Broadcasting, Advice, Getting Started, Marketing

Internet Radio: Focusing on an International or Local Audience?

As an internet radio broadcaster, your reach is essentially endless. Unlike traditional broadcast radio, you aren't limited to just being a local radio station, you can take a national or even international focus to your station.

So, with the option to broaden the location of your target demographic or keep it local, you might pose the question, "Should I focus my attention on a national/international audience, or keep it local?"

As with anything relating your station, the answer is totally up to you. However, we want to break down some of the benefits and downsides of each focus so you can make the best choice for your station.

As mentioned, an internet radio station gives you the possibility of reaching national and even international listeners. This, of course, is a huge benefit of internet radio as you immediately have a much wider pool of individuals you can potentially reach with your programming. A wider pool then means a lot more opportunity to gain listeners which can ultimately translate to more listeners. Now, it's important to note that even though you can reach a wider pool, that doesn't mean the listeners will just come to you. Marketing is the key to unlock that pool and create loyal listeners.

Despite the benefits though, there are downsides to focusing on a national or international audience. While you may be delivering one or a few genres of music or talk that clearly appeal to people nationally and/or internationally, you may find it more challenging to create marketing materials and even programming for your wide target audience. Marketing to a really massive target audience can be a very difficult task because you just can't get as specific in your marketing efforts, which is generally the key to engaging marketing. And, there are typically already many options for a listener to choose from, so the lack in specificity can really work against you in some cases.

Let's talk about a local focus now. The downsides might be evident already - the pool you can reach is likely significantly smaller, your programming might not always make the most sense for your local audience, and there are already local stations that might make it difficult for you to grab the audience based on a local focus.

On the flip side, a local focus gives you that specific thing you can use to elevate your marketing efforts and hopefully resonate with people. Especially with many individuals feeling a sort of allegiance to certain cities, this can be an extremely powerful marketing tool.

So, let's think of an example. Imagine you're creating a Facebook ad for your rock station and you're trying to reach an international and/or national audience. You might put in the different countries you want your ad to serve in, the age range of your target audience, and then interests like "rock music," "The Rolling Stones," "classic rock," etc. While there's nothing wrong with that audience, it is extremely broad and having a broad audience to a point can be great, but there also comes a point when it just gets generic.

Now, let's imagine if you created that same ad, but then added a local interest such as "Pittsburgh," for example, because you are from the Pittsburgh area and like to play local artists, talk about the city, or provide local news. In this scenario, you're instantly adding an element of specificity that might be the difference between someone clicking to your station and scrolling past without blinking an eye. And, regardless of whether you're creating Facebook ads or not, the sentiment of specificity here still applies to any of your marketing efforts.

With all that said, the thing is, you don't necessarily need to choose one or the other. Using a local aspect in your marketing can be incredibly helpful for targeting an audience that will be most likely to engage with your station. And, even more than that, you can still utilize a sort of international or national focus by opening up your marketing efforts to include people nationally and/or internationally. You might not be putting all of your marketing efforts into reaching an international audience, but you are still creating the opportunity for your station to reach that audience. This way, you are able to utilize some of the positives of a local as well as national/international focus to optimize your marketing efforts.

Let's face it though. You may have absolutely no interest in running any kind of local programming or even just advertising where you're broadcasting from. And that's totally okay. There are also other ways that you can target a national/international audience while honing your marketing efforts with something else specific, such as being a super niche station in a sub-genre of rock, for example.

Essentially, regardless of a national/international or local focus, the key to marketing your station is getting specific. So, if you're getting started, struggling with your marketing efforts, or just looking for a way to improve your marketing, think about your specific thing, whether that be location or something else. You might just find that these more specific efforts lead to some really awesome loyal listeners.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania