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“I’ll Have what She’s Having”

Why do what you’re doing?  Because everybody else in radio seems to be doing it?  Or because it’s the right thing for you and your organization to do?

Why jump aboard the iheartradio bandwagon and make your stations available on that platform?  Because every so often there’s a news release about another broadcaster who has, or because it’s the best way for you to advance your progress in streaming?

Why pursue a dedicated mobile app?  Because everybody needs a dedicated mobile app, or because its central to your digital strategy?

Why install a deals platform?  Because that’s what the other guy is doing, or because you know how to monetize this and make it an important component of your media brand portfolio?

And so it goes, one example after another, where some broadcasters looking for answers look outside rather than within.  And what we too often find are broadcasters following the wagging tails of other broadcasters traveling to this destination or that one for reasons unknown to anyone.

But isn’t this progress?  Maybe.  But maybe not.

“Progress” is the value you and your consumers and advertisers derive from one unit of effort in a world where time and resources are scarce.  You literally can’t do everything and so must do what’s most important.

But too many broadcasters don’t know what’s most important, so instead they do what’s easy.  And “having what she’s having” is incredibly easy.  Not just easy to mimic, but easy to justify:  “I’m doing it because they’re doing it.  Let’s all do it together.”

The problem is that doing what’s easy or chic is not the same as doing what matters.

Indeed, doing what’s easy without it being particularly important explains why so much of what we do is done so half-hearted and without the kind of commitment that makes the difference between dabbling and success.  It’s why so many of our initiatives are as light on investment as they are on ingenuity.

We spend too much time looking at each other and not enough time looking inside at ourselves and around us at our consumers and our clients. We spend too much time looking at each other and not enough time looking outside the industry altogether for ideas that were not born from radio brands.

Take mobile apps, for example.  Does every station need a dedicated mobile app?  Not necessarily.  Every station needs to be present across platforms in ways that consumers want and advertisers value, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a dedicated mobile app.  The question isn’t “to app or not to app,” the question is “What do I need an app to do that I can’t do without the app?”  To chase an app without a strong reason will guarantee that little value will be placed on that app and “getting an app at low cost” will be more urgent than having a good reason to build one in the first place.  The end result:  Time wasted on unimportant matters and an app few consumers care about that makes little difference to the brand, the consumers, or the advertisers. Opportunity lost.

A couple years ago when I revamped my own digital platform I didn’t use any competitor as a model.  Then and now my platform looks and functions completely differently from those of other companies who do things like me. My intention was to create a media brand that solves problems for a community of businesses and entrepreneurs in and around radio.  The emphasis was on media – video, audio, text, books, etc. And it was not about glorifying my efforts but rather showcasing opportunities for the marketplace of businesses my brand serves.  As of now I have had more than 126,000 video views – that may not be a lot in your business-to-consumer world, but for a vertical market of folks in and around broadcasting that’s pretty impressive.

In other words, I looked within for a goal and a strategy to achieve that goal.

Your answer will not be the same as the answer for your broadcast peers.  In part because your assets differ from theirs, but also because while they may launch this or that initiative, the sad truth too often is that they don’t know why they’re doing it.  Chasing the tails of our broadcast peers is not a good enough reason.

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