Tag Archives: Barry Drake

What Are They Thinking (about Radio)?

93My Capstone Class students read several books on management during the semester. Some are on personal management, self-improvement type books if you will, because how can you manage others until you can first manage yourself.

One of the books we read is Barry Drake’s “40 Years and 40,000 Sales Calls – Thoughts on Radio and Advertising based on a Lifetime of Customer Contact.” I highly recommend this book as a MUST READ for anyone considering a career in broadcasting or is currently working in broadcasting or is curious about what such a career is like.

When we finished the book and our discussion of the book, we did a Skype session with the author, Barry Drake.

AMAZON Synopsis

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Barry’s book, I will share with you the Amazon synopsis:

“Barry Drake retraces the steps of his forty year broadcasting career to delight readers by telling stories and bringing to light things that have changed and so many things that have not.
Growing up in a media household, Drake saw the birth of television and the impact of local radio personalities. He picked up knowledge of business working in fast food and retail.
In radio, Drake began in the day of AM domination and participated in the rise of FM. Later he went on to head companies in radio and television.
40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls is loaded with Drake’s opinions on the current state of the media, radio in particular and what advertisers want. What makes this book unique is that the opinions all come from direct contact with advertisers. There is no B-school philosophy. Just real world knowledge obtained over forty years of real world work.

One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the book’s sales go to the Broadcasters Foundation of America to assist broadcasters who are in acute need. The Foundation does not endorse or subscribe to the views expressed in the book.”

So What Questions Float in Student Minds After Reading this Book?

You might be amazed as what goes through my student’s brains.  Let me share with you some of their questions:

  • How do the RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) sales modules for the RMP exam compare to his own personal selling strategy?
  • Where does he think he’d be if he didn’t grow up in a radio heavy household (both Barry’s dad & mom worked in radio)
  • Barry said he fell in love with radio when he saw “the magical relationship between the radio station, the radio performer and the listener.” Now that we’ve entered the age of digital and voice tracking, is that relationship still magical in your opinion?
  • When you are selling to a customer what is the most important step in building a relationship with your customers?
  • How do you think broadcasting and broadcast sales will change in the next 10-20 years? Where do you think the radio industry is going?
  • Do you have any regrets in choosing a broadcasting career?
  • Do you see local radio becoming more popular than syndicated radio?
  • Did you ever want to switch careers?
  • What defines a leader?

I think you can see from just a sample of the questions my students had, we covered a lot of ground in that class session with Barry.

Barry Drake’s Wisdom

Barry says the biggest issue going forward will be competition for people’s time. Time will be at a premium in a world with unlimited media choices.

To be successful you will need faith. Faith in yourself, in your career and that everything will work out just fine if you dedicate yourself to your work with everything you’ve got.

You become what you think about, so focus your thinking on where you want to go.

Radio is “show” plus “business.” The business needs new ideas and innovation and that will soon be in the hands of graduating students.

Building Relationships

Barry said there are three things to building advertising relationships with radio station clients:

  1. Show that you care
  2. Bring lots of ideas
  3. Respect the value of people’s time

Leadership

A leader is anyone other people will follow.

A leader must have integrity.

A leader must do what’s right and what’s best for the enterprise, even though they realize not everyone will be happy with some of the decisions that have to be made.

A leader must earn their people’s respect every minute of every day.

Be aware of everything going on all around all of the time. Read all the trades, read the latest news about business and anything else that will impact your business and that of your radio station’s advertisers.

3 Things You Need to Be Successful

  1. Role Models are critical (Pick one for yourself, someone you can emulate)
  2. Find a Mentor (Have at least one. More is better.)
  3. You’ve got to have a horse to ride (In other words, you have to have an opportunity to apply your skills. Join a company you believe in, that has people you like working with and a mission you are ready to commit to.)

And in case you were wondering about that one student’s question about whether Barry ever thought about switching careers, the answer was:

“NO! Never once.

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Digital Feudalism

I follow Jeremiah Owyang on Twitter. He’s been observing, writing and talking about the new collaborative or sharing economy for some time now. He says it’s the future and where all business is headed.

You might have heard of Uber (the taxi company that owns no cars) or Airbnb (the lodging company that owns no rooms) etc. and how they are growing by leaps and bounds. The venture capital is flowing into these new business models leveraging this collaborative concept.

So you can imagine my surprise to read this headline: “Jeremiah Owyang just dropped a bomb in Paris.” (Not literally, but figuratively) The “bomb” being the reality that “the driving force behind this disruptive movement isn’t peer relationships with customers,” but “the one percent own the collaborative economy.”

Why was this a stunning announcement? Because the concept of this new value proposition called the Collaborative Economy “is organic, peer-to-peer digital interaction to create opportunities that bypass outmoded processes of brick and mortar businesses.”

Much like I wrote about in my blog post “The Future of Ad Supported Media.

Owyang was revealing the dark side of this new economy. The rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. While some tried to dress this new sharing economy in the clothes of Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle-Down” economics, the reality is clear; that’s not what’s really happening. The world’s wealth-gap continues to expand and it’s picking up speed.

For media companies, this new economy is seen as sharing of thoughts, ideas, information and creation via the Internet. The result has seen the number of dominant media companies go from somewhere around fifty back in the 1980s to about five around the turn of the century.

The old ways of doing business – printing newspapers & magazines or broadcasting over radio & television – are dying.   The “smart money” is moving into digital marketing and advertising. The party’s over, turn off the lights, it’s time to go home – OR IS IT?

Have you heard about ad blocking?

It turns out this a big deal and growing exponentially. The advertising industry has simply looked the other way as though it didn’t exist, but it does.

While only about 15% or so of the US folks are using an ad blocking extension, other countries around the world are approaching 40%. Gaming sites are reported to be even worse with over 80% of their ads being blocked by gamers. Frederic Filloux goes into a lot more detail in his blog post titled “Ad Blocks’ Doomsday Scenarios.

This could be a real opportunity for radio especially. But it needs to look in the mirror, put its big boy pants on and do what it knows it should have been doing all along.

Barry Drake spells it out better than I ever could in his book “40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls” (which I highly recommend you pick up and read). Barry writes the following prescription for radio’s future:

“…there must be investment, the fuel necessary to attack the four major issues.

In Programming:

  • Fresh content to attract a new generation of listeners, 95 million millennials

  • Promotion and advertising to achieve prominence

In Sales:

  • Severe reduction and limits to inventory  (Not a gimmick, smart business)

  • Contact with the BOSS (calling on decision makers by local sellers)

The very entity that caused so much grief is going to eat its own tail.

This is radio’s next big opportunity to reinvent itself and reassert itself as the powerful medium that it always was.

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