Tag Archives: Digital

Analog vs Digital

113Roy H. Williams writes a weekly article called the Monday Morning Memo. I’ve been reading it since the days when Roy used to fax it. Today it arrives every Monday morning via email.

Does it arrive via analog or digital?  Probably digital.

The fax days were when it arrived analog I’d guess.

The Other Kind of Advertising

Recently, Roy’s MMM was about “The Other Kind of Advertising.” What got my attention was that Roy made the comparison of analog world versus a digital world as the difference between Newtonian physics and Quantum Mechanics.

I was a physics major as an undergraduate in college.

In teaching at the university, I have often used elements from my physics education to give a better foundation to my students about universal principles that form the foundation for effective communication.

The Power of the Human Voice

When I speak to you, am I talking in analog or digital? You don’t care, do you? You never really even gave it a thought until I brought it up. What does get your interest is what I’m speaking to you about.

Radio gives the human voice amplification.

Word of Mouth is the Best Form of Advertising

Anyone who’s been in advertising sales has certainly been told over and over and over, that the best form of advertising is “word of mouth.”

My response to that has always been, “I agree with you!”

That’s why you should be on the radio because we are word of mouth, only we have the biggest mouth in town.

There are No Wrong People

Roy has preached for years, there are no wrong people to be reached by advertising, only wrong messages. Great advertising not only engages the mind, builds curiosity but causes people to share with other people what they’ve heard. That’s the magic of persuasive storytelling aka radio advertising.

But the Data Says

Google Analytics got everyone thinking that targeting was the most important thing in advertising. The new digital world of advertising was all about “reaching the right people.” But is that really effective?

The data for my radio stations back in northern New Jersey said that we reached the most people who were employed. So why would anyone run “Help Wanted” ads on my radio stations? Wouldn’t they, by definition, be the “wrong people?”

Turns out, that would be wrong.

People who are employed are the very ones that know people who aren’t. And then there are people looking for a better job or a job that’s closer to where they live.

Often people who ARE employed are not happy in their current job and radio help wanted ads may entice them to make a change.

Belief Systems

If you have a deterministic belief system then you are like a Newtonian physicist. If you have a probabilistic belief system then you are like a physicist who works in the world of Quantum Mechanics.

In advertising, the first group would be marketers who use predictive data and the second group would be marketers who base their decisions on outcomes.

And just like with Newtonian physics and Quantum Mechanics, both are true.

Newtonian physics was used to put Americans on the moon and return them safely to earth. But it won’t explain how your computer or smartphone work. For that you need to use Quantum Mechanics.

String Theory

One of the goals of physics is to find a single theory that unites all of the four forces of nature. These are; electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. In other words what ties both Newtonian physics and Quantum Mechanics together. String theory maybe that unified path.

I believe that when it comes to effective advertising, we have already found our unified theory that ties analog and digital communication together.

The message is that string, that single element that makes both analog and digital equally effective.

The person who creates that message is critical.

Who is that person(s) in your organization? Do you even have someone dedicated to this creative, innovative, demanding, hypercritical position?

Sadly, many – dare I say most – radio stations don’t today.

Lightning In A Bottle

If creating persuasive radio commercials is part of your job description, let me give you a little help. Let me turn you onto some “Lightning In A Bottle.”

Blaine Parker is a Mercury Award Winning radio creative genius. He’s just published his latest book that reveals the 3 easy rules for writing more profitable radio commercials.

WARNING: This book is short & expensive!

Full disclosure, Blaine asked me to write the forward to his book, so I can truthfully reveal to you I’ve read it and believe in everything Blaine has written to be seductively effective.

I have no financial interest in the sale of this book. My financial interest is in you, your radio station and your advertisers to effectively tell their story and get results.

You can buy “Lightning In A Bottle” on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Analog or Digital, Who Cares?

I wrote today’s post on a digital computer. You received it via email or are a subscriber to my weekly blog articles (subscriptions are FREE) via the internet.

But whether I shared all of this in a face-to-face conversation or via AM/FM radio or via HDRadio or via an internet stream, the message conveyed would be the unifying element that either caused you to read all the way to the end or bail out early.

And powerfully, persuasive messages do not cause you to remember every word, but they will forever change how you feel about a product, service, business or person.

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The Problem with Digital Radio

The problem with digital radio is FM radio. FM radio is loved by the consumer. They don’t find anything wrong with FM radio (other than too many commercials). With no perceived need to change, the FM radio listener doesn’t. That’s not just a problem for radio station owners in America, but all around the world.

I often like to compare the start of HD Radio with the introduction of the iPod by Apple. Both happened about the same time. One has sold hundreds of millions of units and now is no longer made, and the other is HD Radio.

Interestingly enough, the introduction of digital audio broadcasting was born around the same time as the World Wide Web. It was born before MP3s and iPods. Born long before the advent of Smartphones and Tablets and yet, digital in the world of over-the-air radio transmission is still waiting to get traction with the consumer.

FM radio commanded 75% of all radio listening in America back in the 1980s when the number of AM and FM radio stations in America numbered about the same. So it’s no surprise that over three decades later that FM dominates when the number of FM radio stations, translators (FM stations) and LPFM (FM stations) far outnumber AM radio stations that are on-the-air today in the USA.

Across the pond, the British government was planning to switch that country’s radio listening from FM analog to digital when the penetration of digital radio listening reached 50%. They thought that would happen by 2015. Currently digital radio listening in England stands at only 36% and the government has now wisely put off setting a new date for this transition.

The problem in England goes beyond just radio sets in homes and cars. British folks also can listen to FM radio on their Smartphones. Unlike here in America, the FM chip that comes inside Smartphones has been turned on. These chips remain in the off position in America with no way for a Smartphone owner to turn it on without “jailbreaking” their phone which is illegal. The members of parliament aren’t about to turn off a system that serves around 25 million listeners, if they want to get re-elected.

I own one HD Radio. My local NPR FM radio station broadcasts with 100,000 watts on their analog FM signal. It’s crystal clear and comes in everywhere I go. They simulcast their NPR and other talk programming on their HD Radio signal too. That is plagued with dropout and a short range in terms of where I can pick it up. The same HD Radio that picks up the digital broadcast of my local NPR radio station also has an FM tuner (but no AM tuner). I can switch between the analog FM and digital FM, and to my ears they sound about the same. And therein lies the problem. No perceived difference other than one goes great distances with no drop out and the other is HD Radio.

At this point in time, what seems clear is that is FM radio isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. AM radio station operators would benefit by having a similar FM signal that delivers the same coverage area as their AM license provides sans the sky wave effect. Giving them a low power translator is an insult in my opinion. All Smartphones should have their FM chips turned on. NextRadio should be embraced by FM broadcasters. All broadcasters need to focus on their content and make sure that whether it’s over-the-air or over-the-Internet, it’s of the same high quality and offers all of the same content on both.

I’ve never heard an FM radio listener complain about the quality of their signal and what they do complain about, isn’t being focused on by broadcasters. We have no time to lose.

FM radio has the delivery system in place. Take advantage of it to serve, entertain and inform.

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Combined or Separate?

When I started in radio sales, the company I went to work for after leaving programming and operations ran an AM/FM combo that simulcast all of their programming. Selling for these two stations meant every spot sold was heard on both broadcast bands. (Piece of cake)

Then one day, the owner announced the signals were being split apart. The AM station would program an entirely different format from the FM station, but the sales team would be selling both separately programmed radio stations. (A two layer cake)

Anyone who has some history in the radio business will tell you the answer to the age old question of whether it’s better to field two separate sales teams for an AM/FM combo versus having one sales team. In fact they will give you a definitive answer: “it depends.” (Did someone leave my cake out in the rain?)

Before the radio industry could wrap their brain around this puzzle regarding sales staffing, along comes the Telcom Act of 1996 and companies now own clusters of radio stations. It was now possible for a cluster to number 5 or more radio stations serving a metro. (My cake is melting, melting. Did I mention I never really understood the lyrics to MacArthur Park?)

One brave company in Florida announced they were going with the single sales force concept for their nine station cluster. That got my attention as I was now in management. Well you can imagine I wanted to catch up with these folks at the next RAB Managing Sales Conference to find out how it was going. I did. I asked. The answer they gave me? “Oh well.” “Oh well?” I asked puzzled. They then explained it was very difficult to find radio sales person who could manage selling multiple formats (music, talk, sports, etc). They maybe had one person on their rather large sales team that could do it. A couple could handle maybe 50% of the cluster at the same time, but the rest maybe two radio stations in the cluster at most. The result was they abandoned the idea of one sales team selling everything.

Closer to home, I launched a print program at a cluster I was managing that had an AM station, an FM station and an LMA’d FM station. We had separate a separate sales team selling the LMA’d FM station and a combo sales team selling the owned AM/FM stations. It was decided that all sales people would now sell the new print program. I should explain the print program was actually two components. It was a quarterly coupon book distributed in five different mailing zones in the metro and then there was a calendar that was sold in all the mailing zones on an annual basis.

So, my sales force was now responsible for selling radio spots (and promotions) where you saw the advertiser today and he started in the next couple of days. A print coupon book where you saw the advertiser today and the ad would come out in the next quarter. And an ad in a calendar you sold today and it came out next year.

So how did that work out? Fabulously, actually. Till it didn’t.

What we would learn is it was a good way to launch and put immediate new revenue on the books. Over time the print program re-trained our radio sellers; which was an unintended consequence. They soon learned when an advertiser said they didn’t want radio ads; they had found themselves a print customer.

After an ownership change, I made the decision to break away our print program into a separate entity with its own management and sales people.

So it was no surprise when Borrell Research came out with their latest research study this week “2015 UPDATE: Assessing Local Digital Sales Forces” and it said that those companies that had sales people who were digitally focused produced more digital revenue than those that had one sales team selling everything. You can find the full report clicking on the hyper-link.

Quoting from Borrell’s Executive Summary: “The result is stark: Those with digital-only sellers report far greater confidence in their staff’s ability to understand market trends and clients’ digital needs, and they generate four times as much digital revenue. For instance, two different newspapers, each with a total of 22 sales reps, reported $7 million in digital sales last year and $360,000 in digital sales. The difference? One had seven digital-only reps; the other had none.

But before you get the idea that I’m taking the position separate is best, it really depends…..depends on the skill level of your sales people and their embracing of new technology and new ideas.

When I was starting out in radio sales I got to see and hear a lot of great sales trainers. One that I really liked was Don Beverage. Don would categorize sellers in one of four ways. They were “Commercial Visitors,” “Product-Oriented Peddlers,” “Problem Solvers,” or “Sustaining Resources.” See the snake in the wood pile when it comes to answering the question “Combined or Separate?”

If your sales team is made up of first three types of sellers, separate your sales force. If they are level four sales people, “Sustaining Resources” then you might win with a combined force.   But here’s one more twist. The very best sellers will be “Problem Solvers” with some of their clients and “Sustaining Resources” with others. Even Don Beverage was quick to point out that reaching the level of “Sustaining Resource” was being in rarified air.

So you know a “Sustaining Resource” level of selling is when the client believes in you so much that they pick up the phone and call you in BEFORE they take the first step in the advertising/marketing program. YOU are part of the team that will create and design the strategy and then plan out the tactical steps to get to the finish line and win.

So there you have it. Put on MacArthur Park by Richard Harris and spend the 7-minutes, 25-seconds and ponder what’s best for your operation.

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Entertainment for nothing….

When radio was born, no one had a clue how to make money with it. The early radio station operators made radio sets. They knew if they wanted to sell radio sets, they had to provide something for those radio sets to pickup and for the people who owned those radio sets, something entertaining to listen to.

It was AT&T, that didn’t make radio sets, that was the first radio operator to try selling the first radio commercial over their radio station WEAF. AT&T was in the phone business and the selling of phone lines to carry network radio programming. It put on-the-air a radio station merely to understand the business better. Not wishing for it to be an expense, they went looking for a way to make their radio station pay for itself, if not make a profit.

Many ways of making money with radio stations were tried, but by the late 1920s, the selling of advertising reached the tipping point for this business model going forward. Radio had conditioned people to expect, that if they bought a piece of hardware – a radio set – the content would be provided for free; albeit supported by advertising.

