Managing Others

Dick Taylor PresentingFor most of my life I was a radio manager. Then I had the opportunity to be a university professor. What those two professions had most in common was the training of others, employees in the work place and students in higher education.

Be the Change

As a parent, I quickly learned that my children didn’t learn as much from what I told them but in observing how I, myself, acted. I credit my mother and father for this form of parenting because that’s how they raised their three boys.

Mahatma Gandhi put it this way:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

I swear, I didn’t

My oldest son never uttered a single swear word until he went to school. One day when he was helping me work in the yard, he let out a loud curse.

It was then that I said to him, “you may have noticed that your mother and father don’t use those words. Neither do your aunts, uncles and grandparents. Now if you want to talk that way around your friends, that’s your decision, but around your family, please don’t.” He never used that kind of language again – at least around me.

Swearing, Part 2

Years later I would be a radio Market Manager in Iowa with a lot of employees in my stations. Not too long after I had taken over the property, my Operations Manager came into my office and closed the door. (When people close your door behind them, it’s usually not a good sign.)

I said, you look like something’s serious is on your mind. What’s up?

He said, “you’ve made a big impact on the employees of these radio stations. Everyone is afraid to swear around you because you don’t ever swear.”

I laughed.

Then told him that it wasn’t because I didn’t know those words but because I personally chose not to use them, but it didn’t bother me if others did.

He sighed a big sigh of relief and said he would spread the word.

But here’s the interesting result: people continued to very rarely swear at those radio stations.

Starting on Time

In my university classes I set certain standards by my actions. I told students on the first day of class that I would always start my classes on time. That I would be setting up to deliver my lectures about 15-minutes before the start of class and that when it was time to start I would close the classroom door. That closed door was to keep hallway noise out but never students and if for some reason they were running late, they could always enter the classroom, just be courteous of other students. Virtually every student was in class before the start.

Teaching punctuality came by being punctual myself.

Another lesson in punctuality came with turning in assignments by the day and time they were due. I made it very clear that late assignments would not be accepted. Period.

That’s because in the workplace, in life, everything has a deadline.

Picking Up Trash

One time when I was walking through an airport to my plane’s gate, I picked up some paper that was on the floor near a trash receptacle and placed in the can. The person behind me said, “You either own a business or manage one.” To which I smiled and replied, “Guilty.”

Everyone is watching you. Noticing how you act.

Always do the right thing. Always.

Managing Others Begins with You

To be an effective manager of other people, to train them to do things the way you wish to see them done, you must first exhibit those behaviors in the way you live your life.

Nothing is more powerful than being the change you want to see in others.

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The Largest Financial Decision in Your Lifetime

122I was just reading an article about car buying and it said that buying a car is one of the largest financial decisions most consumers will make in their lifetime.  Really? I thought that was buying a house.

After being a university professor for seven years, I left with a feeling that getting a college education might be the largest financial decision. Today, student loan debt tops $1.3 trillion. The number of Americans with student loan debt is a record 44.2 million.

A record 107 million Americans now have auto loan debt. Worse, 6 million of them are behind on their auto loan payments.

Homeowners are doing little better with only one in four having more equity in their home than debt. Unfortunately, 5.4 million homeowners are seriously upside down – meaning they owe more on their mortgage than they can sell their home for. The rest of the homeowners are somewhere in the middle.

Then again, maybe it’s the cost of health insurance or putting away money for retirement.

Finding a Purpose in Life

Have you found yours yet?

I was lucky, I learned at a very young age what I wanted to do with my life.

It was to be a disc jockey on the radio.

Until one day, after being a DJ for ten years, I changed my mind. Now I wanted to be the radio station general manager.

That lasted over three decades until I changed my mind again. Now I wanted to be a university professor. I did that for seven years before deciding there was something more to life than just focusing on a career.

Business writer and editor Theodore Kinni says that “you can still build a rewarding career, even if you don’t heed the purpose ‘siren call.’ Start with what you’re good at and go from there – quit early and often until you’ve found work that works for you.”

 

“A sense of purpose is like an appendix. If you’ve got one, good for you.

 If you don’t, you’re not missing anything important.”

