In business, things often go wrong, or not exactly the way you wanted them to. The key to consistently staying on top is to retain diversity and flexibility in business, have multiple solutions to a problem, and always have a backup plan.
Donald Padgett practices this philosophy as he successfully runs twin radio stations: V Network Radio and CT Jamz. We sat down to have a talk with him about his method of flexible marketing.
Hey Don! Please tell us a bit about your radio stations.
I own two internet-based radio stations: V Network Radio and CT Jamz. Apart from the radio stations, I also own a live sound and DJ company, and a bus and limousine company. I am also a church minister. The two radio stations have been in business for two years now.
Our radio base is 101 million listeners throughout the US and internationally. We use Google Analytics and our system analytics to find our listeners’ location, the type of device that they’re using, and ways to optimize how we can reach out to listeners best.
What inspired you to launch these radio networks?
I had recently gotten out of television, and there was an opportunity for me to take over a radio station. When I took over the station, it became a huge success within a year’s time. I had many music artists and promoters in the industry reaching out to me to ask, “Hey, can you play my music?” At the time, I was a multi-genre station. Then I switched over the format to a 24-hour gospel station. V Network Radio is a 24-hour gospel station. We range between contemporary gospel and traditional inspiration gospel.
About a year later, I created CT Jamz. It’s been a success ever since. I have now spent countless hours working with artists to get their music played, working on advertisements and promotions for indie artists. CT Jamz is a variety station, which brings a whole new selection of heartfelt music to the industry. This includes R&B, hip-hop, blues, jazz, reggae, rock, and country.
It’s great to explore both sides of radio with the two stations, since one is a multi-genre station, and the other is a 24-hour gospel station. This gives me the opportunity to feel the music on all different levels, including mainstream hip-hop, R&B, as well as spiritual.
Diversifying in a competitive radio station industry
How do you compete with other mainstream radio stations?
We bring a variety of music and different blends, and also offer music and industry interviews. We talk about the culture of music in these interviews. We’ve highlighted and interviewed some of the top artists in the industry, between the gospel industry and the urban radio industry.
As far as competing against the other mainstream stations goes, the main thing is that local radio stations play a lot more music variety, whereas the mainstream stations only play the top 100 in heavy rotation.
A lot of indie artists getting into the business are sometimes not able to get radio play from the mainstream companies. Here’s where we come in. They hear about V network radio and CT Jamz radio, and they want their music played.
We provide a hands-on relationship between us and the client. Mainstream is limited in the sense that if you don’t have a certain format in your music, or a fashionable press kit, they won’t play the artist’s music.
The importance of flexibility in business
How do you remain flexible in business, especially in the face of adversity?
1. Face every hurdle with positivity
You can overcome any issues you face with positivity. One of the things I do is look back and restate what the hurdle is, to change it into something that’s positive. For example, whenever a hurdle comes up, I look at it as an opportunity for me to explore new areas of growth and potential success.
2. Always have a backup plan (or plans!)
I also always have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. It’s not a plan unless it’s a written one, and I say this to anyone creating or starting a business. Without that, you will not be successful.
3. Keep multiple streams of income
I always have multiple streams of income. This means that when one thing is slow, I will pick up something else.
For example, during COVID, I had a rehearsal studio, where bands could come in, to rehearse. COVID came and we had to stop everything. Instead of letting this become a hurdle, I chose to see it as giving me more opportunities. So this is where the radio station business idea came into play.
Once, during the time I was running my bus business, gas prices skyrocketed. And it was unbearable because it wasn’t feasible for people to be paying that type of money for a bus. So I got out of the bus business and got into the limousine bus service to keep the multiple streams of income.
Employ flexible marketing strategies to attract customers
How do you attract customers?
1. Use referrals
In the music and entertainment industry, referrals, i.e. getting the word out through word of mouth is the number one marketing strategy. For this, having a good relationship with other radio stations is important, to make a name for yourself in the industry. It is also essential to be connected to up-and-coming artists, and get the word out to them, should they ever need a platform.
2. Have a print marketing plan
Having a physical marketing plan is important, in the sense of print material being distributed, including flyers, posters, and tickets.
