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The Midweek Motivator – Ambush

Like it or not the true state of Radio today demands outwitting, outflanking, out battling your competitors. Radio’s war is adjudicated through listeners measured by Nielsen and/or by response-rates to your clients’ Ad schedules. 

In a time like this where offices remain unoccupied, many are unsure about next week much less next year, yet someone somewhere is plotting to increase their market-share…at your expense. Think about it. Many of the most successful victories in military or business history have come from ambush; an unexpected flank or guerrilla attack when an established rival is least prepared. 

Anyone who attended a Military Academy, enrolled in ROTC, or studied military history has likely read Carl Von Clausewitz; considered an unmatched authority on conquest and defeat. The late-great General proclaimed the first principle of warfare calls for the use of “superior force.” That holds today, assuming a radio group has the wherewithal to achieve superior force. Some don’t. 

Even so, today’s radio leader contemplating overtaking his or her unsuspecting competitor often attacks through a “Guerrilla” ambush where leadership’s rules are simple: attack without warning, sustain your flexibility, and pour on relentless mental courage and aggression. There is nothing “polite” about an attack in any field, much less media. 

Do you believe your own cluster is unassailable? So did RCA, Western Union, Xerox, and General Motors. Don’t confuse “Guerrilla” with low-end start-ups in any field. Remember Lexus? The Big Three yawned “ho-hum”. How about Cuisinart, which on-launch started at $250.00 a unit or Tommy Bahama’s triumph in leisurewear? Radio’s most famous undoing came when a mega-franchise was defeated by a Guerrilla; Tampa’s seemingly unbeatable WRBQ ignored the onslaught from Jacor’s Power Pig (today WFLZ; one of the nation’s premier CHR behemoths). 

Here’s how to invite a “guerrilla” attack: (1) play fast and loose with your brand imaging from the control room to your external tactical efforts. (2) Let your talent go it alone without coaching, and without important fundamentals from clock-management to content planning (structure, topication, length and such). PPM is unforgiving and those mechanics apply to every market: PPM, Diary or the unrated. (3) Suffer the Disease of Us: the false belief you “own” a position that’s unassailable. So was the Alamo. So were the ’69 Baltimore Orioles…until the do-nothing Mets sent them packing in 5 games! The Orioles were thought to be the greatest team in Baltimore’s history while the Mets were seen as “no-chance” pushovers. 

A few more invitations for an ambush: (1) In the name of economics pull-in your external presence and automate weekends since “fewer listen.” Weekends comprise 192 quarter hours. (2) Don’t emphasize vertical cycling (whereby morning talent has a recorded cameo in afternoon and conversely). (3) Fail to create compelling promos, some of which may just be right-brain “eyewash” though coveted by listeners nonetheless.  

The best “Radio Warfare” posture comes with playing Defense whereby you attack yourself. Make old, tired stuff obsolete; bring fresh new tactical promotions and listener experiences to your weekly Cume. More than ever, decisiveness is in high demand in 2020. It shouldn’t require an ambush to ignite our intensity.