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Rob Adair

What Is Your Blue Ocean Strategy?


Several years ago I read a book that changed my career: "Blue Ocean Strategy" written by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. The book studies how competition over the same shrinking profit pool has created nothing but a bloody, red ocean. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than a hundred years and thirty industries, the authors argue that tomorrow's leading companies will succeed, not by battling competitors, but by creating blue oceans of uncontested market space ripe for growth. A blue ocean strategy is one that is so effective that it makes your competition irrelevant.

I read the book once, then a second time making copious notes. Then, I faced the reality of my own business, selling radio advertising and managing radio stations. I asked myself, Whats your blue ocean strategy? Initially, it was easier for me to drill down on what it was not. Ratings werent the answer. Ive never had consistently top ratings. Every great ratings book was, seemingly, followed by one that was not good. Pricing could not be my blue ocean strategy because I was never going to have the lowest rates. Indeed, Ive spent my career defending my rates. Come on, this is radio. Inconsistent ratings, never the lowest rates, what is left that could provide me my own blue ocean strategy?

Many things were occurring in my management career when I first read Kim and Mauborgnes book. I spent three nights, every month, reading presentations from sellers at radio stations all across the country, working in markets I oversaw. There were nearly 100 of them from some nine cities. This is when the answer came. I realized my own blue ocean strategy. There were countless things in the radio business I could not control: ratings, pricing, cost per points, buyers, and agencies. I, also, could not stop what was making the radio water so red with blood: competitors under-cutting rates, giving more added-value and more promotion to get the buy. So, what could I control? What could I make my blue ocean strategy? Was there something that could genuinely separate me from my competitors? Indeed there was! The answer was two-fold: (1) The questions I asked and the impression I make during every client interview, and (2) The presentations I made to decision-makers. If I could interview a potential client better than my competition, and I returned and made a presentation so impactful that ratings, pricing and competitors became irrelevant, then I truly had discovered my blue ocean strategy.

That was several years ago and my radio-selling life has never been the same. My personal selling still focuses on my eye-to-eye time with a client, the questions I ask them, and the presentation I make to them. It rewarded me and a team I led with the largest single sale in my radio-selling career: $4.4 million in 12 months.

Whats your blue ocean strategy?

Rob Adair is the President of Pinnacle Solving. His company provides revenue growth solutions, branding and differentiation strategies to radio and other industries. Adair is a former radio industry COO and Sr. VP overseeing 25+ stations and multiple major markets. He can be reached at 405-641-0458 or by e-mail

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Outstanding material, Rob.
Now, if us programming-weenies could assist your folks' cause by learning how this medium actually works and, taking steps to increase the functionality and appeal of our spots and programming.
That would be our Blue Ocean strategy - not that anyone is willing to engage.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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