By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — How effective is Donald Trump’s slogan? It crystallized his shoot-from-the-hip spiel well enough that conservatives who were chanting “American Exceptionalism” a year ago now sound like they think we’re no longer great.
Mrs. Clinton’s messaging hasn’t been nearly as consistent or deft. A while back, her slogan-of-the-week was “Love Trumps Hate.” Huh? Lately, with Bernie Sanders out of the race, and to position against Trump’s nationalistic narrative, she’s settled on the less cryptic “Stronger Together.”
NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll results released just before the conventions demonstrate that Trump owns key images:
|Donald Trump||Hillary Clinton|
|“Dealing with the economy”||47%||37%|
|“Standing up for America”||45%||37%|
|“Terrorism & national security”||44%||39%|
|“The gun issue”||43%||35%|
Other numbers suggest that November will test Trump’s brand:
- Statistician Nate Silver correctly forecast 49 out of 50 states in 2008, and every state in 2012. His continuously crunched “Chance of Winning” numbers show Mrs. Clinton near 80%.
- Consensus among those who reckon the Electoral map is that Democrats’ base is some 240 of the 270 votes needed to win. Mathematically, Mrs. Clinton could lose Florida and Ohio (a state no Republican has won the White House without) and still win. Must-win states for Trump include Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin; all of which President Obama carried in 2012.
Meanwhile, we in radio are prepping for our own campaign, the Fall ratings…
Make your station great again.
Squint when you see political poll numbers on the TV screen, and you’ll often spot the little SurveyMonkey logo. A dozen-plus years ago when I started using this service, it was called Zoomerang. I recommend SurveyMonkey, if you know how to use it.
How do you want to use it? To ascertain whether your station (or a competitor) owns images as critical to your campaign as those images above are to Trump’s.
Why: As heaps of PPM data demonstrate, the most efficient path to Share growth is attaining more Time Spent Listening from existing cume, specifically more occasions-of-listening from those who listen to your station most, so called “First Preference” or “P1” listeners. Thus the value of understanding THEIR understanding of what you do. And how, in their estimation, other stations compare; and whether smartphone apps are eroding radio’s tenure with news/weather/traffic/opinion-sparring/other staples. Hint: They are.
Why assume, when you can ask?
With so much competition for listener attention and advertising dollars – including digital revenue – and with low-cost/no-cost tools like SurveyMonkey available – relying on conventional wisdom is now unwise. Know this: New-tech competitors now disrupting broadcasting aren’t.
Netflix is offering some 600 hours of new series and movies this year; and VP/original content Cindy Holland tells Wired magazine that her company’s ongoing conversation with its customers “helps us identify the kinds of things our viewers are interested in watching.’”
The Price Is Right.
As in FREE. You can build, launch, and tabulate a survey gratis, if you have your own sample, i.e., a listener email database.
Like many online tools, SurveyMonkey is “a freemium;” meaning basic service is no-charge, and premium-tier add-ons are available. Such as sample. For a price, SurveyMonkey will send your survey to a defined sample of opt-in survey takers (who earn reward points).
- Example: In 2005, when she was re-launching her national radio show, Dr. Laura hired me to do a series of nationwide perceptual research surveys; and we bought a demographically/geographically delineated Zoomerang sample that told us what we needed to know.
- It wasn’t cheap. And that’s one reason research companies charge so much for a Perceptual study (or focus groups). Recruitment is the biggest cost component. So it’s likely cost-prohibitive for a station to buy, for instance, a big enough target-demographic + Zip Code sample of local population that would include a meaningful number of internal cume, given the station’s Rating. So…
- At several client stations we’re doing “a customer satisfaction survey.” What smart business doesn’t? In ANY industry, your best prospect is an existing customer. Often, I’m not even checked-into a room I’ve booked on Hotels.com before their robot sends me a survey asking how smoothly check-in went. I’m not even off the shuttle bus to the airport terminal before Thrifty emails to ask how my car rental went. Mostly I fly Southwest Airlines. When, instead, I fly Delta – whose loyalty software knows that it’s been a while – their bot emails me a how’d-your-flight-go survey, hoping to (in radio ratings parlance) “upsell a P2 to P1.”
- If you don’t have a loyal listener tribe databased, you can invite participation via on-air promos. Copy we’re using offers that “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TALK RADIO CAN DO IS…LISTEN. SO TELL US! HOW’RE WE DOIN’?” Promos promise that listeners can take the survey anonymously, or go into a prize drawing, for baseball tickets or restaurant gift cards, or whatever else is gathering dust in the prize closet. And we rig the survey so each person can only take it once.
Best Practices = Better Results
Caution: Don’t try this at home. Do-it-yourself research only works if it’s properly executed. That’s the other cost component research companies charge for, “the secret sauce.”
Example: Don’t use the word “survey.” Instead ask “Your opinion?” This is more than semantic. It’s respectful, even flattering.
A super-smart research pro who taught me a lot back when I started doing this stuff in the early 1980s said it comes down to: “What do you want to know? And who do you want to ask?”
Prediction: Much of what your loyals tell you will be unsurprising. But HOW they describe you – words and phrases, listener language – can be as valuable to a station’s on-air imaging as those Trump descriptors are to his campaign.
And the one or two surprises this effort tends to surface can be real interesting.
Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke.