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Has Radio Lost its "Cool" Factor?


The second keynote on the packed Convergence agenda Thursday was from James Michelson, founder of JFM Concepts and author of Cross Media Marketing 101, and Michelson started right off by saying that for him as a customer, it's not about cume, AQH, or TSL. "Because that's not my pain point," he said. "None of that matters to me." Rather it's "What does your customer not have that they need? That's what needs to be solved."

Echoing a point made by many Convergence speakers and panelists, Michelson said, "I really don't care what the channel is, or what the dollar is. I need to know what's going to help me" as an advertiser. And a CMO today needs to rely on legacy media to get a message out. Even if the worst-case predictions come true, he said, there's more business than ever. Legacy media is not the "it thing" anymore, he said: "We're not cool." And legacy media has to compete with "whiz bang" products and services.

But every customer, finally, wants the same thing: more new customers, and more sales to their existing customers. This is what radio needs to deliver, he said, "and we can't add staff to do it." Michelson pointed to an automated approach to sales that's in use in other industries, and successfully, but to buy in, radio has to accept as a "new gospel" that "Every customer is the same." He added, "If it works for X, it works for Y, because people buy the same way, more or less regardless of the products they buy."

He proposes an approach that involves contacting, or touching the customer several times before a salesperson ever needs to get involved. The cycle might begin, for example, with an opt-in to a mailing list, or an autodialer. "I don't even try to get them on the phone until I've talked to them five or six times," he said, noting that most people don't buy until the fifth contact or later. The sales funnel might be advertising that leads to a website visit, an opt-in, an e-mail, then regular mail. He said, "By the time, ultimately, we get them on the phone, they're a warm lead."

He gave an example of a campaign for a racetrack that launched a newsletter with no pitch. They followed up with more content and a "click here for your ticket" to an event. Radio drives them to the website, and there they opt in. "By the time I talk to them," he said, "it's the fifth or sixth touch." This also satisfied advertisers who want to know their what their dollars are buying. If customers print out a coupon and bring it in, Michelson said, "I can justify my existence." And the first several steps don't involve any action from sales: "Absolutely none, until that call."


(6/7/2014 8:39:17 AM)
As an echo of others and a follow-on to my own comments: Radio was "cool" when there was no more than a 3-minute interval before somebody was delivering - if not weird, wacky or poignant - something that was real, that was "live" and that was (often) interesting or intriguing.

Radio, I argue, still has the opportunity to be "the soundtrack of our lives". Talk about wasted opportunities and short-term thinking...! The tragic part is that this (radio's self-induced state) includes, uh...everybody.

- Ronald
(6/7/2014 12:10:49 AM)
I grew up with Gordon McClendon & his crew at WAKY. I was 6 when they came to Louisville with poignant, real, real-time, exciting Radio. This one station sparked a 30 year career in all phases of Radio for me and countless others captured in the "magic" of this "cool" station. Kudos to WKLO (where I eventually worked) & Radio in Big Lou was the standard for medium markets for a long while. Today's Radio sucks, period. These bean-counters (and worse) have no concept of what Radio is.

- Panama Jack
(6/6/2014 8:10:03 PM)
Radio was very cool in the S.F. Bay area until Cumulus came to town and bought all our favorite stations, told all the listeners to bleep off and fired all the News Talk Hosts we loved.
Now radio is worse than horrible in the bay sad. Over a year and we're still in mourning.
KGO needs a Resurrection.

- Linda
(6/6/2014 6:01:05 PM)
Sorry. I'm from out of town. And, I may not be all that bright. So, since when was radio even remotely close to cool...?

- Ronald

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