“A Terrible Thing Happens When You Don’t Promote.” NOTHING!

Listeners recycle your radio station an average of every 20 minutes.  You always have a fresh audience joining your show.  So, you need something original to sample, demonstrating your ability to entertain.  Always leave them wanting more. 

Define your station before you promote yourself to others.  It’s called “Positioning.”  How can we explain to others (promotion) what we do if we aren’t clear about it ourselves.  Having a focus makes it much easier for the listeners to spread the word about you. 

I understand we hate labeling things—it pigeonholes us.  But in your audience’s ears it helps to define what we do.  Besides, it’s better to pick a label than let your listeners hang one on you.  Is your radio station Blues formatted?  Is it Country?  Rock?  News/Talk?  Jazz? AC? Oldies? Maybe a combination of those or something completely different.  What else do you do well?  Concentrate on your strengths and market those.

Part of promoting your station is knowing what your target audience does on a daily basis.  What do they read?  Where do they hang out?  What websites are they browsing?  Do you have a Twitter and Facebook page?  Does your station have a website?  Does it stream?  Knowing an audience means figuring out who they are, what they want, where are they, and how much are they willing to spend!

Promotions are very basic things.  You can embellish them as much as you like, after the basics are in place.  Radio people sometimes find themselves developing full-blown bells-and-whistles-flash-and-dazzle promotions, losing sight of the importance of simple things like first impressions, preparation, knowledge, and good-humor.

You must be visible everywhere.  You should strive to present a positive image, to establish and nurture relationships, and make each event enjoyable for everybody, whether they’re faithful listeners (P1’s), strangers to the station or format, or the clients themselves.  We all know it takes being out there to make those numbers happen.  What we ought to know is that we need to be out on the streets all the time!  If a client event isn’t going on, find out what’s happening in the community and tap into that.  It’s as simple as checking out the newspapers and calling the Chamber of Commerce.

The key to any successful promotion, whether you’re promoting your radio station or client event, is total preparation!  Hook your call letters into existing events.  Start simple.  Get permission to have your station van parked at the entrance of a local ball park.  Find out if there’s a need for an emcee for an event and offer the professional services of a popular air-personality. 

Develop an entire line of logo items: caps, t-shirts, sweats, polo shirts, jackets, handbags, wallets, sun visors, etc., all sold at events to benefit local food banks.  Approach event coordinators explaining that items sold don’t benefit the station financially; proceeds go to local food banks in the country where the event is being held.  The chance for on-air support plus that all-important “warm & fuzzy” created by doing something for the community, opens doors.

Remember, take pictures at the event and include them on your website and include crowds.  Thank the sponsor for the opportunity to be involved in their or your event and express the desire to return.  Always promote in keeping with the stations sound.  If it’s not right, walk-away!

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“Managing Morale.”

Most of today’s best radio managers have literally had to manage people by trial and error. There’s no training process for radio management. While it may not be specifically outlined in your duties, you’re also overseer of the station’s morale. Managing the morale has usually not been one of the main criteria for becoming Program Director or General Manager. Yet, these two positions often dictate the station’s management style and the morale that results.

As a consultant, I’ve noticed the importance of maintaining the staff’s confidence as a leader. You can’t lead if those following aren’t convinced you’re the one for the job. You’ve got to rise above your own personal feelings and let your immediate emotional response pass before you determine how to respond in a conflict.

The basic element in managing and creating positive morale is the art of honest communication. People don’t execute what they don’t understand. Good communication is a priority of the highest level. People best accomplish that which they embrace, or at the very least understand the importance of.

Taking responsibility for one’s actions is another key element in effectively managing people. Owning up to “doing the right thing” at all times is a masterful way to demonstrate integrity while gaining respect of the staff. Whether you caused a problem or not, take the responsibility to bring it to the attention of management so it may be addressed. You have to respect the person who admits to mistakes, asks for help or guidance to correct it, and then does what’s necessary to make things work.

