The Future of Branding and Marketing – in the midst of New Media Revolution

Radio Consultancy

Part 1: The Nineties and Noughties have left the building – forever.

How technology torpedoed the traditional marketing mantra – and how to make the most of this brave new media world – for your clients, your station, and your show…

“…what will make a difference for radio to survive and thrive is for radio people to continually ‘sharpen the saw’ (to paraphrase Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits) – in their expertise as marketers. Marketing expertise will become radio's greatest asset and ensure its success in the future” – Brad March

Those parting words in Brad’s article, “The Future of Radio – Is Your Job Safe and Will Radio Survive?”, begs the question: in what ways can radio people “sharpen the saw”, updating their expertise as marketers in the midst of the ongoing New Media Revolution.

“Sharpening the Saw”

That question doesn’t just apply to those in sales and marketing working with clients to develop and market their products, services and brands. It also applies to those in programming, production, on air, newsrooms … it applies to anyone working in radio – because, everyone in radio contributes to the marketing of a network, station or show. And, in the ever shrinking media job market, answering that question with careful thought and application can help you develop and market your own professional brand. And if you’re yet to invest any time in doing that, you’re way behind the rest of the playing field. Though, fortunately, you can quickly catch up…

This series of articles aims to help you answer just that question: how do radio people update their marketing and branding expertise in the midst of the era of the new media revolution– an era that marks a turning point. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s begin by blowing up some of the fundamentals and starting over – because the developments of the last decade or so have upended many traditional marketing and branding practices.

Blowing Up the traditional “funnel” marketing metaphor

The traditional “funnel” marketing model has been around for decades. To contrast it clearly with the way things work in the new media era, here’s a simplification of how the “funnel” metaphor used to work:

Step 1 – create and build awareness

At this point a person (customer, client, listener, viewer) at the receiving end of your marketing and branding communication has a number of options to choose from in that product category (e.g., smart phones or radio shows). The theory goes that if they’re not even aware of you, then you’re not even a consideration for the shopping list when they’re choosing a smart phone, or when they’re punching the button to choose which drive show they’ll listen to on the way home. Typically, the greatest portion of external marketing spend and airtime goes into this part of the funnel: creating and building awareness.

Step 2 – drive consideration

In radio terms this usually means that, for a new or relaunched show or station, you want to encourage that person to sample. The more they sample, the more they’ll get to know you. In other product categories, such as smart phones, it means developing the relationship in other ways, through becoming “top-of-mind” and reinforcing your benefits – so that your product is a serious consideration as the customer’s list of options gets whittled down before they make a final purchasing decision.

Step 3 – final choice (target makes a purchase)

In some categories they’ll make just the one final choice, and – until next time – that’s the end of the “funnel” process (e.g., with smart phones, once they’ve purchased one, the job of marketing is done. Game over). In other categories such as radio shows or stations, you may become one of their regular options which they use alongside your competitors – possibly leading to your show or station becoming their “most listened to” choice. Once again, until something new comes along to disrupt that – a competitor relaunches or comes up with something new and exciting – that’s the end of the “funnel” process.

In the traditional “funnel” marketing metaphor, the theory has been that customers or listeners start with a great many options to choose from, then go through a process of whittling them down, whittling them down, whittling them down – including right there in the car when they’re punching the button trying to find a song they like, the traffic information they want, or a personality they want to listen to – until they make their final selection. Once their selection is made, the customer, client, listener or viewer has metaphorically popped out the bottom of the funnel – job done!

On the surface it seems to still make sense. Except that when you look at it closely, and consider the process you now go through yourself when you’re researching and buying something (e.g., phones, cameras, books, movies), the “funnel” metaphor starts to appear quite out of place in 2013.

Because over the last decade or so the new media revolution has gathered pace and fundamentally altered not only every step within the “funnel” metaphor – but has completely changed what is going on at each end of the funnel, before and after the process, too. Constant connectivity, mobile, digital, social and other exciting, behaviour-changing new media has enabled us to modify how we interact with the rest of the world’s thoughts and ideas (including marketing messages) – in ways that are closer and more true to how we’re naturally, psychologically aligned as human beings.

In the next article, we’ll show you some of the ways your behaviour has fundamentally changed, introduce an alternate marketing model to the “funnel” metaphor”, and then we’ll explore what this all means specifically to people working in radio – not only for your networks, stations, and shows … but also for your career.


Scott Muller is Director of mbos consulting group, a creative strategy & élite talent consulting firm. He can be contacted in confidence here.


Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network


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