introductions to new products, styles of music, and business opportunities. Businesses recognized the power of advertising on their local radio station. An advertiser’s reach across the radio waves was unparalleled: Anyone within hearing distance was a possible customer.
Today, online innovation mirrors the booming success of radio with podcasts, social media, and websites. Access to information has never been more readily available. With the swipe of your fingertip, you can access the same information from New Orleans to Mumbai. Your business has the chance to grow exponentially as you reach your target market.
While 21st-century tech might be slicker, the same tried and true methods that built out the radio industry can unleash untapped growth with your own digital audience now. You can learn how to connect with your audience in the same powerful way that businesses did when the unprecedented reach of the radio first came onto the scene.
Grabbing the Airwaves
One advertiser who struck radio gold was Sears & Roebuck. In 1888, Richard Sears had launched his mail-order catalog company with a printed mailer selling watches and jewelry. He steadily built his company into the 20th century innovating by adding color to his advertisements and enlarging his catalog. By the 1920s, he was selling everything from farm equipment to home building kits – all shipped directly to consumers.
He engaged his customers in every way possible – from inviting them to his headquarters in Chicago to offering family and friends discounts to those who combined orders. Sears knew the importance of advertising to his customer base, saying, “I can’t afford to lose a customer.” Sears didn’t let the phenomenon of radio pass him by. He created his own radio station to connect to his audience.
America in Class shares that, “WLS Chicago, created in 1924 by Sears Roebuck & Co. to increase its outreach to midwestern farmers, offered a weekly variety program, the WLS Showboat, the “Floating Palace of Wonder.” Every Friday evening listeners would “travel” along American rivers on the Showboat and enjoy songs performed by the Maple City Four and other groups, and humorous banter between the “Captain” and the “First Mate.”
This was content marketing at its finest. Each week Sears had a captive audience as well as a direct connection with his audience. They could count on snappy tunes as well as the ads for the latest and greatest from Sears.
You may not be ready to float away on a palace of wonder with your audience. But you can follow Sears’ creative 20th-century methods of connecting with his customers using the latest technology at your fingertips.
Just remember these broadcasting strategy ABC’s.
Your Tried-and-True 1922 Radio Broadcasting Strategies
Audience is everything.
Sears’ catalog launched on the heels of the Homestead Act in 1862. His customers were farmers and pioneers who were moving westward, serviced by the new booming railroad. When radio came on the scene 30 years after he launched his mail-order business, he was still looking to connect with his customer base: midwestern farmers. He homed in on them. He hadn’t forgotten who had built out his company, who needed his services, or what his mission was.
Your ability to attract a digital audience has never been greater. According to Statista, as of 2019, 50% of households worldwide have access to computers. In developed countries that stat spikes to 80%. Add to that the accessibility of cell phones and your outreach ability goes through the roof. As of January, over 91% of the world’s population has a smartphone in their back pocket. That is 7.26 billion folks.
Finding your people is your greatest task at hand. Using a curated Facebook ad or Google AdWords strategy to achieve this can set you up for success. Home in on your audience. Get to know the people who love what you do and need your services. Then find the best way to connect with them: Daily Instagram posts, weekly informative podcasts, TikTok challenges, or a YouTube channel.
Knowing your audience will help you focus your marketing efforts and grow your business in a seamless way.
Every Friday night, Sears’ customers could count on one thing. When they flipped on the radio, they would be floating along the lazy river of Sears’ carefully curated music and fun banter. Same time. Same place. With new and exciting content.
Your audience needs to know how and where to find you. With the cacophony of online options trying to connect with millions of folks, figure out how you are going to connect on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Same time. Same place. With new and exciting content.
Consistency breeds success. Whether your blog lands the same time each week or your podcast hits the airwaves every Tuesday, make sure your audience knows when they can count on new content from you. What does your content calendar look like? (You may be thinking, what the heck is a content calendar?) Put thought and care into what content you will share and exactly when you will share it. It matters.
Hubspot says that content consistency creates trust with your customers, establishes your authority, and generates new leads.
Schedule new posts, videos, and offers with regularity so your audience knows you, trusts you, and keeps coming back for more.
Create Engaging Content.
If Sears was trying to sell Craftsman bungalows, why was he focusing his advertising dollars on a weekly music show? He understood the power of content marketing. He found creative ways, through music and entertainment, to connect with his audience.
Would you rather listen to a door-to-door salesman harp about the beauty of solidly built windowpanes or dance around the living room with your sweetie to the latest showboat tune?
Sears was creating content that met his audience right where they were at. And in doing so, had a pipeline to building a lifelong relationship with them. Who do you think they ordered their next hammer from? Or their winter coats from? Sears, of course.
B2B Content Marketing says, “Nearly 80% of B2B marketers report having a content marketing strategy, but only 43% have documented their strategy. That number jumps to 60% among the most successful companies.”
Hubspot supports this noting that, “47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. One piece of great content alone won’t do. Keep reaching out with interesting content that engages your audience.
Don’t be afraid to up your game when it comes to content this year. Post blogs that are interesting and chock-full of useful information (and maybe add a little humor.) Share a company TikTok highlighting your company’s feel-good partnerships in your community. Engage fun, smart, and compelling people to interview for your weekly podcast. Your audience will thank you. Maybe even cheer a little.
Unleash all those innovative juices as you think about shaping your marketing strategy this coming year. Quality, creative content will keep your audience coming back for more
From 1922 to 2022
The comparisons between 1922 and 2022 are uncanny, aren’t they? (Ever heard the saying, the more people change, the more they stay the same?) Your digital audience is not that different from those of the Sears’ Wonder Palace listeners. Your audience wants the same thing those audiences wanted a hundred years ago: creative content, excellent products, and brand consistency.
Innovate and Create with Us
2022 is your year to innovate and create a marketing strategy that connects with your customers and audience in a fresh, authentic way. This could be the time to launch your riveting podcast exploring your company’s passion or build out a customer-centric Facebook ad campaign linking you to thousands of new followers. As fellow innovators, CCB would love to partner with you in what you hope to do and accomplish this year.