Saturday, October 10, 2009

Objectivity & Radio Loyd Ford

Humans are not very good at telling anything about the future and are often so passionately involved in what is happening around them that they lose objectivity. This can especially be true in business. The pressures of profit and progress are hardcore masters. When you add the pressures of economy to that, it can be easy for you and me to see how the leader in any company is tempted to cut corners in an attempt to save their way to progress.

Objectivity is a powerful tool that can help avoid disaster and focus your attention where it is needed most in a crisis. Some leaders in every industry have objectivity as a gift, and most do not. Of these that don’t naturally have the gift of objectivity, the smart ones rely on consultants to help give them important outside and objective perspective. Still, sometimes objectivity is rejected. The pressure of cutting budgets and reducing expenses is too great so they take a chance that they can continue to profit without objectivity. Over time the loss of objectivity leads to the loss of additional product-based ingredients that help companies continue to have success. This is not often seen right away and is often seen only once it is too late to turn the crisis around.

Consider the automotive business in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Would they have continued with an attitude that developed in Detroit in the 1950s that Americans would buy whatever they put out no matter what if they could have seen the troubles of the 1990s and 2000s? Detroit saw Honda and Toyota as non-threats. They believed them to be so out of the mainstream they could never significantly harm their business. In the spiraling decades to come, consumers developed multiple top-quality options to the products of Detroit. This was not an accident. While Detroit flippantly said “they will buy what we tell them to buy,” Toyota and Honda (among others) focused on real quality and put money into research and development and marketing to work toward their very real long-term goal: dominating the American automotive market. How did they do?

While sales of General Motors’ products dropped and they rejected objective influence, Toyota and Honda sales increased. This was no accident either. These foreign companies held to their strategic plan and focused with objectivity toward achieving their goal. They rejected the thought that they were always correct and were constantly open to consumer tastes and the differences between themselves and the Americans they wanted to please so they could capture more of the U.S. market.

As you think about the radio business today, do you think any of the broadcast companies have developed a mentality that they can tell listeners what to listen to at work, at home and at play? Do you feel some broadcasters are doing research, excellent programming and marketing while others are suggesting that does not matter? Are some broadcast companies following the GM model?

Are there other non-broadcast companies developing products listener ears can gravitate toward because of their tastes in music and content and the fact that some stations are lowering the bar of what listeners expect from radio past what some might call “the redline”? Does the radio company you work for today take this seriously and reinvest in their product, their research and development and marketing or push this thinking further and further away saying it does not matter? No one in any business wants to perform without objectivity, but challenges of the day always tempt everyone to take shortcuts to achieve short-term goals.

No one is immune to this temptation.

As the world continues to change and become more connected, broadcast companies in the radio business have a unique opportunity to embrace new media, use their superior connectivity with listeners and grow new businesses and new additional revenue streams. We can do this by super-serving our core listeners and being opportunists. We have opportunity to embrace the things that are driving individuals to new experiences as a companion and make money from them. We have the opportunity to spread influence to others on behalf of our products and new revenue opportunities that can develop out of investment in our own future. However, it requires the same investment all businesses require to continue succeeding. You never know when change is going to come, but it always comes. Being prepared with objective and real strategy to improve and grow is essential for any business that wants to continue to influence and build revenues.

Economic downturns offer change in leadership, change in values and often major competitive reordering. There’s a reason that Lance Armstrong says the uphill part of the Tour de France is where the lead changes.
Loyd Ford is the marketing and ratings strategist with Americalist Media Marketing and has programmed some of the leading country and adult contemporary station in the U.S. While working for Americalist over the last six years, Loyd has developed the FastCUME Tactic™ for Holiday Music Stations and helped radio stations in all market sizes and formats lift ratings and increase value. Americalist Media Marketing continues to help radio stations boost ratings with the Magnet Program™ for PPM and also in diary markets.

Americalist has been helping radio stations build ratings success since 1987. You can join the Facebook group “Social Networking for Radio Stations” to learn more about social networking to help your station. Get your own free e-marketing newsletter (only once a month) by signing up @ You can reach Loyd directly @ 877-475-6864, or on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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