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Like Moths to Radio’s Flame

What’s the best way to defend radio’s audience from those who steal away attention and usage and ad dollars?

Here’s one strategy from my friend David Bujnowski of Coburn Ventures (where I am a research fellow).

In the “old days”, service providers could trap their audience who either didn’t know or didn’t care what their alternatives were. Today, with hyperpersonalization running rampant, consumers have a choice of a million different service providers.  The customers can’t be held captive any longer.  We are free to choose and we’re well armed to find whatever it is that we want (and that my old “service provider” is no longer giving me). So…as a service provider, how do I keep my audience?  I have to build/create a service that is so bright…so energetic…so wonderful…that the moths WANT to come to [my flame].  It’s their choice! Spend less time mimicking others.  And spend less time trying to figure out how to keep me held captive (you can’t do it!).  And spend more time on your product so that I’m drawn to it like a moth… so I just can’t help myself.

This is important and too easy to forget.

Defending our products and services from the choices enabled by the inexorable march of technology is a fool’s errand. If technology can conceivably solve a consumer problem, assume that it will – and sooner than you think.

Recently I told one broadcaster about a tool that could transform one of his radio assets in a very meaningful way (forgive the vague description). His response:  We can’t do that because the audience might like it too much, and if they like it too much they will listen more to that and less to my stations.  In other words, “If I don’t believe in the future maybe it will never come to pass.”

Well, the future always comes to pass.  The question is whether or not your business is a part of it.

The key is to seek out these disruptors, to embrace them and wield them like weapons, not to look the other way.

Our best defense is a vigorous offense.  The secret to protecting our audience is attracting them like moths to a brilliant flame.  It’s not to  force them or bribe them or trap them.  It’s about attraction. It’s about being that good.

In a world where anybody can have anything they want, “average is over,” as Tom Friedman writes in the New York Times.

“Average products for average people” (to use Seth Godin’s phrase) will be impossible to defend against products and services designed perfectly for me.

We can try to keep consumers captive – or we can captivate.

I and many others in and around the radio business would prefer to create magnificent flames.

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