-Theodore Kinni

Luck & Success

I’m not discounting the need for hard work to be a success in life, but I know a lot of people who worked very hard and still had a hard time getting ahead while others seemed to have a much easier time.

Recently, a report in Inside Radio spoke to the fact that some radio markets were enjoying phenomenal growth while other markets were very challenged.

If you’ve ever worked in a large radio group, I’m sure your property was often compared to others who were making their numbers while yours struggled. No one seemed to care or found it important to understand the local market dynamics and how another’s “Best Practices” were not in your best interests to employ.

Radio Stations & Colleges

Turns out colleges have similar geographic problems as radio stations. Colleges are married to their location in much the same way that radio station licenses anchor broadcast properties.

Have you ever heard of the DCI?

DCI is the Distressed Communities Index and it shows that the U.S. economy is very diverse and fragmented when it comes to economic well-being. The 2017 DCI shows 52.3 million Americans today live in communities characterized as “economically distressed.”

For colleges that operate in these areas, their prospects for recruiting students to fill the seats is very challenging. Not all that different from radio stations trying to produce cash register rings.

Another area that both radio and colleges are being challenged, is the internet and the mobile economy. Whether it’s listening, shopping or getting an education, more and more people are doing it online.

When listening, shopping or education moves online, it no longer competes with the entities, but the best merchants, radio stations and the best colleges in the world.

Internet Dollars or Dimes

For too long, I heard traditional broadcast media complain that going online was trading OTA advertising dollars for internet dimes. And that was certainly true. It’s because we tried to apply the same business model to the internet that we applied to our broadcast business model. Colleges did it too. It was wrong. Internet economics is an entirely different business model.

Look at the top 50 internet websites and you will see they don’t make money the way that traditional media companies or colleges made money. The top 5 didn’t exist before there was an internet.

I’m sure if you dig deeper you will find that the digital dimes are being made by the traditional media companies and colleges, while the digital dollars are being made by those digital startups. In fact, INCOME did just that and compiled a list of the top 20 companies making the most money on the internet.

The real eye-opener is when you scan this list of companies and see how much money they vacuum in every second (Amazon $1084 per second is #1).

Very quickly you realize that internet commerce is made up of a few haves and a zillion have nots.

Once upon a time America had strong antitrust laws. Antitrust laws are really anti-competition laws that were put in place by the U.S. Government to protect you and me from predatory business practices by ensuring that fair competition existed and we live in an open-market economy.

Fast vs. Slow

The beauty of our government is that nothing happens fast. It takes time and a lot of political capital to bring about change.

Fortunately, that slow pace of government wasn’t that much slower than the rate of commerce over the last 225 years. It all worked. Until it didn’t.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Computers are fast. Computers connected to the internet are even faster. Collaboration adds even more to the speed of innovation.

Government hasn’t been able to adjust to this new high-speed world the internet created.

Colleges and radio stations are also trying to play catch-up.

Life is a balancing act.

Things are moving very fast.

No one can ever tell you what’s right for you. And no one knows where all this is going.

And so, I’ll leave you with some great career advice from Dr. Seuss:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

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Luck, Signal & Being Unique

123Back before the turn of the century, radio station owners often did market research to find viable programming “holes” in a market. Often it didn’t even take research, just an experienced radio nerd with a sense of what was to be popular. Once identified, the task was simply to put it altogether and hit the air.

Beautiful Music to Lite AC

I was in Atlantic City doing one of Bonneville’s beautiful music formats and Jerry Lee was in Philadelphia doing Bonneville’s Matched-Flow beautiful music format on WEAZ (EZ 101-FM).

Jerry Lee has always been a leader in the radio industry and with the research of Bill Moyes, they moved WEAZ from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-branded the station B101 (with new WBEB call letters too). It was a very gutsy move!

Jerry’s success with the new format saw me take WFPG-FM from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-brand as Lite 96.9 a few years later.

Timing is Everything

The year was 1989. The country would soon be headed into a recession. The format switch at WFPG-FM saw us go from #2 in the 12+ Arbitron Ratings to #1. Even better, we took the #1 positions in all the key buying demos.

As the economic conditions tightened in the early 90s, the number of stations deep being bought in Atlantic City regionally/nationally would go from five to three to one. And WFPG-FM was the one.

