There’s a major shakeup happening in the world of local commercial radio. In early September, around 50 local radio stations will close and be relaunched as Greatest Hits Radio.
The strategy from media producer Bauer follows its acquisition of local radio licences from UKRD, Wireless, Lincs FM and Celador last year.
Instead of local news, traffic reports and presenters, a more regional approach will see separate drive time shows across the regions. Regional and national advertising will replace local advertising on the stations.
Here in our sleepy corner of Surrey, it means the loss of local institution Eagle Radio, which has been a fixture on our local airwaves since 1996. Before that, the same FM frequency was home to County Sound since the early 80s.
These are dramatic changes to local broadcasting, happening in every part of the UK. But why does it matter for Financial Planners? I think there are two important lessons.
Firstly, the world is changing and the pace of that change continues apace. While technology makes it easier and cheaper to deliver local content, consumer behaviour means there is little profit in pursuing outdated business strategies.
Think about how you consume content these days. If you’re anything like me, when you watch television it will come from Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer. We increasingly watch TV on-demand rather than live, occasionally binge-watching boxsets.
The same approach applies to my audio consumption. I occasionally tune in to LBC Radio so I can shout at the radio during debates, but the vast majority of my listening these days is audio podcasts, downloaded based on what I want to hear.
Financial Planners will experience this change in consumer behaviour too. It’s dangerous to assume that investors will seek out and access advice in the same way they have done in the past. What the future model looks like is unclear, but the Coronavirus and an extended period of social distancing are likely to radically change how we engage with clients and deliver Financial Planning.
Lesson number two is an opportunity for Financial Planners to fill the void left by departing local radio services.
In the past year, we’ve supported the launch of Petersfield Community Radio in Hampshire, which has gone from strength-to-strength as a volunteer-led online radio station. At the start of the lockdown, I started producing a weekly podcast for local residents here in Surrey, Cranleigh Community Radio.
Financial Planners can and should be at the heart of their local communities. As a marketing strategy, it’s incredibly powerful. With relatively little investment, you can position your business as the go-to place to find local news and events. Creating a local website with a free business directory puts you in touch with your local business community.
There are some brilliant examples of Financial Planners already embracing this strategy, positioning themselves at the heart of their local communities.
Sharon Sutton from Thornton Chartered Financial Planners interviews business and community leaders on the Isle of Man for her Island Influencers podcast. Amyr Rocha-Lima at Holland Hahn & Wills uses his Inside Kingston podcast as an effective foot in the door with his target audience, local business leaders in Kingston.
I believe the post-Covid world will look very different, with one stark difference a lasting reluctance to travel too far beyond our local communities. Financial Planners who embrace these changes now and position themselves for local leadership will undoubtedly reap the rewards.