Old Media. New Tricks.

Radio Needs to Catch a Cold

Posted on: June 30, 2008

This article was originally posted on my personal blog,The Blog According to Buzz.

Guy Kawasaki interviewed Pro Blogger, Darren Rowse, for his Sun Microsystems blog last week and a piece of conversation at the end grabbed me.

Question: What do you think of Seth Godin not having comments on his blog?

Answer: I think that it works well for Seth (as does many things he turns his attention to). While the common convention is to give your readers a space to interact with you in the comments directly below your posts Seth’s chosen to let his readers interact with what he has to say on their own blogs (or with him via email).

From what I can tell, one of his main reasons for this was to cut down the work that he needs to put into comment moderation. I understand the temptation to do this – I’ve just hired someone to help me with this very task on ProBlogger.

However another stroke of genius (I’m not sure if it’s intended) with this approach is that Seth has made his blog a little more viral by not having comments. What happens when he writes something that people want to respond to? In many cases they blog about it – ‘sneezing’ his post further than his current readership.

It’s the type of marketing every.single.producer craves. Word of mouth. It’s not an advertisement, it’s not a pushed out message. It’s an honest to goodness recommendation from a friend to two friends who tell two friends and so on and so on and so on.

In Seth’s case, closing off the conversation forces the conversation to continue in a way that spreads his message. It’s a sneeze that instantly goes viral. It’s fabulous and immediately understood imagery. When Seth catches a cold, he gives to his readers who instantly want to spread it with every.single.other.person. Seth is patient zero.

Most radio stations can’t quite do that – yet. There’s not enough of an army mobilized to take the message and spread it. The passion in the audience just isn’t there, so opening up a forum for conversation on a show blog, or station website would be a good start to foster a sense of community and encourage the listeners who do care.

Seth explored the notion of the marketing sneeze 2 years ago on his site.

Lessons Learned from Trader Joe’s

I was talking with a colleague today about the magic of Trader’s. Here’s how they make billions:

1. they target a consumer that cares a great deal about what they buy at the supermarket. As a result, their customers are more loyal, and more important, are willing to drive farther to get there. This means they can have smaller, lower-rent locations (and fewer of them) which drives up sales per square foot and profits.

2. These customers are big mouths. They sneeze. When they serve something from Trader’s they brag about, they tell the story of the store. This drives down advertising costs.

So how can radio create something to sneeze at?

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Video, Websites are all necessary tools to get the word spread, but unless your tools are properly set up to encourage community and word of mouth, you’ll fall flat. You’ll also need something engaging to be spread – a cold.

The personality needs to be outrageous, the content needs to be contagious, the audience needs to feel engaged and connected to the product to want to sneeze about it anywhere they can.

There’s a disconnect right now. A bridge needs to be built on two fronts. One – from radio to technology. Two – from radio to listener.

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