We delivered our first million-dollar bottom-line year in 1991. We repeated that performance in 1993. Meanwhile, the other radio stations in the market were just about making ends meet.

Signal, Signal, Signal

In real estate, the key to having a winning property is all location, location, location.

In radio, the key to having a winning property is signal, signal, signal.

WFPG-FM had one of the market’s only 50,000-watt non-directional signals at that time. Two other 3,000-watt radio stations were already programming a light adult contemporary format, but when we put that format on our huge signal, they both bailed, one changing to classical music and the other to classic rock. It left WFPG-FM as the market’s only Lite AC radio station and with the most popular music format at that moment in time.

Me Too

What I’m seeing is too many “me too” stations on the air today.

Me too is not a viable strategy.

The future for any venture in a 21st Century world is to zag when others are all zigging.

Look at any successful enterprise and you will see two things:

1) not everyone loves what they do and

2) they’re famous for what they do. (Think Howard Stern)

Howard would make Sirius Satellite Radio something special and unique. 124It’s why they forked over hundreds of millions of dollars to have Howard join their team.

What happened to the OTA radio station’s when Howard left for Satellite Radio?

They had an Excedrin headache for quite a few years.

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Live & Local ?

Stuck in a Time WarpI’ve been attending a lot of radio meetings these past years and one refrain I’ve heard over and over and over and over is that the power of radio is it’s “live & local.”

This week, the FCC voted along party lines 3 to 2 to eliminate the Main Studio Rule.

1934 Congress Establishes the FCC

The first regulatory body to oversee radio was the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) that was established by the Radio Act of 1927. The FRC was created to, among other things, insure that the public airwaves of America were used in the “public interest, convenience and/or necessity.” The FRC was given regulatory powers for licensing all radio stations and insuring the airwaves were assigned to broadcasters capable of providing quality broadcasts. The amateurs were assigned to another piece of the broadcast spectrum which today is known as Amateur Radio Service or Ham Operators.

Amateur Radio like AM/FM radio is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission which was established by Congress with the Communications Act of 1934.

Main Studio Rule

So, this week when the FCC voted to end the Main Studio Rule, what did that mean according to the FCC’s regulations that have been in place in 1934 (and per Gregg Skall) updated in 1988 to make them clearer? FCC attorney Skall wrote back in 1991 in his “Main Studio Rule and Staffing” memo:

The main studio rule as clarified in 1988 requires a station to maintain a main studio within its principal community contour “which has the capability adequately to meet its function…of serving the needs and interests of the residents of the station’s community of license.” That rule has now been further revised to allow a main studio to be located either within 25 miles from its community of license reference coordinates, or within the principal community contours of any station, of any service, licensed to its community of license. (See memo, Revised Main Studio and Public File Rules). Jones Eastern requires the station to maintain a “meaningful management and staff presence” at the main studio on a full-time basis during regular business hours.

You can read the full memo here.

LIVE RADIO

Since the introduction of automation systems, syndication, satellite delivery and computer voice tracking, the LIVE aspect of radio has been on the wane. Even in the #1 radio market in America, New York City, stations may or may not have a live operator behind the microphone when you’re tuned in.

When I was starting out in radio, we used to have to announce whether a program was live or pre-recorded so the listeners wouldn’t be deceived about the broadcast. In the early days of radio, virtually all radio was live and so it was the exception for something to have been recorded.

Today, it’s more likely what you are listening to is not live but syndicated, voice-tracked and pre-recorded.

LOCAL RADIO

With the Main Studio Rule, the goal was at least there would be a live person at the station and the studio would be in the community the licensee was licensed to serve.

Lance Venta writing on RadioInsight wrote “But what will it (elimination of the Main Studio Rule) mean in the short term? Probably not a lot. In the long term, be prepared for a much leaner broadcast facility.” You can read Lance’s entire article “The Radio Station of the Future…Today!” here.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been lobbying for the elimination of the Main Studio Rule, and its executive VP of communications Dennis Wharton said “We’re confident that cost savings realized from ending the main studio rule will be reinvested by broadcasters in better programming and modernized equipment to better serve our local communities.”

Brick & Mortar Presence

FCC attorney Scott R. Flick said that the Main Studio Rule was really a government mandate for radio to have a brick-and-mortar presence in an internet age. “Its existence hindered stations from evolving and adapting to the rapidly changing business strategies of their many non-broadcast competitors.”

It’s ironic that the biggest online retailer, Amazon, is now in the process of acquiring a brick-and-mortar presence as the radio industry appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

Public Safety

When a broadcaster doesn’t have a studio in the local community it serves, it delivers its programming through the internet, satellites, microwaves or wired lines. Broadcasters have been quick to point out how these forms of communication are first to go down in natural disasters.

What seems to be missing in this conversation, is a Black Swan event. Will radio be ready for a Black Swan?

Today’s Big Regulatory Difference

The big difference I see today for radio versus its toddler years is how it is regulated. The Radio Act of 1927 provided the foundation for all broadcast regulation right up until today. While more Acts were passed and made law over the years, the basics remain much the same as when they were first made law.

Some of the key provisions in the original Act that we’ve deviated from today are:

  • Limiting the number of broadcasters to foster higher quality radio broadcasts versus having more stations of poor or mediocre qualities
  • Radio broadcasters would operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity”
  • Radio would be a regulated medium to assure high quality and operating in the public interest
  • Radio would be commercial and privately owned (a condition that made radio broadcasting in the USA different from every other country in the world)

Those who complain that radio isn’t like it used to be only need look at how broadcast regulations have been changed over the past century; the biggest change being the Telcom Act of 1996.

Make Radio LiVE & LOCAL Again

On May 24, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a “Broadcast Localism Hearing” in Rapid City, South Dakota.  The president, general manager and co-owner of KLQP-FM licensed to Madison, Minnesota (population 1,767) Maynard Meyer addressed the commission.  He told them (I’ve edited his comments. The full text can be found here. )

“Localism in radio is not dead, but it is in dire need of resuscitation in many areas.  I have been involved in the radio business in announcing, sales, engineering and management for about 36 years, all of my experience is in communities of 5,000 people or less.  We personally live in the communities we serve so we know the ‘issues,’ we work to address them in our programming and have been doing so for the past 21 years.“

“A few years ago, many stations operated this way, but much of that has changed for a variety of reasons.  I think the beginning of the end of local broadcast service started in the 1980s when the Federal Communications Commission approved Docket 80-90.”

Mr. Meyer went on to explain to the FCC how many communities that “on paper” had a local radio station actually found that the transmitter was being fed from another location tens of miles away.  Mr. Meyer went on to say:

“I don’t think this is the best way to promote local radio service.  From what I have seen through my personal experience, as soon as a hometown studio is closed and relocated, the local service is relocated as well.”

What do you think?

 

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Finding Success

114When I was growing up, kids when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” would respond with things like: Actor, Postman, Astronaut, Scientist, TV Star, Pilot, Explorer, Teacher, Disc Jockey etc. The answers would be as varied as the career choices out there.

Today when kids are asked the same question, the answer for boys and girls is the same, RICH.

As if money were the only definition of “success.”

“There is only one success…

to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

-Christopher Morely

Defining Success

I really like the words of Christopher Morely. For time and money are inversely proportional. You can save time by spending more money or save money by spending more time. The choice is yours.

Success as most people talk about it sounds like a goal. Goals are dreams with a deadline.

Where does being happy come in? Shouldn’t happiness be included on your personal road to success?

You can have all the monetary success in the world, but if you aren’t happy, are you truly successful where it counts?

Success can be measured.

Happiness is limitless.

People will often tell you to work smarter, not harder. But the reality I’ve found is there is no short-cut to monetary success. The success secret is finding work that you love, work that makes you happy.

Adversity

Let’s face it, no matter how good your plan, life will get in the way.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

-Mike Tyson

Michael J. Fox certainly has had his share of success, happiness and adversity. Fox has been living with Parkinson’s for 26-years. Fox is working, laughing and defying the odds. Recently he shared his “6 Rules for Surviving Adversity.” When I read them, I thought they are perfect for anyone of us in the world of mediated communications. Since the passage of the Telcom Act of 1996, those of us in radio and television have seen massive consolidation resulting in RIF’s (Reduction In Force).

