There have been a host of new job titles that have popped up in radio in recent years as the digital wave has grown. But in Seattle, Entercom's Jack Hutchison made a different move. It started with making a profound change to the commercial stopset model on 107.7 The End, in the form of the “2 Minute Promise.” That meant cutting their commercial load in half and setting a limit on no more than six minutes of commercials an hour. But the other move was the station doubling down on Millennials.
As a group, Generation Y is at the center of the marketing change that is all around us. And yet, so many advertisers have little understanding of these consumers and what makes them tick.
Sean Pollock is Entercom Seattle’s Millennial Marketing Specialist, charged with supporting sales and marketing of their alternative station that's focused on Gen Y, and managing their news/trend/research resource, Millennial Lab.
Crowned as the largest and most elusive generation, there is constant chatter from board rooms to sales floors about how to reach and resonate with today’s Millennial. Nearly every business in every category imaginable is actively re-examining everything from their philanthropic initiatives to their media mix in an attempt to command attention and consideration from this unique audience. Radio is no stranger to this new challenge as media consumption fragmentation and new pure-play entrants vie for the seconds, minutes, and sometimes, hours Millennials will give them.
At one point or another, just every radio station or cluster will have to confront Millennials, and what it takes to appeal to them on their terms. Sean has made this his area of expertise, and in this installment of “The Guest List,” Sean offers “5 Things About Millennials That Every Radio Broadcaster Should Consider.”
1) They’re Not Homogenous
The age range of Millennials is about 20 years – born between 1980 and 2000. If you had the time and resources, you could line up these Millennials from youngest to oldest and what you’d find is that what’s relevant to one doesn’t necessarily apply to all. However, advertisers often have a one-sided view of the entire generation. And all too often – it’s the negative side – debt ridden, lazy, narcissistic, etc.
When you break them down to life stages, you find significant differences – from the high-schooler living with their parents, to the married homeowner with children. With each life stage, income, the importance of particular products and services, cultural references, artists, events, and so on, change rapidly. While this particular fact applies to both programming and sales, the importance to the sales and production team is heightened.
How can you get out of that homogeneous rut to get a more accurate assessment of your consumer by life stage? Here's one way – help your clients paint the picture of their customer through multiple POVs from the customer's perspective. Describe the primary, secondary and tertiary customers. Be as honest and thorough as possible. What's their motivation, favorite activities, job title, etc.? It can be a combination of an ideal/prospective customer, but don't disregard who's paying their bills today. Better defining a particular Millennial consumer will give way to more purposeful discussions around what integrated media activities will be most effective.
2) Always Be Integrated
If you’re not using integrated media, the first step is admitting you have a problem. An integrated approach is not a sales thing or a programming thing, it’s both. Looking at the media usage of the Millennial cohort, it’s clear that more fragmentation is happening across various channels. Radio, social, tablets, mobile, VOD, apps, streaming, video gaming, TV… It’s exhausting to keep tabs on all the new places they’re tapping into for news, info and entertainment!
When chatting with Leslie Scott, PD of The End, she echoes that it’s ever important today that the programming team utilize integrated media. Interacting and engaging with listeners through all the touch points in which they reach out to The End is key to maintaining and growing audience – on-air, text, phones, social, website, events, etc. – all important.
In one of our recent Millennial Focus Groups (moderated by Fred Jacobs), it was clear that the speed and frequency in which we respond to texts and Facebook posts, for example, doesn’t go unnoticed. As one listener shared when talking about talent responding to comments, “You can’t get that with Spotify.” They’re a social generation and expect that you’ll respond in near real-time. Plus, you gotta love when listeners spit right back at you the value of live and local!
Moving to the sales side, we’ve really tried to adhere to what we’ve termed Radio Reimagined to not only include the “2 Minute Promise,” but to bring our clients 360° message immersion through integration of multiple assets from on-air to display ads to emails to mobile app integration to now: sponsored content and branded content. If we’re going to maximize the reach and frequency for our clients’ messages, we need to meet the listener with that message in the multiple touch points they choose to interact with us. And do it in a way that is complementary to their experience.
3) Commit to Your Position
Own it and have it ride shotgun as you make decisions. You can’t be everything to everyone, so be something specific, and be good at it. Millennials are so multi-tasked out that their goldfish brains have little time to decipher a bunch of messages.
At The End, we’ve positioned ourselves as a leader in new music discovery, so nearly everything we do parallels that position. From “Discover & Download” where each week our listeners get access to a free track, to “Locals Only” where we feature local up-and-coming artists, we want to be known as the go-to source for new music discovery. We even have an event entirely dedicated to up-and-coming bands – “Summer Camp.”
4) Authenticity Matters
This is getting a little old, huh!? We keep hearing it (and I, too, keep saying it), but it's a tenent that you need to put into practice. They have access to all the information right at their thumbs and it takes a few clicks to dig down and uncover the truth behind any message. And the peer-to-peer influence will bury you if you try to be something you’re not or try too hard to be “cool.” So be real, be relevant and deliver the facts. Be as committed to your unique position as you can. I like to use this mantra when reviewing an approach to resonate with Millennials – try to inform, educate and entertain.
Speaking of entertaining, if you have an advertiser that wants to be put into the authentic bucket amongst Millennials, they should sponsor a live music event. From an AEG & Momentum Worldwide study – 89% perceive brands as more authentic when sponsoring a live music experience (vs. 56% among non-attendees).
5) Generation Music
All people love music and live events, right?! But do other generations love it more than Millennials? Research from AEG & Momentum Worldwide says no. Per this study and others before it, Millennials are shown to be voracious music followers, leading the pack in time spent listening. And the importance of music discovery is paramount in amplifying their existence. A very fitting description I heard recently – it’s their emotional sherpa, used to identify who they are while allowing them to fit in.
Couple that love of music with recent studies on the social capital and personal value applied to unique experiences and you have a recipe for environments that breed deep emotional connections. A recent Eventbrite study found that 77% of young people say some of the best memories of their lives were made at live events. And for most of these experiential events, FOMO is real.
Find ways that you can bring your listeners and clients together in unique music experiences and you can be a conduit to lasting relationships.
Below is a video produced by Sean and his team about #2MinutePromise and how it connects with The End's audience:
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.