When the Internet came along, people expected to buy the hardware – a computer, modem and connection to the World Wide Web – but they expected that the content would be free, and it was; again supported by advertising.

Newspapers and magazines grew up with no hardware to buy, just the content that was printed on paper. The subscription cost was relatively low and advertising would pick up the rest of the expense along with providing the owners a nice profit.

The problem today is newspapers and magazines have joined radio and television in the new distribution channel of the Net. Two of these mediums should be adept at marketing their content in this manner and the other two, well, are finding it challenging.

Cable TV’s HBOs and SHOs, on the other hand, charged for their content from the get-go. And when Netflix came along, it also created the pay-for-content habit which it easily converted from the mail to the Net. They also provided their content commercial free. This created an expectation that when you pay for content, you don’t have to have your content interrupted by ads.

The pay walls that have been tried by newspapers and magazines include advertising, but that’s only part of the problem. You see the print consumer was never really paying for the entire cost of printing and distribution. They merely made a contribution to that cost. The rest of the cost was picked up by the publisher, who gladly subsidized the whole thing because of the tremendous profits they realized via the sale of advertising. The other is a case of supply vs. demand. The supply of content has never been greater and the demand, so fragmented. This post is just one example of the free content anyone can get off of LinkedIn with a free account or via my blog (DickTaylorBlog.com).

The bucket of cold water reality is that marketers are more willing to pay to reach consumers with their message than consumers are willing to pay for content they want to consume.

So why are radio and television spinning their wheels while others (BuzzFeed, Vice Media, etc.) are walking away with the mother lode? To paraphrase the famous line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”: What we have here is a failure to innovate.

Radio and TV merely want to put their content on the Net and count the money. To compare it to sports, these two legacy mediums are good at baseball (over-the-air) and now when they move to the Net, where the game is football, they want to continue playing baseball.

In radio, FM finally came into its own when young broadcasters were given the chance to innovate. We are living during a communications revolution. Revolutions are periods of huge disruption to what was, as what will be gets created. The new opportunities are being seized by those not clinging to their old business models. The bad news is the “good old days” aren’t coming back. The good news is, what will replace them will be just as good, if not better.

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New Radio World Column Premieres

Thirty years ago Michael C. Keith entered a small New England college to start a new career. Keith had just spent the past ten years as a professional broadcaster and was now transitioning into the world of teaching. The first thing that he would learn was the only textbooks available at that time were woefully out-of-date. Radio was now format driven and there were no textbooks available in 1986 that were teaching the kind of radio Michael Keith had just left. So, Keith decided to write his own textbook. He called it simply “The Radio Station” and he pitched his manuscript to Focal Press.

If you like to read the entire article, simply click here: Focal Press Updates “Keith’s Radio Station”

This is the premiere of my new column in Radio World that will appear quarterly.

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What Radio Could Learn from Vladimir Putin’s Dilemma

History never really repeats itself, but it often does rhyme with the past.

For the radio industry, today’s Internet is a challenge not unlike what the industry faced when TV began to take off in the 1950s. For Putin, the plummeting price of a barrel of oil is reminiscent of what happened in 1985 when the Saudis stopped protecting oil prices and focused instead on share of market. Then, as now, the Saudis decision is putting Russia in a corner.

Russia is dependent on oil and gas. The radio industry is dependent on the sale of radio commercials.

52% of Russia’s revenues and over 70% of its exports are oil and gas. 78% of radio’s revenues come from the sale of radio commercials.

See the similarity?

Gordon Borrell will be holding his 2015 Local Online Advertising Conference in New York City this coming March (https://www.borrellassociates.com/loac2015/) and the key note speaker will be investment banker Jim Dolan. In a comment promoting this conference, Dolan has been quoted as saying that valuations for companies with a strong digital presence will be much higher than for any company relying on legacy platforms for 50% of more of their income. (http://rbr.com/boring-in-on-digital/)

For Putin, 25 years after the last time the Saudis turned wide open their oil spigots the lessons not learned from past history have put this leader into corner. Radio has the lessons learned from the birth of TV.

Again quoting Dolan, “I think the smartest thing that legacy media managers can do is plow all of their free cash flow into digital products and services….it’s too late to knit a digital parachute when you’re falling off the cliff.”

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