Are You Attuned to Their Reality?
January 19, 2015
When you spend the day thinking about a radio station’s programming and the possible tweaks that might impact the ratings positively, it’s easy to lose sight of how little most consumers know about the radio stations they listen to and how little they think about them. If you take a moment to notice the myriad things around you â€“ things you use or interact with every day â€“ that have had great time and attention put into them, that you think about roughly never...you begin connecting with how consumers regard the radio.
The desk. The desk chair. The soda can. Everything around you that humans have created has had tremendous amounts of time poured into them. When they work well, we rarely give them any thought or appreciation whatsoever. Water comes out of the spigot in the kitchen just fine â€“ but we never stop to think about the huge effort that went into collecting, treating and getting the water to the spigot. Well done, water company. The lights came on when you flipped the switch. Nicely generated and delivered, power company.
In our consumer bubbles we rarely notice the things around us unless they’re not working well or not pleasing us. When you think about it, why would we?
He started the car this morning and the radio came on. He didn’t even specifically decide to turn on the radio. It came on with the car. If the sounds coming out of the speakers don’t please him quickly, he’ll push station selection buttons until something better comes out of the speakers â€“ or until he chooses to settle for the least objectionable alternative. It’s likely that he never consciously gave thought to any part of the interaction.
She got to her desk, started her computer, turned on the radio she’s had there for years and went off in search of a cup of coffee. Later, she may notice unhappily that a song she never really liked is playing for a second or third time this week and she’ll feel compelled to tune to another station. Or, she may hear a new favorite and sing along with the chorus absent-mindedly. But, again, there’s little conscious thought, if any at all, involved in the process.
A wise manager compared programming a radio station to painting a picture on the side of a truck in motion. The picture will never be finished. People will only see it for fleeting moments as it goes by, without appreciating the effort that went into it. And the best you can hope for is that the person driving the truck â€“ the GM or senior manager â€“ will drive smoothly.
In the old days of auditorium music tests we watched respondents change their mind on their favorite or most-listened-station between the time they checked in and when they entered the meeting room to participate in the test. When selecting one station in favor of another costs nothing at all, it’s easy to change â€“ often.
Since we aren’t likely to get consumers to think very much about radio, it’s critical that radio thinks a great deal about consumers and how to continue to ingratiate itself into their lives. In the face of rapidly-multiplying listening options, radio has to be more attuned to the lives of its listeners than ever before. When the consumer isn’t just choosing which station to listen to, but instead which source to listen to, radio needs to bring her not only great music, but that certain something that makes her feel great every time she listens. That certain something will be different for every station, but we’ll find it only by mindfully watching ratings data, carefully-controlled experimentation and researching attitudes and opinions beyond “which station is getting better lately?”