Times Are A Changing

31 10 2013

dashboardMaybe I should have used the title – Habits Are A Changing instead.  You see, I work in the radio industry and I spent the last 2 weeks in two different cities for two very different reasons and only one of which I will talk about in this blog.

My first stop was for a 2-day conference in Detroit, Michigan called the DASH Conference.  Why on earth would any one in their right mind attend a conference in the Motor City?   A city that earlier in the Summer filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. History?  Because it’s the motor city.  Home of the automobile.  The capital of innovation for the dashboard.  In attendance at this conference were car manufacturers, a few car dealers, radio broadcasters, media agencies, internet radio, technology and electronic companies.

The entire conference was planned, orchestrated and executed by the radio industry.  Now I have been to many a conference in my 14 year radio tenure and have seen plenty of ostriches with their heads in the sand.  I can say that there were no ostriches at this gathering. How refreshing to see that the majority of people in the room FINALLY, and collectively acknowledge that things are changing rapidly for radio and our average listener’s consumption habits.

Let’s begin with the catalyst for the exponential change we are seeing – mobile devices. Mobile devices have changed everything about our lives. They are able to provide us with content, when, where, and how we want it and they have changed and raised the expectation level of every other electronic gadget in existence – including the automobile. The expectation for connectivity in the car from a consumer standpoint is exponential. We want to be able to consume content nestled inside our mechanical cockpit on 4 wheels and we want it to be at the touch of a fingertip or upon the sound of our voice.

So what happens to radio? Well, for starters, it won’t be called radio in the future. Calling it radio will date you. The in-dash hardware once called a radio will be called something more encompassing such as a content management system (CMS), or car-puter, or a name yet to be dreamed up. The sound that once emanated from our car speakers and once called radio, will just be audio. Audio that competes with many more audio platforms within the dash.  Radio or should I say broadcast audio, will be an icon, or an app – an election within this new “infotainment” area where many more content choices live.

Currently, broadcast radio dominates all listening (92.4%)* with Pandora Radio (4.4%)** and Internet Radio (excludes Pandora, includes AM/FM station streams at 3.2%)** rounding out the remainder of the pie. Hands down, radio reaches more people and serves up more ad impressions than its closest competitor (Broadcast Radio – 3.7 trillion ad impressions vs. Pandora Radio’s 66.2 billion). But as cars get smarter and the connected car becomes the norm and not the exception, I again ask – what happens to this beautiful invention called broadcast radio?

While the DASH conference is a few years late in taking place in my opinion, at least it did happen. Kudos to the brain trust that pulled this conference off. And like any conference before this one…it isn’t just about what you learned while you were there. Your main focus should be on what you do with what you learned and how can it be used as a springboard to take broadcast audio where it needs to get in order to be a formidable future player.

I’m suggesting radio broadcasters move in with car manufacturers. We’ve all heard about extended families and how single family homes in many cases are multi-family dwellings now. I’m specifically talking about crawling in bed between the car and electronics manufacturers and creating a love child. If we don’t get close to them now and become part of the planning and conversations about the automobile dashboard, our future will become more challenging. I said challenging – not extinction. We absolutely have no time to sit on our laurels – we must collaborate and innovate.

Radio must take its best attributes and make certain they are a part of the DNA (gene pool) making up the future automobile dashboard. What I kept hearing over and over at the conference was that LIVE and LOCAL will be what brings listeners back when they tire of Pandora, Satellite or iTunes. But, that LIVE and LOCAL needs to include on-air talent that are recognizable, have ties with the community, who drive listeners to action, who have engaging content to share on-air and on-line, and who provide bullet-proof companionship. What will be less memorable and magnetizing to a listener will be syndicated shows and radio stations that focus on just the music. After all, you can get all varieties of music in the connected car – thousands of songs, artists and genres. Content will also be forced to extend beyond just audio and be a touch away for the listener.

Broadcast audio has a bright and exciting future in the connected car if we can become publishers and shed our one-dimensional “station” skins. Our localness and great content will keep us relevant. We have to also remember that the end user will determine if our content is worthy. We won’t get to make all the choices – the consumer is in charge, and we have to be great at everything.

