Making Radio Remarkable – Part 1

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip June 2, 2004

John Moore spent eight years in corporate marketing at Starbucks. Now he’s director of national marketing for Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural and organic supermarket and the co-author of the marketing weblog BrandAutopsy . I asked John a bunch of questions about our industry and his responses were so good, I’m splitting them into two newsletters. First question: What can Radio learn about marketing from Starbucks and Whole Foods? Four things:

1. Make the Common Uncommon

“Whole Foods made the common grocery shopping experience uncommon by focusing supremely on natural and organic groceries that taste good and make one feel good. Starbucks made the common cup of coffee uncommon by focusing on higher-quality beans and a higher-quality experience.”

“I view radio as being a commoditized experience. From station-to-station, parity among radio broadcasters is prevalent. They all air the same promotions, play the same commercials, and run roughly the same programming style. For the most part, very little differentiation exists between radio stations despite the myriad formats. Radio has to make the common radio listening experience uncommon by not following preordained rules that say the only way you can give away concert tickets is to the 10th caller. Or, that all station IDs must be over-produced, sugar-sweet, and harmony-heavy. Being uncommonly good at the common means breaking a few rules in the process – doing so will help radio stations become meaningfully unique.”

2. Stand for Something, Not Everything

“Whole Foods stands for a natural and organic approach to food, they do not stand for overly-processed, mass-produced goods that conventional grocers stand for. In fact, Whole Foods has a well-defined “Quality Standards” checklist that all products must pass before going on the shelf. These dogmatic “Quality Standards” not only define what makes Whole Foods remarkable, it also safeguards them from encroaching competition because other grocers cannot stomach the idea of sacrificing the many for the few.”

“To differentiate itself from like-minded competitors, radio stations could develop and dogmatically follow their own meaningful ‘Quality Standards.'”

3. Be Mission-Bound

“Transcending commoditization requires more than having a mission statement, you have to live a mission. Whole Foods and Starbucks are both mission-bound companies. For Whole Foods, the mission is about changing the way the world eats. And for Starbucks, the mission is about getting folks to enjoy a more rewarding and inspiring coffee experience.”

“Does your radio station go beyond having a mission statement to living a mission? Does your radio station seek to positively change the lives of its listeners?”

4. Everything Matters

“Starbucks and Whole Foods Market are experiential brands that strive to be interesting in order to get customers interested. For retail brands that rely on delivering great in-store experiences, everything matters because every act is an act of communication with customers. From the way the Jonagold apples are displayed to the array of artisan cheeses offered to how store employees engage customers – every act at WFM matters. Same can be said for radio stations. Every song, every commercial, every listener request, every on-air personality, every remote, every bumper sticker – every communication about your station matters. Everything matters.”

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