How do you best describe your management style? Are you hands-on, laid back, or some place in between? Is it important to “park your ego at the door” in managing people? Each manager has different ways of managing morale. You must hire the best people who can understand and are willing to conform to your standards of excellence. Provide them with the best tools your budget allows. Involve them in all aspects pertaining to department and individual goals, and then establish a system of meetings and reports which allows you to track their progress without interfering with their day-to-day endeavors.

Once a GM or PD has mastered his or her own style, creating a management mission statement for your station or group is an effective way of enlisting your staff and encouraging them to work toward the same goals. Asking them to participate in the process increases morale while creating ownership in the principles important to the collective group.

The ultimate mission statement which I use as a “way of life” is if you believe your station or group is the best place in the state or country to work, ultimately the best people will want to work here.

 

“Put Me In Coach–I’m Ready To Play!”

Effective Coaching Helps ‘Push’ Business Success and ‘Pull’ Effective Leadership.
By Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

If you’re not getting better, you’re falling behind. In today’s multi-media world, you need to “take your game to the next level.”
To be competitive, you need effective coaching.
Tiger Woods knows this, as does every world class athlete, opera singer, performer or executive. It’s true of your station sales, programming, technical and other staff as well.
Winners in any profession understand that without the right “coach,” they won’t achieve their objectives. And the objective is winning.
As a consultant, I must wear many hats: advisor, expert, salesperson, problem solver, coach, referee, banker, publisher and author. I believe a steady focus on effective coaching will increase your performance, even in the face of client and project distractions, and secure your spot as a winner.
Active ongoing coaching is the quickest way to improve your station’s performance level. Unfortunately, coaching may be the item bypassed by busy general managers, market managers, programmers, DOEs and sales managers.
In my travels as a consultant, I am reminded every time I turn on the radio that most air talent lack the “relate-ability” and entertainment skills necessary to keep me tuned in.
Since coaching is something done with people, rather than to people, how well prepared (both in skills and attitude) are managers to coach? Managers typically possess an innate interpersonal technique; so perhaps management’s perceived value of coaching can be an indication of how readily it’s being absorbed into business culture and put into practice.
Coaching has a powerful, long-term impact on people and your station’s effectiveness. Coaching is talking with a person in a way that helps him or her solve a problem.
Some managers confuse coaching with giving advice. As Gore Vidal said, “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”
The reality is often that, as Gordon Dickson noted, “Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.”
What is a more effective approach?
Managers are asked to improve productivity without additional resources. They need to invite employees to participate as partners, develop trusting relationships and combine everyone’s best efforts into creating business solutions.
One option is to enhance behavior and performance through interactive communication and influence, such as coaching. Managers also need to use their coaching skills within the company with those who don’t necessarily report to them, and outside their organization.
There is an increasing need to improve involvement and engagement of all employees to achieve business outcomes.
An effective coaching skills strategy emphasizes collaboration and respect rather than control and faultfinding. Such a strategy adds a tangible aspect of value. People can see effort being expanded in helping them do a good job and experiencing a sense of achievement.
Effective coaching skills, therefore, contribute to not only a “push” to achieving business outcomes, but also a “pull” towards effective leadership.
Traits
What makes a good management coach?
Think of the following as an “air-check” for your management team on coaching employees.
Knows the discipline he or she is coaching.
It seems obvious, but a coach must know ins and outs of the discipline—the rules, the history, the tactics, etc. Without it, neither coach nor employee will be able to do their jobs properly and will quickly lose face when they start making mistakes.

Motivates the team—This is probably the most important trait of a good coach. Without proper motivation, everything comes apart. Remember that a coach will need to lead a team of individuals, everyone with different personal goals. The coach’s job is giving the team enough motivation to turn their attention from their private matters to the goals of the station.