Here are the things Fox says we should keep in mind:

  • Exercise: “We’ve learned it will prolong your ability to operate positively in the world,” says Fox. I’ve learned that logic won’t change an emotion but action will. If you find yourself in a pickle, start doing things. Helping others will especially help you too.
  • Pacing: “It helps me think – the physical motion creates intellectual motion,” says Fox. And Fox isn’t the first person to discover the benefits of improved thinking by being in motion. Steve Jobs, I’ve read, liked to conduct meetings while walking. He said it helped both him and the person(s) he was talking with to think more clearly. Plus, meetings don’t drag on when people are standing or walking.
  • Acceptance: “It isn’t resignation, and it freed me to actively deal with and endeavor to change my situation (in dealing with Parkinson’s)” and Fox adds “My happiness goes in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” For many of us who were RIF’d or took on the work assignments of all those people who no longer work by your side, acceptance is critical. I remember losing my promotions department, my national sales manager and local sales managers and as each position was eliminated, it became the new additional job of the market manager. Until the day they eliminated my position. I know what it means to embrace acceptance.
  • Honesty: Don’t remain silent or ashamed about the position life has handed you. Fox says that once he went public about his condition with Parkinson’s “it was empowering to have people understand what I was going through – I immediately felt better.” Be honest about your situation and seize the opportunity to re-invent yourself and your life. Change is life’s only constant.
  • Optimism: “I hate when people say, ‘You’re giving them false hope.’ To me hope is informed optimism,” says Fox. I love that way of looking at life. You always have a choice to how you react to the things that happen to you. You can be angry, you can be sad, you can sink into a depression – OR – you can look at things with “informed optimism” and explore new opportunities.
  • Humor: “I laugh at [my involuntary movements and the scenes they create],” says Fox. “There are times I love these things.” Laughter IS the best medicine for anything that ails you.

Death is not the greatest loss in life.

The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.

-Norman Cousins

Norman Cousins used laughter to get well when everything else his doctors had been trying failed. He chronicled his miraculous recovery in a book “Anatomy of an Illness (as perceived by the patient).” It was the first book by a patient that told how taking charge of our own health is critical. Cousins used laughter, courage and tenacity to mobilize his body’s own natural resources. He showed how effective and powerful a healing tool the mind can be.

Do What You Love

Take a moment to reflect on all the things you were passionate about when you were growing up as a kid. Can you combine any of them, or age them, or make them fit into a 21st Century world? When you look to your past, you might just discover your future.

None of us were put here to do just one thing.

I’m sure you had many things you wanted to do with your life when you were young.

And finally, remember the words of a great broadcaster, David Frost who said:

“Don’t aim for success if you want it;

just do what you love and believe in,

and it will come naturally.”

 

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Time for a New Adventure

Dick Taylor WBECI just recently moved to Virginia from Kentucky.

I moved to Kentucky from New Jersey 7-years ago to pursue a bucket list career goal of mine, to teach at a college or university radio broadcasting. That opportunity came for me at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

I knew absolutely no one when I interviewed for the broadcast professor opening, but the person I would be hired to replace – retiring broadcast professor Bart White – would become a good friend over my tenure at WKU.

Long Ago & Far Away

When one moves, it means going through all of your stuff to decide what gets packed up and moved again and what gets donated or tossed into the dump.

One of the little pieces of memorabilia that I came across was a newspaper article on my being promoted to the position of Program Manager for WBEC Radio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That occurred on August 8, 1975. (Picture of me on-the-air at WBEC above from the 1970s)

I had just graduated from the Masters Degree program with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in Educational Communications and teaching certifications, but I found myself in a field that tight school budgets were eliminating from their programs. Going back to the “three R’s” they would say, Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, instead of employing modern teaching technologies in the classroom.

One of the radio stations I had worked at while going to college was WBEC and being offered this position was a dream come true. It was the very position I had always wanted.

A Lot of Career Success is Luck

WBEC was a station that was very programming oriented. During my tenure as the Program Manager, and later promoted to Operations Manager over both the AM and FM properties, I went to a lot of programming conferences and competed in both air personality as well as program director competitions. I was lucky to be in the position I was in at the station I was employed by.

