Radio is asking the wrong question

From Seth Godin:

[The Net] is the first mass marketing medium ever that isn’t supported by ads.

If a newspaper, a radio station or a TV station doesn’t please advertisers, it disappears. It exists to make you (the marketer) happy.

That’s the reason the medium (and its rules) exist. To please the advertisers.

But the Net is different.

It wasn’t invented by business people, and it doesn’t exist to help your company make money.

It’s entirely possible it could be used that way, but it doesn’t owe you anything. The question to ask isn’t, “but how does this help me?” as if you have some sort of say in the matter. You don’t get a vote on whether Google succeeds or whether your customers erect spam filters.

The question to ask is, “how are people (the people I need to reach, interact with and tell stories to) going to use this new power and how can I help them achieve their goals?”

Seth is echoing something I’ve tried to communicate to broadcasters many times.

As we puzzle over how to extend our brands to digital media, we should ask a different question altogether. Namely: What problems can I, my brands, my relationships, and my content solve – and solve uniquely or better than anybody else – in a digital environment?

When you ask the question that way, you no longer ask “what should be on my website?” Instead, you begin to consider “what do or can I do OFF the air that consumers will give a damn about online? And what competitive advantage do I have in doing it?”

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  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry Mark, I was busy firing another 6 full time people so I could cut my expenses by 75k a month.
    Did you say something about the long term health of the radio business!?
    I love your blog and you do brilliant work…but I’m afraid these days….you’re preaching to the converted…while the “choir” buries their heads.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/Robpaterson/ Robert Paterson

    Absolutely – that is why at KETC we are making the effects of the mortgage crisis so central – it is now becoming clear that no organizations are so well positioned to help communities cope with this type of problem that Pub TV/Radio
    We have to do more than show Jane Austen on Sunday

  • http://www.woodwardradio.com Bret Brewer

    Our best use of radio/web is a daily show called “Tradio”, its a program where listeners call in and advertise over the air item for sale, trade, etc. The entire show’s item list is uploaded to our web site daily and is visited 24 hours/day. http://www.woodwardradio.com/tradio

  • Jim Ryan

    Also important to note, very few consumer websites support themselves with advertising. Obviously B2B sites sell products or services or are used for brand benefits or to communicate the physical location(s)
    The problem that radio has is that the most important media content to most online consumers is, all types of hard,soft,breaking news and weather – not streaming or reviewing jock profiles or event calenders – to make it worse, TV has the local video for many of the stories, tremendous Doppler interfaces – Newspapers have the depth of content – so what does radio do? What content can they be unique and win (not me copy)?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/davemartin/ Dave

    Excellent point. Station folks need to stop wasting time tweaking, trying to get better and start getting different, dramatically different.

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