When you’ve been at the forefront of media research for as long as our company’s founder Jon Coleman has, you’re bound to have lots of “quotables.”
Of course, not everyone at Coleman Insights today can spout off every one of Jon’s nuggets of wisdom. But there’s one most of us have burned into our memory: “Every song you play is a marketing decision.”
Why is this one so sticky?
“Every song you play is a marketing decision” is a simple way of explaining how important your brand is to the success of a music-based radio station. The answer to the question to “Why did you play that song?” should never be “Because it tests.” The answer should be “Because it tests” and “Because it fits.” As Warren Kurtzman wrote when Coleman Insights introduced the FACT360 Strategic Music Test almost exactly six years ago, “to be right for your station, a song should absolutely be popular among and familiar to your target audience. It should also, however, reinforce the brand essence of your station or at least the essence of the brand you’re trying to build.”
Warren explained that it’s not just every song that makes a statement about your brand; it’s the positioning and imaging efforts you employ as well.
But that’s not all. Everything on a radio station is a marketing decision, and that very fact is what makes programming one so daunting and complex. It starts with a song, and expands to the positioning, the imaging, the personalities and how they present the brand. But it further spreads to elements like specialty hours and weekends. It includes the look of external marketing. The content of the website. The tone of the social media pages. The appearance at remote broadcasts. Even the spots played on the station, and certainly the sound of a station on its stream.
There’s no question that the demand on a programmer’s time makes it incredibly difficult to put every piece of content under the brand microscope, and it is realistically impossible to ensure that everything on a radio station meets the brand standards of the PD.
Just don’t ever say these three words: “It’s just one.”
It’s just one song. It’s just one specialty hour of music that’s completely different from what the station is known for, rather than an hour that expands and deepens a positive image. It’s just one – ahem – “enhancement” commercial on an AC station. It’s just one remote with terrible audio. It’s just one talk break. It’s just one social media post. It’s just our stream (In a future Tuesdays With Coleman, we’ll address one way streaming content can adversely affect a station’s brand.)
The attitude of “It’s just one” leads to a piling up of “ones.” And that can end up creating a cumulative issue over time.
Every moment counts. Everything is a marketing decision.