Category Archives: marketing

Time is Money

Why do bad sales people act as if I owe them time to hear their product pitches?

I’ve had a rep dying to make a group-wide pitch to our company, though which I would be the point person.  However, with spring promotions, market visits and 2 concerts being produced:  I do not have any time available for a visit.

After 10 days of constant pestering, I finally told this rep that when everything for spring was in place:  I would have time.  She was insistent that this was urgent and she need to get to me now.

I finally told her all I had left was my personal time, which I would be willing to re-allocate if that was this important.  She insisted it was and threw out a web-presentation time/date outside of my normal working hours.  I agreed, but told her I value my personal time at $50 an hour.  I then asked her if this would take more than an hour so I knew how to prepare he bill.

She was dumfounded.  She said they don’t pay us to attend webinars.  I was fine with that, I told her to get back to me after the spring when I could squeeze out some company time to get this company-wide pitch.

No more pestering.  I think I made it clear anyone who is managing several projects at once must master time-management in order to succeed.  It wasn’t until I put a monetary value on the pitch, that she saw where I was going.

By the way:  Had she offered me the $50 to take the meeting, I would have taken it and been intrigued.  I would have to assume this WAS a must-see pitch if she was willing to put her money where her mouth is.

Jump ahead a year, it was nothing of interest to our company.

The Sum Of All Your Parts

It took a long time for me to understand what this marketing axiom really means – but once I got it, my ability to analyze and grow a brand jumped:

A Brand Is The Sum Of All It’s Parts

Duh …

But … “All of it’s parts” means the good and the bad … and some of those bad parts may be necessary to achieve the good stuff.

  • Fast-food’s Good Parts:  It’s cheap and fast
  • Fast Food’s Bad Parts:  It sucks

If it was good – it would have to be more expensive and/or take longer to prepare.

A friend of mine who worked at a large discount store for years told me that sometimes minutes before the doors opened a manager would be frantically running around the store messing up displays – sometimes even throwing snow boots & hats on the floor.


His brand was CHEAP.  The messier the display, the better deal the public assumed they were getting.  They had some items that were exclusive to them.  How did they price them (as a super-discoutner)?  It didn’t matter.  Just throw those coats or swim suits or sneakers on a giant table and their customers would attack them – never even looking at the price.

In radio, we are terrible offenders.  We spend a lot of $$ on research.  Most research only identifies bad parts of the brand (repetition, morning show is chatty, weekend specialty show is weird).  I took over an alternative station once that had a weird “locals only” Sunday night show.  It tanked in the ratings (I mean really tanked … sometime zeroed out).  So we yanked it.  What we didn’t realize, was that just having that unorthodox “weird” show in a non critical depart fed the radio stations brand as a true alternative.  Even people who didn’t listen were upset when we yanked it.

Every Top 40 station has been through this.  A researcher will convince the General Manager that the problem is repetition – and that researcher will have some ugly Power-Point slide to prove it.  But what happens at Top 40 when you start playing the hits less frequent … you sink.

  • Crappy food makes it cheap and fast.
  • Piles of snow-boots makes it almost flea market style cheap.
  • Repetition means we only play the hits.

Having realized this, I sometimes use the negative image in a playful way when marketing the brand.

Caller:  Hey! I heard you pay (hit song) 3 times today.

DJ:  3 times … you mean you missed the 4 other times?

The rush to eliminate negative is one of the key mistakes marketers make.  In every inherent brand strength, there is a weakness.  Deal with it.

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Relevant Beats Hip

A friend is GM of a group and was telling me that his flagship station just wasn’t sounding hip enough – and he was stressed that this veteran staff wouldn’t be able to “hip-it up.”

Being as blunt as only a good friend can be … I told him he’d be better off being relevant than hip.

“You mean … we sound irrelevant?”

I didn’t meant that … exactly.  But I listened for 3 hours and heard nothing their new competitor couldn’t do.  In 3 hours:

  • Neither station had any local content (outside of weather)
  • Neither station had a position statement anyone cares about
  • Neither station had talent saying anything I hadn’t already seen on Twitter

I read back his position statement (#1 For Today’s New Hit Country) and asked him what exactly that meant.  He laughed because he saw my point.  Then we read the other guy’s position (New Country).  Again … so what?

This is the friend that years ago told me that I’d never get ahead unless I wandered outside of my comfort zone – and he was correct:  so we can be that kind of honest with each other.

The worst offenders of the irrelevant radio plague are the large market, public stations that use canned content and imaging.  The voice-trackers don’t even say the name of the station anymore.

One of my early mentors, Charles Giddens, said it best:

You can only say you’re good for so long … eventually you have to actually be good

I would sub “good” for “relevant” today –

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Don’t Shoot The Messenger

This week at the CMA Awards, Chris Stapleton was the talk of Nashville .. and the most “Googled” name of the evening.  He didn’t just come out of nowhere to win Male Vocalist of the Year.  He’s actually been around for years writing, singing small clubs and releasing music without much commercial success.

He’s an artist.  Artists love artists.  Award shows are driven by artists.

In this case it’s an awards show and other than a few lost bets, the world goes on.  That’s not always the case when art distorts a brand.

Florida with a southern accentWhen I moved to Tallahassee Florida in the 1990’s, I found it to be a charming southern town that was the capitol of Florida … but felt more like Georgia or Alabama.  Their slogan to attract visitors who otherwise might only be in Florida for beaches or theme parks was “Florida With A Southern Accent.”  I though it was a clever use of the word accent, using the definition of the word that meant “to give prominence.”

When tourism slowed down in the 90’s, the CVB decided they needed something new, fresh and clever.  They hired an ad agency that saw the area as friendly, comfortable and with a sense of familiar.  Their campaign featured a picture of an old shoe and a slug line (which I cannot remember) inferring that sometimes what is familiar and the most comfortable is the best.  You know, nothing feels better than wearing a comfortable pair of shoes.

The agency loved it.  The CVB bought into it.  It bombed.

In the exciting world of tourism, who wants to be though of a comfort food or a comfy old shoe?  You can get that at home.

Nobody at the top fought the agency, despite concerns from others who just couldn’t see this beautiful, colorful southern city of rolling hills, historic plantations and a historic downtown capitol district … as a shoe.

We fight the same fight in media.  Someone comes up with a clever, “out of the box” idea and we all get excited.  The discipline comes in asking a sample of the intended audience to decipher the message and then respect their opinion (not writing them off as ignorant).

For media outlets, sometimes we do not get the chance.  Outside agencies control the creative and use as the messenger.

Don’t shoot the messenger …

Underdog Is A Strong Brand Attribute

ROYALS ARE CHAMPSI’m hearing from people who are not even big baseball fans about the KC Royals winning the ’15 World Series.  Small market team / no big-name superstars / 30 years since last title. Underdog is a strong attribute to any brand.

Avis tries harder!  The underdog of the car rental biz.

When i programmed KLCA in Reno, our station was the ultimate underdog. Once we started winning we faced an intereseting challenge:  not letting our audience know we were winning. Which lead to a bigger challenge:  we branded underdog so well that advertisers were not believing pitches from our sales team.

I argued with ownership for days, but finally caved into some on-air bragging.  But we still had fun with it:

Attention citizens of Nevada and California.  It has come to our attention that Alice at 96.5 is the most listened to radio station in the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe market.  Wow.  Somebody surely forgot to carry a 1 or something …

It was all self-depricating bragging – keeping us in the underdog light, even when #1.  Everyone loved it except the ratings service.  They called ownership upset that we were questioning their math.

Of course they never heard the actual bit … just read a report from a snitching competitor.