Tag Archives: Jeff Bezos

Radio’s Wizards

Wizard NotebookI remember how a weekly fax changed my radio life. It was called the “Monday Morning Memo,” and it was written by a guy in Texas by the name of Roy H. Williams.

Every Monday, I couldn’t wait to get into the radio station and check the fax machine for his latest missive. It never failed to ignite my soul.

Things That Won’t Change

I’ve written in this space about Jeff Bezos of Amazon and what he considers to be the most important question most people don’t ask about their business and that is “What won’t change in ten years?”

Roy’s Monday Morning Memos are an excellent example of focusing on those universal things that won’t change about branding, marketing and selling. They are those universal concepts that will don’t change with the latest technology.

Secret Formulas

In my broadcast sales class at the university, I would spend the end of the semester with each class reviewing principles of Roy’s book “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads.” All of Roy’s books are a must read for anyone in radio sales.

Here’s an example of some of the things that won’t change for great radio advertising:

  • Surprising Broca – most radio ads are predictable and use clichés that listeners have become adept at tuning out. Great radio ads seduce the listener and then persuade.
  • Words are Keys – you know the product, just by the ad keys used by the brand. Let me give you a couple of examples: “We’ll leave the light on for you” or “Just Do It.”* Do I need to tell you the brand name or what they sell? Do these two companies surprise you with their ads?
  • Engage the Imagination – people only go to places they’ve already been in their mind. The skillful ad writer will engage the listener’s imagination and take the listener where they want the listener to go.
  • Sleep is the mind’s eraser – when we go to bed, sleep is the process where the mind clears itself for the next day. Like an eraser on a chalkboard, sleep wipes away all of the advertising messages a listener is exposed to that day. Knowing this is why, building a radio schedule that delivers the minimum frequency to be effective, is so important.
  • Power Verbs – present tense and present progressive tense verbs conjure up powerful images in the mind. How often to most radio ads use them? Sadly, not very often.
  • The Secret Path to Miraculous Ads – Roy says “journalistic writing is an objective presentation of the facts in an attempt to inform, not persuade. Creative writing is the telling of a story with wit and charm in an attempt to entertain, not to persuade. And Poetry is writing to communicate a new perspective in a brief, tight economy of words. An attempt to persuade.” Will your ad persuade a listener when they hear it? Emotion is KEY. They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. How do you feel after viewing this ad for State Farm called “Never”?

Fearless Flyers

Fearless-Flyers_Chet-Young-at-the-Beach_780This past Tuesday, September 11, 2018, America remembered the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America in New York City, Washington, DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. My class at the Wizard Academy was supposed to have 29 students. Only four of us showed up: Dr. Kevin Ryan, a famous writing coach from Utah; Chet Young, a big salesman with a booming voice from Burlington, Iowa; Akintunde Omitowoju, a senior programmer of Nintendo games from Kyoto, Japan and me, a radio station general manager from Atlantic City, New Jersey.

It took place in a small, converted gym in the offices of Williams Marketing in Buda, Texas just one week after 9/11 in 2001.

Roy has the students come up with a special name for their class and ours became the “Fearless Flyers.” Each of us flew on a commercial airliner whose crew outnumbered the passengers.

This past week I learned of the passing of Chet Young. His niece dropped by the Wizard Academy to see if this magical place her Uncle Chet always talked about really existed. It does.

Roy shared a memory of our class in this week’s Monday Morning Memo’s “Rabbit Hole.” You can read more about it HERE.

Positive Things YOU Can Do

Roy H WilliamsWant to make your radio station more effective for your advertisers and more engaging for your listeners? Then do those things that will not change for effective radio in ten years.

Subscribe to Roy H. Williams’ “Monday Morning Memo,” read the Wizard of Ads book trilogy and make plans to spend a week at the Wizard Academy to learn directly from the Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams.

Thank You and God Bless You Roy.

Wizard of Ads Coin

*Motel 6 & Nike

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Why Do People Love Radio?

We-Love-RadioI read a recent article in Bloomberg about how in an age of cord cutting, where millions of Americans are leaving the cable bundles and abandoning traditional TV, others are staying put.

Why?

The big reason should scare anyone working in ad supported media: “Our customers don’t want to cut the cord because they’d have to give up critical features like the ability to skip commercials…” said Jay Roth, chief marketing officer at Dish Network Corp.

Commercials = Clutter

A former colleague of mine at the university wrote to me the other day about the changes going on in higher education and the field of radio broadcasting. He wrote:

“I’ve also had it with local radio and TV, too. Too many commercials back to back to back – it’s like classified ads. Who remembers the 5th ad in a spot set, even if it is well written? (most are not). Thank goodness for SiriusXM. That’s where I am, unfortunately.”

Here’s the concerning point of sharing my colleague’s comment, this person grew up, worked in and taught AM/FM radio, and is of the age group that should still be “in love” with the business.No Ads

We have plenty of data showing how the younger age groups don’t even own a radio, instead listening to audio content via their smartphone or some other connected device.

So, what makes radio listeners stay?

The Radio Habit

A 2017 Jacobs Media survey found that AM/FM listening is pure habit. 91% of survey respondents said they listened to radio for an hour or more per day, but TV/video and the smartphone usage came in at 87%.AM FM Radio

Digging a little deeper, respondents cited hearing their favorite music and a connection to their favorite air personalities as reasons they listen to AM/FM radio.

