September 30, 2014
DMR/Interactive SVP/Marketing Strategy Catherine Jung knows first-hand the significant role radio plays in the lives of the audience. By continuing to focus on proven fundamentals, the company's main goal is to help stations connect and engage with those who matter most to their ratings and revenue. Sometimes this also means challenging a client to move beyond their comfort zone in an effort to achieve new levels of success. A trusted partner and advocate for radio, here's how Jung views the current business climate and how radio can optimize its marketing prowess.
What were you doing before you decided to form DMR/Interactive?
I joined the marketing firm Harte Hanks right out of college and quickly gravitated towards their media division.
Describe the radio business environment in 1987 and what you originally hoped DMR/Interactive would accomplish.
It's easy to look back and think about "the good old days," but radio had plenty of challenges and opportunities, just like today. It just depends what you want to focus on.
As far as goals for DMR/Interactive, we believed there was an opportunity for radio to replicate its relationship with key listeners off the air by directly connecting with them on a one-to-one basis. That ability to efficiently recruit and engage the right households and businesses quickly became our calling card. Decades later, we are still helping clients win by focusing on those who matter most to ratings and revenue.
Did DMR hit it off right off the bat, or was there an adjustment period before radio stations realized it needed what you were offering?
Back then, stations threw money at nearly anything with very little understanding of what worked. Our focus early on and today, was on ROI rather than bells and whistles. The stations that shared that perspective were powerful clients for us then and continue to lead the industry today.
How did the radio consolidation in the '90s change the way you felt radio should best be marketed?
Consolidation has transformed our industry, but it didn't change why people listen to radio or how they interact with their favorite stations and personalities. Even with the PPM rollout six years ago, the deep-dive we did with Arbitron (now Nielsen) and the respondent level data provided more clarity into who matters most to the ratings and how they behave over time.
Understanding these fundamentals at a deeper level including listener loyalty and switching behavior validated our marketing strategy and approach for stations: engage those who matter most to ratings and revenue consistently. And focus on unique ways to surprise and delight your super fans and amplifiers.
How did the digital revolution of the '00s, with the mainstreaming of the Net and smartphones, change the way radio stations should market themselves?
The options we have for helping stations market themselves has never been better or more accountable. With our leading data analytics practice, we can monitor, score and build relationships with current and prospective listeners in ways that I couldn't have dreamed of just 15 years ago. With that said, the value proposition stations offer has to be clear, concise, compelling, and personal or else it will get overlooked by consumers who are surrounded with messages 24/7.
What's the biggest or most common marketing mistake radio stations make these days?
Radio's best listeners spend 90% of their lives away from the radio and today there are more digital platforms and choices than ever before. We're not in the broadcasting business; we're in the relationship business.
Instead of talking about common mistakes, let's reframe it as common opportunities missed. Two common opportunities missed:
- Targeting too broadly. Some stations are focused on driving more cume instead of the right cume. With limited marketing dollars, stations consistently maximize their ROI by engaging and targeting those who matter most: in-demo, heavy radio users (panelists/diary keepers) in the Hot ZIPs and at work where significant consumption happens.
- Messaging that's not relevant to their lives, by being too focused on the brand. People are busy. The message needs to convey a clear value proposition
Building relationships looks very different than a one-size fits all message to the market. Sure, you may start with one clear message, targeting a core group of those who matter most (including PPM panelists and diarykeepers), but as listeners interact with your brand and you identify and track them. You can have more specific and personalized conversations with those core listeners, while you continue to build the brand and recruit more listeners.
As a result, station marketing should focus on reaching and engaging the diary keepers and PPM panelists who are heavy radio listeners. These relationships with the audience are a competitive advantage against online platforms.
What are the best ways to determine the effectiveness of a marketing campaign? It can't be as simple as better marketing = better ratings, can it?
Ratings are an important barometer, but should not be the only measure. It's the one area with methodology, sampling, etc. you cannot control. But you can control your product and the marketing. So tracking other targeted touch points during your campaign such as number of listeners activated, amplifier sharing, streaming, social and digital engagement can also be important barometers of success.
I like to think about the life of the target listener. Regardless of format, listeners are rarely more than a couple of months away from a significant change in their lifestyle and what's most important, a change in their daily routine. When those predictable changes occur (kids in school, holidays, sports seasons, etc.), their listening patterns often change, too. How many people listen to different music when their kids aren't in the car? As a result, it's worth evaluating how your marketing is helping you retain and recruit the most valuable Nielsen households throughout the year.
