Make A Statement
March 15, 2011
Switch or I'll jump! It was a bold statement on a billboard placed on the side of one of the most visible roadways in town that was guaranteed to be seen by tens of thousands of people.
As a new Country station in Lexington, Kentucky, the goal was to get noticed and generate some buzz quickly -- and boy did it ever.
Just picture a billboard with a radio station logo on the left side and the appearance of a giant rip down the center, where someone had defaced the original message to make room on the right side to spray paint the "Switch" proclamation. And the culprit was sitting on top wearing a station T-shirt and a cowboy hat with the spray can in his hand! It was an act of loyalty, a fan showing their devotion and prepared to commit the ultimate sacrifice so more people would learn about his new favorite station.
Of course, the "fan" turned out to be just a mannequin that was strategically placed there and the spray paint was a font the graphics person had matched perfectly. The campaign did make a statement and plenty of people noticed the billboard and gave our new country station a try.
As the Marketing Director of this new station, I knew our approach had to be different. We would need to shake things up and be unpredictable, because we were battling a giant. Our competitor was the #1 station in town and had owned the Country market in Lexington for years and years. If someone said Country music, 99.9% of the town named this station first. Because of that leadership, we knew that by simply being another choice playing the same music just wouldn't be enough. Listeners already had a Country station that was satisfying their music appetite and they had grown up with it, just as their parents had, too, which made the loyalty factor so strong.
The work was cut out for us and finding an alternative experience was the only chance to make an impact and have a chance to gain fans. We did it by simply being ourselves. Our staff was young, fun and irreverent; we represented the new Country vibe that was starting to take shape and replace the old twang image of the format.
The competitor was a poster boy for the stale Country image -- safe and comfortable, vanilla, non-offensive, keep it simple and "just play the songs people like, kind of" experience. We simply had to magnify the personality of our staff and programming to reinforce being young and fun for others. By marketing the real, authentic vibe happening on the airwaves of the station each day, it wasn't a stretch for people who simply listened for a moment to think that one of our fans would take it upon themselves to spray paint a message on a billboard while sitting on top waving to the vehicles passing by .
Our efforts paid off as many consumers who saw the billboard (and others) sampled the radio station and liked this new choice. It was a very good alternative to simply listening to their favorite music, and they discovered being young and fun made the experience even better. As the buzz grew and more and more people found us, the station grew in ratings and the entire experience came together as we delivered on the promise of simply being ourselves.
The station had successfully carved out its own niche in a place where most people would have said a second Country station would be an impossible task. It even went on to become an even bigger station than the competitor and has maintained that success through today.
Are you focused on the singular idea that is unique to you ... and are you communicating it to the world? The billboard example helps illustrate this idea because you are used to seeing them everyday. Just take a walk, ride a train or drive through your city and you'll see them on the interstates, on the side of buses, on the subway, in the malls and a lot of other places.
The campaigns are designed to grab your attention and make an impact quickly. When you drive by a billboard on the interstate, you see a message, a slogan or statement that sums up what the company or person is all about -- quickly!
You also see or hear other types of billboards each day, too. You hear/say them on the radio, see them on television, and you read them posted on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. It's one of the first things you're asked to do when creating a profile. You give yourself a headline, which is simply a billboard about yourself. Does your statement really sum up who you are and make an impact in 140 characters or less?
If someone was driving through your town and saw a billboard about you, visited your Facebook page or heard it on the radio, what is that one thing that would tell that person about you that captured his or her attention? Would that person instantly be able to know what you stand for because of the clarity you present in one simple statement or headline that is uniquely "you"?
Remember, you only have a few seconds to make an impact. The key here is brutal honestly. If it isn't real and authentic, it will be nothing more than a drive-by. The key is to be yourself and not try to be like someone else. You can't fake it or copycat because this is a reflection of the beliefs, values, integrity, personality, uniqueness and experience of who you are. If you can't keep the promise and if you don't live it everyday, it doesn't belong.
There will be many who may say I'm wrong, but as you look at the sea of messages swimming past you each day, what sticks out? Is it the buzzwords, jargon, trend jockeys and trickery of someone trying to get you to simply click ... or the real, authentic ones who are confident in a purpose that has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with a deeper connection? I'll let you make the choice on which you would "double-click" on.
Try it for yourself, your station and your career; you'll discover a valuable alternative to most who are still wasting time trying to be like everyone else, or they are simply unclear of/or have lost sight of who they really are. It will also be a guarantee for you that others will make the "switch" as they discover you in a clear, authentic, real way, that fill their dashboard ... and is definitely worth jumping for.