Radio’s Free

The 2018 Infinite Dial  study from Edison Research and Triton Digital reported that 82% of respondents who have ridden or driven in a car in the past month listened to traditional car radio.

Pandora For Brands authored a “State of AM/FM Radio: What Advertisers Need to Know” piece that said:

“True, America’s oldest electronic mass medium – AM/FM radio – is still alive, kicking and serving throngs of listeners every day, but it’s also being disrupted by today’s growing digital media landscape. Radio has prospered for so many decades because it’s free, easy-to-use and there are tons of them around. In fact, it used to be the only way to enjoy music without having to invest in a record collection or to hear news, sports and traffic information on-the-go.”

But the real shocker was this data point:

“Currently, people between the ages of 50-60 years old who have mobile devices are spending more time with mobile apps than they are listening to AM/FM radio.”

-Nielsen Total Audience Report, Q1 2017

This age group was raised on AM/FM radio!

New Habits

I bring this all up because we are seeing new habits being formed with the new disruptive media technologies.

It’s like the old saying “Once they’ve seen New York, how are you going to keep them down on the farm?”

Once you experience Netflix or Amazon Prime, it’s hard to return to ad supported TV. And those folks who still buy the cable bundle, do so in part to have a way to eliminate the commercial clutter and to produce a more Netflix type of viewing experience.

Once you listen to your music on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music or access your music via a smart speaker, you will be hard pressed to go back to a cluttered listening environment.

But the biggest new habit in our short-attention-span world is On Demand.

Whether we are talking about TV or audio, we are now a culture of wanting things when we want them, not when they are served up, and that’s the juggernaut all traditional media are faced with.

Newspapers, television and yes, radio, serve what they want you to have.

Today’s media consumer knows they have choices and they don’t have the time or patience for the way it used to be.

The Future is…

In 1967, the movie “The Graduate” had a scene where the Dustin Hoffman character was taken aside by a family friend who advised him about where the future was for a person his age. The answer was one word: “Plastics. There’s a great future in plastics.”

What might a friend advise a young person today to focus on? Podcasts?

Focus on the Things That Don’t Change

BezosJeff Bezos’ secret sauce has been to focus his efforts on things that would not change.

He said the question that he’s always asked is “What’s going to change in the next 10-years,” but the question that’s rarely asked is “What’s not going to change in the next 10-years?”

It’s that second question he feels is most important.

Bezos doesn’t concern himself with what will change, but on what won’t change. Then working to make those things better and better and better.

With this strategy, Bezos has become the richest man in the world.

This is what the radio industry should be doing.

 

 

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Radio’s Serenity Prayer

Serenity Stained Glass Window

 

In everyone’s life, there are trials and tribulations.

During a particularly trying moment in my life, I found comfort in Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer.

 

Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things, I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

The prayer is actually made of three parts: 1) accepting things that can’t be changed, 2) courage to change the things that can be changed, and 3) wisdom to know the difference.

So how does that apply to those of us in radio broadcasting?

Somethings Never Change

I’m sure, like me, you’ve been reading a lot about the future of radio and all the changes it faces on the horizon of 2018 and beyond.

It can be overwhelming.

But I fear that too many in radio are too focused on changing the things that are beyond our control or are working hard to change the things we believe we can change, and are missing the bigger opportunity, the things that won’t change.

In my long radio career, I’ve seen the consistency of radio’s power to make a difference in a community.

I’ve also seen the number of radio stations on-the-air multiply like bunnies, and the number of radio pre-sets on a car radio expand to 30, but the number of favorite radio stations a person has remains at about three. And one of those three favorite radio stations will dominate with over 80% of the time spent listening to radio.

Nielsen confirms this is still the case.

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”

– Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Radio’s Constants

Great radio will always be about the listener.

Great radio personalities will be great entertainers and a friend to the listener.

Great radio will not only serve listener needs but also their wants and desires.

Great radio will be dependable, in good times and bad.

Great radio will always be about community and companionship.

Great radio will always be surprising and unpredictable.

Great radio will attract listeners who don’t want to miss out.

Great radio adds value to everyone it comes in contact with.

Invest in the Future

Jeff Bezos is a very rich man.

Jeff began Amazon in his garage in Seattle twenty years ago.

Jeff bought the Washington Post with his pocket change and infused it with a new spirit by focusing on a newspapers’ constants.

Bezos says the way to invest in the future, is to identify the constants of people who use your product or service and build on them with relentless focus.

For Amazon it’s lower prices, and speedier delivery for example. Do you see either of those going in the opposite direction, with respect to consumer expectations, in the years ahead?

And so, it is with radio.

The very constants that made radio great for nearly one hundred years will continue into the next century. The secret is not to take your eye off the ball.

“When you have something that you know is true,

even over the long term,

you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

-Jeff Bezos

Radio needs to live one day at a time, enjoying the special place it holds in people’s lives.

Radio needs to accept the hardships, knowing they will lead to a better place.

Trust that if you focus on the radio constants, the future will be alright.

Or as Bezos put it in Forbes, “Successful businesses are those that continue to find ways to best fulfill core needs. Does our business fulfill one or more core human needs? Are we meeting that need in the most effective and efficient way possible given the changes in technology and people’s expectations?”

(Hat Tip to John Frost’s Frost Advisory #390 for the inspiration)

 

 

 

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