Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ring The Alarm

“Brand Sirens” ring the alarm and bring attention to your brand! Think about what that means for your radio brand, especially CHR, CHR-Rhythmic, Hot AC and Urban/Hip Hop stations.

Here are insights from a new study revealing the influence of “Brand Sirens” as highlighted in Tobi Elkin’s article,“Study: Some 13-34s Show High Brand Loyalty,” from today’s Media Post:

Two in three "Brand Sirens" care about the brands they use, seven in 10 say they love some brands, and two-thirds of those surveyed feel there are important differences between brands. In addition, the study found that young people actually want to be brand-loyal; in fact, 43 percent of the Brand Sirens wish they could find brands they could stick with and more than 40 percent would switch brands if another brand came onto the market that seemed more enticing.

Even more striking, among the Brand Sirens surveyed, 82 percent indicated that they talk about brands with their friends; 87 percent enjoy sharing information about brands; 85 percent appreciate brands that keep their promises; and more than half (54 percent) wish they could find brands to stick with. In addition, 70 percent of those surveyed send e-mails to friends about products and services, and 77 percent post reviews and product feedback online.

The research suggests that Brand Sirens are uber-influencers who indulge in passions and interests around which they develop a specific expertise. These passions motivate them to search all available sources for updates and developments in their areas of interest, and lead to in-depth knowledge about the products and services, and brands related to their interest areas. As a result, they become experts not only about a particular topic, but also the products that serve that interest and the brands within those categories. In fact, the study found that "the majority of Brand Sirens believe they are smarter than the brands or marketers themselves," observed Pip Marquez De La Plata, vice president, marketing, CNET Networks Entertainment.

The study also underscored how much this group values authenticity and candor in marketing with 6 in 10 (58 percent) participants saying they are pleasantly surprised when they discover a brand that lives up to its promises, and 7 in 10 (67 percent) indicating they will spend more to purchase a brand they know and trust.

For Tobi Elkin’s complete article, click here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

You’re Only As Good As Your Next Bit!

While legendary Los Angeles radio personality Rick Dees launched his new morning show earlier today on Emmis Communication’s new Rhythmic AC KMVN-FM (Movin’ 93.9) in LA, other stations, like Sheridan Broadcasting’s Urban WAMO-FM in Pittsburgh and Clear Channel's Urban WBTP-FM in Tampa, have recently opted for syndication over their local morning shows. (Both are now affiliates of the Steve Harvey Morning Show.) Programmers are under constant pressure to produce winning—and sellable—numbers in the morning drive daypart with local or syndicated talent. An investment in either type of show is expected to generate a return with increased ratings and revenue.

Although I am a big fan of several syndicated shows, including Opie & Andy, Mancow, Steve Harvey, Big D & Bubba, Tom Joyner and Russ Parr, there is nothing like a great local morning show that’s in-sync with—and truly reflects—its market. Live, local morning shows like Big Boy on KPWR-FM (Power 106) in LA, Donnie Simpson on WPGC-FM (WPGC 95.5) in D.C. have been able to produce consistent results against all competitors—syndicated or local.

If you are a programmer guiding a local morning show or a personality contributing to a local morning show, top radio producer Eric Rowe has ideas that can help your show better entertain and connect with its audience.

Here are things Eric believes can help make a Successful Local Morning Show:

  • Be Topical
  • Develop Benchmarks
  • Reflect what’s unique about your city
  • Reflect the Station’s attitude and image
  • Be Visible Around Town
  • Plan fun and entertaining bits everyday
  • Have everybody on the show play specifics roles
  • Include Listener interaction
  • Tease things that are worth teasing
  • Be LOCAL!!!
  • Create water cooler talk
  • Always generate publicity in the local media
  • Find your listener demo and aim for the Bull’s Eye
  • Be spontaneous & unpredictable at least once a day
  • Be LOCAL, LOCAL, and LOCAL!!!!


