Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Are You All Set For 2016 in Promotions?

As we wrap up 2015 your station should be well along in your plans for 2016 in Promotions.  In fact you should already have 1st quarter pretty set and 2nd quarter roughed in.

We often see stations wait till just before a book to start planing out the promotions.  If the budget is not very strong we end up seeing if we can work with clients, barter, or sponsorship's to get a good promotion off the ground.  The problem here is running to the sales team with lots of last minute pitches and a lot less opportunity to craft the idea or event to work for both the station and the client.

The other area is community presence,  Being a big part of the festivals, concerts, sports, and community issues that are entertaining is also something that has to be planned out well in advance.

Pulling it all together in a rush always leaves lots of opportunities in the dust.

The meetings are not that hard to pull together and with on-line calendars you have lots of template opportunities.

A lot of stations have fallen behind in promotions.  The staff's are smaller and it becomes harder to pull everything together with only a few bodies on the case.  All the more reason to take the time to make a plan for the whole year and stay a full quarter ahead in your follow up meetings.  Your sales team needs time and you also need time with the leaner staffs and tighter budgets.   

Friday, October 16, 2015

Managing Your Team - Tips from Joe

Baseball season is coming to it's climax with the World Series just a few weeks away.  So much of the excitement this year is around the Cubs.  We all know the long legend of the Cubs, 108 years since last winning the series.  This year the team has finally built a potential winner with the skills of owner Tom Ricketts and GM/Money Ball wizard Theo Epstein.  They built a team of very young players that many felt were a year or two away from being contenders.  Lodged in a division with the two best records ahead of them with Saint Louis and Pittsburgh, they overcame it all and are now the top pick in Vegas to win it all.

While the players on the field make the plays and swing the bats, a big key is the coaching in the dugout.  Joe Madden manages the Cubs in a unique way and this is the real reason the Cubs are contenders.  This group is a real TEAM.  You see nearly everyone contributing with solid pitching performances, clutch hits, towering home runs, and strong defensive plays on the field.  It's not built on big egos or just a few individuals - it's the whole team.

The line up is very fluid with many players roaming all over the field on defense and the line up changes all the time with many unique twists.  In the game you never know when Joe will change the strategy to small ball or get very aggressive.  The other key is that he strongly believes that having fun, keeping it loose and celebrating are key elements on his team.   The PJ party after the no-hitter on the way back from LA, the petting zoo at practice, and many other fun time are all part of the party legend.

Joe is also very skilled with the press.  We are close to Chicago and get to see the press conferences, the are honest, relaxed and usually entertaining - the press loves him.

As programmers, operations managers and market managers we all have talent managing challenges.  What can we learn from Joe?   Here are 3 observation from a fan who's watched a lot of  Cubs games:

1. - Keep it Positive and Loose - Joe is always calm and positive around his team.  It's not about pulling a player aside and yelling at him.  This is a relaxed and comfortable team and there is a big reason why that works.  If the team is tight, fearful and full of pressure what happens when the pressure of the game ramps up?  What happens when the bases are loaded and you need a clutch double play with a team that's already at 10 on the tension meter - ERRORS.  If you keep it positive and loose you are a lot stronger when the pressure pushes the whole team.  A great example was when the press brought up the Billy Goat curse - Joe's response " I don't vibrate on that frequency."

2. Celebrate - Joe also keeps the tension away with team parties and celebrations at key times.  He preaches that every win is celebrated for 24 hours or till the next game.  Sometimes it's a big party and other times it might be more subtle but every win is special.  Let out the emotion and keep it loose.

3. Balancing Art and Science - Theo Epstein is legendary for his stat team of geeks.  He wrote the book on tracking every piece of data he could collect on the game and analyzing it.  The movie Money Ball is all about his number crunching systems, that have changed a game that's filled with legends and myths.  Joe is very keen on the numbers and you see many moves he makes because he has key data.  Watch him constantly looking at a stat guide he has the geek team prepare for every game in the dugout.

But, Joe doesn't live completely by the numbers.  He knows that a lot of the great performances in the game go beyond the numbers.  The human emotion plays a huge factor and there are not a lot of data points that you can run that will predict that magical game winning performance that comes out of the blue.  Sometimes you have to go with the gut and Joe uses his gut a lot.  He is always balancing his gut and the geek teams numbers.

Hopefully the Cubs will go all the way and you'll have the chance to see lots of games.  Watch Joe and the team - there are lessons for all of us to learn.  We also manage a tight knit group of talented people on air, in sales, and behind the scenes in our stations.  Getting all of them to perform at their peak is a constant goal.   

Monday, September 28, 2015

Programmers and The Budget

It's probably budget time around your station and the plans for 2016 are being laid out.  Having worked with many different management structures from the owner operators all the way to the big corporations we often see Programmers and Operations managers role varies a lot.

In some cases they have very little input.  Other organizations bring them in for a quick overview and sometimes you see the Programmers and Operations managers very involved.

Of course everyone has their own protocol here but regardless of what level of management Programmers and Operations Managers have in your world working with the budget IS something you should learn.  