But as time went along, I found myself more captivated by what happened off-the-air versus being an air personality, the position that attracted me to radio since I was old enough to remember.

I decided I wanted to be a general manager.

General managers didn’t come out of programming at that time but instead they came out of radio sales. So, I decided my next job would be in radio sales.

When I got a call from a general manager I knew that they wanted to hire me for a programming position, I said I wasn’t interested. I wanted my next move to be in sales. He said, “let me get back to you on that.”

Two weeks later, he said “Let’s get together, because I have a radio sales job for you.”

Moving to his stations and the company that owned them was lucky again, as this was a very sales focused organization and I would be exposed to monthly IBIB (International Broadcasters Idea Bank) reports, lots of sales training by any sales consultant to get within 200 miles of New England and annual trips to the Managing Sales Conference run by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).

AR to MM

I quickly rose through the ranks from account representative to sales manager to director of sales to station manager to general manager.

General managers were renamed market managers as the age of consolidation took over after the passage of the Telcom Act of 1996.  That’s when a single company went from being able to own only 12 AM radio stations, 12 FM radio stations and 12 TV stations in the entire USA. The Telcom Act of ’96 would unleash a buying spree funded by Wall Street that would see the largest operator owning over a thousand radio stations.

Radio Ink Best Managers

In 2009, Radio Ink named me one of the best radio managers in America. I was very proud of that honor, but I had been thinking about a change for some time and I was ready for a fresh adventure.

After all, I had invested early in my life, earning the qualifications to teach and I wanted to pay-it-forward to the next generation of broadcasters by teaching at a college or university.

I was lucky once again to see an ad in Radio Ink by WKU looking for a broadcast professor to teach at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting courses in sales, management, media process & effects, radio performance and the history of broadcasting in America.

7-Years a Professor

In May of 2017, I completed my seventh year of teaching at the university. The students I’ve mentored over that time have become extended members of my family. I went to every graduation ceremony – they’re held twice a year – because I was invested in each and every one of them.

Bowling Green, Kentucky is a lovely place. But it is far from my friends and family back on the East Coast.

New Adventure Time

In the book “The Adventure of Living,” Paul Tournier writes: “Many people are never able to come to terms with the death to which every adventure is inevitably subject…The Law of Adventure is that it dies as it achieves its object.”

I’ve experienced this “death” multiple times over my life.

Something in your gut just tells you, it’s time for a new adventure.

In June, I moved to northern Virginia.

I became engaged the weekend before Valentine’s Day 2017 to a wonderful woman who is a member of the same Pittsfield, Massachusetts high school class as I. Ironically, we went to opposite public high schools.  At that time our city had two public and a parochial high school, but we now all reunion together every five years – and so we never met until our 45th class reunion.

Another part of my new adventure is this blog that I started writing almost three years ago.

I remember Ron Jacobs (first program director of Boss Radio 93-KHJ, Los Angeles, creator of The History of Rock & Roll, co-founder of America Top 40 with Casey Kasem, etc.) telling me during a phone call that he enjoyed writing more than being an air personality, program director or anything else he had accomplished in his life. I now completely understand where he was coming from as I’ve developed my own love of writing and mentoring others. Ron said he enjoyed reading my blog and that’s why he sent me his phone number one evening and asked me to give him a call at his home in Hawaii and chat.

Got a career adventure I should be considering?

Shoot me an email & let’s talk.

I’m ready for a NEW ADVENTURE.

Dick.Taylor@wku.edu

 

“Twenty years from now

you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do

than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

-Mark Twain

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The Power of Repetition

119I think if I were a student in elementary school today, I would probably be diagnosed as being ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

Back then no one had a name for it.

Poohisms

My fiancé the other evening gave me a little sign to put on my desk. It was titled “Poohisms” and the sign reads: “If the person you’re talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient, it may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

Multitasking

What might have seemed a problem when I was young would later in my life be seen as an asset. The ability to focus on lots of different things all at once would be called “Multitasking.” Multitaskers were now seen as people who could handle lots more different work assignments and therefore were more productive workers.