"One of the greatest threats that most companies face today is following so-called conventional wisdom."
– Steven Levitt, co-author of “Freakanomics” at 2006 Radio & Records Convention

During his keynote address at last week’s R&R convention, “Freakanomics” co-author economist Steven Levitt shared with the crowd that his own success was based on learning to ask questions that nobody else will. He advised attendees that in today’s business world they must learn to do the same if they want to remain competitive and successful. According to Levitt, "When faced with hard problems to solve, the answers can usually best be found through experimentation and randomizing."

Following Levitt’s problem-solving advice is where radio should begin to address the issue of 12-17 and 18-24 demographics' lower listening levels. Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth stated at the NAB Radio Show, "What’s happened to radio is that it has lost its hipness.” Indeed, it has, and this is a major brand/business problem for radio that must be solved creatively—and aggressively—to increase the hipness and relevance of radio with younger demos.

One of my favorite quotes from futurist Alvin Toffler is: “Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.” Well, the radio landscape has changed. The reality is, radio’s future will be filled with even more competitive media, and, in our increasingly time-squeezed society, listeners'/consumers' future lives will be filled with even more demands and distractions. The erosion of 12-17 and 18-24 demos we are experiencing now is due to the past, and present, lack of focus on these demos—all driven by a “Wall Street” mentality. Consolidation created an environment where even youth-targeted Top 40, CHR-Rhythmic, Urban/Hip Hop station programmers where programmed by corporate—more concerned with improving their stock prices, than improving their products—to contribute to cluster performance 25-54, almost to the exclusion of serving the true targets of the formats.

Now, corporate has come full-circle. Those in the big boardrooms understand that one of the many positive results of a renewed focus on programming is that improving product performance will lead to improving stock performance. In other words, if you don’t care about the product now, sooner or later you won’t have to care about the stock price either. As with all brand/business problems, the key to creatively solving radio’s “hipness” problem is a 3-step process: identify the problem, identify the solution and execute against the solution. We know the problem staring us in the face is the potential loss of a whole generation of radio listeners. But, we must delve deeper to determine, why? We can’t just focus on the obvious: listeners increased usage of—and affinity for—mp3 players, internet radio, satellite radio, electronic gaming, social networking sites, etc. We have to find out how people feel about radio and its role and relevance in their lives.

On the same NAB Show panel as Peter Smyth, Emmis chairman Jeffrey Smulyan, said, "It is incumbent on us to inject hipness. We need to take the chances and be creative.” I believe that creativity must start with changes in our approach to research.

If we continue to do conventional research in conventional ways, we will only get conventional answers—and these are not conventional times. Like the encouraging behest of a life-coach or motivational guru, we in radio must implore each other to ask better questions—provocative and evocative—in better ways to get better answers. Steve Levitt’s “Freakonomics” co-author and fellow R&R keynote speaker, journalist Stephen Dubner, cautioned that answers derived from traditional research methods can often produce a flawed picture of solutions because the circumstances under which people give answers to researchers impacts the data gathered. We have to research differently if we expect to achieve different research results to identify better solutions to execute.

For radio to solve its hard problems and remain competitive and successful, we must ask questions nobody else will. Steven Levitt is right. It’s time for more “experimentation and randomizing.”

Are you ready?

Be A NAB/R&R Conference Commando

Here's an email that I sent out to last week to attendees of the NAB/R&R conventions. You may find this information useful when planning your networking goals to make the most of the next conference or convention you will be attending.

Everyone in our industry is excited about the NAB/R&R conventions convening now in Dallas. While enjoying the standing room only sessions, take a moment to notice who is standing next to you. Could it be a new potential client or ally, or another industry insider or an old friend?

To make the most of your convention networking, here’s some great advice from master networker Keith Ferazzi on connecting with connectors.

15 tips to help you become a Conference Commando:

Tip #1: Remember the 7P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance – Get focused. Think about: Why you are attending? What you want to achieve? Who you want to meet?

Tip #2: Know your targets. Get a list of conference attendees and keep that list with you at all times during the conference so you will know whom you’ve met and who you still need to meet.

Tip #3: Gather intelligence. If you want to get to know someone, the first thing you should do is figure out how you can help them. Find your currency for them—your experience, knowledge, contacts or resources that can make them more successful.

Tip #4: Strike early. Don’t wait until the conference to start your networking.

Tip #5: Never attend a conference. Well, never just attend a conference. You should be sure to speak, too, even if your name isn’t on the program. Acquire a 30-second commercial for your brand by asking a thoughtful question during Q&A.

Tip #6: Slight the speakers. Don’t waste time standing in line to meet a speaker after his or her song and dance. There will be so many other brilliant people at the conference; go meet them!

Tip #7: Get a wing man. Start more of the relationships you want. Team up with a partner. You and your buddy can provide each other motivation, guidance and assistance.

Tip #8: Draft off a big kahuna. Get to know some of the most well-known folks at the conference or the conference organizers themselves and hang with them. The important people will rotate by them sooner or later. If you’re there, you’ll meet everyone who matters.

Tip #9: Be an info-hub. Get really familiar with the conference program. Then pick the brains of the conference staff and anyone else willing to share the ins and outs of what’s happening in and around the big meeting. If you’re in the loop on the private parties and after-hours special events, everyone will come to you for the goods.

Tip #10: Work hard on break. Don’t run off to stuff your face or check e-mail between sessions. You should attend to your bagel and BlackBerry while boring speakers are blabbing on and on, so when break time comes, you can get out there and do what you really came to the conference to do—meet people!

Tip #11: Hijack a dinner. True commandos aren’t constrained by the agendas they receive at registration. Arrange a dinner at a special place out on the town you’re visiting with people who care about a particular topic that matters to you, or modify a conference meal that’s already paid for by inviting specific people to join your table as you meet them during the day.

Tip #12: Let your guard down. When you engage at target contact, skip the small talk and dive into the stuff that really matters to you and them: interests, passions, struggles, and greatest needs. Intimacy and Giving are the two keys to making quick connections that jumpstart lasting relationships.

Tip #13: Master the Deep Bump. Once you’ve successfully taken your conversation with a new acquaintance down deep, past the shallow small talk, secure an invitation to reconnect later. Then bump! Move on and meet more people. You’ve invested too much time and money in this conference not to take the opportunity to meet many different people. You have a lifetime to build relationships with people at the conference, but only a few days to meet them.

Tip #14: Take names (and notes). Before you conclude the Deep Bump, and move on after making a new acquaintance, be sure to get a business card. Flip over the card and jot down a few words to remind yourself of what you two discussed, any relevant personal details you wish to remember, and, of course, when and why you’re going to follow up later.

Tip #15: Follow up or fail. Don’t wait until you return home from the conference to ping people whose cards you collect. Shoot out follow-up emails each night of the event or write them during your flight home.

For more from Keith Ferazzi:
Visit http://www.ferrazzigreenlight.com/nevereatalone/

Enjoy the NAB/R&R conventions and let me know your thoughts on the most inspiring sessions, insights and speakers.

Think strategically, act passionately and engage emotionally!

George “Geo” Cook
Audio Entertainment & Marketing Strategist
Phone – 843.278.5664
Cell – 843.513.9652
AIM – geometricmedia

No-Limit Thinking

Author, educator and businessman Stedman Graham inspires no-limit thinking with this quote:

"None of us is defined by our circumstances, nor are we defined by how other people perceive us. It is up to each one of us to define ourselves, and that is a life's work. Each of us has the ability to lead a dynamic life by pursuing our unique goals and dreams. There are no limits to what you can do."

There are no limits. Change your thinking and you will change your life.

For more from Stedman Graham, click here.