For Part 1, go here.
Radio Situation and Outlook Discussion – Part II
Here is the second part of our interview with Mark Ramsey of Radio Marketing Nexus about the situation and future of radio as a medium. Interesting stuff (for part one click here).
Marketing Playbook: We were talking about the playing field for radio. What about from the perspective of radio’s customers – listeners and advertisers? What are their ABCs? What is missing for them and how can/could radio fill this gap? What about the much talked about shift away from broadcast, how can radio be positioned to fit in this purported trend?
Mark Ramsey: For advertisers, Radio is spontaneous. It’s point-of-purchase if you’re in your car with a McDonalds on your left and a Best Buy on your right. In that case, we have a simple positioning – we’re the only media (X) which can drive potential customers to their door (Y) while they’re on the road and in need of what the message is selling (Z).
For listeners, Radio is the only source of music, entertainment, and information (X) which is mobile – it can go in the car and make the drive easier – or it can go to your office and make you more productive at work (Y) at times you need a laugh, a soothing background, information, or companionship on a long drive or while working (Z).
Marketing Playbook: What about the competitors for these targets’ attention and dollars? The web, TV, print, heck blogs. What are their strengths, weaknesses, gaps? How can radio fit in?
Mark Ramsey: Radio is still a MASS medium. In fact, Radio’s “reach” is nearly 100% of us all. The web, print, blogs, satellite radio, iPods, streaming audio – none of these media can say that.
Radio is also predominantly LOCAL. That is, despite similarities across the country, every radio station in your town is broadcast from your town. The studios and the talent may be elsewhere, but the sales staff and others are right there in your community. Radio is keenly aware that local connection – through information and community involvement – is key to its long-term success.
Radio is also MOBILE. Satellite Radio is in the car, but not usually in the home or on your belt. iPods are mobile, but your music collection is not the same as your community connection.
Finally, Radio is EASY. No technical experience is required. No special equipment. No heavy lifting. No retraining. It’s familiar, it’s convenient, it’s everywhere.
In terms of content, it will be the non-music elements that really help Radio to stand out in the long run. Back in the 40’s, Radio was primarily comprised of comedy or dramatic programs. Then along came TV and Radio became more music-oriented. Today, as music-only choices begin to proliferate, we’ll see Radio’s personality strengths move to the fore. For example, Howard Stern could not have become famous on the web or on Satellite Radio. Only conventional Radio has the penetration and the frequency to build that kind of an audio brand.
Marketing Playbook: What do radio station owners, programmers etc. need to do to make this happen? What play do you think makes most sense?
Mark Ramsey: Station owners are taking a wait-and-see attitude relative to these evolving technologies, and that’s prudent. After all, Radio is much bigger than many of these technologies at present. For example, for all its hype Satellite Radio has only a few million subscribers nationwide. Radio has that many listeners in a single mid-sized market!
As time goes on, we’ll have to consider what our competitive advantages are, and chances are they will be related to things like comfort and tradition, convenience and ease of use, local connection and information, and the power of unique and compelling personalities.
Marketing Playbook: Finally, what do see as the relationship between radio and the web or blogs?
Mark Ramsey: Radio stations tend to view the web as a destination for advertising, although in Radio terminology that tends to be code for “thrown in for free with a spot buy.”
My view – which is not yet widely shared – is that the web (a station’s own site in particular) has one primary purpose: To attract listeners and boomerang them back to the station. You see, one hour of radio listening is SIGNIFICANTLY more valuable to the station than any number of hits on their website. Such are the economics of Radio.
I would like to see every station with a high personality morning show maintain a blog for that show – the background “behind-the-scenes” stuff that can serve as A) an audience magnet for the website and B) fodder for conversation on the air. Then you have the station pushing listeners to the blog and vice versa.
I also feel that the station’s website is its primary engine to generate buzz – but very few stations exploit this power sufficiently.