The Power of Voice in Rural America

Power of Voice in Rural America Tom Brand

Reaching Audiences Through Radio

OUTdrive Episode 19 with Tom Brand

In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Tom Brand, Executive Director for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). A lifelong lover of the rural American way of life and passionate about agriculture, Tom provides value to NAFB member stations and guides farm broadcasters across the country to help them reach their audiences. Read more for key highlights of their conversation on the power of voice in rural America, reaching audiences through radio, the importance of personalized and relatable content and more.

Connecting Through a Personal Voice

While technology continues to evolve and online and digital platforms continue to grow, traditional communication methods like radio remain an effective way to reach your audience. As a lifelong broadcaster and rural American who has listened to the radio from the time he was born, Tom knows the powerful connection between audiences and radio voices. Looking back and thinking about his current position, Tom shares that radio is powerful because listeners feel they truly know others simply through a voice.

He explains, “The thing that I like about farm broadcasting and that keeps me enthused about our association in this career that so many are involved with, is that radio has this connection that’s so personable. I’ve heard one of my broadcasters describe it as the voice. It’s the voice that everyone recognizes.”

If you have a favorite station that you regularly listen to, you’ve probably developed a connection to the voice of your favorite broadcaster like many others have. Tom expands on this, saying, “If I asked you who your favorite radio broadcaster is and you’re able to come up with a name, you feel like you’ve got a relationship with them, even if you’ve never met them before.”

It’s the idea of feeling a connection without even knowing a person that is one of the things that makes radio effective. The unique nature is hard to emulate, but the principle can be applied to nearly any marketing tactic. Whether it’s radio advertising or communicating with your audience through social media, a personal connection is vital to reaching audiences and building a relationship with them. People desire personal relationships with companies and don’t want to be just another number. If you focus on communicating with an individualized approach, you’ll become a trusted friend to your audience.

Personalized Content and Personable Connections

Communicating with individuals in a personal voice is only half of the puzzle. You also have to provide content that is valuable, timely and relatable to those listening. Tom uses radio broadcasting as an example, but providing value should be the focus of all content, whether it is social media, digital content, print ads or other strategic efforts. You should have a personal interest in meeting the needs of your audience in everything you do.

Tom uses stations building community connections as an example, saying, “So many of them have that same involvement that I had at KMA and KFEQ and even at Brownfield, where you’re out and about, you’re meeting your audience. I think it’s that personal connection and the confidence the listeners have in the accuracy, the timeliness and the factual information that farm broadcasters are delivering that keeps us as a solid connection to reach our audience. And it’s not just the information, it’s also the advertising too, and I think that lends some credibility to what advertisers’ messages are as well.”

The relationship between broadcasters and advertisers is mutually beneficial, with each adding a unique dynamic providing value for listeners. When asked by Cliff about any tips he has for those trying to reach audiences through radio, Tom emphasizes the importance of personal connections.

He captures it perfectly, saying, “I think it’s figuring out how to make things personalized, where a listener says, yes, that clicks with me, that makes a difference in what I’m doing. It’s about the relationship. If you’re advertising, remind people–hey, I’m local, I’m a part of your community. And here’s why I want to make a connection with you.”

The insight of communicating the value you are providing to your audience can be applied to almost every aspect of business development, well beyond radio advertising. As you develop new content, ask yourself how you are building personal connections with your audience. How are you providing value to them? Are you communicating with them as a trusted friend and neighbor?

Rural America is Evolving but Many Things Stay the Same

For those who live in rural America, we know that we have the best of both worlds: personal connections with neighbors and friends, community involvement from local companies and the ability to escape the hustle and bustle, all while remaining connected.

While it may seem too good to be true, rural America continues to grow and attract new community members. Tom thinks some of this growth can be attributed to technology, saying, “Technology I think is going to be a big saving grace for rural areas. I’ve got to think that translates over to some businesses that still want to be a part of rural America.”

It’s more than technology that attracts new businesses and retains current ones. It’s a combination of technology and core values that drive everyday life. Tom adds to this point, “They see the advantage of having a workforce that’s hard working and that knows the value of a day’s work. There’s a family atmosphere that takes place. You know that you can have a nice level of trust and interaction with people, and I think that is the good thing about rural America that will continue to attract some jobs to be set up here.”

If you’re a brand marketing to those in rural America or an individual who loves living the rural American lifestyle, you can’t forget the things that lead to a successful and rewarding life; personal connections and core values. Hear more from Tom and Cliff on these core values, the power of a voice, reaching your audience and more in this episode of OUTdrive. Check it out!