Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Less is NOT More . . . It is SIMPLE

It is time for broadcasters to re-think the “norms” under which we have been operating. Our business is being trampled by herds of sacred cows. What we have been doing is no longer working (and not likely to work in the future).

Let’s start with this: “Less is NOT More!” The solution is SIMPLE.

Salespeople. “Cost Accounting 101” teaches that you keep adding salespeople (technically, sales costs) until the marginal revenue (the amount of additional sales coming in) equals the marginal expense (the expense going out). In other words, you do not arbitrarily fire one third of your local sales departments and expect your local sales to increase. Won’t happen. Didn’t happen. Less is NOT More. The old saying about the ideal number of salespeople for your radio station is true: “One more than I have!”

Investment. Less investment in your product(s) does not yield a higher return. “Let’s cut out Research, Sales Training, Live and Local Talent, and Employee Benefits . . . and by the way, let’s run our local news station with no local newspeople.” Lower costs? Yes. Lower revenue? Yes. Less is NOT More.

Marketing and Promotion. When is the last time you saw major ad spend for a radio station on TV? Billboards? We have quit promoting and wonder why we’re losing relevancy. What about good, old-fashioned “on the street” promotions? Do you see many station vans around town? Do you see your own? Or have you caved in to high gas prices? And what about your investment in digital offerings and social marketing products and people? Can we really expect to compete in a digital world if we’re not investing for the future? Less is NOT More.

Pride. Does everyone in your shop feel good about your station(s) and your company? Are you proud of your on-air product and your stream?

Leadership. Are you leading or are you managing? Will your troops storm the beach with you? How much coaching is going on? Or has the HR department’s Policies and Procedures manual become the book of choice? Randy Michaels got this right years ago when rumor has it that his manual simply stated something to the effect of, “Work hard, compete ruthlessly, play hard, and stay legal.”

Enthusiasm. This is a natural offshoot of Leadership. You won’t have one without the other. We’re in the RADIO business. It should be (and once was) a hotbed of creativity and talent. Is it any wonder why the kids don’t want to work for us anymore? The “buzz” is missing. You know it when you spend more of your time making forecasts than sales calls.

Less is NOT More. Should we really be that surprised that revenue has been flat to down for going on nine years? This is not about “How we did it back in the day.” It is about “How will we be relevant five, ten years from now?” Less is NOT More.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?



  1. Good comments and I agree with every one. Funny, though ... I hear a lot of criticism about Clear Channel's past attempt at promoting/implementing "Less Is More" yet what I always took it to imply was something I agreed with very much - more creative commercials and stop-sets. "Blinks" (:05's, :10's, :20's, etc.); shorter spot breaks (now I know they didn't stick to this but the idea is good). We need more creativity and experimentation as tough as that is to do in this environment.

  2. George, you left out a very important page of Randy's employee manual. That page had only one line: "USE YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT."

  3. There are few ironies in business as large as this: Radio sales departments preaching all over town to local businesses that "the last thing you should cut in a recession is your advertising", all the while the management and ownership of these same stations has slashed any and all marketing efforts to the bone. And BTW, justifying cuts by claiming it's enough to promote on your own airwaves is akin to the store who's marketing consists of signage inside their own store! Marketing only to existing customers is generally not a growth proposition in the long run.

    But even without mass marketing, there is good old fashioned guerilla marketing to take up some of the slack as you note, though it seems to be sorely lacking in most places. And you haven't mentioned the additional guerilla style marketing tactic of today: social media marketing. That is a very dynamic marketing tactic where the only real cost is the investment of time and effort.

    Great premise on this post overall, George. I hope there are some out there listening.

  4. Well said. I couldn't agree more. Sometimes less is just that, less. In a drought you have to add water for the tomatoes to grow. Speaking of adding, are you hiring?

  5. Thanks for your comments. All thoughtful and well stated.

    And Matthew, I am always hiring good salespeople!