Beyond Just The Games

 “Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up.” – Andy Law

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Pandora now has an app for the Microsoft XBOX system.

Not really earth shaking…or is it?

Gaming is huge, which draws people to XBOX, and then XBOX provides them an entrée into movies, the web, and music.

Pandora uses Kinect to allow people to listen, vote, and change songs with just a gesture. So Pandora has now integrated themselves into yet another popular distribution channel. Have you heard the old story about finding a parade getting in front of it?

But both may soon be rendered obsolete as Virtual Reality achieves broad acceptance over the next five years.  Change is a fact of life.

My point here is to show how unimaginative and lame most of our radio apps are. Radio will not continue to succeed by being “good enough,” at a time when the life cycle of an app becomes shorter and shorter.  Let’s do something different that really intrigues the listener/consumer, and be prepared to understand that change is faster and more constant than ever.

What’s Your Story?

Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” − Seth Godin

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Apple has a story.  Budweiser has a story.  Nike has a story.  In-N-Out Burger has a story.  Most successful brands do.  They have a story beyond their “product” that has been burned into the minds of the consumer.

Microsoft doesn’t.  Microsoft is a utility program – a good one – but a utility program mostly purchased transactionally instead of emotionally. There aren’t a lot of positive Microsoft stories. Stories are what people remember.

Take that all down to the level of say, your radio station, and how does it translate?  Is there a story you tell everyone about the station – one that is about the music, but beyond the music at the same time?    Something that taps into your listener’s passion? Something that’s uniquely yours and not shared by other stations in the same format?

This post is a “how to” one.  Here are two people who can help:

The right story starts with the “why.”  Simon Sinek’s concept links well with media brands.  You just have to figure out why your station does what it does, and why people become fans. Chances are you can weave those into a terrific story.

You can also find help from author Donald Miller’s Storybrand site.  You may recall Miller from his book, “Blue Like Jazz.”  Someday, when I have enough time, I’m going to attend his sessions on building your brand’s story.  But I’ve already learned from him the value and importance of the right kind of story.

Roads To Nowhere

“If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

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I was cruising along the freeway on one of those amazing “sun break” Friday’s in Seattle when I saw a freeway exit that didn’t go anywhere.  It was just a blocked off dead-end exit ramp.  There was a lot of poor government planning and financial problems involved, but being a fan of metaphors I couldn’t help think about radio’s future.

I’ve been involved in a major project since January looking at Millennials, and it’s very sobering.  There are a lot of stories in the trades about the reach radio has with that generation, but you don’t see a lot of them talking about their shrinking TSL.  You don’t see any articles about their use of radio in context with their use of other media.  It’s as if we boomers don’t know any Millennials or see their actual media use.

These people are digital natives, and are in almost continual use of media, averaging around 11 hours a day.  But they are multi-media consumers, not single media consumers.  Considering radio’s financial model, that’s disconcerting.

There are plenty of off ramps on the media highway, but we’re not using them for what they are.  All of our social media, community building, video and such, is built around reinforcing radio, not complimenting it.  The answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

The cool part about the coming convergence between digital and media is that those startup costs are much less than buying a major market signal.  Again, the answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

The Brilliance Of The Founders

“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.” — John Adams


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It’s the fourth of July and we’re celebrating the birth of our nation.  In a moment of retrospection, it struck me that they founders of our nation were brilliant in how the crafted the heart and framework of the United States of America.

  • They were careful strategic planners.  First, the created a vision of the future with the Declaration of Independence..  Then they followed that up with a strategic framework – the Constitution. They left most of the tactics to those who would have to do the work.
  • They acknowledged the need for change.  They were true try it/test it/fix it thinkers, establishing the concept of amendments to the constitution in Article V.
  • They new they needed teamwork.  It wasn’t always pretty, with plenty of disagreement, but the founders worked together to craft the Declaration and Constitution.  In fact, while the Constitution was written in 1787, it was ratified by the necessary 9 states the next year.  The very design of a bi-cameral government, with three parts to the governing  (Executive/Congressional/Justice) showed that they didn’t want a monarchy or dictatorship to be possible.  They knew it would take a team of people to make the government work.  That may be whey there were around 55 people were involved in the drafting of the information.

There’s a lot more to the Declaration and Constitution of course, but it’s interesting to me how the brilliance of these few people who drafted our future so long ago.  It’s such a good model it even works for us, today.  And administering the Constitution can still not be a pretty site.

Have a very happy 4th and think about how difficult it was for those brilliant people to create something that lasted so long.

Taking A Risk

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, USN

The hurricane was somewhere between a category 3 and 4.  Out on deck you had to tie yourself to a rope to make sure you didn’t get swept overboard.  On a flat bottomed amphibious ship the tossing and turning were even worse.  But oddly enough I had the time of my life.  It was great to go out to the flying bridge and look forward to where one moment you had to look up to see the sky, and the next all you saw was sky.

That wasn’t the safest place the USS Raleigh could be.  But it was, after all, what the ship was designed for.  At the time I didn’t think about it, but it was my reaction to the hurricane -bring it on – that made the difference in the experience for me.

Which is one of the reasons radio faces some huge challenges.  The listener “experience” has become stale and predictable.  We’re mostly tied up at the pier, not sailing out for anything adventurous.  We’re more likely to copy an old idea and dress it up so we can label it innovative then we are to actually innovate.  We’re confused because what once was compelling content is now the norm, and we’re not sure, or think we can’t afford to be “unsafe” with the kind of innovation that’s compelling content today.  It’s different, it’s a change, and we’re all having some angst over that.

Innovation calls for a peek into the future, a perhaps risky move to help create the future instead of relive the past.  Much harder than most other things we have facing us.  But if we can’t break out of the safety of our own “box,” we may not have a successful future.

So start with something small, something easy, where you can try something new.  Graduate up to bigger and bigger ideas so that one day you’re changing the face of imaging, or personalities, to finally crafting a vision for the future.

Don’t imitate – innovate.  Don’t be so safe, step out, irritate, disrupt, and do something truly compelling.