3. Market on social media
Social media is one of the best ways to market right now, along with marketing through your website. For example, on Facebook and Twitter, you can do sponsorships, and reach people from 18 to maybe 100 years old. You can cater your marketing to different types of customers depending on their likes and dislikes. This way, you can find the right audience, and shape your marketing to fit each particular target demographic.
We’re going to try to do more of our marketing through Instagram now, because that’s how we plan to reach our younger crowd, from 16 to about 50 years old.
4. Start email marketing
We frequently run monthly or weekly email marketing campaigns, to which we have over 5000 subscribers. This way we can interact with our listeners and with other individuals in the industry to say, for instance, in a newsletter, “Hey, this is what we’re doing. We need your support.”
5. Use marketing tools to make your marketing more efficient
With marketing, there’s an initial learning curve. In the beginning, I was spending countless dollars and precious time doing flyers and promotional materials. It got too overwhelming to do all these things, plus some things I wanted to do but couldn’t find the time to do.
When I came across PosterMyWall, I was able to take care of all those things. It fulfilled all the marketing goals I had set. Suddenly I was designing quick and easy posters, tickets, emails, and social media posts and sharing them directly from the website — it cut down so much on the time I spent on my promotions.
Target a diverse demographic for flexible marketing
What is your target demographic? Do you have any?
Currently, we have music that’s more appetizing for the older crowd, from 60 years old to retirement age.
But now we also want to cater more or less to a younger demographic, because we want to get the younger generation into music, and the culture of music. A lot of times, they’re stuck in a one-track mindset; they’re stuck on a particular genre of music and don’t appreciate old-school music.
Our goal is to be able to give them variety and say, “Okay, this is the history of this music, from the past to where it is now, the stuff you’re listening to.” So they can connect the dots through the generations.
What is your aim in covering the “history and culture of music”?
We want to take the music, learn its history, learn its culture, and then, with that knowledge, work with indie artists in the music industry. We want to bring it back to how it used to be, where you could hear live interviews with artists, whether they were starting out or were professional artists.
You mentioned churches also form part of your demographic. How do you reach out to them?
We have numerous church talk shows, church ministries, artists, and programs scheduled on V Network Radio, that’s catered to the church.
We’ve been able to manage that through professional flyers, marketing materials, and social media. We create these using PosterMyWall templates and hand them out physically as well as post them on our Facebook, Instagram, and website.
We are also constantly introducing innovative new shows. For example, we introduced a Christian hip-hop show. You would think hip hop is over into the other genre of music, right? But here we have Christian hip-hop.
You have a lot of international programs. How do you reach out to them?
Yes, we have a lot of programs coming in internationally, for example from Ghana and Nigeria. We use cross-marketing. Our customers learn about our products through this type of marketing. Essentially, we collaborate with different platforms on different promotional events and shows, which helps promote us and the platform we are collaborating with. So whether it’s doing a live interview, or sharing a flyer, this helps us to reach across international waters.
Could you share a story about how you made a client really happy?
We have a charting system where station owners send their music picks, from the top five that they’re playing on each station. We share that music, then all the station owners play that type of music or that artist.
Recently, I’ve been submitting my picks for artists and sharing the music for this one indie artist in the industry. I got an email from the association that I’m a part of their website as an indie expert. The email had the artist’s music among their three top picks in the gospel music industry on that email chain. That email was shared all over the world.
Now the young lady’s music has been playing constantly and is around number 10 on the charts. She contacted me and said, “Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate you for playing my music”, and it just made her feel so good that not only internet radio stations but possibly mainstream stations are also playing her music.
So that’s good for her resume, and good for our resume because I was presented nationally and internationally with the radio experts.
Going forward, what does the future look like, for V Network Radio and CT Jamz?
The future looks very bright, meaning we’re getting clients on a daily basis. And right now one of our organizations is in the process of expanding, so we’re moving to another location.
Our five-year plan is to hit the spot where the station is at the mainstream level and to be on the Top Billboard charts. Another of the main goals for V Network Radio and CT Jamz is to reach out to more cultures to learn about the history of music.
We wish you the best of luck in all your goals. Thank you for sharing your tips for flexibility in business with us, Don!
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