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Jack Trout on Radio

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip October 13, 2004

Jack Trout is a marketing legend. Co-author of the seminal guidebooks Positioning and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Trout has condensed the essence of his strategic thinking into his latest book, Trout on Strategy. Jack graciously took time out provide me with some of his perspective on the quality of our strategic thinking in the Radio industry.

What is the biggest misconception you think Radio Stations have about strategy?

“To me,” Trout replied, “the biggest strategic mistake in the Radio business is that of not effectively selling the medium of radio. Most would rather beat up on their competitor. They should be selling radio as a primary media as opposed to filling in the holes in the media plan.”

“The truth is that a marketer doesn’t need pictures as the mind works by ear. While many products tend to look alike, they don’t have to sound alike.”

What are the biggest mistakes you hear Radio Stations making in their positioning or strategy?

“Most radio stations don’t do a very good job of differentiating themselves from their competitors,” said Trout. “They promote their programming as if no one else was out there with similar programming. There’s a sameness, which only drives price as the main bargaining point.”

“Also,” Trout adds, “music as a differentiator is not an easy way to go [because] others have access to the same music.”

Your new book makes 8 major points on Strategy. Which one is most applicable to Radio?

“I would say that the chapter on Strategy is all about Differentiation is the most important one for Radio. In that chapter, I lay out a four-step process that outlines how a radio station can build an effective differentiating program.”

Here are Jack’s four steps for differentiation:

1. Make sense in the context – your message has to start by considering what the marketplace has heard and registered from the competition

2. Find the differentiating idea – it doesn’t have to be product-related, but it should provide a benefit

3. Have the credentials – don’t provide claims without proof

4. Communicate your difference – Better products don’t win, better perceptions win. Advertise and promote your difference

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