Talks only when it gets results—A good coach will never speak without a good cause. If he or she talks too much, employees will stop listening. A coach should talk only when necessary—this will give the words and extra weight.
Ability to listen—Being calmer than usual is a good indication the coach is a good listener. If the manager is to become a good coach, he or she needs to think like a surrogate father or mother for the team; listening is the single most important trait that can make it possible.
Knows their team—Another important matter is a coach knowing one’s team. It’s not only about matching numbers with names. A good coach knows about the professional and the private lives of their teammates.
Treats everyone individually—While a good coach should know everybody, it is necessary to treat each employee individually. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
Leads by example—A good coach does everything he or she will ask others to do. They always set an example.

Interpersonal issues
Beyond technical aspects of setting goals during coaching, it is critical to pay attention to certain interpersonal issues: As a coach, you must set clear expectations, performance standards and specific objectives regarding what should be done, when and how. Measure performance. Focus on behavior, not value judgments. Correct deviations from performance standards.
Make it clear that you are on the same side as the employee and that the objective of the meeting is for the employee to be successful. Provide guidance while preserving the employee’s self-esteem. Give an employee with longer service an extended time to improve. Set the time for improvement in accordance with the specific behavior involved.
Managers, employees and their established work practices are under pressure to change and achieve results never before asked of them. Effective coaching skills, while not the only need, can be a major contributor to the solutions.
Effective systematic coaching is an opportunity to build meaningful partnerships between members of an organization who meet these challenges. Without effective coaching skills, progress is just that much harder.
Mark Twain said it: “I’m all for progress, it’s change that I don’t like.”

“Emotionally Branding Your Radio Station”

Emotionally Branding Your Radio Station
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

Branding is not only about ubiquity, visibility, and functions; it’s about bonding emotionally with listeners. Only when your station kindles an emotional dialogue with listeners, can your radio station qualify as a brand. Listeners want to deal with radio stations that are responsive and sensitive to their unique needs. When effectively executed, “branding” increases a radio station’s market share and profitability by leveraging awareness while clearly positioning the station. In layman’s terms: to attract listeners, Program Directors must think like listeners.

For branding to be truly effective, radio stations have to feel & sound dead-on with their listener’s expectations. The correct mixture of language, sounds and expressions will accomplish this. You need to stand for something to stand out from the crowd. Radio stations must become strong brands. It’s termed a culture: a set of beliefs and expectations celebrated and enjoyed every day. A distinctive experience listeners want to become part of.

As radio’s background has changed so dramatically in the new millennium with the advent of listening options such as internet radio, satellite, HD, or tablets and smartphones, the audience must care about what is said. It has to matter to them. It has to touch their lives in some significant way. As we are in the middle part of the second decade of the new millennium, broadcast radio (the original portable medium), persists dominance in spite of newer, aggressive audio technologies.

The fact that you can listen to radio while doing something else is a reason it maintains its popularity. Radio can never stop innovating. That will become its death knell. For your radio station to be very successful, you must constantly anticipate new developments and freshen your productivity.

Make sure your station has a unique USP in your market that draws listeners and keeps them entertained. Establish your brand and maintain a high quality. Remember, perception is reality. If and how long people tune into your station mainly depends on their impression of your station—your image—which is based on previous listening experiences. Develop positive brand images with the listener!

Keep transforming your radio station. Try and anticipate where the market will be, say, five years from now. Don’t make many moves that will distort your audience and damage your brand. Invest in talent development and coaching while searching for tomorrow’s radio personalities. Give fresh talents a chance but make sure they relate to your stations target audience. Make sure your radio personalities are natural storytellers. Great storytellers make a nice story great by the way they present it.

Build distinctive and familiar brands. Create a brand for your radio station where people feel at home, through imaging, marketing and events. You’re more than just a radio station; you’re a brand! Create a brand that your audience can relate to and knows what to expect. This goes way beyond music. It’s about a shared feeling. Radio is a great medium to embrace new developments.

Apply innovation to the complete output of your station, from programming to marketing.
Now that the music industry’s impact has deteriorated—record companies are not the only jumpstart for talent: with radio and social media combined, you can create an enormously important and fun place to work by branding your station as the place that plays the latest music. Music discovery is still dominated by radio, although teens now turn to YouTube and I Tunes to discover new music.