General Management

As my broadcast career progressed, I rose to the position of general manager at the age of 32. General management in a radio station means you oversee the entire operation and during a typical day you’re dealing with sales, programming, promotions, business issues, engineering concerns as well as meeting with advertising clients and the station’s listeners. It can be a pretty diverse job.

Short Attention Span Theater

When I worked at Delmarva Broadcasting, the President was Pete Booker. Pete was the first person I ever heard describe the general manager job as “short attention span theater.” But once he said it, I never forgot it. And it really is what general management is all about.

Multitasking Studies

Now the reality of multitasking has been revealed in studies and it’s not good. Turns out that multitasking is problematic and research studies say it kills your performance and quite possibly could injure your brain. In fact, research conducted at Stanford University found that the multitasker is less productive than the person who is focused and does a single thing at a time.

We’re All Multitaskers Now

With the advent of the internet and smartphones, everyone is multitasking these days. And that’s a real problem for advertisers. Everyone now has “fluff in their ears” not just ear buds.

It’s especially scary to see most people getting on their smartphone as soon as they start their vehicle. Driving a car IS the most important task at that moment and no one should be multitasking while driving. It’s not about handheld devices or hands-free. It is all about the mind being diluted of full attention to the critical operation of a motor vehicle.

For advertisers, trying to cut through to a world of multitaskers is a challenge of Mt Everest proportions.

Memory Curve

When it comes to our memories, studies have found we forget over half of meaningful material we’re exposed to in about ten days. Meaningless material (like advertising) we forget in seconds.

This was so concerning to the Association of National Advertisers, they published a study on the problem in 1979. Long before the world knew anything about the internet or smartphones in everyone’s hand.

If having advertising reach effective frequency was important 38-years ago, what is it like today?

And what advertising medium can deliver it?

3 Frequency

Early in my radio selling days, I learned of the Westinghouse slide rule to calculate the effective frequency of an advertising schedule placed on my radio stations. The slide rule helped me to calculate at least a minimum of a 3 frequency for my clients and often by spending just a little bit more and using all dayparts they could do even better. They were always fascinated when I pulled out my slide rule and calculated their schedule. They always bought my suggestions and always got results that turned them into annual customers.118

I still have my Westinghouse slide ruler too.

Pierre Bouvard and Steve Marx in 1993 would publish a book called “Radio Advertising’s Missing Ingredient: The Optimum Effective Scheduling System.” It basically affirmed what the Westinghouse slide rule had shown. It takes a 3 frequency with the average listener to cut through.

The military knew this long ago. They put it this way in training soldiers:

  1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them what you just told them

In other words, the army knew it takes a three frequency to get a message to stick in the mind of new recruits.

Research Says: Messages Are More Effective When Repeated

If I were to say the words “Just Do It” you would immediately know what the brand is. Nike has been using those three words in their ads since 1988. Or how about “What happens here, stays here.” Does Las Vegas come to mind? The gambling mecca began saying this in 2004. Two more, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” or “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Geico and Motel 6 have been strong radio users for years and have made their brand a part of your brain whether you intended to remember them or not.

That’s effective advertising.

But in a 21st Century world of multitaskers a more recent study by Microsoft might be more on target with the frequency needed to get the job done. Microsoft concluded between 6 and 20 times was best. And yet, that may not even be new news.

The Financial Brand wrote about a book called “Successful Advertising,” and how the author Thomas Smith makes the following reflection on effective frequency:

The 1st time people look at an ad, they don’t see it.
The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.
The 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.
The 5th time, they actually read the ad.
The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this for a long time.
The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.
The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.
The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.
The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.

Now consider this: Mr. Smith penned this witty insight back in 1885 — over 132 years ago! Advertising was still in its infancy, but savvy marketers like Smith quickly figured out that “more frequency = more effective.”

Affordable Effective Frequency

You can be effective in any advertising medium, if you get enough frequency. That’s right ANY medium: radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, internet, billboards etc.

Here’s the problem, most advertisers can’t afford to attain effective frequency levels for a week let alone sustain that level of advertising 52-weeks a year in TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, etc.

But they can by using RADIO.

Radio Gets Results,

because it’s the frequency* leader.

 

*Bonus: Radio today is also the reach leader. 93% of Americans 12+ listen to radio every week.

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