The Radio Marketing Playbook

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip January 12, 2005

John Zagula is the co-author of the new business bestseller The Marketing Playbook and co-host of its affiliated (and highly regarded) marketing blog.


Radio stations often find themselves in direct competition – this is equivalent to what you call the “drag race” play. What are the rules of the drag race play and how can a radio station use these rules to win the race?

“A drag race is a strategy of direct confrontation. Even if you find yourself in direct competition you should always make a conscious decision whether you want to confront your competitor directly or not.”

“Do not enter in a drag race unless you both have a lot to gain by doing so and you have what it takes to win. What do you need to do to win? Go for it – all the way. Steer the race course in your favor.”

“Be direct and relentless in your comparisons. Demonstrate momentum – in whatever terms you can. Once it looks like you’re actually gaining it gets much harder for the other driver to reverse this perception (this implies that it often makes sense to drag race if you are number two – comparisons and PR will more likely shine on you and improve your status relative to the leader who is put on the defensive).”

What is the difference between “positioning” and “messaging”? Many folks in Radio seem to think they’re the same thing.

“Positioning is simple. It is the argument you have to make that you are different, relavent and preferable.”

“Messaging is the translation of that argument into words that actually grab the attention of your target.”

“Positioning is long term. It is the basic argument you have decided to make. Messaging can change. It can be tested to see if it resonates and actually gets this argument across.”

You have an equation: P>B>F. What does that mean?

“This is simple. When you go out and turn your lovely positioning into messaging [it’s best] to support your claims and stories. And the best support works like this: PROOF is stronger than BENEFITS are stronger than FEATURES.”

“What do I mean? Well it may be good that you are on twenty four hours or reach 27 cities or have dog and cat health tips (FEATURES) but why does that matter to your target? What do they gain from you having those things? More audience to advertise to, news whenever they need it (BENEFITS)? And why should they believe you? How about because thousands/millions already listen, you’re the fastest growing, leading experts agree, etc. (PROOF).”

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