Most radio programmers agree that constant innovation, familiar brands & shared emotion are key to secure radio’s future in today’s social media world. The technology and content behind radio offers all the possibilities in the world. Radio is immediate, live and fast. The final conclusion? Radio brands will remain to thrive on emotion and a personal relation with the listener.

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“If I Wanted To Be A Surfer, I’d Buy A Board.”

If I wanted to be a ‘Surfer,’ I’d buy a board.

How too-many choices have made radio listening difficult. 

By

Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media.

 

The object of all marketing is to be persuasive.  To move your listeners to think, feel or do something.  Building a brand involves elements of persuasion and integrity.  We’re asked to deal with unprecedented change in our media world (satellite radio, HD, I-Pods, internet radio, etc). We cut paths through too-much uncharted territory, as Captain Kirk would say, at ‘warp-speed.’ 

 

So granted, we do too much with much less time,.  Multitasking has become a way of life for most of us. The real problem plaguing radio today is the amount of choices the listener has.  It’s become a confusing proposition to listen to the radio!  We have always felt as a society that choice is good and choice is related to freedom, which is essential to our well-being.  The more choices we have, the more freedom we have, the better off we are. 

 

It doesn’t occur to anyone to question or challenge that statement and is pretty much a no-brainer.  Two is better than 1 and three is better than two.  Problem is now we’re talking about 25-30 radio stations in a market, not to mention all other media options.  What was once a liberating experience is now paralyzing our ability to make a simple decision.  We’ve become a nation of “surfers” instead of “consumers.” 

 

In the age of radio consolidation, this has become an even more pressing problem.  We’re not persuading listeners to stay with us long-enough to enjoy their experience.  A listener may hear what they perceive to be a great song, only to start surfing the dial with the thought that there’s an even better song they’re missing!  In reality, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Good is never good-enough.  We’re chasing our tail to spite our face.

 

Listeners pay for our service with their time spent listening.  Yet, the inability to decide and stay with one particular station is there even when money isn’t at stake.  As choices increase, listeners actually have a more difficult time finding what they really like.  When you’re surfing you’re not consuming, therefore, you’re never fully satisfied with your experience.

 

At Sound Advantage Media, I’ve developed a method of increasing TSL and listener loyalty that cuts through the clutter and gives your audience ownership with their favorite radio station.  Here are a few examples:

 

Stay Topical & Local

 

Find out what interests your listeners.  What are their hobbies?  What are their “hot” buttons?  Where do they enjoy “hanging-out?”  If you don’t know, find out!  You’d be surprised how your TSL will increase once you’ve addressed what interests them. 

 

Is Your Programming Relevant To Your Audience?

 

Not only do you need to be topical & local, make sure what you do on-air is relevant to what the audience is searching for!  A good way to accomplish this is to have a staff member go through your local newspaper and cut-out two weeks worth of letters-to-the-editor.  This is an inexpensive way to research your listeners “hot buttons.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Imaging Local?

 

Focus the imaging of your station on local items of interest to your audience.  This gives you some intimacy with the listener and show’s you’re in-tune with the issues of your community.  Great opportunity to become relatable while pushing their ‘hot-buttons.”  Have local community leaders and P1 listeners record your imaging.  People “love” to hear themselves on the radio.  This will make you stand out in a very crowded marketplace while branding you as your community’s radio station.

 

Involve Your Audience

 

Become a two-way communications center for your listeners.  Not just for contests and games!  People become more attached and loyal to a station they have a personal involvement in.  By branding your station as “My Country 105,” or “My Oldies 106 WOLL,” you’ve embraced the listener on a much more emotional level.  People will take ownership of your station when they have a reason to do so.  Increased cume and TSL will follow.  People purchase items based on an emotional response.  It stands to reason they’ll listen to your radio station for the same reason.

