Tony Compton, Managing Director
If you know how to work a radio, you’ll enjoy reading this post.
And I know you know how to work a radio.
I grew up with the family radio over the kitchen sink tuned to a specific news, traffic, and weather station in the morning, and a sports talk station at night. Your home may have the same setup where the family radio in the kitchen or living room hasn’t moved in decades. And I’ll bet that radio still works.
Conversely, if you consider yourself hip and cool and don’t actually have a radio, I know you still have a device which allows you to access radio stations and podcasts on the web, and programming through any one of a number of apps.
Either way, the point remains the same: when you turn on your radio, you usually know where you want to go for music, news, traffic, weather, sports, talk, community, or religious programming. When you surf the web, or use an app to hop around to various programs or audio services, you generally know what you want to hear, and from whom you’ll get your programming.
Like a Radio Station, Your Marketing Has a Format
Though some radio stations share formats, even stations with the same formats don’t precisely mimic one another. Those who own and operate radio stations would never want to sound exactly like their competitors. Stations may sound similar, but they’re never going to be exactly the same.
Now add your marketing department to this mix.
The commoditization of worldwide marketing content and its pedestrian presentation overwhelms the masses, and numbs their souls. (Credit Gerry Goffin and Carole King with that last phrase from the lyrics to The Monkees’ Pleasant Valley Sunday.)
Today’s prevailing marketing mindset is to churn out generic looking and text-heavy content that actually mirrors much of the competitive field. Sure, logos will differ, colors palettes may differ, and company personnel are exclusive, but what else? There’s already a commoditization in so many technology and service offerings, but now it seems as if we can add the knee-deep commoditization in what’s produced by milk toast marketing departments:
- Events, and their formats? The same since the beginning of time.
- Trade show exhibits? Many commonplace, tired, worn, cheap, cookie-cutter appearances.
- Presentations? Little has changed in the overdose of text-heavy, incomprehensible slides.
- Presenters? The avoidance of personal communication preparation continues.
- Corporate videos? An abundance of the pedestrian, slapped-together, and homemade.
- Live streaming? Only a few brave men and women apply sound broadcast techniques.
- Robust marketing campaigns? Need now. May have in 2018. Creative execution circa 1995.
- In-person sales enablement and marketing alignment? Once a year. Twice a year, maybe.
It’s just more and more two-dimensional business content without personality, character, or any life. And in today’s world of vanilla content overload, more is needed for differentiation.
When Your Marketing ‘Radio Station’ Looks, Sounds, and Acts Like Everybody Else
Whenever you surf the radio dial, you’ll inevitably run into numerous stations that offer the same type of programming. In most every city, audiences are able to tune into a number of news radio stations. But come ratings time, only one or two of these stations stand out high above the rest. Why? It’s generally the same news. But it’s exactly the same weather. And precisely the same traffic. One could even argue that it’s virtually the same content.
But it’s not just the content that drives ratings and builds an audience. It’s the content, plus the people, and all that goes into the on-air sound, presentation, image, talent and preparedness.
Again, add what we see today from global marketing departments to the mix:
- Bland content and its cookie cutter presentation? Everywhere.
- Distinction? Hard to find in websites that double as outdated corporate brochures.
- Storytellers? Great writers exist, but compelling personal communicators are largely absent.
- Lip service to the call for radical marketing innovation? All day, everyday.
- Practitioners of the same? Some, but not many.
The Work, Production, and Outcomes of a Great Marketing Program Director
Let’s get on the same page with our marketing terminology. When you think of a marketing program director, you probably think of somebody who executes marketing campaigns. Somebody who writes well, produces various pieces of email, web, and short and long-form content, and proficiently handles website, CRM, social, and marketing automation technologies. These program directors itemize activities around scheduled campaigns, pop all of the proactive and reactive elements into the system, and go… Whew! That is a lot of respectable work. For the executives and the marketing illiterate, it’s tangible activity that’s easily explained. For sales, leads and opportunities should appear. For the outdated CMOs, they proudly report middle-of-the-road campaign results with the same bravado that Signor Roberto displayed when he told Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II that the widow’s “rent stays like before” … Only the outdated CMO now needs to see a reaction similar to the reaction in DeNiro’s smiling face that nonverbally informed Roberto just how out of touch he was with the realities of the housing – and who controls the power in the neighborhood – situation.
The “marketing stays like before” – indeed.
The (New) Marketing Program Director vs. The (Outdated) CMO
The stat thrown around about 10 years ago was that the average lifespan of a CMO was roughly two years. According to a Wall Street Journal blog in 2014, that lifespan went up to 45 months. But looking forward, I think that the new marketing program directors will shorten that timeframe for outdated CMOs, and lengthen their own tenures.
You see, at a radio station the program director is seen as more than somebody who randomly allows disparate bits of uncoordinated and homogenized content on the air, hosted by ill prepared talent. A radio station program director is somebody who cares deeply about creating a unique image and sound for their station. A radio program director is somebody who will work with their talent on a regular basis to ensure that a high-level of communication proficiency is continually offered to the audience. The audience they are attempting build and maintain.
Applying those same techniques has become critical to any modern marketing operation.
CMOs now have to program audio, video, and written content, and address worldwide audiences in a real-time manner.
CMOs must embrace those real-time interactions, and realize that creative personnel with developed communication talent is needed to work with produced content in front of live, multichannel audiences.
CMOs must lead the creative effort to breakout of the commonplace content framework, and into radical – if not revolutionary – branding, awareness, and execution tactics.
Because for those outdated CMOs don’t understand that, aggressive, sales-oriented global marketing program directors certainly do.
They’ll produce in 24 months what some will never produce, even in 45.