Anybody can give data, but not everyone can give advice.
– Jon Coleman, Founder
Our story begins in the summer of 1978 when Jon Coleman was working for a radio and TV research and consulting company called Media Associates in Dallas, Texas. That year, Jon started his own company to serve media brands. Without an office, Jon and his wife Linda would write questionnaires and analyze studies from their home, while subcontracting all of the data processing. Eventually, they rented a small office and the company began to grow.
“We don’t just deliver research – we deliver insights to help you build and strengthen your brand”
Now doing business as Coleman Research, Jon and his staff began to develop our products and services. He believed that not only did we need to provide superb data, but we also needed to consult and provide clients with in-depth analysis. The approach worked as the company grew substantially. Jon attracted former executives Pierre Bouvard and Chris Ackerman and current president Warren Kurtzman to begin building the media research industry’s leading team. It was also during this period that the company opened its office in Hamburg, Germany from which John Mönninghoff began to build Coleman’s European radio station research business.
In 2000, the name of the company was changed to Coleman Insights, to better reflect the benefits the company delivers to its clients. We continued to grow with the addition of John Boyne to our executive team and the acquisition of mediaEKG in 2009, which resulted in Sam Milkman also joining the company. Meghan Campbell and Jay Nachlis joined the firm as consultants in 2017, and Scott Musgrave was named Chief Revenue Officer in 2022.
Today, Coleman Insights reflects Jon’s vision to be much more than a media research company. Through its work with hundreds of brands in more than a dozen countries, Coleman Insights shares with its clients what we have learned and what our experiences are. Our scope includes all media segments, including radio station research, podcast research, television research, and streaming services research.
We don’t just deliver research – we deliver insights to help build and strengthen your brand. There are no cookie-cutter solutions. We believe the best research is customized for each situation, and delivered with a clear, outlined strategic plan designed to achieve results over the long term.
The Image PyramidSM
All of the insights we provide to our clients are based on a concept we call the Image Pyramid. While designed specifically with radio stations in mind, the principles of the Image Pyramid translate to most brands—specifically the need to focus on the base position of the brand.
The Image Pyramid states that a radio station’s ratings performance is largely based on the relatively simple images that listeners possess of that station. It has been our experience that the most successful radio stations have images that exist in a very specific hierarchy, with their base music, news, or talk position being far and away the most important.
That is why the base music, news, or talk position takes up nearly half of the Image Pyramid—its size indicates its importance in terms of where a station focuses its efforts—and its position at the bottom demonstrates how it supports all of the other product attributes. Quite simply, if a music station is not strongly imaged for the music it plays, efforts to build other product attributes are in vain.
Similarly, if a spoken word-formatted station does not have a strong base position—such as for being the News, Talk or Sports station—it should not be focusing on developing secondary attributes.
“We recognize that the most successful radio stations are perceived more deeply by listeners.”
Many radio stations make the mistake of externally marketing their morning shows or contests or investing heavily in tactical marketing, such as direct mail and telemarketing, before their base positions are strong enough to support these additional images. Such practices prevent stations from maximizing their potential relative to their market’s appetite for the kind of programming they carry and often leave such stations vulnerable to direct competition.
Despite the emphasis we place on a radio station’s base position, we recognize that the most successful stations are perceived more “deeply” by listeners. Our experience points to personality—in most cases emanating from a station’s morning show—as being the most important secondary product attribute to develop, and thus personality takes its place as the second layer of the Image Pyramid.
Few radio stations enjoy the luxury of strong base music positions and big personality images. For those rare star performers, however, the Image Pyramid directs them to specialty programming, contesting, marketing, news, and then community involvement as the next stages of product attribute development.
Outside Thinking is based on the premise that you make decisions based on the habits of your consumer. It’s not unusual to fall into the Inside Thinking trap! When you make decisions based on how you think customers utilize your product, perceptions can be skewed and poor decisions made.
Let’s take radio, for example. Outside Thinkers understand listeners don’t choose to listen to radio stations because they care deeply or are paying close attention. Rather, listeners choose stations based on habit, needs, perceptions, language and lifestyle.
“You make mistakes when you don’t understand how real consumers think about and use radio”
At Coleman Insights, we encourage our clients to be Outside Thinkers. For example, we believe:
- Listening should fit into existing habits, rather than trying to
- Audio brands should fulfill the needs and expectations listeners have of their respective brands
- Brand building should be done based on the Image Pyramid
- Language should be used to describe the product in ways the
listener clearly understands
- Programming should be conducive to the lifestyle of the
Utilizing Outside Thinking can result in more targeted programming, stronger brands, and great content.