What Did We Do Wrong?
November 15, 2013
By John Frost
Goodratings Strategic Service
How many radio engineers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: It can't be done.
Guess what accountants talk about at the accountants' convention?
What do you reckon' they talk about at the annual plumbers and pipe fitters' Local 562 hootenanny? (By the way if you Google 'plumbers and pipe fitters' you get 269,000 results).
We're no different. We radio folk are radio-centric. Everything revolves around us.
Why did the ratings go down? It must have been something WE did.
What did the ratings go up? Well, certainly it WAS something we did. Our egos don't let us consider that a family of four meter panelists may have simply returned from two weeks to see grandma.
Real people call it REAL LIFE. We radio folks don't like that. That makes us feel like we're not in control. We don't like the fact that life doesn't revolve around radio.
At the Willow Creek Leadership conference recently Dr. Henry Cloud shared how the brain begins to change when we're in circumstances we feel are beyond our control, like a ratings slump or a fundraiser that mysteriously missed its mark.
Three things can happen:
Personal. It's YOUR fault. You blame yourself and get stuck in searching for real solutions. The ratings are down. It must have been something we did.
Pervasive. You transfer that negative filter from a specific circumstance to 'everything is bad'. This distracts you from the real problem to solve.
Permanent. It will always be this way.
It's important to keep in mind that real people have real lives. Only when our radio stations become connected to those real lives and the things they already care that we have a chance to be meaningful.
Even Arbitron, the very company whose system allows for a handful of meter holders to determine the fate of a radio station, says the answer is "focus on branding first."
Branding is simply the process of communicating how your station's purpose connects with your listeners' needs.