Tag Archives: Marketing Strategy

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.

Why?

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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