Here are some starting points and areas to consider as your stations start building the budget for 2016:

  1. Learn To Use A Spread Sheet - Spread sheets make the budget process easy to visualize and you can instantly see what happens as you spend, save expenses and build revenue.  You can see where the profits and expenses are under the most pressure and where the best months are.  It's not hard to start - just play around.  Take you paycheck and lay out your bills month by month and you'll get the picture.  There's tons of help within the spread sheets and you should be able to lay one out in just a few minutes with a little practice.  
  2. Look at History - Know which months are the most profitable and which are the least.  Know where the expenses are also.  Even if you have no input or control you will still have to manage the team and the programming through the highs and the lows.  You can't prepare if you don't know the lay of the land.  
  3. Set Goals - What do you want to accomplish, or where can you improve in these key areas: 
    1. Staff 
    2. Promotions
    3. Expenses
    4. The Rating Books
While we think of budgets mostly in a 'money sense' there is also a lot of other considerations in a budget.  Seeing the best times or months for opportunities, the times when you also have the biggest challenges to the 'bottom line.'  

We've all seen the Money Ball movie and how Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox used a whole new system of stat collection in the game to help manage the whole team and the whole game to their advantage.  In many ways the budget at your station is a key collection of stats for your Money Ball game.   


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ancient Forms Of Data Collection

While the last 6 months has seen a lot of discussion on the accuracy of PPM data collection and the Voltaire processor we continue to totally ignore the other 200+ markets that Nielsen measures and prints accredited research on.

For those of us who pour over the diary data, collected in much the same manner as it has been for over 40 years, the shortfalls of the process are all too obvious.  The samples are too small, the respondents are only in the mix for a week and Nielsen has to go to great lengths to round up a credible sample here.  They send out requests with cash in them, send out more cash after you fill out the initial survey to see if you could be in the sample, then they mail out the diaries, call everyone a bunch of times and hope the diaries are returned.  Can you imagine the costs of the call centers, the postage and those freshly pressed dollar bills they send out.

The result is often very low participation with the under 40 year old demos.  These smaller samples are weighted up so they are still represented, but you can often see a diary take on the value of 160% or even 200+% greater than the average diary in 25-34s, 18-24s and 35-44s.  It happens to both Men and Women.  Whole generations in a diary market are often showing radio listening data that has no respectable confidence or reliability.

All of sample process is done much as it was in the 70s.  From the days when a typewriter was on every desk, phones had dials on them, TVs still had rabbit ears built in, and computers were only in the biggest offices and the military.

Today most of the under 40 audience has completely grown up in a digital age.  Just after they were born the first Apple Computer was introduced and by the time they were 10 the digital world was well underway.  For the under 30 crowd when they were 10 AOL was already rolling and by the time they were 20 smart phones were on the way.  Now we have 90% or more of the U.S. population with cell phones and nearly 70% of the population with smart phones.

We have to wonder who is filling our these diaries?  Who will bother in today's 'we have an app for that' world is writing ANYTHING down.  Who would agree to do this for maybe $10 or $15?  The price of a large pizza!  Are the ones who would go through all of this representative of the 12-40 year olds out there in the diary markets?

Increasingly we are seeing TSL from this audience jump around a lot and much of it is on a down trend in diary markets.  The few diaries they get back from the under 40 population are often not filled out with much listening, they are weighted up and then you see all kinds of wild trends and listening patterns.  Perhaps their little used pens are out of ink?

Surely it would be a lot less expensive to find a new way to measure listening that doesn't involve the ancient pen and paper technology.  Is there anything to report here from the team at Nielsen?  Before this generation completely stops giving out data outside of the top 50 markets?


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

More on Generation Z - Some Advertiser Insights

Every Generation in the groups we covered below has different challenges and characteristics that are keys to reaching them.  For the Boomers quite a bit of their culture and influence revolved around the explosion of music and protests in the late 60s and early 70s.  Generation X was consumed by the recession and boom cycles of  80s and also the fact that they lived in the shadow of the bigger Boomer generation.  The 90s defined the Millennial generation with the huge growth of Tech, but also an era when many struggled to find jobs after college and stayed at home.

Now we have Generation Z who were born around the turn of the century and while they continue to ride the growth of technology they also grew up in a very widespread and deep recession. They are also the first generation since the Boomers to grow up with a drawn out war.  No doubt it has influenced their thinking and culture and to reach them every brand will need to understand these cultural keys.

While Gen Z may still be in High School they will make up a large market and we can already see a lot of products and brands looking to establish themselves with this up and coming group.

 The smart marketers ARE looking ahead and they know that today's 16 year old will soon be out of college and in 5 years they will be the cresting wave that they have to ride.  They also know you can't wait to start figuring this out.  If you wait till the wave is on you and try to mount the surf board - the wave will pass you buy.

Here's more on what key marketers are looking at with Generation Z from Ad Age

This is also a group that will challenge radio programmers.  For the most part we lost out on a lot of  potential with Millennial's.  In the 90s, when they were all growing up and could have become fans of radio, we were completely consumed with building 25-54 audience.  For much of the 90s the peak of the 25-54s were baby boomers in their 40s.  Radio was for Mom and Dad and Millennial's had all the toys to find music and entertainment all over the place, and make it customized to their liking.  Yes, from many angles it looks like we sat on our surf boards in the 90s and let the Millennial wave pass us buy.

