Sales Lead, Programming Heads-Up:
“The Fixer Mindset”

| July 30, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Remember that riveting scene in “Mission Impossible III?” At a swank Vatican City reception, the MI force kidnaps Philip Seymour Hoffman’s villainous character…and nobody knows. The switcheroo is high tech. In a back room, a 3D printer creates a mask that enables Cruise to masquerade as the abducted Hoffman, and walk right out the front door.

Don’t shrug this off as something you only see in the movies. Elsewhere in Hollywood, one Jay Leno has spent a small fortune on high-end 3D printers, to produce otherwise-unavailable engine parts for his couple hundred collectable cars. At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, there’ll be an entire Tech Zone dedicated to 3D printing; so look for my CES coverage here in January, and listen for my reports on “America in the Morning” and my client stations.

Back when ex-DJs my age got into radio, we played the hits. And “a hit” was a song, on a 45-rpm vinyl disc, sold in brick-and-mortar storefronts. Now, songs are digital downloads from Amazon and iTunes. And the definition of “television” has broadened to include Hulu, Netflix, and other interlopers investing aggressively in their own hits. Real soon, “a hit” will be 3D print software code. You’ll order the part or gadget you need from Amazon or iTunes, and the author will print-and-ship to order.

If I had a 3D printer, the first thing I’d print is another 3D printer. But I digress.

Here’s what all this means to radio…

Sales: Prospect repair shops.

Planned obsolescence was actually fundamental to the 20th Century economy. When one broke, you bought another. Indulge me another movie reference: “Plastics.” Also in the 1960s, Vance Packard’s best seller “The Waste Makers” told of a potato peeler whose handle was decorated with a photo of…potato peels. They kept getting discarded with the garbage, and replaced. That was then, this is now.

Buzzword you may be reading these days if you’re a trend-watcher: “the fixer mindset.”

With new car sales up lately, radio stations are exhaling. Pent-up demand was inevitable, after such a protracted recession…during which my client stations’ reps were successfully prospecting non-dealer auto repair businesses:

“YOU’VE ALREADY PAID FOR THAT CAR. WANT ANOTHER 10,000 ‘FREE MILES?’ GO SEE WALT JR. AT MORRISSEY MOTORS. HE’LL TAKE YOUR CAR FOR A SPIN…AND HE WON’T TAKE YOU FOR A RIDE!”

Positioning against consumers’ predisposition that dealer service departments were more expensive – and female consumers’ predisposition that they could suffer unnecessary work – here’s another copy point that clicked during the downturn on stations I work with:

“BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU TAKE YOUR CAR.”

That pitch still works, even with new car sales now benefitting from an improving economy and low interest rates, and with new-tech making new cars sexier than ever.

But this fixer mindset trend is bigger than cars. It’s about fixing-what’s-broken, and it seems to be driven by, among other factors:

• all that MacGyvering we got good at during the recession , and the new frugality of  The New Normal;

• environmental conscience; and

• advanced repair technology. 3D printing is merely the ultimate; but not the only. Ask your dentist how his/her work has changed in recent years.

So consider prospecting retail fix-it shops, of all sorts. Start with those who breathe new life into big-ticket items:

“DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH A NEW REFRIGERATOR COSTS??? DO YOU KNOW HOW LITTLE A NEW COMPRESSOR COSTS?”

Recommendation: Run spots for these advertisers in:

• The Rush Limbaugh show, which, for all its issues, has a solid track record with direct response products/services, and copy which articulates a specific value proposition.

• Weekend how-to shows, whose listeners are curious about what’s under the hood. Tech talkers Dave Graveline and Kim Komando and home shows like “The Money Pit” and “Real Estate Today” are a supportive programming environment. Ditto “Bobby Likis’ Car Clinic.” Also opportune: the local lawn and garden show if you have one (pitch lawnmower/snowblower tune-ups).

• For service businesses, consider Monday verticals. We, inside-the-box, think this inventory is less valuable than Fridays, when logs are filling up. But Monday is the beginning of the week during which service providers are booking appointments, or inviting those free no-obligation consultations (during which they close new business).

These retailers are also digital content/sponsorship prospects:

• Yes, shooting how-to-fix-it videos might SEEM counterintuitive. If your advertiser’s video shows ‘em how to, why do they need your advertiser?

• Logical, but not what tends to happen. Properly done, online demonstrations bring in new biz.

• Example: A bike shop’s video about how, step-by-step, to change a flat tire on your 10-speed bike convinced me that – if I get a flat – I’m throwing my bike in the trunk and bringing it to him!

Programming people: Smell that coffee?

First things first, admittedly consultant-sounding advice: Play the hits, topically. Obsess on relevance. Know your listeners’ lives, their pain, and speak to those issues.

Declining numbers for All-Politics-All-The-Time hosts speak for themselves; and I’m still not overhearing “Benghazi” at Dunkin’ Donuts. Talk about what you ARE hearing there, and you will be:

a) remembered by diarykeepers (who are taking a memory test) and PPM panelists (for whom awareness = usage), and

b) quoted over lunch or dinner.

Seen a new car dashboard lately? If the plethora of media competitors there makes you nervous, you’re a decade late. The aux jack appeared there 10 years ago; and anyone can hear anything available on their smartphone by plugging that cord into what we used to call “the cigarette lighter.” Bringing less than your A-game is REAL risky; and solid local programming is something they can’t get anywhere else.

As on-air talent firings continue, your best hope for job security is being indispensable to sales. Don’t just acknowledge technology, manipulate it. Become the station’s Sponsorable Digital Content Wizard. Final movie reference, I promise: “Show me the money!”

ICYMI, these related columns:

• “Where Radio Fits in the Media Landscape”

•  “NOT ‘The Future.’ ‘Radio’ & ‘TV’ have ALREADY been re-defined.”

• “The Future of Radio in the Car? It already happened.”

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Read/see/hear more/more/more at www.HollandCooke.com, and follow @HollandCooke on Twitter. And meet HC at Talkers Los Angeles, October 10.

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Category: Advice, Sales