Time To Change The Logo

Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity. – Edwin Land

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I was standing in the lobby of a Doubletree hotel recently and saw a poster. “Yes, we’ve changed our logo” it shouted at me, as if I should be impressed. The truth was, I couldn’t remember the old logo, and it wasn’t what keeps me coming back to that chain anyway. Until I saw the announcement of the change I wasn’t aware of the need for a new logo. Now I wonder what dictated it – and I feel I missed a problem. Bottom line, though, is that the new logo won’t alter my use of that hotel at all. Bad service and bed bugs will, but not the logo.

I’m probably sensitive because of the 18 years I spent with a radio & TV company, where I learned the answer to low TV news ratings was to change the set. That’s right, change the desks and people ill watch more. And I’ve heard otherwise smart radio people tout the need to change the logo because it was “dated.” A new font, a stylized circle instead of a square, and people will listen more. I can’t remember a listener saying they didn’t like or listen to a station because of their logo. I wonder how many millions of dollars have been spent in the industry because to creative design and associated costs with the logo. And don’t even get me started with the reasoning behind “freshening” the jingles or updating the slogan!

You know what? Chances your listeners aren’t that aware of your logo. If you’re having real challenges the cosmetics aren’t going to matter much – the content is.

Cosmetics aren’t going to solve the problem if your station has been stripped of compelling content to “make the numbers.” Cosmetics aren’t going to help if your station has no “position” or mental place in the audiences mind. Cosmetics aren’t going to help if your station is devoid of creativity. Certainly cosmetics aren’t going to help if your strategy is wrong or non-existent.

If your having challenges you need to be able to look at your content first. It’s hard to be objective about your own creation, but it’s time we take a realistic look at our content, and honestly assess it’s “magnetism,” rather than something superficial.

Talent Strategy

I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent. – John Wooden

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What’s your talent strategy?

Yes, you need to have a strategy in mind. You can have a success with either great DJ’s or with personalities, but it’s doubtful you’ll find it trying to be both. The differences are fundamental. In a DJ strategy the concentration is on quantity – how much are they talking, when are they talking, how long are they talking, etc. With personality radio the focus is on the qualitative – what are they saying, how are they saying it, why are they saying it, etc.

Many people confuse the two, and say they want personalities, but then they focus on the quantitative, which is the quickest way to demoralize destroy a true personality. Or they hire DJ’s and think of them as personalities. This is even more destructive, because the DJ’s convince themselves they are personalities, and begin to talk more without much effort in the show prep it takes to be one.

Remember, both of them can be successful in the right situation, but one of them is much easier than the other. Focusing on the qualitative is more difficult, more time consuming, and just more challenging, even though the payoff of a personality is much greater. With personalities you’ll find people calling to talk about what the talent said, and with talented DJ’s the calls tend to be more about how much they talk. I’ve seen that true personalities draw about 25% complaints, because they make definitive statements and take a stand. You can’t say you want to develop true personalities and then over-react to the calls you’re bound to get. The quantitative is simpler because it’s more tangible and measurable, but the payoff may be less.

If you’re thinking about your own strategy, keep this in mind: Radio is having challenges, and can lose it’s “magnetism” if it relies too much on music only. True personalities are an emotional draw that can’t easily be replicated. Music is easy to copy. For some time I’ve thought that music has become defensive in nature. While it can lose listeners if it’s wrong, people have come to expect it to be their favorite. Personalities, on the other hand, are an offensive weapon, because they are a draw that keeps people coming back.

So, what’s your strategy? Although I believe the personality approach has more long term value, either can be successful. But you have to be intentional and aware of what you kind of talent have and what your goals are, and not be fooled either way.

Failing With New Technology

Most often, when people are asked to describe the current media landscape, they respond by making an inventory of tools and technologies. Our focus should be not on emerging technologies but on emerging cultural practices. Rather than listing tools, we need to understand the underlying logic shaping our current moment of media in transition. – Henry Jenkins, author Convergence Culture

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It’s true, when we think about new media we tend to think about tools from texting to Facebook and Google+ to iPhone apps. What we often don’t think about are the reasons these tools gain momentum. Or, to paraphrase from another, “It’s the people, stupid.”

Why does it seem we think of our audiences as technological kids in the toy store, waiting for the next big thing, distracted by every shiny new toy. If we were to look at the changes and cultural shifts in people, we might gain insight into which technology will be embraced by them. Armed with that knowledge we can be much more strategic and waste far less time.

That’s one of the keys to the success of Apple. Steve Jobs and his team concentrate on the user and their desires, not the next big tech idea. It’ll take a while to see the results, but refusing to deploy Flash on Apple mobile platforms is a bold statement, rooted in how they read the needs of the consumers. Under Jobs, Apple has taken the strategy of not creating new technology, but instead innovating with new technology to meet consumer dreams. Apple didn’t create the first mobile phone/PDA, but they put the technology to work with their combination of design and simplicity. They didn’t invent the MP3 player, they didn’t create the tablet computer, and on and on. But they did always keep the focus on the dreams of the consumer. Meeting needs isn’t good enough for them, they meet the dreams for what could be.

