The Smooth way to success

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After a number of failed ventures, Nova Entertainment launched Smoothfm in 2012. In a market crowded with hit music, rock and golden oldies, a gap in the market was spotted for a new station targeting an over 35, female audience. These guys were underrepresented on air. The station was developed in secrecy by a small team to prevent competitors blocking its entry to market. Tony explained that the station was designed to be different to the existing media brands. Built on a feeling, rather than a genre of music, Smoothfm’s unique proposition was that it be ‘a place to relax’. The task for Nova Entertainment was to establish pride in a soft adult contemporary format and prevent it appearing dated and old. Tony shared some of the key drivers of success for Smoothfm, that has enabled it to become Melbourne’s number one FM station and Sydney’s number two FM station. Its highly efficient format, with regards to talent and music, has enabled the station to keep costs down and extend the brand to new areas. Its strategy is to provide as many occasions for its audience to sample the format as possible, including compilation CDs, experiential activity, and unique station events, such as the Smooth Festival of Chocolate. To engage advertisers, the brand has tested a number of innovative concepts. Each year, the station builds the Smooth Suite – taking over a luxury hotel and providing a relaxing environment for media planners – who are often younger and might otherwise not be interested in Smoothfm – to experience the station. The station also runs the Smooth Creative Challenge, an attempt to improve the quality of advertisements on the air so that listeners, expecting a ‘relaxing listen’, are not driven to turn off when they hear a jarring commercial. Here, agencies submit creative briefs and, from the top 10 ideas, one is selected by the station to enjoy a huge marketing campaign for free. After the station did this, five runners-up then decided to pay for the campaigns they had developed during the challenge. So what was the takeaway from this session? Well, Smoothfm sounds great and looks great. It is a radio station at its core, but in order to really engage with their audience, Smoothfm is so much more than just a radio station.

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