Radio’s 5 Customers

“Radio is at the tipping point, and it doesn’t want to know much about the way its customers are changing.”

Joint Communications’ John Parikhal tells Tom Taylor of Radio-Info.com in yesterday’s daily newsletter he’s worried about radio tuning out its listeners:

“Internet companies are checking out the customer six ways to Sunday. But radio will tell you they don’t have the money to research their customer. I truly think we’re at the tipping point, because for any business, you have to know who your customers are. 

For radio, it’s 5 different customers:

#1 – Wall Street or another ‘lender’.

#2 – The advertiser. And radio should focus a lot more on the advertiser, because it has given them very short shrift. The more innovative companies are trying to become the digital and media marketing experts for the local guy, to help them move more product. Their competition is Craigslist and emerging online city directories.

#3 – The FCC, and I sense that radio will be hearing from them within a year.

#4 – The employees. With a few notable exceptions, they have been treated the way no customer should ever be treated. This whirlwind of firings and layoffs has nothing to do with performance, and the message it sends is very negative. People are now very, very wary about making radio a career.

#5 – The listener. But radio thinks ‘all we have to do is keep the listeners we’ve got.’ That’s a fool’s game. You have to grow the pie, and to do that, you need to know more about your listener than their favorite songs or that they like sports on the radio. The listener doesn’t care that radio is in a recession and won’t invest in understanding their changing needs.”

Apple Without Steve Jobs

What is Apple without Steve Jobs?  This unanswered question … caused their stock to take a hit (though it has since recovered a bit)… generated critical editorials, and… now the SEC is investigating whether the Company properly handled disclosures.

This all happened because the market thinks Steve Jobs IS Apple, which means any risk to Jobs is a risk to Apple.

How did Apple get into this situation and what can they do about it?

Steve Jobs is only the most extreme example of what happens when a company builds its brand around one person and doesn’t showcase its “people depth”.

The iconic Steve Jobs was effective in giving Apple a face and a mystique.  But the focus on Jobs took the spotlight off the team that makes Apple great.

Jobs health woes give Apple an honest opportunity to showcase their management depth and their strong team of “up and comers.”

Apple could take a page from GE – which has benefited for years by publicly acknowledging  their succession planning.  And, then making the necessary investments to back up the talk.

So, what can Apple do?  Here are a few suggestions…

1) Take the succession planning exercise seriously.

2) Cultivate and promote a culture of leadership development and sustained investment in building a deep management bench.

3) Make management comfortable with competition by smoothing a path to an appropriate consolation prize for those who don’t take the brass ring.

4) Nurture your relationship with the press – use it to effectively get the new message out about its brilliant team.

This would probably make both Steve Jobs and Apple’s shareholders feel better.  And, it would reassure millions of Apple fans around the world.

How to Price Content

The Lazy Mans Guide to Enlightenment cover

The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment CD

If content is king, how much is the king worth?  And, how do you price him?

Case in point – back in the 1970s, Thaddeus Golas wrote a brilliant book called The Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment.   It was a counter-culture hit and sold for under $4.  Today, this piece of ‘content’ is out of print.

Recently I went looking for it online.  On Amazon, I found 5 copies priced ‘from $38.95’, 14 ‘from $14.63’ and 1 priced ‘from $210’.  That’s quite a range.  I wondered how the sellers determined price point for this ‘content’.  And, I thought all the copies were ridiculously expensive.

So, I looked for a ‘free’ copy online.  And, I found one.  The whole book – free – from the author’s supporters – right from the man himself.

But, wait, there’s more.  The ‘free’ website was selling an audiobook CD of Thaddeus Golas reading his own work.  And, I’m a fan.  I never even knew about the CD.

So, I bought it – for $22.

I bought it because it gave me ‘connection’ to an author I admired.   It was ‘convenient’ – all I had to do was put in my credit card.  I got to hear a voice I had only imagined when I read.

There’s a lesson here for your business in the Web 2.0 world.  Connect with the ‘fan’.  Give them lots of easy points of entry – without asking for them to jump through hoops.  They will give you their loyalty and their money.  They will spread the word – creating more fans.

But they will do it their way, not yours.

And, that’s the 21st Century paradigm shift – which says that the same content can be ‘free’ in one format and $210 in another – and that consumers will have an unprecedented say in how much they pay for it – as well as how they pay for it.

Going forward, pricing is already in a new era, moving from the 20th Century’s ‘manufacturer’s suggested retail’ to the 21st Century’s ‘consumer’s personal value’ price.

As Golas says in his book, ‘Enlightenment doesn’t care how you get there’.

Cover Story: John Parikhal on The Media Fix

John Parikhal

Never one to stand still and accept the status quo, John Parikhal has been a leading-edge thinker in the broad based media markets for over thirty years. As CEO of media strategy company Joint Communications, he has worked with a multitude of clients including TBS, MTV, VH1, XM Radio, Rolling Stone Magazine, Pepsi, Wendy’s, Molson, CBS, NBC, ABC, Time Warner and Radio One, as well as major record companies and radio stations in the United States, Canada and around the world.
In addition to operating Joint Communications, Parikhal has also formed a partnership with global media and entertainment expert Taran Swan who has worked with market leaders Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network over a twenty year media and entertainment career. Earlier this year the two multi-media doctors unveiled their latest venture, The Media Fix blog at http://www.gomediafix.com. It’s a must see site for all media and marketing executives who choose to be actionable in their approach to today’s solutions.

John Parikhal on imagination: If you take the commitment away from imagination, eventually you’ll even lose corporate focus.

e-QB presents excerpts from the NovemberFMQB magazine Cover Story with John Parikhal, CEO, Joint Communications

On the core concept of his new blog The Media Fix… The Media Fix became a way for us to start a dialog around the ongoing critical issues of the Internet, integrating ideas that parallel the broadcast and related fields. It’s not strictly about the digital space. We’re interested in all areas of media and technology focused on this changing world and its effects on the consumer. I’ve always been consumer focused. We want to stay on top of change to anticipate and help companies take effective competitive action while staying connected with the consumer.The Growth Curve is an important part of assessing where a company is and where it will go. Phase 1 in almost every business is the Discovery Phase during which you are figuring things out and investing a lot of time in the process which begins with losing more than gaining. You actually go down the Growth Curve before you go up. Once you discover what is really working you start duplicating the pattern of success. The Phase 2 is the Normative Phase where you duplicate what you have discovered and formatting becomes king. It’s also where you make the most money because of the repetition process. The Phase 3 is to rethink and modify what’s worked for you in Phase 2. It’s critical to the future of your business. You can get trapped in Phase 2 because of consistent success through repetition. However if you’re not thinking ahead and modifying your model, someone else will do it for you which can lead to disaster.

On the “Growth Curve” concept on the site which is an integral part of John’s strategic thinking…

On applying this concept to the radio industry…Radio is rethinking, modifying and innovating a lot these days. Some radio companies are doing really smart and creative things on the Internet. Radio is asking for innovation from their suppliers because they had to. You never really change unless you have to. As you move along the Growth Curve, whether you like it or not, after you make a lot of money duplicating the old pattern, it stops working and everybody always ends up at the rethink and modify stage or else they die.Radio is being innovative but there’s often confusion between innovation and top down initiatives. Top down initiatives are seldom innovative. They are usually the result of a committee meeting and jamming out something that’s sub-optimal but agreeable to all parties. Consolidation was developing managers burdened with too many responsibilities and radio lost its innovative edge.
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The 6 Stages of a Project

The first week of my very first media job, a friend sent me a short list called ‘The 6 Stages of a Project’.  It said that every project goes like this…

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Panic
  4. Search for the Guilty
  5. Punishment of the Innocent
  6. Praise and Enthusiasm for the Uninvolved

It seemed funny at the time, yet over the years, the list seems almost too true – especially when a business initiative or ‘project’ doesn’t go smoothly or when it hits unexpected setbacks.

And, it’s been on my mind lately as unsettled financial markets have generated nervousness in media and digital businesses.  
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Everything Old is New Again

It’s fashionable these days to ignore ‘history’ because it seems irrelevant to the ‘brand new’ world of the internet.  

Google barely catalogs anything that is more than 10 years old.  Many web developers act as if their every action is original, unique and revolutionary.  Everything seems to be focused on ‘what’s new’, as if ‘what’s old’ is irrelevant and a waste of time.

That’s a big mistake.  By ignoring the past, many internet businesses are wasting a lot of energy to rediscover the wheel. Take copy writing, for example.

Nearly 30 years ago, advertising legend David Ogilvy wrote a brilliant book called ‘Ogilvy on Advertising‘.  He gave practical advice about how to write headlines and copy as well as about how to create a ‘position’ for a product. He pointed out that readers are less likely to read text if it is printed in white against a black background.  He showed how brands can be built on strong, compelling images linked to a ‘big idea’.  
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Fans, Brands and Cultural Communities

 I just read a very smart analysis about how to be successful in the music business.  It was written by Terry McBride and Brent Muhle.  It’s called Meet The Millenials: Fans, Brands and Cultural Communities.

Terry is one smart cookie. He understands the music business and he understands digital media.  His company, Nettwerk, has sold 150 million albums during a time when the industry was crying the blues about lost sales.  

One of his artists, Avril Lavinge, has a video on YouTube that has been seen over 90 million times (the report even provides a case study about how they did it).  

To me, the most important part of this report on Fans, Brands and Cultural Communities is the insight about the need to experiment and tinker if you want your entertainment business to succeed online.
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