Monday, February 24, 2014

Radio Continues To Have A "Missing Link" To Listeners

I spend a lot of time listening to the radio. All kinds of radio, from AM and FM
stations to Pandora, Stitcher, Beats Audio, and a plethora of other streaming services.  And to be clear, if it's sound coming our of a speaker, it's radio.  Period. After having spent more than three decades programming radio stations, it's hard not to have sound in the background.  I also spend a lot of time on the Internet, sometimes looking at stations' websites and Social Media outposts.  What I see online frightens me because most of the terrestrial radio stations, and even some of the streaming services, have a disconnect between their audio product and their online presence, what I call THE MISSING LINK.

In other words, most audio content providers don't think about how people USE their product, what else they're doing when they're listening, or most importantly, how they can take the product that comes out of the speakers to a computer or smartphone screen.  Because every day there are less audio delivery devices like the one above and more like this.

Of course, there are still a lot of audio delivery devices that aren't smartphones, but mobile is becoming king and smartphones are the King of Mobile, so let's think of the smartphone as the new radio.  And that includes phones with the FM chip that many broadcasters think is their ticket to mobile parity.  Which it isn't.  Not because having an FM radio in a phone isn't good for free listening or emergencies, but because if there's THE MISSING LINK between the audio and the online component of the radio station, there a decent chance listeners will figure out that the radio station, any radio station, isn't talking to them and doesn't know what their life is all about.

I'm not going to share some of the most glaring examples of THE MISSING LINK, but I've got some great ones saved. There is no shortage of posts that are meaningless, wacky DJ jokes online that don't work if you're reading them and not hearing them, or tweets that are too long, posted by some kind of automation, and either cut off in the middle or edited to being unreadable without a secret decoder ring.

So what's a content creator to do?  First, stop thinking that the only way people can hear your content other from your bone crushing transmitter is with one of these in an office.  It isn't 2003. Yes, there is still listening on computers, but remember, the world is going mobile and the smartphone is the King of Mobile. Second, start thinking about how your online activities can compliment, contribute to, and complete whatever comes out of the speakers. Have talent and promos send listeners to someplace online and get more information about an important local event. Use your online assets to drive listeners to the station at a certain time for something really special, not just the "Top 9 At 9". Talk to the people who aren't in the programming or marketing departments and find out how they use the audio you put out.  You'd be surprised.  And probably a little sickened, because in the world of the Millennials and younger people, you're not doing it the way they want it.

And here's the one thing you can do that will improve your online reputation, and therefore your "cred" with your listeners, no matter what format you are, terrestrial or online, and what market size you're in. Look like you care about your online presence.  That means update your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages regularly, use only good pictures, not some bad, blurry phone photo just to slap something up online, and write different posts for different platforms. Anyone with a shred of knowledge about Social Media knows when they're seeing a tweet with lots of @'s and #'s simply reposted on Facebook and they know the person who posted is either unaware of how to tailor posts for each platform, letting automation run wild, or just plain ignorant.  Each platform online now demands a unique voice, and you need to take the time to create posts in all the right voices and post them when people might actually see them, not when it's convenient for the intern to put them up.

There's one last thing to think about when it comes to relating to your listeners.  Your website is the only piece of the Interwebz you completely control.
Don't force your listeners to look at something like this, it only makes you look foolish.  Listeners know what today's great websites look like, and far too many radio station websites are mired in the past because of benign neglect, not enough updates in the onerous barter contract you signed for "website development" or the fact that someone thinks neon colors and DJ pictures are what people come to your site to see. Guess what, that's not the case.  You can fix the ugly, uninformative website, and sometimes it's the biggest MISSING LINK.

If you're creating content, any content for that matter, are you providing the full 360 degree experience to your users or is there a MISSING LINK?

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Monday, February 10, 2014

The New Website Is Here! The New Website Is Here!

With all due respect, copyright acknowledgement, and thanks to Steve Martin from "The Jerk", this is kind of how I feel today.  The All New Mark Edwards Worldwide Website is here!  Not right HERE, but HERE at

After helping get clients' websites and online presence all set up, I decided to design a new website from the ground up.  You'll find information about Mark Edwards Worldwide's services, links to many wondrous things on the Interwebz, multiple ways to contact me, and much more.

Please drop on by, leave a comment if you like, and let your friends and associates know that if they want to shine online, Mark Edwards Worldwide is ready to help them!

My whole family thanks you.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When Marketing Automation ISN'T Useful

Those who know me and have worked with me know that I'm a fan of using marketing automation to schedule some messaging.  Not all messages, but some, especially on Twitter and text messages.  But I'm also a big fan of thinking about the audience and what the message will mean to them.  I ran across a case in point this morning and wanted to share it.  I'm not picking on the business that I'll talk about, I really love them, but this incident shows that they probably scheduled a text message and didn't account for how their database would be affected by it.

I'm in St. Louis, as is this business.  We're having snow today, many schools are closed, and the ones that aren't will most likely be sending students home early because the heaviest of the snow will be coming starting around noon.  The Missouri Department Of Transportation has issued a "stay off the roads" alert so they can get to the snow and keep people safe.  So it's fair to say this isn't the day to be going out unless you really have to.

Even with all that happening, I got this text message at 8:40 this morning.
I've got to believe this was a scheduled message, if for no other reason that any reasonable person would know not to ask their customers to come out during the time the snow is supposed to be falling hard and the state wants everyone off the roads.

So what happened here?  My hope is that the message was scheduled in advance and the person in charge of marketing for this restaurant either wasn't up yet to assess the weather or just forgot that the message was in the queue.  At least I hope that's what happened.

There's an important lesson here.  Taking advantage of marketing automation is usually a good thing, but if you do, you need to be able to stop pre-scheduled messages from going out and be able to do it fast.  In this case, it's because the weather stinks and asking people to come out in a snowstorm might not reflect best on the business. But scheduled messages could need to be stopped for any number of reasons, a news event that might take people's attention and make the business look crass, the death of a famous person, or even a public relations problem for other outlets of the same chain or the parent company.

Sometimes "radio silence" or rescheduling a small promotion is the least helpful to your business, yet safest way to act.  But you've got to know when your messaging is going out and be able to stop it, especially because your reputation, if not your sales, will benefit from an abundance of caution.

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