*RADAR 115 (Dec 2012, for period Oct 11 – Sep 12
** RADAR 115 (for period Oct 11 – Sep 12); Triton Digital Audio Top 20, Oct 11 – Sep 12;


When Your MOJO Is M.I.A.

9 07 2013

mojo-sdkIf you’ve ever been to the horse races, it wouldn’t take many visits to notice that thoroughbreds don’t run every day.  As a matter of fact, they run every 7-10 days at best.  Stop and think for a minute how that formula might work in everyday life.  We probably wouldn’t get much accomplished, now would we?

In the real world, we are expected to perform like thoroughbreds every day.  Bring our “A” game to the table and have laser focus.  But again, I say that is the expectation.  The reality is that sometimes we don’t have the same intensity day in and day out.  Whether it is a negative environment, a business deal gone sour or personal issues, nothing seems to be going right, you don’t feel like you’re growing and your mojo feels distant.

Who’s responsibility is it to bring us out of this funk?  Does that job fall on our friends, spouse, co-workers, relative or boss?  Honestly, these people can help us realize what is important, only as an individual can we really impact the results.

So how do you motivate yourself when your mojo is M.I.A.?  First, begin by understanding that this is a natural experience to go through and one that needs to be the exception and not the rule.  At the end of the day, there is personal accountability to inspire and motivate one’s self.  It is not your boss’s job to keep you psyched up every hour of the work day, nor your family or friend’s responsibility outside of the office.

Here are a few things that I do when I feel the anxiety or angst starting to affect my mojo:

  • Breathe…and embrace the fact that I feel a rut coming on.  I don’t fight it as it will make things harder for me.  The faster I try to dig, the deeper the hole might get.  If I don’t battle it, it will not gain more power over me.
  • Get Clear On My Vision – Truly visualize what it is I am hoping to achieve.   I focus on what needs to be done and helping others that rely on me to achieve their goals.  Without a clear vision, it will be one distraction after another.
  • Focus on one element of a project, complete that and move on from there.  Don’t make a huge list of to-do’s for yourself.  Even more angst and failure.
  • I work out and I don’t mean a stroll to the fridge and back.  I do cardio, weight, and core work every day.  I can’t imagine not having exercise as an outlet.  Things are a heck of a lot easier to tackle and look much different to me after a work out.
  • Examine my perspective.  I try not to hold onto an old perspective.  I try to watch how others look at things in order to help myself.
  • I make an extra effort to steer clear of the whiners and associate more with the people I view as winners.
  • Review my past successes and remind myself of the good things that I’ve achieved and that my next success is around the corner
  • I try to not procrastinate and associate pain with what might be the obstacle in my path.  (I’ve improved significantly on this one)

I can honestly say that I avoid many a rut by implementing the above.  I have the discipline necessary to stay on track.  At the end of the day, discipline is merely the motivation to stick with something.  That ongoing motivation is what keeps the proper level of mojo in place and allows me the ability to do my best work personally and professionally.

Are You Doing What It Takes To Become Indespensable?

8 07 2013

indesBe a change agent.  Differentiate or die.  Change for the sake of change.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those phrases or similar lines.  One thing is certain – change is inevitable.  Our world is changing faster than the speed of light and if we don’t change along with it, we will be obsolete in our professional lives.

Regardless of what field you are in, you are being affected by technology in some way.  For the most part, companies are becoming leaner, more efficient, and learning to thrive with less people.  Gone are the folks close to retirement who took the buy out.  Ousted are the individuals resistant to change.  Few are the people still around that are clinging to the way things were done in the past and wondering how much longer the unacceptable will be acceptable.

Trust me, my intent is not to bum you out.  These are exciting times we live in and we have so many ways at our fingertips in which to ensure that we flourish and our futures are bountiful.  But we have to work harder on our special powers…that secret sauce that positions us leaps and bounds ahead of our colleagues.  We have to learn to be rain makers regardless of the position we hold, leaders no matter what title we have and artists regardless of the type of work we do.  And if that weren’t enough, we must consistently over achieve and raise the bar of expectation placed on us.

