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Marketing Guru Seth Godin on Radio

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip April 29, 2004

He has written Permission Marketing, Unleashing the Ideavirus, and Purple Cow, some of the best-selling marketing books of all time, and now Seth Godin turns his sights to Radio. In May, his latest book, Free Prize Inside hits store shelves, so I asked Seth to talk about his impressions of what we as an industry are doing right and wrong.

Do you have a “Free Prize Inside” your station?

A “Purple Cow” is a product or service that’s remarkable. And a “Free Prize” is that thing about your product or service that’s worth remarking on, seeking out, and buying or listening to. “It’s not about what we need, it’s about what we want,” says Seth. “A ‘Free Prize’ rarely delivers more of what we’re buying in the first place. It delivers something extra, something remarkable.”

“Casey Kasem, believe it or not, was a great example of how this can work successfully,” Seth says. “The top 40 are virtually the same everywhere, but it’s the writing and the way he continually met expectations that made people pick him. Same with the Car Talk guys. In my town, the local non-profit has a show that competes with Car Talk, but they foolishly believe the show is about fixing your car.”

Radio’s biggest marketing mistake: Fear

Too often, Radio is afraid to take things to the edge and make themselves too “purple” – too remarkable. They fear turning off the mass audience.

“Time to get used to being marginal,” warns Seth. “Time to hone your excuses and polish your resume. In an XM, webcasting world, why on earth would I pick the average station when I don’t have to? There are a thousand things you can do that’ll get you to an edge. Just don’t be average.”

How Radio can find the “Free Prize Inside”

“[Radio believes that] tricking the Arbitrons (repeat those call letters. Over and over and over!) and appealling to the average masses (‘In the next hour, we’ll play Norah Jones’ new hit six times!’) is the way to grow the numbers. Sure, in the short run, it is. But it doesn’t get you real growth, growth that could change the rules and get you in a position of dominance. Quick question: how many email addresses of listeners do you have – with permission to use em? If you mailed them all, could you get 10% to do what you ask them to? If not, why not?

“[If I were in Radio] I’d adopt a posture of always looking for the new style, always seeking the edge and the Free Prize. Don’t bet it all and have to get it right. Bet all the time and sooner or later you will get it right.”

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