Radio Days Past and Present

Vector realistic isolated neon sign of Radio logo with headset for decoration and covering on the wall background. Concept of on air, broadcasting and dj.Once upon a time in what seems a world long ago, a young handsome man with agency credentials, (I’ll give you a “maybe” on the “handsome,”) drove around to radio stations delivering well produced and magnificent  radio commercials on ½ track reels which would then be transferred to cart machine at the station. There was a formula that clients could use at the time in order to gauge the effectiveness of the advertising based upon the response. Most of the time it was deemed effective at least to some degree.

Ahh, the good ol’ days!

Flash forward about 30 years and I am now extremely active in the online digital media biosphere. I am still active in and around radio as well. The terrestrial broadcast world is tremendously viable today although the winds blow around in it a bit differently.

Given that I have a broad mix of backgrounds I feel as though I am distinctively capable of being objective as I analyze how the online media world markets itself, along with how the radio and traditional advertising market currently works both with and against the forces of the internet.

For all of the high-talk we have in our society against bias and stereotyping it is almost a guarantee that if you listen to someone analyze the opposite ends of these two mediums they will mention age as a limiting factor.

Social media “gurus” will often claim that recommending print or radio advertising to your boss might work well if you work for a bunch of “60 year-olds who haven’t transitioned yet.”

That’s a sign of the times, isn’t it? We don’t adapt to the market place but we do “transition.” It kind of reminds me of the movie “Logan’s Run” wherein when you turned 30 you had to “renew.”

By contrast radio and broadcast “experts” will often claim that radio has been around a long time and is still one of the most used forms of media. Therefore, unless your “millennial boss” wants you to play around on social media all day you better choose real advertising.

So, what is the deal? What’s happening with advertising and marketing these days in the online and traditional media realms?

Headphones and Microphone

Radio is still alive and well. However, the way you may utilize it has changed. The days of throwing a spot on the radio and just waiting for results are likely gone unless you are lucky. You will have to get your hands dirty by cultivating an online presence. This means doing it yourself or hiring someone else to do it for you.

The best case scenario would be to find an advertising/marketing professional who represents both the online marketing and radio industries with whom you can coordinate a comprehensive game plan.

Content MarketingPeople search for information now regarding the goods and services that they might be interested in. This is why your online content marketing strategy is so important. In a nutshell, whether it’s your website, social media or web videos you want to be sure that when people find the information that they are searching for that information, in turn, leads them to you.

Radio advertising will expose your name to people who may not be seeking information about your services at that moment. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing because that will serve two functions. For one, if your advertisement sparks someone’s interest they will Google you or search you out via social media. Second, even though many listeners will not have an active interest in your business at a given moment, when the day comes that they happen to be online researching the market place they will recognize your name when they find you. Familiarity is extremely important regarding the buyer’s choices.

One of the first steps in this process that I recommend to people is to identify and define the personality of your business. Just like shaking someone’s hand and getting a first impression, what is the impact that your business has on a listener of your advertising or when someone finds you online? Are you a price leader? Are you a value leader? Are you a specialized services leader? What aspects of your business do you always want to make an impression with regarding all of your clients? If you can’t answer any of these questions with simple answers then that is a problem because you can bet no one else can either.

Second, have a strong online presence. Make sure your website is up to date. Choose several social media platforms that work well for you and maintain them as well. Utilize short and bright videos across your online platforms along with clear and well-taken pictures. Research the viability of podcasts and other media that may serve you well online.

Headphones Podcast On-AirThird, if you choose to advertise on the radio make sure that the identity that you are forming for your business grabs the listener. I would likely start with short ads that stress your name and the core essence of your business identity. Avoid details in your radio spots such as specials, phone numbers, and locations. These details will not be retained by the listener. Just shake their hand firmly and make an impression. If you do that they will find you on their smartphone.

Advertise and market with associates who understand and appreciate all the forms of media available in these complex times. Be consistent. Know who you are as a business. Get out there and firmly shake some hands.

Is Podcasting a Bubble that is Due to Pop?

Press conference
So many microphones, so little time.

Is podcasting part of a digital media bubble that is due to implode?

Although it is impossible to predict the future, in a word I would say “no.” Podcasting is here to stay as a viable media tool although the landscape of the medium will change. At the same time, for the time being I would be remiss not to acknowledge that there is an overabundance of podcasts.

Podcasting is going through what the blogosphere did over ten years ago. At first there was such a hunger for articles and information that was an alternative from magazines and newspapers, that everybody jumped on the blog bandwagon. Contained in the inundation of blogs were poorly written posts and frivolous content. There is still no shortage of blogs but the cream has risen to the top in many cases by the most talented and consistent bloggers. Not to mention many of the people who were blogging about their morning breakfast a decade ago are now taking pictures of their toast over on Facebook.

We have that dynamic now with podcasting. The podcast medium is over-crowded and many podcasts have poor sound quality and production value. Furthermore, I certainly do not know how some podcasters come up with their show ideas. I would need a hit of acid to listen to an hour long podcast about ten things to use a condom for other than its intended use. Since I am strongly anti-drug, suffice it to say the likelihood of me medicating myself through that type of content is pretty slim.

The novelty of this type of podcast is sure to wear off and in time the crowded podcast field will level off. In my opinion there are three things that will keep podcasting, in essence, alive for a good while into the future.

For one, the good thing about many different creators being attracted to podcasting is that a good diverse talent base is also expanding, which will only serve a growing audience. The audience itself is becoming much savvier in terms of what constitutes good production value and content. Screwball shows can have a viable share of the marketplace as well but will have to up their game on par with professionally produced comedy shows and radio programs.

Second, the landscape for digital media regarding content marketing is enormous and the demographics for podcasting are possibly wide open depending on the subject matter. A big advantage of podcasts over video or written blogs is that they do not require your complete attention. A busy listener who is juggling a career and family can easily listen to an episode while doing pretty much anything else simultaneously. As big businesses and their marketing divisions are realizing the new potential to build a bridge of good content to their client base by utilizing podcasts, investment in the medium will likely propagate.

Thirdly, the utilization of audio only in general is increasing rapidly. Audio streaming devices in the home are already very common and as internet enabled cars are also on their way to becoming a norm, a loftier potential to reach a large audience is being set in place. The day is coming when while on your way to work, you can simply ask your car’s dashboard how your local councilperson is planning to vote on an upcoming issue and within a few seconds you will hear his or her voice. From this aspect alone I have been advocating the idea that building a reservoir of audio content online is a good idea for many people who need to get the word out about what they do.

Predictions about the rise or fall of podcasting have been happening every year especially since 2012 when the medium’s popularity began to soar. My opinion is that the rage will level off but podcasting and especially audio content in various forms is here to stay.

In the meantime I hope that the sheer number of podcasts do not hurt the brilliant shine of the medium. There was a time when telling someone that you had a blog was met with a deep sigh because of the saturated blogosphere. For the serious practitioners of podcasting the best advice I can give you is to stay consistent, don’t try to compete with every new podcast that comes along, and be sure to serve your loyal audience members with great content.

We’ll just have to wait for the dust to settle around us.