 

No amount of marketing or advertising can save a bad radio station.  You need to get your “act” together before

branding your product.  People are more cynical today, and the Internet makes it too easy to listen elsewhere.

Radio has forgotten that it’s a part of “show-business.”  You must offer the “act” that’s unique in the marketplace in order to survive.  Anything that makes your listener grateful for your engaging, entertaining,

stimulating radio station means they are more likely to pass it on!  Everyone likes to be the one to share something interesting with their circle of friends.  It’s up to you to give them something to share.

“Stand By Your Brand”

Stand By Your Brand

 

“Make   one point.”

“Make   it simply.”

“Make   it something worth listening to.”

Sounds easy, doesn’t   it? Find out what people want and give it to them. A recipe for success!   Unfortunately, most radio stations are anything but simple. In my travels as   a consultant, it’s amazing the number of stations that make listeners jump   through hoops to listen. Too much ‘clutter’ in stop sets and too many   positioners. Confusion for the listener is a recipe for disaster!

We need to start   thinking of our listeners as “customers.” The better we’re able to   understand how our listeners “consume” our product, the better   we’ll be able to market, package and produce a product acceptable to the   marketplace. In essence, programmers need to become ‘brand managers’ of their   radio stations.

We live in an over   communicated society. For a radio station to succeed in such a crowded   environment, the station must create a position in the listener’s mind. That   position must take into account not only your station’s own strengths and   weaknesses, but those of the competition as well. When we think of computers,   most people think of IBM. But IBM didn’t invent the computer. Sperry-Rand   did. IBM was the first company to build a computer position in the mind of   the consumer. Radio needs to do the same thing! Build a position in the   listener’s mind that you’re a station with instant top-of-mind awareness.

Two types of   customers

Radio is unique in   that it has two types of customers; listeners and advertisers. Most companies   don’t suffer from that phenomenon. Their customers are their customers. Radio   has to ‘sell’ it’s product to listeners on a daily basis. As the marketplace   becomes even more fragmented with iPods, Internet radio, mp3’s, CD’s,   satellite and now HD radio, it’s the “brands” that people remember—the   thing that makes it comfortable for people to go out and buy or listen to.

The radio dial is   filled with more choices than ever before. Listeners are consuming our   product on a daily basis. You better be able to stand out in the crowd! The primary   reason to create a great product is to create great revenue. The better the   product serves and entertains the target listener, the better the opportunity   to increase ratings and revenue!

Building Brand   Loyalty

Brand loyalty is the   Holy Grail for all brand marketers. It’s a lot of hard work to establish and   maintain that relationship. There is a reward, and it’s given to radio   stations that develop a successful consumer product relationship with the   listener. As programmers, we need to connect with people and develop a sense   of ‘satisfaction’ the listener can embrace. We need to know and understand   listeners’ beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of our station. We’re supposed   to be in the entertainment business; let’s capture their imagination. Be Creative!  

Entertainment   Value

Most of the ‘fun’ has   gone out of the radio business. It’s become too homogenized, formulated and   computerized, not to mention centralized. Radio needs to bring back the ‘art’   and ‘fun’ radio once enjoyed. That all plays into building a brand:

1. To create a brand   we must create a unique brand identity communicating your benefits.

2. Once the identity   is established, we need to build awareness of that brand.

3. Create ‘brand   loyalty.’

 

Brands live in a   highly competitive world. A brand may stand apart, but rarely does it stand   alone. Your brand needs to push against commonality, driving a wedge between   itself and your competitors. You must become a category of one. Miller   Brewing accomplished this by hitting on a unique brand concept: “Tastes   Great, Less Filling.” Miller Lite found a way to appeal to the rational   and emotional sides of beer drinkers at the same time: only Miller Lite could   claim to be lower in calories (rational) while offering the taste beer   drinkers wanted (emotional). Your radio station needs to accomplish the very   same thing.

