Just To The Left Or Right Of You
May 1, 2012
Some of the best advice I was ever given happened many years ago while I was the Operations Manager at K92 in Roanoke, VA. Our morning show, Mo and Sally, would invite a graphologist on-air every few months to analyze the listeners' handwriting and uncover what it said about them.
The segment always had a huge response as she revealed personality traits and key points for an individual to consider based on a sentence written in cursive and faxed in to the station.
She would look for clues around how the writing was slanted, the way someone crossed a T, or dotted an I, and so on. The result was always surprising for the people being analyzed because it usually showed them a side of their character that was in a blind spot or unconscious -- and when she essentially held up the mirror in front of them, you could hear the "a-ha" moment come to life.
I never intended to be part of the show that day, but I had left a note for them about a contest or some other programming matter, and as I entered the control room to simply say good morning, she quickly pointed to me and asked, "Is that him...?"
With only minutes before the next segment, she looked at me with my note in hand and said something I have never forgotten. She advised me that my handwriting showed that I spend so much time looking forward, but the answer lies just to the left or right of me.
I was thinking about that story because of what I believe is a similar problem for the radio industry.
There is no question that we have so many smart, talented individuals throughout each company and station who absolutely get it. However, in my experience over the past couple of years, getting to visit many markets, attend the various conventions, and so on ... here's the problem: I believe a majority of people in roles to make a difference and move things forward are still looking at true integration as something still out there in the future.
There is no question that transactional business still rules for most radio stations and companies, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be investing now to build a solid foundation around sales training, new hiring practices, integrated solutions and overall culture building that will prepare you for when the coin turns very quickly.
Look at what's happening "out there" and you'll see agency growth at 11% in 2011, driven mainly by digital, which was up almost 18%! Examine Google, which is now going to radio and offering their AdWords as a solution to help sales team with integrated campaigns for local clients. There's no question they see the value in not hiring people in this area, but having our many feet on the street introducing their products to brands and businesses.
Most companies have many assets that can be integrated now to provide a tremendous ROI for our brands and clients. But we must stop looking at this as something that will be a priority in the future and realize that the answer is just to the left or right of you, waiting to be activated fully right now.
Let's change the culture and use our databases, social pages, airwaves, events, people and amazing ideas to wake up and show the world what real integration is all about. Not in a silo style fashion, as most think about it today, or simply trying to re-purpose content across many touchpoints. It all has to work together in an intelligent way to deliver the right results.
I so believe the industry is due for that one big idea or campaign that gets everyone to look at it through fresh eyes, where they'll see our signature and uncover what I've known for over 25 years -- we are really great at local, real-time, personality and "a-ha" moments that truly matter.
We simply forgot that the answer was not in front of us, but just to the left or right ... and when we put both sides together, people will discover the magic of stereo all over again.