How do we go about doing that?  There are hundreds of ways and my formula will be different from yours and yours will be different from someone else’s.  No two ways will be identical.

Here are seven simple “habits” that I have adopted:

1.  Arrive early and stay late.  This shows you are dedicated to your job or you don’t have a life.  I actually do have a life, but have a lengthy commute to and from the office.  I have little patience for traffic and choose to miss it both coming and going.  I also LOVE the early mornings before my colleagues show up. That sacred “me time” where I am able to get things off my list that will create the clearest path for the remainder of my day.

2.  Make the company more money.  There are 2 ways to be successful with this one.  Figure out ways to increase revenues or save the company money.  If you can do both, all the better!

3.  Demonstrate leadership.  It doesn’t matter what title you have within a company, you can step up and be a leader.  Take charge, assume ownership, lead by example.  Oh, and take on the responsibilities no one else wants to do.

4.  Be fully present.  Only take a sick day or a personal day when you absolutely need to do so.  Rest assured, there is always someone keeping track of your attendance.

5.  Self-Education.  If you’re not regularly reading about industry, trends in trade, business publications, podcasts, articles on leadership, self-improvement or studying the habits of established successful people, you’re compromising your career growth.  Staying current, and being able to apply your learned knowledge demonstrates your understanding and place within the industry.

6.   Prioritize.  Many people have paralysis by analysis…you know, the to do list that never gets shorter.  It is so easy to add things to your to-do list, but just as critical to know what to take off.  Good decision making, delegating and prioritization are the signs of an effective leader, regardless of your title and stature within an organization.

7.  Say no to drama.  Don’t get caught up in the office politics.  I must admit that the entertainment value of showing up some days at work is priceless.  But at the end of the day, it takes your eye off of the ball.  If someone starts gossiping to you, take the high road.  Don’t give them the stage to interrupt your important work.  Simply excuse yourself by explaining you have an important project to finish.  This allows you to avoid the gossip without being rude to the gossiper.

Making yourself indispensable is something everyone can do regardless of your position or lot in life.  Our workplace no longer accepts the status quo.   It requires constant growth and change.  Being adaptable, and growing and learning as your company changes and evolves.  If you aren’t growing you are becoming obsolete.

At the end of the day, you are doing one of two things:  You are either working to make yourself indispensable or you’re working to make yourself obsolete.

The choice is entirely yours.

I’m Ready To Be An Adult Now

29 06 2013

job-huntI recently read an article where the  US Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that one out of every two Millennials—age 18 to 32–is either unemployed or under-employed equating to approximately 80 million people (there are actually more Millennials than Baby Boomers).  After spending the past 3 weeks interviewing some young folks for a couple of job openings within my department (all of which relate to marketing and brand management), I can honestly say that there are multiple reasons why junior is living in your basement at age 25.

The recurring theme was a lack of preparation, an incomplete understanding of what the job entailed, and the inability to think creatively on short notice when asked basic marketing questions.   But the biggest shocker of all was the lack of personal investment in themselves.  Only a couple read books, were on Linkedin or had the desire to read on-line content relevant to marketing, social media, self-help or success.  Where did we drop the ball with young people?  Why haven’t more established professionals and/or teachers taken these youngsters aside and explained to them about the real world where it isn’t always who you know and you can’t have the expectation that you’ll be able to ride someone else’s coattails and score a job.

There was even one candidate that said they were ready to be an adult now and if they were chosen for this job they would go the extra mile to invest in themselves and stay on top of the ever changing world of marketing or any field for that matter.

Here is what I look for in a candidate during a job interview:

  • Appearance
  • Verbal presentation skills
  • College education – I am more concerned that you have a degree than specifically what the degree is in.  Show me you can keep commitments, stay the long haul and not be a quitter by neglecting to finish your degree.
  • Have you done your homework on my company and the job you are interviewing for?  Did you find an inside coach to help you?  Have you thoroughly combed our website, made yourself familiar with the brand or product and thought of ways we could benefit from having you on board?
  • Have you tried to do research on me or the individual interviewing you?
  • Can you think on your feet with tough questions?  Go ahead, I encourage you to Google tough marketing interview questions and get comfortable answering the uncomfortable.
  • Do you invest in your self?  Meaning do you read books that will help you grow in the field you want to work in?  Do you study successful people?  What about Car University?  All of this is at your fingertips on the internet, just waiting for you to consume it.
  • Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and how are you using each platform?
  • Do you send a hand-written thank you note after the interview?

