The Consultant from Mars

So, let’s say the smartest business consultant from the planet Mars comes to visit, to examine how radio brands are performing these days.  She’s never been to Earth before, so she has no preconceptions about how things “should” work in our business.

She sees consumers both confronted and enticed with far more entertainment choices than before.  Not just a few more … but a geometric increase in ways to get information, entertainment and different sorts of content over just 10 or 15 years ago.

As she points out to us, this means that a structural change is called for, where radio brands need to realize they’re faced with new competition from many sides.  At the same time, radio brands have major strengths that newer media brands could only hope for:

  • Even with plenty of new entertainment choices, radio brands continue to be the source with the most value for consumers … offering the potential of near-instant gratification for free.
  • The synergy of delivery methods … having both digital assets in addition to a transmitter … gives radio brands a huge advantage over pure-digital brands, being able to move large numbers of people dynamically from one platform (on-air, online, on site) to another.
  • The radio brand industry is ahead of the curve, already full of talented people … with a knowledge base of why consumers are using their product, and how to enhance the experience.
  • Being local operators in addition to being in the digital world gives radio brands a focus and a core fan base missing in many pure-digital brands.

Notice she says “radio brands” instead of “radio.”  She cautions that we need to think of ourselves as entertainment brands, not transmitter operators.  She also explains that part of our problem is that we mentally create too much separation between what happens on the air, and what happens on our websites and in social media.

She says if we were really brand managers, we’d be focused on delivering what people love about our brands … on-air, online and even on-site at events.  We’d have the same discipline and focus with our digital assets that we do with what happens on the air.  We’d know that we could get a leg up on our competition by delivering the best of our brand on-air, online and on-site … and constantly moving people from one brand asset to another.

She would explain that top managers need to mentally be in the digital business as much as the people they hire to “handle it” for them.  She would question why we let salespeople pick up the phone who aren’t selling linkage to a unique mix of consumers through all the brand’s assets, instead of just spots and dots on the radio.  And, she might save the most pointed questions for the programmers and promotion folks:

  • Why are we still hiring people for their on-air abilities who can’t write social media posts, or create pages for online audiences?  Why aren’t they cross-platform content providers instead of on-air personalities?
  • Why haven’t we been studying what makes a successful website, or what social media tactics engage people most effectively?  We assume our opinions are facts.
  • Have we learned about all the information we can get from our digital stats … who’s going where on our websites, what draws people in to look at more pages, are our Facebook and Twitter efforts bringing people to us, and what’s the profile of our digital users?  Are you experimenting with delivering your core brand elements in new ways online, and tracking the results?  Or is Arbitron the only supplier of “real” numbers?
  • Do you get your radio brand’s on-air, promotion and web folks together regularly to set the creative agenda for what you’re going to focus on together?

ACTION ALERT:  Is the PD running a meeting every week or two where the small number of top creative people on the staff get together … and talk about new ways to get what brand fans love on-air, online and maybe even on-site?  Don’t let the promotion calendar or the sales staff run the master to-do list.  Nothing against Promotions or Sales … but most of these folks are probably not being judged on their brand-building skills and abilities.

Let’s start talking about … specifically … how you really start embracing your awesome digital future.  Click my name to the right and get in touch with me!

Chris Miller


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