“Radio, get your head out of the sand” – an interview with marketing guru Joseph J

Joseph Jaffe is the author of Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialogue, and Partnership

Crayon, LLC, a new marketing innovation company. He is formally the president and founder of Jaffe, LLC and a Director of Interactive Media at TBWA\Chiat\Day and OMD USA. Clients have included Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Starwood Hotels, Proctor & Gamble, K-mart, and many more. He’s also author of Life After the 30-Second Spot

JaffeJuice.com.

What follows is Part 2 of an edited version of the interview. Go here for Part 1 – there you can also hear the full audio interview.

[Continued from Part 1]

What kind of content is on radio in a form that suits some of these conversational tools?

I see this incredible wealth of untapped talent out there in every station’s audience.

Today, with a program like Garage Band, a Neanderthal can become a musician.

And then you’ve got this rise of citizen journalism and podcasting. In one of your older blog posts you mentioned only 30% of the US market have even heard of podcasting, but you know what? It’s a storm that is coming. Soon every single new car will have a neat little spot to plug in your iPod or your MP3 player, and those MP3 players will be WiFi-enabled. And suddenly people will be calling in live to podcasts as they’re being produced through the power of WiFi. And when that happens, the radio industry could lose.

The radio industry could lose on so many different levels: On the level of content, on the level of commercials and clutter, on the level of control, on the level of community; I can keep going on and on and on.

So my message to the radio industry is, “Get your head out of the sand and innovate or you will die.”

And that’s not me pointing a finger saying, “You’re dinosaurs.” It’s me saying, “You guys need to innovate and take a good long, hard look at yourselves and figure out how to evolve. Because this is about evolution and about revolution, and right now I think the radio industry is losing on both counts.

Well let’s make Joseph Jaffe king of the radio world, and you have your own station to play with. What are your first steps down this path?

Well, the first thing I would do is give Joseph Jaffe his own show. (Laughter)

The first thing I would do is to begin fusing the two worlds together. Why, for example, is there no Yankees fan radio station? Why is there no official Yankees podcast out there? Why are we not localizing and regionalizing and doing a much better job at being able to bring radio content to consumers on a more targeted, relevant, micro-geographic level?


In your book you write, “There’s no question, the very definition of ‘media’ is changing quickly. In fact, it may behoove us to abolish the term completely in favor of the more familiar term ‘content.’”

Exactly.

Because content is king…but what if there’s a revolution that does away with the monarchy?, I’ve played around with this idea that content may be controlled by the monarchy or the masses, the peasants, if you will. That’s one way to think about consumer-generated content.

When we think about radio, we meed to say: Wait a second, are we in fact talking about audio content? Not just radio content, but audio content? And why are we restricting ourselves to audio? Because around that audio there surely needs to be every other form of multimedia from video to text to photographs, and so on.

So the radio industry needs to figure out what their content is and how to monetize it. Because there’s just no way that consumers are ever going to sit through eight minutes of irrelevance again. There’s just no way. And I think the radio industry is fooling itself if they believe people are not only sitting through this, but literally converting and responding and purchasing product.

You know, if that old John Wanamaker statement is true, “50% of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half,” then I think in the radio industry it’s probably closer to 80%.

Radio is increasingly being pitched as a “reach” medium. But in your book you argue that’s old-school thinking, that accountability – actually delivering response – is where the ad industry is heading.

Right, I use three words: Reach, connect, and effect.

Radio and print and television have their business model built around a reach-based methodology. But just because you can reach people doesn’t mean you will, and if you do reach them, will you connect with them? Will you engage them? Will you be memorable for all the right reasons? And even if you do that, will you be able to effect some kind of an action, whether it’s bringing them closer to the brand, signing up for an email, requesting a brochure or a direct mail piece, or some kind of conversion or transaction?

You also write that “people are the message.”

Absolutely, people are the message.

People deliver the message, and they are the message as well.

I use the example in the book where I listen to Daily Source Code with Adam Curry, and he kept talking about his great experience flying Virgin Atlantic. He was talking about Virgin because, you know, he’s a human being and he loved the experience. Well, guess what? When I was flying to the UK and thinking about which airline I wanted to fly, I ended up flying Virgin – all because of one person – one person’s not even overt recommendation, but endorsement. I’ve never met this person before, but I trusted him. I just felt like I trusted him. I trusted them because I listen to him regularly. Gee, that sounds pretty familiar.

It sounds like the radio business.

We trust these people we listen to because of the power of asynchronous intimacy. We build a relationship and rapport with them over time. And that trust almost goes out the window in the radio business when I hear, for example, these Dan Patrick live reads, you know: ”Hey, I’m Dan Patrick and when there’s a snowfall in the …. (Laughter) I use some brand of gloves, or whatever.” And I’m like, “Come on!” It’s ridiculous.

People are the message. They’re carriers of the message, but they’re also originators of the message as well.

So, you know, there’s no ad campaign any more. There’s no start. There’s no end. It’s a very fluid picture. There are no more sellers. There’s just life, you know? Life happens. Life is around us. Humanity is around us. Passion and engagement are natural. It doesn’t belong to the media companies, and it doesn’t belong to the brand marketers. It belongs to us, and I think that’s the opportunity.

Radio has to figure out how to bring all these different worlds – “Church and State,” content, commercials, trust, influence, community – together to create this incredible mashup.

And when they do, they may find themselves enjoying a new lease on life.

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