Here is my advice while you are job hunting:

  • Start establishing  a powerful personal brand independent of your work experience. Pursue your own aspirations and learn how to define them and market them to the corporate world.
  • Take advantage of being a digital native and learn as much as you can with the tools at the tip of your fingertips.
  • Rethink your social media presence.  If you come to work for me, social proof is critical    Ditch the party photos and all the liquor brands you LIKE and avoid the drunken tweets. Turn your public social media presence into a showcase of your personal brand and portal of interests and skills. Connect the dots for me and demonstrate how I can’t possibly live without you on my team.
  • Be unusual and memorable.
  • Show you have a big and growing network that comes with you when you get hired.

And, whether you’ve graduated from college or never went at all, never stop learning. The Web is filled with tons of information and on-line courses.

At the end of the day, I’m looking for moldable, adaptable, resilient people who can be mentored for current positions as well as jobs that don’t exist yet.  That same person who might have made my drink at Starbucks this morning or cleared my dirty dishes at dinner last night.

Sales 101 – The Most Successful Sales People Do Their Homework

31 05 2013


The majority of my week is spent in one of three ways:

  1. Sitting in front of clients uncovering needs or finding that one big, hairy, problem that keeps them awake at night
  2. Brainstorming ideas with Media Sales Reps that addresses needs they’ve uncovered while meeting with clients or prospects
  3. Crafting ideas to use as valid business reason to secure that initial appointment

You see, I am in the relationship marketing and management business.  It is my job to come up with creative ways to assist business owners in moving their customers up the ladder of loyalty using a myriad of integrated marketing tactics that could include radio, digital, mobile, video, social, experiential marketing or a combination of the aforementioned in addition to numerous others.

Today, we have many ways to research a client and their business versus years ago when it was limited to print, networking, and (if you were lucky),  a little bit of data from the internet’s infancy.
Here is the process I use the majority of the time:  Prior to sitting down with a client or the sales rep that calls on them, I do my own independent research on the client’s business.  My research always starts with an organic search within that client’s business category on Google.  For example, if the client’s business category was furniture, I would Google St. Louis Furniture Stores.  Then I would check for the following:

  • Did this client’s business show up?  If so, were they on page one?
  • Did any paid search show up at the top of the listings?
  • How about their Facebook page, did it appear in an organic search result?

Next, I follow the same process but actually use their business name (example:  Fabio’s Fine Furniture) in my organic search.  I go through the same drill as with the business category search to see where they rank, and what exactly it is that is showing up in the organic search.  At some point, I would spend time with their website, audit their Facebook page (if applicable), check to see if they have any customer reviews or feedback (Yelp, FB, etc…), see if they have been in the news lately for any reason, learn about their origin, their owner, how many locations they have, etc…If at all possible, I would stop into one of their locations if it were a business I had never or infrequently visited.  What about networking?  Are they on LinkedIn?  Better yet, a I connected to anyone that is connected to them.

You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Don’t squander it away by thinking you’re prepared.  Really, REALLY do the research.  I’ve sat in front of enough clients that actually make it a point to thank me and/or the sales rep for being so prepared during the appointment.   Being prepared helps you understand the needs of your client better and gives you a head start with potential solutions to fill the need.  It also sets you way ahead of the competition as you have shown an honest and sincere interest in their business.  Not to mention the confidence you will have during the appointment and the credibility you will build with the attendees.

By doing your homework and researching the client or prospect, you will be well on your way to building a productive relationship.  So I ask you now?  Do you have productive relationships with your current clients?  Do you exercise the same philosophy with prospective clients?  Have you done your homework?

