One of the most significant developments that is set to take place within the South African media and marketing sector this year is the launch of radio's new trade positioning - a project spearheaded by the Radio Advertising Bureau of South Africa (RAB) which will no doubt shift the thinking around how the medium of radio is approached and used.
While the details of this exciting project will be revealed in due course, one insight that stands out head and shoulders above the rest is the fact that the intimacy of radio and its ability to make a connection with an audience remains unmatched.
The return of the radio drama
Take brands like Standard Bank for example, which in 2013, invested in producing a radio drama to promote its products. Or KFC which tapped into a cultural practice with a campaign celebrating listeners' clan names (iziduko/izithakazelo). The campaign actually required listeners to recite a sequence of their clan names and was run on African Language Stations (ALS).
People love listening to stories and radio is still one of the best mediums to tell great stories, to engage people and have conversations. For these brands to use the format of selling while telling their story so effortlessly was clever and commendable.
More than that, advertisers know that radio is a medium that elicits a response. 2014 will therefore see marketers continue to use dramas and the word-of-mouth power of radio to build campaigns that make a meaningful impact on people's lives, proving that if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Speaking of making an impact on listeners' lives...
Radio gets 'real personal'
Following on the success of these brands and others including FNB and OLX, we'll see the nature of radio campaigns change. Advertising communication will be less about 'bells and whistles' and will involve more meaningful communication designed to add value. For example, instead of encouraging you to 'get a credit card in return for great rates', brands will offer their customers access to the AA and free roadside assistance in return for their support. So instead of generic product punts clients will craft more tailored messages for their customer base, with emphasis on the consumer's passion points.
That's because radio connects with listeners in an intimate manner. By becoming part of the conversation on air or attaching their brands to something that is already important to their market and leveraging the powerful relationship radio has with its audience, advertisers have the opportunity to unlock immense value - both emotional and financial.
Radio turbo-charges digital
That said, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that radio right now is so tied in with the social media experience that there's incredible scope to use these platforms in a complimentary fashion.
Radio is the original form of 'social media' in that it allows people to connect with other people and ideas in their communities, for free. Interestingly, a significant number of radio DJs feature highly on the social media lists of most influential social media users, and have a large following.
The trick in 2014 is to use each to foster the other, not to use one platform to drive to the other, where you actually want the message to be.
Against this backdrop, the repositioning of radio in South Africa couldn't have come at a better time. After all, advertisers in 2014 are looking for a medium that delivers broad reach, is able to connect with audiences in a meaningful way, is flexible, and one that delivers results - and that medium is radio!