(By Bob McCurdy) No one knows for sure “what’s next” but it’s coming just as Three Dog Night’s Eli was coming in 1969 and it is not too early to begin thinking about it. It’s safe to assume that a new normal in terms of advertiser and consumer habits and attitudes will emerge, at least in the short term. Life and business will not immediately revert to March 10, the day prior to the declaration of a global pandemic.
So how can we be prepared for “what’s next”? Some thoughts:
We need to get out of our comfort zones and re-evaluate who we are as an industry, clusters and individuals in relation to our clients and what we do/execute for them. This holds true for sales and programming. Question all historical assumptions and ways of doing business. They will likely need bolstering.
Recognize that courage will be at a minimum and security will rule. Few advertisers will be going out on any limbs. We must bring “safety” via creative and perfectly executed programs that deliver results.
Doing more with less will be a way of life for many advertisers. Stretching every marketing dollar will be the name of the game as companies look to get back on their feet.
Advertisers will likely be buying later for shorter flights as they remain wary.
Radio has been traditionally comprised of a bunch of Lone Rangers. It might not be a bad idea to cooperate with other radio broadcasters in the market on select target accounts to present a unified radio front, working with and not against each other to the benefit of all. An inclusive “Why radio” rationale created and presented by the market’s broadcasters will pay dividends.
There is a lot of terrific material coming from listeners in the form of on-air comments and in e-mails that speaks to radio’s important role it and its personalities play in their lives. Aggregate them and get them in front of advertisers. Do not let these powerful testimonials fall by the wayside.
Anticipate that things will likely be chaotic initially as advertisers rediscover their equanimity. Begin preparing yourself mentally for this now. Resilience and mental flexibility will be key.
Accountability will reign. Belt-tightening advertisers will stick with the medium that is most accountable. They will be performance obsessed. So must we. Anecdotal proof of performance is forever dead. If we keep proving cause and effect, revenue will increase. Attribution tools in “what’s next” will become even more important.
Turn your home into your “university”. Tomorrow is too late. The skills that you possessed prior to this pandemic will not suffice post-pandemic. It would be wise to use some of this “shelter-in-place” time to acquire new knowledge and refine existing skills. Don’t pass up this “upskill” opportunity.
The importance of digital expertise will continue to increase.
Relationships will be deepened by providing meaningful professional value not lunch or golf dates. These relationships with key decision makers will be more important than ever.
The industry will need more sales leaders more so than sales managers.
Get mentally ready for the unknown. No one has had any practice or experience with “what’s next”, we are all starting at “Go”. Control what you can control and you can control your effort, attitude and resilience. Keep perspective and a sense of humor. You will likely need both.
A “reset” is likely around the corner which will impact many aspects of everyday life, including both purchasing and media habits. While this “reset” is a good opportunity for each of us to elevate our professional game, it might also be a good time for the radio industry to get a little introspective to ensure that it continues to compete effectively in the approaching new normal.
Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]