Over-Simplify Your   Message The most effective approach to take in our over communicated society   is the over-simplified message. Less is more. We need to sharpen our message   to cut through the clutter. Jettison the ambiguities, simplify the message,   and then simplify it even more. That way, you’ll make a long-lasting   memorable impression. Do you really think listeners believe we’re playing   “a better mix of music?” Better than what, my iPod?

Drop the things you   can’t brag about. Do what you do best, forget about the rest. Cut the crap   and focus on making your strengths stronger! Stop insulting your listener   with meaningless phrases they don’t believe. Relate to your audience. Find   out what your strengths are and master them. Doing so builds a solid   reputation and a following. Become known for doing great work in some area   rather than good work in a lot of areas.

You Look Marvelous

It’s important to   come up with a signature style. Producer Phil Spector was sought out in the   60’s by the Beatles and Rolling Stones for his unique “Wall of   Sound.” His track record included producing such hits as “Be My   Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by creating a   dense, complex, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” type of sound. He   mastered what he did and people wanted to work with him.

Come up with a strong   theme. Do your best to be entertaining, thought-provoking and memorable.   Develop bits that the audience will enjoy and remember. This will become your   signature that no one in your market will be able to copy. Listeners don’t   know what they like but like what they know. Brand yourself in a way the   audience can relate and embrace, and that recipe for disaster will soon be   the ingredient for success!

About Gary Begin

About.

Gary Begin, the founder and president of Sound Advantage Media, possesses over thirty years of radio programming experience. Begin’s programming and on-air experiences have included diverse markets such as Tampa and Sarasota, FL, Providence, RI, Saginaw, MI, Hagerstown, MD, Columbus, GA, Portland and Waterville, ME.
Begin attended Dean College in Franklin, MA and has continued to enhance his skills with regular attendance at many programming seminars. In addition to Sound Advantage Media, Begin also owns Gary Begin Voice Talent, providing voice talent services for clients all across the United States.

What We Offer
Sound Advantage Media provides full-service programming, marketing/branding, promotions, research and operational guidance to radio stations throughout the United States and around the world. We have professional consulting expertise in all adult radio formats.

Sound Advantage Media’s goal is to boost your listener numbers and keep them listening longer, increasing your revenue and ROI. Your competition is smart. YOU need to be smarter. Solutions designed for “your needs.”

We put our money where our mouth is: Sound Advantage Media offers a FREE initial consultation. Contact us now:

GBegin@SoundAdvantageMedia.com (731) 437-0536

Testimonials
“Gary has written five or six very informed articles for us, with topics including programming, ratings, positioning and branding strategies. His consultancy also specializes in formatics, talent coaching, station monitoring, recruitment, market and audience research, station critiques and promotions. I look forward to his insights on those subjects as well…!”
–Carl Marcucci, Radio Business Report, rbr.com

“Gary’s sensiitivity to what radio needs in approach to programming, especially now with all the varied competition for listeners’ time, is exactly what’s needed by station owners and managers in the current climate. He has a sharp sense of what can make “go to” programming for stations that are currently underperforming. Gary knows the importance of local programming, how to develop fresh programming and how to strengthen current programming… all the ingredients that radio will need to have a viable future”
–Steve Bianchi, 99.3 WJZS-FM, wadk.com/993wjzs

“I just wanted to take a few minutes to show my appreciation for your writing submissions to the Radio-Info.com website. For us, it is important to include the many different voices from our industry in our features, and your perspective on radio has been both expertly written and well received by readers. Your knowledge of radio and ability to communicate your ideas to the readers, always makes for informative and entertaining reading. I’ve gathered all your stories you’ve written for us, along with your author feature page, here:
http://www.radio-info.com/about/guest-writers/gary-begin
Thank you again for you submissions. Your writing is always welcome at Radio-Info.com.”
–Dana Hall, Executive Editor, Radio-Info.com/In3media, inc., radio-info.com

Gary is on top of today’s changes and updates in all areas of programming. He gets the job done!”
–Bill Hennes, President, Bill Hennes Media Consultant