Listeners As Hostages

The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet. – Jeremiah Owyang

I was in a meeting with some broadcasters not too long ago, talking about the future of radio, when one of them said, “Radio will be fine, what other options do listeners have?”

It took me a few seconds of asking myself, “Did he really just say that,” to realize it’s not an uncommon belief.  Too often we radio people think of our listeners as hostages, people who have no other option than us.  Maybe that was somewhat true once, but it sure isn’t any more, they have so many choices and options that we can easily become irrelevant.

The Association Of National Advertisers revealed that brand experience and having a strong brand story were key to success now. Oh yeah, and a focus on the customer.  I’d modify that to be a focus on where the customer is going instead of where they’ve been.

The ANA annual convention was full of advertisers like McDonalds and Wal Mart explaining how they’re refocusing on the consumer to rebuild their business. Maybe that’s why Wal Mart just decided to carry caskets in store, but that’s another story.

Comments line those, and AOL offering Kevin Bacon as the anti-change agent, make me feel a little better about radio and it’s lack I’d “customer” focus. The ANA convention tales about the rests of more studies about consumers in this one meeting than all of radio probably did all of this year. We don’t need research, we have extraordinary mind-reading skills. Here, put this tin foil hat on and tell me about your listeners.

We’ve got to understand that content isn’t king, the listener is. It doesn’t start with us and our content, it starts with the listener.  But where the listener is going, not where they’ve been.  The entire media paradigm (yes, there’s that word again) has changed, and no one let’s you know about it better than Media Futurist Gerd Leonhard.  You can see his video, “Challenge Your Assumptions” on my website here.

You can’t believe the options your listeners have now, and will have in the near future.