Tip for Successful Local Internet Marketing

5 01 2013


Go Deep.  As advertisers begin to embrace local media web sites as great tools for reaching their customers, the tendency is to go with the big guys.  No doubt that in St. Louis, there are several glaring large sites that local radio competes with.  But, research has shown that you can often reach more local consumers at a lower cost by using a combination of smaller newspaper sites and local radio websites.  An advertiser may find that by doing so, will deliver to them the same number of click thrus or responses at a fraction of the price.

Another important fact to remember about radio station websites is that their site traffic is made up of very station and format passionate individuals.  What I have found with radio is that their best listeners (P1’s) are typically an advertiser’s best customer.

At the end of the day, these websites offer an audience you just can’t reach using the local newspaper or television sites.  Would your business rather be a little fish in a big pond or a big fish in a little pond of engaged, passionate, brand loyal sets of eyeballs with spending power?

Change Doesn’t Discriminate

5 09 2011

I remember all the great stores growing up that couldn’t differentiate themselves enough to survive in our ever changing world.  Stores like Grants, Save-Mart, Kresge, Grandpa’s, Venture, Mohr Value, HQ, Circuit City and Bel-Scot.  If you grew up in the Belleville, Collinsville and/or Fairview Heights, IL area, you are familiar with all these names.

It is pretty ironic as I sit here on Labor Day and write about the demise of yet another chain store – Borders/Walden Books.  A chain that put little to no labor in making the most of what they had.  A BIG BOX store with all the potential in the world, but didn’t adapt to the changing times.

I absolutely LOVED Borders and grew up frequenting Walden Books inside St. Clair Square.  An avid reader who’s prized possession is my rather large book collection.

But I must tell you, Borders trained me to join their book club and never shop them unless I had a 40% off coupon.  Did that run them out of business?  Heavens no!  The amount of mark up in selling books barely caused them to blink an eye at this amount of reduction.

In my opinion, there were several things that led to their demise.

1.  Their on-line shopping experience lacked depth and was no match to Amazon.

2.  They had HUGE square footage in their stores.  This is what really kills me about the fall of the mighty Borders!  With all those think tanks they had to have working for them, why didn’t they utilize their space in a creative way that would make people frequent them more often to be entertained?  Sure, they had a coffee bar and some book signings, but boy oh boy did they miss the boat!  Borders could have made the atmosphere a bit livelier with LIVE music playing in their coffee bars, or a destination for book-group discussions.  What about putting in kitchens and having cooking demostrations around new cookbook releases?  What about having a local chef come in and create a recipe or two in front of a room of time-starved moms?  Same could be said for a small fitness class in the back corner where they could have capitalized on all the bigness of Yoga and Pilates.   Let’s not discount the fact that they were big into BlueRay and they weren’t giving those DVD’s away.  Why not set up a room with surround sound where customers could preview these movies before buying them?

3.  Did they ever get to know their customers?  Obviously not!  Had they have spent more time building that one-on-one relationship with their customers, things might have been different.  I certainly would have been more than happy to participate in a focus group on how to make my Borders experience better.

4.  Did they entrench themselves into their community?  No!  I have worked in the advertising industry for 12 years.  On at least a dozen occasions I approached Borders to partner with me (radio) and a couple other non-competing businesses for events, in-store tie-ins, etc…  All I ever got were deer in headlight looks and Marketing Directors who never had the autonomy to pull the trigger.

4.  They didn’t change with technology.  They sold the one thing (e-readers) that helped seal their fate.  I’m not saying they shouldn’t be in the e-reader business because that is how I and millions of people are consuming  media and books/magazines these days.  What I am saying is they should have insulated themselves by pushing digital downloads and their partnership with Kobo way before 2009.  I have been downloading books and publications since 2002 and I know several years before that you could do it.

I must admit, I haven’t stepped into a Borders for over a year until the last days of their liquidation sale where I purchased several books (souveniers) at 80% off. When I first converted over to 100% digital downloads, I felt like I was cheating on them and it felt good.  Unfortunately, there were millions of others that enjoyed the ease of buying and the experience that apps and digital devices offered much more than trapsing to a boring big box of books.

So long Borders…I truly believe that there could have been a happier ending to this book.

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