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The Midweek Motivator – Is Your Position Contestable? The Sequel.

If you missed last week’s column we explored the proposition of “contestability” pointing out that if a competitor is branding using the opposite theme, your brand is probably viable. Last week we used the example of “less repetition” as a weak position since if put to the test, no one would counter-brand “We’re the Rock station playing the same songs over and over.” So ironically the test of a truly effective position lies in the question, would an opponent attack it?”

Americans are swimming in product choices in every category: where only 20 years ago we had AOL, today we have a myriad of access options for whatever we seek. The explosion-of-choice is real and it’s permanent. This includes music or news sources. Think about it:

Choices in the late 70’s: Breakfast Cereals 160, in the 2000’s 350. Mouthwash in the 70’s 15, today 66. Running Shoes then: 5 today 85. There were 17 pain relievers then, 141 today!

Radio clusters didn’t exist until the Telecom Bill shouldered its way onto the Media landscape. Suddenly media brand confusion became a way of life extending far beyond Radio; Sirius XM and a torrent of options entered the field. As an owner or executive line officer for any Radio enterprise you must ask your executive staff, “what are we famous for, who must we defeat, and, how do we achieve differentiation in the “mind”? Without it you’re a dot on the screen.

If you’re skeptical about this call-to-arms, take an hour and read your Nielsen “Diary Comments” embedded in PD Advantage. You’ll need a bottle of Aspirin and antacid tablets. When you read sagacious comments on your AC station’s Diary such as “I don’t like slow songs” or “I’d rather hear more ball games” however painful, it sobers us with the realization of many listeners’ vagary and gross misperceptions.

We encourage listener focus panels; we conduct a number of them across the year. It’s there reality hits our PD’s and managers head-on with three possible takeaways: 1.Your position is misunderstood, 2. your position is not understood or 3. Few have retained or can define it!

Shifts and chasms occur every day in any market’s media consumption. Having empirical data to sort it out can be great reassurance. Fewer companies are willing or able to invest in strategic research. Failing that, well recruited Focus Groups (yes, from your own database, simply because respondents are from the Cume) and are the next best thing. The test of “contestability” is critical to the potential for your format position. Again: is your position a claim an opponent would counter?

Al Ries and Jack Trout’s Marketing Warfare (a Harvard busy school rage in the late 80’s) is every bit as viable and referenced in 2020. A lot of successful format attacks have failed simply because a station was poorly positioned; betting on a “promise” that was either misunderstood, not understood, or completely ignored! Is your position, “contestable?”