We can all see the potential here to re-tool our 'radio brand'  and build new brands with personalities music blends, social media integration and imaging to target this audience.  But will we have the opportunity to try?  It will take some bold ideas, new thinking, experiments that may fail, and it will also take investment.  We already ignored one generation - we really can't afford to ignore another.  Taco Bell isn't--and soon a long list of  marketing campaigns will be focusing on Generation Z.  Perhaps we can take just 1 signal of the 5 in the cluster and consider the potential?   Or we can sit our our surf board and watch the wave crest in front of us again.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Dawn of a New Generation - Gen Z!?

Demographers are just now starting to declare the dawn of a new Generation.  It looks like they will be called Generation Z and they join the 4 other active Generations:
  • Traditionalists - Born pre 1945 40 or so Million U.S. population current ages - 70+
  • Boomers - Born 1946 to 1964 76 Million U.S. population, current ages 51 to 69
  • Gen X - Born 1965 to 1979 55 Million U.S. population current ages 37 to 50
  • Gen Y (Millennials) Born 1980 to 1994 U.S population 66 million current ages 21 to 36
  • Gen Z Born 1995 to 2009 U.S. population 61+ million current ages 6 to 20
Of course the actual divisions for Gen X, Y and Z are a bit subjective and many demographers debate the actual division years.  But this gives you a picture of their presence in the population and the age ranges they are currently living in.   

We are just starting to see what drives Generation Z.  They clearly grew up in a completely digital age and can tour the world on their phones, tablets and laptops with ease.  Since the Boomers grew up in a world of Jet Travel, Mass Communication with both Audio and Video, a world wide telephone system and the evolution of the car - we have seen advances on all these key communication points with every generation since.  

Take a look at some of the early traits and facts about Generation Z that sets them apart (click image to expand): 

There is a lot to take in with this graphic, but you can see a generation that lives in a very digital world.  Yes, radio has it's work cut out for itself to keep this Generation listening.  

If you'd like to catch some more in depth views on Generation Z check out this recent NY Times Article.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Keeping A Two Way Conversation With The Audience

Is your presence "just a nice voice on the station that hits all the positioning, surveillance, billboards and station liners?"  Or are you a personality that cuts through right to the audience and engages them with you, and the station?  Obviously, we know that the latter option here is the one that pays off and brings a lot more listeners to the party.   But, making that leap from 'just a voice on the station' to an 'engaging personalty' is a big step and one that many people never pull off.

When you hear a team, or an on air performer, that's bringing it on this level there is one key that nearly always stands out.  The team or personality is really having a CONVERSATION with the audience.  It's not a speech or a presentation, it's an interactive conversation.  It may be a conversation with their on-air partner about a topic or event, but the ones who really execute this content well are the ones that are making it a real 3 way conversation with the audience included.  They refer to them as if they were there in the room.  They use them a lot on the phone to fully join in.  They plan the break to include an audience POV into the conversation.

Instead of thinking of you and your partner, or just you on the air, as talking into the mics with the meters jumping in the studio- think of something more like this picture.

A small group or people engaging in a conversation.  It may be a very simple idea and one that may also seem very obvious, but listen to all the breaks you hear that are just about announcing - not about having a conversation.

Even if you only have 20 seconds till the PPM meter time bomb goes off with the audience, you still have enough time for a well planned quick conversation.   

Friday, March 6, 2015

The New Music Instrument That Could Completely Change Music?

Stumbled on this from a FB post and was very intrigued on the potential for this new Instrument called the Artiphon.  It's really nearly every instrument we have been playing for thousands of years all wrapped up into one compact package.
It can be any kind of stringed, keyboard or percussion instrument.  A Violin, Chello, Bass Guitar, Slide Guitar, Uke, banjo and plays with the same fret board and strumming actions we all use.  The keyboard of course opens up all of sounds from synth worlds, and allows for brass/woodwinds along with all the piano and organ sounds.

It links with phones and tablets to control the instrument set ups and with apps like Garage Band so you can lay down songs and mix sounds with ease.   It's also very compact and has it's own speaker built in.  Of course you can hook it up to a big Marshall Stack and wake up any neighbors.

Right now it's a Kickstarter campaign and it's pretty hot with investors.  Currently with a $349 contribution to their Kickstarter campaign you can get one and it looks like they will be priced under $400 when they hit retail - probably later this year.

Have to believe that within a year we will see artists sporting the Artiphon on stage and in the studios.  Could this be the end of the Tour Bus and new artists hauling a U-Haul behind their van around the country?  Now they could just fly Southwest and take all their instruments as a carry on.

We also have to wonder what new sounds this will bring to music of all types.  Think of all that musicians go through to work with their instruments.  Here it's all reduced to a single device.  More creative barriers will no doubt be broken.

You can see the kickstarter campaign and hear their demo here:

Here is a link to their Kickstarter campaign: