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Christmas is Over … Now What?

The holiday season continues, but Christmas is over. Welcome to what they call Boxing Day in the United Kingdom. It’s when people return gifts. Thus that name. In America we call it “the day programming returns to normal.”  Many radio stations wrapped their All Christmas All the Time format at 12:00am of December 26th. The songs of the season have been placed On-Hold until November ’24. Those stations that employed the Christmas Tactic will be anxiously awaiting the rating results from the fall sweep and the Holiday monthly to know if it was a successful as they anticipated.

Those that executed it in a way that engaged the audience, enticed merchants to use their stations as the soundtrack of the season in their store, and saw inflated listening levels as memories were rekindled with music, will be celebrating in January following the rating returns. The question to be asked as a part of the reflection on the tactic is “did you take full advantage of the cume that visited the station over the holiday season?”

We know, proven by research, that a portion of the audience leaves when the All Christmas tactic launches. There is an audience that comes from “other” during the tactic that, if executed properly, increases your ratings by more than offsetting departure losses. It’s the one time when a format change has a “use by” date. Listeners who leave because they dislike the All Christmas tactic know that on 12-26 it’s over and they can return. In this case … an expiry date is good.

To properly evaluate the success of the tactic, you have to evaluate the execution of the tactic. Did you play the biggest most memorable traditional Christmas classics in a regular rotation? Did you create a Superpower category that treated turnover like a CHR/Top-40 does and did you showcase those songs keeping them connected to your station branding? When you play new music that is original and not a cover of a classic, do you identify the artist, manage the rotations, and surround it with big well known songs? Are you using imaging to own the tactic.

Your stations Imaging should have been produced and presented in a way that there is no question that you OWN Christmas. It is your holiday. Artists and celebrities endorsing what you’re doing goes a long way to giving you ownership. Your station name and frequency re connected to the holiday. You should have reminded the cume that’s only visiting what it is that you do the other 11 months of the year. Doing that by playing promotional and imaging messages that put on display your regular format and showcases your most high profile personalities. The inflated cume you have is an opportunity to convert listeners from other stations and bring them to yours.

Did you sell special advertising packages that reflect the larger audience by raising rates for the All Christmas Tactic. If you’ve executed the format over multiple years, you have a track record that shows your ratings spike, and that should equate to a higher rate being charged to advertisers for the month of December and the Holiday month. Remembering that in Nielsen the December 2023 month was November 9-December 6 and the Holiday Sweep was December 7-January 3.

The final step of your evaluation; was there a marketing package that reached more than your own listeners? It could be on your sister stations, on your website, digital marketing, cable TV or perhaps Gateway ads on podcasts or streaming apps. If you want to excel at the tactic, and use it to expose your regular format to a large audience, market the Christmas tactic.

If a radio station fell in the woods and it wasn’t marketed, did it make a sound?

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