Does Your Morning Show Suck?

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip March 22, 2005

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is this: “Why don’t people listen to our morning show?” After hundreds of research projects on this topic I can boil down the answer to one simple maxim: “Because they prefer somebody else’s.”

Yeah, okay. No news. But it doesn’t tell you what to do about it. And that’s because “what to do about it” is usually a problem you can solve, but research can’t.

Giving Listeners What they Ask For

As Henry Ford famously said, “If I asked the public what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.” And indeed, when we ask Morning Show fans what they want, the answer is “a more entertaining Morning Show.” I don’t think you need research to tell you that.

Research is great for uncovering negatives so you can eliminate them. Want to know what bugs listeners about your show? I’ll ask them and they’ll tell me. But when you start asking people to design the show as if they are professional entertainment architects they’re out of their depth. And if you don’t know what’s ailing the show, you can bet they don’t.

Expectation vs. Innovation

As Alex Wipperfurth, author of Brand Hijack, notes: “It’s difficult for [listeners] to imagine what they don’t know. Psychologists call this phenomenon ‘functional fixedness.’ By fixating on the way they normally use things [listeners] prevent themselves from thinking creatively. They can provide guidance on what they expect, but rarely do they ask for something completely new or different.”

That is, making a great Morning Show is about creating expectations, not simply fulfilling them. And creating expectations is not about research, it’s about trying new and exciting things and taking risks.

How do you know you’ve created a great Morning Show? Listeners will know it when they hear it.

The Vision Thing

The key to building a top-notch Morning Show can be summed up in one word: “innovation.”

The biggest failure of most Morning Shows is not trying and failing, it’s failing to try. And from the management perspective, our job is to encourage trial and to reward risk. If we tighten the screws to make a show airtight then we will choke off the oxygen, too.

So if your Morning Crew has tremendous energy and enthusiasm, great devotion, a passionate interest in their show, and a strong intuition about how to do their jobs, then step back and get out of the way.

If, however, your show is lazy and lethargic, coasting on creative fumes (if they’re coasting at all), or simply lacking the fundamental talent that should be the “price of admission” for any Morning Show, then all the tweaking, all the marketing, all the juggling of bits, benchmarks, and info-elements will be as effective as rearranging deck chairs on the you- know-what.

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