A focus on the human instead of the technology is more difficult and requires much more insight. People are difficult and messy. But it’s only on focusing on the emerging trends with people and culture that we can find a solution that innovates and recreates the entire product category.

What Is New Media?

In the name of progress, our official culture is striving to make new media to do the work of the old.” – Marshall McLuhan

“We’re getting into new media.”

You hear that a lot these days.  Much of the time it means the web site has been updated, or that they have a blog in support of their station.  But here’s the question, is it new media if it’s only purpose is to support old media?

Dove obviously understands this fine distinction with their Campaign For Real Beauty.

A web site for what the consumer is interested in, not what Dove is interested in.  A connection with their family, but Dove still get’s the credit.  KTIS radio in Minneapolis see’s the benefit too.

Why not be a connecting resource for helping the community?  Even Tootsie Roll is getting in on the new media path, with the most subtle, yet clear, link to the product.  Still, they make sure it’s the consumer that’s highlighted.

Gotta love that “Motherhood is full of twists and turns.”

What’s your “consumer” most interested in?  Can you link that to what your radio station is all about?  Then you’re starting to understand one important part of “new media.”

Social Media & The Influencers

“The future influences the present just as much as the past.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

We all know some, those people who influence others. Sometimes that influence is organized, sometimes not. Here’s an article about the power of those influencers, and how important they can be to your future:

Social Media: A Framework To Reach Mass Influencers
by Laurie Sullivan

Social Media influencers cannot be ignored. They band together — billions strong — and can make or break a campaign, tarnish a brand, or catapult a product line to the top of the “I must have” consumer list. But reaching them means marketers must identify them first.

Forrester Analysts Josh Bernoff and Augie Ray developed a framework that allows marketers to identify and measure how people who frequent and share information on social media sites influence one another. The two call it “peer influence analysis.” They explained the concept during the Forrester Marketing Forum 2010 conference in Los Angeles Friday.

Bernoff, who co-authored the book “Empowered,” scheduled for release later this year, and Ray built a formula to assist marketers in building strategies that attract three levels of influencers: social broadcasters, mass influencers, and social influencers.

The framework for peer influence analysis came together after surveying 10,000 people about their online social participation. The numbers, which come from social networks — Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and others — remain staggering. Through the survey, Bernoff and Ray managed to determine where and how frequently influence occurs.

From the peer analysis, Forrester estimates that within social networks, consumers created 256 billion influence impressions on one another about products and services in 2009. In social venues other than networks, such as blogs and product rating sites, consumers shared 1.64 billion influence posts.

Based on conservative estimates in which people view these posts, Ray and Bernoff believe the total number of consumer-generated impressions about products and services exceeded 500 billion in 2009.

Compare that with the approximate 2 trillion online ad impressions delivered during the same period last year, and it is evident that social applications now rival other mass media. “People make one-quarter as many impressions on each other as advertisers make,” Bernoff says. “Plus, these impressions are more credible because they come from people who don’t have a bias. They don’t come from marketers trying to convince you to buy something.”

About 11 million people are responsible for 80% of all the influence impressions left in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Bernoff and Ray call these folks “mass influencers,” crediting Malcom Gladwell for the term. In the accompanying Forrester report, Peer Influence Analysis, Bernoff and Ray describe mass connectors as 6.2% of the U.S. online population, or 11 million people — generating 80% of all the impressions about products and services within social networks. Mass mavens are 13.8% of the online population, or 24 million people, who create 80% of all opinions about products and services in blog posts, blog comments, discussion forum posts, and reviews. The report notes an overlap of 7 million individuals — or 3.7% of the online population — between the two groups.

Connecting with these people will require marketers to first identify them. To get a stronger grip on how it works, Ray explains the three buckets of social mass influencers. He describes the social broadcasters as those who live among the top two brick rows of the peer influence pyramid. Consumers tend to gain awareness about products and services from social broadcasters, but trust them the least — and tend to do more research on their own based on hearing or reading about the products. This group “hates PR” because they don’t want to hear from you just when you have something to say, but rather prefer to build a long-term relationship.

Trust mostly comes from social influencers, the 84% of people in social media lumped at the bottom of the pyramid. These social influencers comprise friends, family and peers they also know offline. Ray describes this group as people who are not as technically savvy, and who require marketers to make it “drop-dead easy” for them to share information.

Mass influencers live in the middle of the pyramid. They provide 80% of the impressions in social media about products and services, but they only make up 16% of the people. Mass influencers number in the tens of thousands to millions of people for each brand. Promotions must engage these people because friends turn to them for opinions before making a purchase. It is important to understand this group’s characteristics and size. And that, Ray says, requires a new way of thinking about marketing and influence.

Ray pointed to a GameStop promotion that asked consumers to upload their picture in a contest to become an avatar in the next “Guitar Hero” game. Gamers not only uploaded their picture to enter, but invited their friends, who voted on each other to win.

The Web has turned people into influencers, “marketers of ideas” — similar to the way television commercials, radio and print turned BMW into a performance car or Tide detergent into the clothes whitener miracle worker. Word of mouth isn’t random, but something measurable, as demonstrated by Bernoff and Ray. Peer influence analysis lets marketers measure how people affect one another. And marketers will need to figure it out.