02/16

Why Don’t you Solve My Problem, Radio?

Every great brand – just like every great culture – has its origin story.

Here’s one from entrepreneur Chad Hurley:

We were having a party in San Francisco in the pre-YouTube era.  We’d shot a lot of great videos of our guests, which we wanted to load onto the Internet to share with our friends and family.  But uploading was time-consuming and complicated, and the net result looked like garbage.  It shot our enthusiasm and the fun of the moment was lost.

Anyone in that situation would feel the same way, they realized, since the impulse to share joyful experiences immediately is universal.

This story had a happy ending.

It was the creation of YouTube, founded by the very same Chad Hurley.

One lesson of this tale, from Peter Guber’s forthcoming book Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story, is that great ideas in business are those which solve common consumer problems.

This tends not to be the way we think of things in broadcasting, where it’s all about me-me-me.

And did I mention me?

When was the last time you heard a broadcaster ask not “how can we sell this or that?” but “how can we solve a consumer problem through leveraging our immense reach and the value of our consumer and advertiser relationships?”

The former question is all about monetizing today.  But the latter one is about building a tomorrow worth monetizing for brands and consumers alike.

Until you have a great idea that compels the marketplace you can’t monetize anything.

So what problems can your brand’s tentacles solve?

Why, for example, do News/Talk stations stubbornly resist being in the information business (across platforms) in favor of the Talk Radio business on-air?  If folks come to your site for news and the site reads “listen to KXXX for details,” you lose (note to Talk Radio:  The reason your demographics are getting older is not because news fans are aging – it’s because talk fans are aging).

Why does Los Angeles, America’s music capital, lack a destination for up-and-coming artists online?  If I’m LA’s new music champion, shouldn’t I also have the digital destination for music fans?  A place for artists to send their fans and compete against other artists for industry and fan attention.  With its immense reach local radio could pull this off.  But Google “Los Angeles Local Music” and LA Weekly comes up.  LA Weekly?!

Why doesn’t a public radio station create a community for its fans to connect with each other?  If I want to know what restaurants in my neighborhood other members of my local public radio tribe like, how do I find out?  I can see you have a public radio license plate…should I chase after your car to request a restaurant recommendation? Can I ask you what movies you like or will you slug me in the head with your tote bag?

I could go on and on.

If we don’t solve consumer problems across any platform that interests and attracts consumers, then we shall lose them to those competitors who will.

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