Tag Archives: Monday Morning Memo

You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd

you-cant-roller-skate-in-a-buffalo-herdRoger Miller was a very creative guy. His 1966 hit song, “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” was a crazy list of things you could not do to be happy, but did offer a remedy on how you could be happy, if you had a mind to.

It got me to thinking about other things you can’t do, especially when it comes to radio.

You Can’t Combine WINS & WCBS

New York City has two all-news radio stations, 1010 WINS and News Radio 88 WCBS. They’ve competed against each other since Westinghouse owned WINS, and CBS owned WCBS.

Even when both radio stations found themselves under the same ownership several years ago, they were run and staffed independently, and continued to compete for audience and ad dollars.

Now Entercom owns both, and would like to implement plans for “cross-utilization” of personnel. The New York Daily News provides all the details in their recent story and you can read it HERE.

You Can’t Be Serious

Recently James Cridland tweeted this news story: “Black day for UK radio. 43 local breakfast shows to go by the end of the year. 24 drivetime shows. 10 studio buildings gone.” In the UK, consolidation fever was spreading among the commercial radio operators after securing deregulation. Owners say it’s a huge step for the commercial radio sector and you can read all about the changes HERE.

“When we change the way we communicate, we change society.”

-Clay Shirky

You Can’t Shrink Your Way to Success

One of my mentors is Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, who writes a weekly Monday Morning Memo that I’ve been reading since the 80s.

Recently, Roy’s subject was “Shrink Your Way to Success?” The article said that “when a business is struggling financially, cost-cutting looks like a brilliant move.” Unfortunately, you can’t cut your way to success. This is something that has been born out over the decades, and in all kinds of industries. So, what’s the alternative? Increasing revenues. “Cost-cutting comes at a very high cost,” says Roy. The Wizard’s prescription is worth your time to read and you can find it HERE.

You Can’t Become Intimate Without Repeated Contact

Then Fred Jacob’s JACOBLOG published an incredible two-part blog piece on “Can Radio Achieve Brand Intimacy?” Part one looked at the twelve brands that consumers say they can’t live without. #1 on the list was Apple. Then Fred shared the top ten list of the brands people say they are most intimate with, Disney was #1 and Apple was #2.

Part two of Fred’s daily blog then went on to share twelve things RADIO could be doing to achieve brand intimacy. You can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

After reading the two-part blog, I commented back to Fred with the following observation:

“Intimacy takes time, but just like in personal relationships, it’s worth it.” Unfortunately, radio’s consolidation years under valued the intimacy that its personalities and brands had built up over time, and quickly discarded both.

The real success stories in radio today are those properties that have carefully maintained and continued to nurture their place in their listener’s lives.

Radio Can’t be “Just OK”

I recently have been amused by a new television advertising campaign by AT&T that says being “Just OK, Is Not OK.” You can view one of their ads HERE. In a field that has very limited competition for its services, the ads clearly portray that you deserve the best and AT&T is here to deliver it.

Radio used to be in the business of competing with other radio stations in its city of license, and stealing as much advertising as it could from the local print media. Print media always grabbed the lion’s share of the local advertising budgets. Today, all traditional media competes with the internet delivery system, which means it now competes with the world.

If there was ever a time when radio could not afford to be “just OK,” it’s now.

“As great and pressing as change and betterment may be,

we can’t toss away the very bedrock

upon which the radio industry was built.”

-DickTaylor

 

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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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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 Future of Ad Supported Media

I’ve just finished reading Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which I highly recommend everyone read, and Piketty stops me cold on page 357 with this graph (see below). I’ve highlighted in yellow two things for you to take note of. In a moment I’ll explain why this hit me so hard.

This same week, I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post “Mass production and mass media” where he explains that mass media exists because it permits mass marketers to do their job and how mass media is going away. If you’re in radio or TV, that kind of proclamation will get your attention; BIGTIME.

Godin is predicting that the “mass” part is what’s going away and that it is being replaced by “micro.” In essence that it’s better to be important to a few than be irrelevant to the many.

Then this article appears in AllAccess “Radio’s Dying…But The Cause Isn’t What You Think.” Seth Resler writes that radio isn’t going to die because it has been abandoned by listeners, but it’s going to die because it’s been abandoned by advertisers. Resler goes on to make the case that advertising is moving away from the Mad Men era art form that it was, towards a keyword and search scientific algorithm metric of today.

