Millennial Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make

Often radio stations make things harder than they are when it comes to attracting Millennials.

For decades radio’s focus was that large population of Baby Boomers (aging but still 70 million strong). The last Baby Boomer turned 50 in 2014 so the generation is fast edging out of the money demo.

And then there is radio’s uncomfortable relationship with 45 million Gen Xers – after all, this is the generation that coined the phrase “Radio Sucks”. And radio’s answer was “Jack – We Play What We Want”.

Oh no!

So now, with 95 million Millennials coming of age and many now as old as 33 and in the money demo, smart strategic thinking suggests doing all we can to avoid mistakes that turn off the essential next wave of radio potential radio listeners.

Don’t believe that these young people will only pay attention to their phones.

But first we have to start paying attention to them.

Millennial Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make:

  1. To change the way you do commercials.  My research at the University of Southern California shows that Millennials love live-read commercials. But there are some caveats that are easy enough to abide by.  This provides some hope that the things that pay our bills and promote our stations can be delivered in ways that will prompt them to listen.
  2. But the message must be quick and to the point. Millennials, like every other generation, have shorter attention spans every year. The 10 second spot that would work best is a good audio “tweet”.
  3. Watch how you talk to Millennials. They feel radio djs talk down to them at worst and at best sound like phonies -- not real people. There are 7 things that should be used as standards for changing the way radio talks to younger listeners. And by the way, this doesn’t mean you have to hire only Millennials on the air.  They sure listened to that old Baby Boomer Steve Jobs who would have turned 60 today when he talked to them about Apple’s new products and they thought he was cool.
  4. Take Millennial bingeing seriously.  No, it’s not just for Netflix and HuluPlus. Millennials want to be the “program director” so with a little imagination, let’s talk about how to provide them with binge-worthy content from their local radio provider. “The History of Rock and Roll” – 48 hour rockumentary would be a good place to start the brainstorming about creating bingeing content.
  5. Kill the 8-minute stop set before it kills you .   Seriously, you can have the best radio station in the world and too many commercials will do you in. But there are ways to schedule spots better. Look with more skepticism at the common PPM wisdom of creating wastelands of commercials to win certain quarter hours and take a leap of faith – they want better commercials and more interruptions not fewer (more interruptions soothes their A.D.D.).
  6. Avoid using social media to promote on-air.  No one who uses social media believes you anyway. If you have just a little bit of courage, try social media this way — sell nothing, promote nothing, illuminate, entertain and put your name on it.
  7. Ditch voice tracking and syndication.  You love it, audiences ignore you. What a deal? A lousy deal. Voice tracking is for lazy people. As a major market program director I could have gotten people to pay me to take on-air jobs. Well, you know what I mean. You don’t have to go broke hiring live jocks. More interruptions by a live dj who doesn’t sound like a moron wins the day.
  8. Repeat after me: I will never run a sweeper again.  Again, lazy radio’s way to avoid having to entertain an audience.  It’s something Marc Chase would do at iHeart stations but sweepers are really passé. Millennials told me that when iHeart switched to urban hip-hop to go after Emmis’ Power 106, the sweeper they used “we’ve got the power” backfired. Get it.  92.3 has the “Power” – how not cool is that? Let’s talk about a replacement for sweepers that you and the audience will much prefer.
  9. And eliminate everything that ends in “est” – like “greatest” and “best”. No longer credible. There are a whole lot of better replacement words that are more authentic.
  10. Play games  -- hey, this is the gaming generation —what a bad time to stop on-air contesting. But be warned — throwback radio contests won’t work today. The best way to come up with these new Millennial friendly contests is to bring a bunch of Millennials in to create them. Let’s practice what to say and what kind of prizes to award. Think: a job, a college loan payment.
  11. Don’t brand or promote, make personalities your “brand” .  Lew Dickey loves branding, not Millennials. Nash, Icon, even all-news or talk, greatest hits, you name it means nothing to today’s audience. You’re going to get mad at me now — personalities are everything on radio. I know they cost money and owners can’t wait to get rid of them but that’s what young listeners want. In fact, it’s the only thing many of them want from radio. They can get more music variety just about anywhere in their digital universe. Want to know what it takes to find a hot Millennial radio personality — radio still hasn’t figured it out. But we now have some clues.
  12. Two things radio listeners still can’t resist: service and humility.  Let’s be 100 here – most stations fail to deliver either.

You’ve got me going now.

Want more ideas like these?

Invest one day at the 2015 Media Solutions Conference March 18th in Philadelphia (sorry, it won’t be available by stream, video or audio). Only in-person.

Current tuition, program info here.

The curriculum:

  • Attracting 2 Million To Your Website the WTOP Way
  • Commercials – Another Way
  • How Much Radio, How Much Digital
  • Listen Longer Strategies
  • Eliminating 2015’s 3 Biggest Listener Objections
  • Effective Ways To Compete With On-Demand Content
  • What Millennials Want From Radio
  • Selling Against Competitors Who Drop Rates
  • Start Your Own Short-Form Video Business
  • Beyond Clicks – Listener Engagement
  • Telling Stories – the New Spoken Word Radio
  • Why You Should Pass On Podcasting
  • 8 Millennial Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make
  • Tons of Questions (Q & A)

Reserve a seat.

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