How much time do you need to gauge the effectiveness of a marketing campaign?
When you are capturing data as part of the marketing campaign and getting to know the best members of your audience by name, you can start evaluating the impact right away. Balancing the need for short-term results with the revenue impact of consistent marketing is one of the favorite things I get to do.
After all, if the marketing spikes the ratings but once the campaign ends, the numbers drop right away, the sales team can't monetize it. Consistent growth means that stations get to command a premium.
What are the most effective ways to establish a strong brand?
It starts with being surrounded by people who love what they do. It's important to have a clear value proposition and to be authentic as a brand consistently both internally and externally, but if you don't love what you do, it won't last. In that regard I continue to be very fortunate.
Is there anything you can do to build that strong brand sooner rather than later?
If you have a compelling message and share it with the right people, you can quickly gain traction in the market. In the case of radio, we're lucky. We don't need to spend our time and money reaching everyone. Even in a market with the luxury of a 20-share station, that means 80% of people still aren't listening. As a result, by focusing on the few who matter most, good things happen.
Best of all, our clients have a product listeners want to engage with. Our opportunities are endless in acknowledging, surprising and delighting, motivating, setting the mood, and delivering exceptional connections with our listeners.
How does one repair a tarnished or stale brand?
Station branding and positioning could be a conversation unto itself, but I think the station leadership team needs to have an honest conversation about what's going on and whether it's a short-term blip or a long-term challenge. If it's a tired brand, often times, an outside programming consultant and a good research team can help a station take a step back and evaluate their options.
Obviously, social media is a huge platform for marketing. But what's the best way to optimize it and use it to complement the traditional marketing of a radio station?
For many stations, social media can operate in its own silo, especially if a digital broadcast division runs those assets and has goals and targets separate from ratings. However, the key is to have an integrated marketing strategy that identifies how each platform can be utilized. Then you align it to your resources and assets, so it's seamless to the listener and delivers various content best suited for a particular platform of communication -- while always thinking about core listeners and what matters most to them.
- First, really understand how your core listener uses each platform and determine how your brand can enhance that experience.
- Second, customize the messaging and engagement opportunities to your core listener and that platform.
- Thirdly, monitor and track it. What's working ... what can you expand on?
- Fourth and most importantly: Acknowledge your audience! If they are asking questions and making comments, please respond. Show them you care. It's all about relationships.
There are radio station owners and GMs who complain that digital platforms don't generate a decent ROI. In that light, how do you accurately monitor the success of a digital marketing campaign?
There's a lot of truth to the line "traditional dollars for digital dimes" because finite inventory has become infinite in the digital world. As a result, it's important that radio compares ROI properly for digital.
For us, we've been doing digital campaigns for almost 10 years and it starts with clearly identifying the objectives. Once the goals are set and the campaign begins, we are optimizing the campaign against the target ad groups, the messaging and the outcomes every day to ensure we are good stewards of our client's resources.
Where do you see DMR and marketing in general evolving in the future?
The concept of Big Data generates a lot of headlines, but I believe data will allow many more companies to be in the relationship business. That's why it's important that radio stays a step ahead. Radio can leverage their relationships with listeners in more powerful way when they know who they are by name and interest.
We have consistently invested heavily in our data analytics practice, which allows us to help clients take anonymous data such as texting or station streams and get to know them by name. The mix of marketing platforms and components that we use during a marketing campaign might look different in 5-10 years, but our focus of engaging those who matter most won't change.
What kind of challenges have you set for yourself, personally, and for DMR as a business?
DMR/Interactive constantly scores the quality of our performance, much in the same way an airline measures on-time departures and arrivals. This campaign tracking score ensures we can evaluate our performance and continue to exceed our client's expectations.
We also continue to innovate and evolve the core offerings we provide customers. Always building from the strength of our strategy to deeply understand the core user and what matters most to her, connect and engage with her in all the places and ways she lives her life ... and when she raises her hand, get to know and engage her. So the channels that are hyped the most may or may not be proven. We're fortunate to have a curious team of talented pros involved with our product development pipeline to test and vet far more initiatives than we ever end up offering.
For myself, I am fortunate to have spent my life in Cincinnati, so my goals away from work revolve around my large family and friends. I want to surprise and delight them more often. The interests of those around me continue to evolve and change, so staying engaged with what matters to them helps me make a small difference in their lives.