by Roger Olson
Agroup of legacy broadcasters have created the first rural lifestyle radio marketing organization. Rural Lifestyle Marketing, LLC is a research-based company formed to provide marketing solutions for companies and their agencies attempting to penetrate the exploding rural lifestyle market.
"We formed this company to meet a need," says Eric Brown, president of the new organization, and general manager of KRVN and the Rural Radio Network, Lexington, NE. "Our advertisers have been telling us the rural lifestyle market is extremely diverse and difficult to define. Our new research solves that problem by defining the market and documenting radio delivery to this important market segment," said Brown.
Joining Brown as officers of Rural Lifestyle Marketing, LLC are Vice-President Taylor Brown, Owner of Northern Broadcasting System, Billings MT; and Lynn Ketelsen, Secretary Treasurer, General Manger of the Linder Farm Network, Owatonna, MN.
Mark Vail, Vice-President of Radio Operations for Eagle Communications, Inc., Hays, KS, serves as Director of Administration and Roger Olson, Rural Lifestyle Media; Hudson, WI is Director of Marketing.
Founding members of the group are: KFEQ and Eagle Radio, St. Joseph, MO; KICD, Spencer, IA; Linder Radio Network, Owatonna, MN; KRVN, KNEB, KTIC and the Nebraska Rural Radio Network, Lexington, NE; WNAX, Yankton, SD; KXRB and KKIN, Sioux Falls, SD; KMIT, Mitchell, SD; and Northern Broadcast System, Billings, MT.
The concept of working together certainly isn't foreign to these legacy broadcasters since they all have a common link in serving agricultural audiences. Vail says, "It is a natural and comfortable fit we found when discussions started on how to best leverage the collective capacity of this group and make some real progress in research collaboration among these companies. And it is even more exciting to team with equally progressive marketers to identify and then reach this audience."
"Most farm broadcasters have been serving the information needs of the rural lifestyle audience for many years," says Brown. "Both radio and television on a local basis are very personal forms of media. As broadcasters we learn quickly the type of information that is valuable and interesting to our audience." Brown said the emphasis on rural lifestyle content has become more important as the rural population increases in some markets.
And those population numbers are the reason both broadcasters and marketers are interested in reaching this growing segment.
"There are about 65 million people living in approximately 25 million rural households, and radio has been reaching these people since the day they moved to the country," reports Ketelsen. "And while the market is receiving lots of attention on a national basis, local and regional advertisers with a close relationship to their markets have been using radio as a means of reaching these customers for many years.
"Our local and regional experiences indicated we were reaching the rural lifestyle market. What we needed to accomplish as a broadcast industry was to help advertisers actually define the size and location of the market, as well as, document radio listening," Ketelsen adds.
Exploratory research conducted by Ag Media Research (AMR) for NAFB in a single market provided the founders enough information to move ahead. The study confirmed rural lifestyle radio habits were similar to farmers with regard to station format and key information categories like weather and news.
Vail says, "We commissioned AMR to conduct the first rural lifestyle radio ratings study, and were able to document the close relationship with radio and the rural lifestyle population. We expected the ratings to be at the levels indicated in the study. However, it is the ability to define the population, to inform our advertisers about the number of people living a rural lifestyle, as well as, more than 40 unique lifestyle traits that makes the study so valuable for the entire industry."
"Using the AMR Rural Lifestyle Radio Ratings program, radio ratings can be analyzed by 43 demographic groups," says Ron Claussen, AMR president. A range of demos available includes acreage size, equipment owned, pets, horses, other livestock, vehicles, gardening habits, household income, age and sex by age. Claussen says this significantly reduces the need to use indexes to guess radio listening ratings for the rural lifestyle audience.
"The numbers are fascinating," says Vail. "When you look at the percentages of the rural lifestyle population that own trucks or ATV's and participate in outdoor activities it puts the significance of the market in perspective. And because we have ratings on all these different lifestyle demographics, we can determine how many rural lifestyle people who own a horse, drive an ATV or fish will hear a spot aired on the stations and networks in our group. It really is a powerful tool."
In addition to providing research and ratings information, Rural Lifestyle Marketing LLC offers a number of innovative marketing services to lifestyle marketers, says Brown. He also indicated expansion of the group is underway, and says discussions are being held with other regional broadcasters interested in participating in the joint research and marketing effort.
Highlights of the study are available to companies and agencies by contacting Roger Olson at 715/386-9361 or email@example.com.
Roger Olson is director of marketing with sRural Lifestyle Media, LLC.
RURAL LIFESTYLE MARKETS
It is the demographics that dramatically demonstrate the unique characteristics of the rural lifestyle as well as the size of the market:
25.8‰ own horses
81.7‰ own a tractor
58.4‰ grow vegetables or fruit
30.3‰ have cattle
81.4‰ own a pickup
25.9‰ own an ATV