Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Next Demo—Radio’s Gateway To Greatness

Here’s a scenario that plays out millions of times each day in America: Mary’s alarm clock goes off at 5AM (instantly turning on a radio station). She’ll complete a strenuous exercise regime 6 days a week listening to her iPod. She plays golf (full 18-holes) 3 or 4 times a week and eats in restaurants—for business and personal enjoyment, several times a week. Even though her business, Real Estate, has fallen on tough times, she’s still her company’s top producer.

She and her husband, Jim, share a beautiful home in an upscale subdivision. They travel extensively. Jim owns a computer consulting company, which because of his iPhone and notebook computer, he can operate from just about anywhere in the world. He enjoys skydiving, is a private pilot who owns his own plane and spends a great deal of his week on a golf course with his wife and their business associates. Their social calendar keeps them keeps active 7-days a week. Their children are grown making them “empty nesters”. Together, they earn over $350,000 a year with a net worth of nearly $2.5 Million.

Oh yes, Mary is 56 and Jim is 58.

They represent the fastest-growing segment of the US population. And they’re solidly a part of the growing influential 35-64 demo. Their lives are well-ordered; they are healthy, happy and active. They are not inclined to consider retiring anytime soon.
And this trend is only just beginning! Every single day since Y2K, 10,000 Americans have celebrated their 50th birthdays. That’s every day for past 8-years!
Run the math: in the past 48-months, over 14.5-million Americans have become the center of the 35-64 demographic group. They are The Next Demo.

They are the best-educated group in U.S. history—consisting of more college graduates that any generation since the U.S. Census began. Unlike any generation before them, they have had access to the best healthcare in the history of mankind. They’ve invested in regular exercise and enjoyed lifelong sports. They’re going to live—on the average—30 or 40 more years. And they have the financial resources to live and live well.

They’ll continue to buy sporty cars, high-tech gadgets, food and all the necessities of life. They have grandchildren who want Nintendo’s, skateboards and Wii’s. And what’s more, they can afford these things.

Now, here’s what we should all know about these people: they listen to radio. But that is changing, too. Because radio is not listening to them!
Radio continues to do everything in its power to disenfranchise people over 35. Why? Because marketers (and their advertising agencies) just don’t “get” these highly-influential, well-informed and affluent people, so radio doesn’t either.

Somewhere in America, there is a radio station that will step up to the plate and go after 35-64 year olds. That station will assemble a staff of broadcast professionals who will do what no other radio station will do: entertain these mature, savvy and connected listeners. Many of these broadcast professionals have been “consolidated out”, but they still know how to reach and entertain an audience. Some are the sales super-stars of the 90’s, who made a name for themselves selling great radio advertising to local businesses. These pros saw their perceived value (and their commissions) drop when big-ticket national advertisers scooped all the station’s avails.

Many of the broadcast pros who can bring it all together are sitting on the beach just looking for a way to get back into the game they made famous.

Make no mistake about it: these pros are available and they want to work. But they’ll need a leader who can lead, not just manage; leaders who understand how to motivate rather than dictate. And finally—Programmers whose GM’s will have enough confidence in them to allow their air personalities to entertain people rather than market the station.

And that radio station will instantly become a ratings monster—sold by a group of Account Executives (as opposed to Sales Reps) who will educate their clients and show them how to reach this important group of potential customers.

It will happen. It must happen. Radio cannot withstand another 2008. Cutting expenses further just won’t cut it.

Radio needs innovation to create new audiences and new clients using better tactics to nimbly go where radio must go. That’s Radio’s bright future and it begins the moment one CEO of one Broadcast Group says so.

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