September 17, 2014

I Can Dream, Can't I?

Last week I had the pleasure of delivering the keynote address at the radio industry's annual Radio Show in Indianapolis, sponsored by the Radio Advertising Bureau and the National Association of Broadcasters (you can watch my talk here.)

This was a pretty big deal for me. Other speakers including Alan Mulally, former ceo of Ford and Boeing, Dan Harris of ABC News, and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana.

The talk went better than I could have dreamed. I actually got a standing o, which in all my years of speaking I never got before.

As always, there was a contingent of online people who hated my talk. No surprise there.

Radio, like all traditional media, is having its share of problems. While Americans still spend more than twice as much time with radio as they do on line, radio’s revenues are flat while online revenues are soaring.

And, as you might suspect, there are people busy trying to sell the radio industry on digital miracles. I wasn't quite clear on what the digital miracles were – digital delivery of radio programming; sales of digital ads on line and on websites; online station promotion; or listener engagement with online content and social media.

As in so many industries, it seems that it is all lumped into one nebulous bundle of magic called “digital.” I sensed that there might be a dangerous fantasy afoot that “digital” (whatever it means) is the road to salvation for radio.

One of the reasons for the power of this fantasy is that in recent years radio stations are deriving a little over 5% of their revenue from selling digital advertising. While I am skeptical of the power of most online advertising, I am very much in favor of making money any way you can.

I am no expert in the radio business, but it appears to me that the danger is in believing that the digital revenue is independent of the traditional on-air revenue. In fact, 100% of the digital revenue is secondary to listenership. Without listeners, no digital advertising, and no online ad revenue. It all starts with listeners.

The proposition that radio can increase listenership substantially among young people seems highly improbable to me, regardless of what digital magic the industry chooses to employ.

But radio does very well with people over 50. And people over 50 have and spend most of the money in this country. Unfortunately, people over 50 are poison to advertisers. Despite the enormous opportunity that they represent, advertisers are stuck in the 1970’s worshiping at the altar of youth.

One of the ideas I expressed in my talk was that the radio and television industries should undertake a major initiative to educate marketers and advertisers on the incredible opportunity that people over 50 present. The hope would be that if advertisers and agencies would be exposed to the facts, their antiquated thinking and ingrained prejudices might be overcome.

This may be the greatest fantasy of all.

September 15, 2014

You Can't Be Everyone's Girlfriend

A friend of mine, Peter Levitan, has just published a new book for agencies about pitching new business. The book is called The Levitan Pitch: Buy This Book. Win More Pitches.

Peter asked for my point-of-view on pitching new business, and it is included in his book under the heading (as you might expect) The Contrarian View. Here it is:
1. You can’t be everyone’s girlfriend
Do not pitch every stupid thing that comes along. Don’t try to fit yourself into every box. Not everyone is going to love you and not everyone is going to buy your story. Pick your spots.

2. Do what you tell your clients to do
The first thing we tell our clients is that they have to differentiate themselves. It is the one thing agencies never do. They all sound the same, look the same, and smell the same. Decide who you are and how you are different and better. If you can’t do that, hire Peter and let him do it for you.

3. Be clear on your objective at each stage
This is really important. A new business pitch is a 3 or 4 step process. At each stage your one and only objective should be to get to the next stage. You will not win the account at the first stage. At the beginning stages clients are not looking to hire an agency, they are looking for reasons to eliminate agencies. Give them reasons why they should continue talking to you, and don’t give them reasons to eliminate you.

4. Make the presentation you want to make, not the one you’re asked to make
For the final pitch, most of the time clients and search consultants provide you with outlines of the presentation they want to see. Throw it away and make the presentation you want to make. Remember, you have one shot only.

5. Only let the good presenters talk
There are brilliant people who are lousy presenters and dumb-ass bozos who are great presenters. Only let the good presenters present.

6. Have a strategy and stick to it
The final presentation should have a theme and every section of the presentation should spin off that theme and point to a conclusion where the strategy is clearly and creatively defined.

7. The best new business program is a good reputation
There's a lot more valuable stuff in Peter's book.

September 10, 2014

Here's To The Bobbleheads

Here's to the bobbleheads.

Here's to the ones who sit at every meeting and nod in agreement.

Here's to the ones who never have a dangerous idea or an interesting opinion.

Here's to the ones who always agree with the highest ranking person in the room.

Here's to the ones who go to conferences and tweet out the banalities.

Here's to the guys and gals who start every sentence with, "The client said..."

Here's to the ones who think their job is to make someone happy.

Here's to the ones who have no questions.

Here's to the ones who agree with the last person they spoke to.

Here's to the ones who produce the biggest decks and the fuzziest briefs.

Here's to the ones who can't finish a sentence without "disrupt" or "engage."

Here's to the ones who know all of the platitudes and none of the facts.

Here's to the true believers -- the new kings and queens of the ad industry.

Here's to the bobbleheads!

Also, please check out my Type A partner's blog here.