“…there has been little doubt for more than a decade that the advertising model that traditionally supported an industrial-age news and information system is evaporating,” writes Anderson, Bell and Shirky on pages 11-15 in “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present (2012)”

Mark Perry, blogging at the American Enterprise Institute writes: “The dramatic decline in newspaper ad revenues since 2000 has to be one of the most significant and profound Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction in the last decade, maybe in a generation.”

Well, I’m here to have you consider a 3rd possibility, one that stopped me in my tracks as I was reading Piketty’s book. Now, I may be putting words in Professor Piketty’s mouth when I tell you what I’m about to say. Piketty did not write about radio or TV, or mass media in general in his book. He writes about wealth inequality in our world from antiquity to the present day and then makes some predictions about where things are headed based on current trend lines.

But this graph on page 357 haunts me.

Picketty Chart on page 357

That graph, from the period of 1913 to 2012 includes the period in which radio and television were born. It’s the era when advertising supported media took off. I worked the last forty years of that graph in the radio business and experienced the change in business that this graph shows.

Commercial radio was born in 1920. Commercial TV took-off in the 1950s. And I quite agree with Seth Godin when he writes “Mass production, the ability to make things cheaply, in volume, demanded that we invent mass marketing – it was the only way to sell what was being made in the quantity it was produced. Mass media exists because it permits mass marketers to do their job.” To which I would add to Seth’s thoughts that mass media and mass marketing both existed because there was a strong American middle class of consumers.

If Piketty is correct, the concept of a middle class consumer economy that existed between 1913 and 2012, was an anomaly. It didn’t really exist anywhere in the world before 1913 and it’s very likely not going to exist anywhere in the world as we journey away from the year 2012. The middle class consumer economy will evaporate and along with it, advertiser support for mass media.

1913-2012 was a unique period in world economic history. It gave birth to consumers who had money to spend, mass production that could produce lots of goods and mass media that could advertise those goods. All three were simultaneously occurring at the very same moment.

The new buzz words are “shared economy” and “collaborative economy.” What roles will large corporations, universities and mass media play when people are getting what they need from one another?

In 2014, Nielsen Music reported a staggering drop in music sales where as much as a fifth of music buyers didn’t buy anything.   2014 also saw box office ticket sales plunge to their lowest level in three years. The home ownership rate reached its lowest point in 25 years at the end of 2014. More people were now living in shared living arrangements or going back home to live with mom and dad. And NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appearing on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” told viewers that:

“The wealth gap in New York City today is worse than during the Great Depression or The Roaring 20s – and the gap is growing bigger. Today over half the people in NYC pay over a third of their income for housing. The reality is, (according to the mayor) if we don’t change course middle class families won’t exist in New York City.”

Are these reports canaries in the consumer coal shaft?

Medialife Magazine, a magazine devoted to media buyers and planners, reported that 2014 wasn’t good for advertising. Total spending was up 3.0 percent, but if you take out political spending and the Winter Olympics, the number shrinks to 1.6 percent. “That’s the worst yearly growth pace since the recession began in 2008,” said writer Bill Cromwell. Traditional media is struggling and according to Magna Global, “this appears to be a lasting trend.”

Only recently have broadcast operators said things like “flat is the new up” when comparing year-over-year revenues. I realize there are exceptions to what I’m saying. Your broadcast property might be one of them. But what are the trends that are taking place and how will they impact you in the years to come?

It took two world wars to re-set the wealth inequality gap and put into place FDR’s New Deal. Changes that have in more recent times been stripped away returning things to the way they were in the 19th Century; a period of time when the concept of a middle class of consumers didn’t exist.

Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads wrote recently (Monday Morning Memo, March 2, 2015) about “the shrinking of mass media” and “the growing reality of gender equality.” America went from being 16% single to 46% single in just one generation, Williams writes. “A once-proud nation of families is evolving into a proud nation of individuals.” And Williams sees “The trend toward singleness is sociological (while) the erosion of mass media is technological (as) each trend accelerates the other.”

Williams comes to this conclusion:

“We’re approaching the end of a golden time when courageous advertisers can invest money in mass media and see their businesses grow as a result. My suspicion is that we’ve got perhaps 5 to 7 more years before retail businesses and service businesses will be forced to begin playing by a whole new set of rules. Buy mass media while the masses can still be reached.”

The future of ad supported media is tied to consumerism. Consumerism is tied to having a strong middle class.

Does the Piketty graph on page 357 of his book “Capital” send a chill down your spine like it does to mine?

P.S. Thomas Piketty published an amplification on his r>g theory. You can read that here.

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