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Guy Kawasaki on Evangelizing Your Station

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip September 8, 2004

Guy Kawasaki knows how to fix what ails your station. Formerly chief evangelist at Apple Computer and managing director at Garage Technology Ventures, he’s the author of eight books, including some of my favorites: Selling the Dream, The Macintosh Way, Rules for Revolutionaries, and his newest: The Art of the Start, The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. I interviewed Guy to get his marketing prescription for Radio.

If you ran a Radio Station, what would you do to make it stand out?

I would hire knowledgeable, vibrant, and opinionated personalities. Not shock jocks that want to create a ruckus by being controversial, not someone who stopped playing baseball in the 6th grade who’s now telling you why Barry Bonds is over-rated, but people really in the know. Greg Kihn on KFOX in San Jose epitomizes this. Because he was a rock musician, he really knows what he’s talking about. He’s not some wannabe or never-was that’s trying to prove himself. He gets great guests–how many people interview Paul McCartney on their show?

On a conceptual level, draw a graph with the vertical axis measuring the station’s ability to provide unique content and programming. On the horizontal axis, measure the desirability of the programming to people. So if you’re high on the vertical axis, only your station can provide something. If you’re far out on the horizontal axis, people really care about what you provide. The goal is to be high and to the right–like George W. Most radio stations are low on the vertical axis and moderately far out on the horizontal axis. For example, yet another station providing rock music. Greg Kihn puts KFOX high on the vertical axis. How many other rock radio stations have a bonafide rock star as an announcer?

What are Radio’s biggest marketing mistakes, from your perspective?

I’m on the outside looking in, so for all I know, they work, but the giveaways and promotions seem over-used to me. If you’re like KKSF in San Francisco and you can give away a trip a day to Hawaii, then there’s some real branding and loyalty power to a promotion. But the sporadic sweepstakes and prizes seem superficial. I’m a romantic. I believe in great “product” where product for a radio station is its music, commentary, or announcers. Most promotions just don’t excite me as a marketer.

Also, a radio station can only stand for one thing in the public’s mind. To shift gears, no pun intended, let’s look at cars. Volvo equals safety. No matter how sexy Volvo tries to make its cars, it will still stand for safely. KKSF is smooth jazz. KFOX is classic rock. Stations need to realize they can only stand for one thing and then plant a deep stake in the ground to own that category like Volvo owns “safety.”

How do stations energize their listeners and transform them into “Evangelists”?

The key to evangelism is a rule that I call “Guy’s Golden Touch.” It goes like this: “Whatever is gold, Guy touches.” The starting point of evangelism is a great “product.” After that, it’s easy. You go out and purposely try to build a community. You unabashedly ask for help. Many organizations think that they shouldn’t ask–either because it’s a sign of weakness or an imposition. If you have a great station, it’s neither.

Then you need to give them the tools to evangelize your organization such as an explanation of your programming, background of announcers, calendar of events, bumper stickers, whatever. You also make them feel special with get togethers, concerts, t-shirts, stickers, CDs, and MP3s. You make your staff press flesh with them. You hire someone to empower them and make them happy. Finally, you respond to their comments. They are your best salespeople. You should cater to their desires and listen to their feedback.

Learn more about The Art of the Start here.

Buy the “Art of the Start Pitch Kit” here.

Buy the book here.

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