Panelist at convention’s opening session say promotion executives must constantly reinvent themselves and tell TV stations that the power of their brands is a major asset.
The pace of change, not just in TV but in society at large, has grown so rapid that TV marketers must constantly reinvent, according to a parade of speakers at the opening general session of Promax/BDA, unfolding in Manhattan’s Marriott Marquis hotel today.
One thing they need to understand quickly is word-of-mouth marketing, the best way to reach the newest—and largest—generation of consumers, according to Brent Magid, president and CEO of Frank Magid Associates. Millennials, as they are called, are known for multitasking, particularly when it comes to using media. Consumers aged 13 to 28, a big part of this generation, consume 20 hours of media per day, jammed into seven hours by the clock, Magid said. Their upbringing, with its heavy emphasis on group activities and its familiarity with many different media, have made word of mouth the most influential form of advertising for them. To reach them, TV promoters must tap into their love of comedy, their affinity for things scary or freaky and, above all, they must create promos and content that are easy for Millennials to pass along to their friends. Fortunately for TV programmers, the second greatest influencer for convincing Millennials what to watch on TV is on-air TV promotion.
Millennials will respond to TV promoters who tap into the same motivations that draw Millennials to the online social networking sites, Magid said. They congregate at these sites, he said, for their personal validation, their non-threatening platform and their ability to keep people engaged in important social groups.
“Harness these psychological motivators and use them when innovating in your own business,” Magid said.
Like the biggest consumer product marketers, TV promotion executives must constantly reinvent themselves and the process by which they accomplish their basic mission, said Bob Liodice, president of the Association of National Advertisers. Here, the key is to realize that the job of brand building has changed. “We have to continuously reinvent through core innovation,” Liodice said, pointing to the way the iPod has allowed Apple to transform its image and product line. Along with that, marketers must engage in integrated marketing campaigns, they must be more accountable to the financial suites of their companies than ever and they must reinvent the teams in which they work. “Every individual who influences the decisions about branding, whether they all work for your company or are at ad agencies or media outlets, must have a stake in the game,” Liodice said.
Dennis Swanson, president of station operations at Fox Stations Group, said the top marketer at a station doesn’t need to be the most creative person in the company. He or she does, however, have to be able to stimulate the conversations within the promotion department that lead to creative solutions, he said.
Promotion managers must hire well, and in smaller markets, they must train and develop talent and not get frustrated when bigger markets hire their people away, Swanson said. Importantly, they must keep close tabs on the value of the airtime they are using to promote their shows. This way, they can defend themselves when general managers or program suppliers complain that they aren’t promoting a show well enough and they can avoid losing airtime to sales managers who would rather sell it.
“There are times when the station needs to make a number and then, promotion managers must work with sales managers to let this happen,” Swanson said, but in other instances, it’s important not to let those promotional minutes slip away. The promotion budget is one of the few non-fixed items on a station’s balance sheet, Swanson said, and managers must be ready to defend it when it comes time to cut costs. “Keep your body over it and make sure you aren’t short-changed,” he urged.
Above all, Swanson said, promotion managers must stay optimistic about the broadcast TV business, in spite of all the change it is undergoing. “If you run your business correctly, get the right people, get a game plan and stay on course, you’ll do well,” he said. “We can still be a very nice margin business. It will change, and you have to change with it.”
One of the most important assets stations have as they cope with the change they face is the power of their brands, said Marv Danielski, vice president of promotion and marketing at Hearst Argyle Television, “You have one of the most powerful, trusted media platforms at your disposal,” Danielski said, noting that Hearst Argyle research has found that consumers rank TV commercials as the most trusted in influencing them to buy products. “You have the ability to leverage your brand in this digital age,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â he said. “You can go in directions you haven’t before, because consumers will let you.”
As they venture into newer media by developing their Web sites and adding mobile programming, stations must emulate what giant marketers have been doing by aligning themselves with other big brands, Danielski said, pointing to the way that big advertisers align themselves with media vehicles like the Olympics, and Web businesses align themselves with Google rather than create their own search engines.
“Strong brands align themselves with other strong, compatible brands,” he said.
Pointing to a slide of the architecturally dramatic new Hearst building in Manhattan, Danielski said that Hearst sees digital media as enhancing its future in TV and magazines, not hurting it, and he urged the broadcasters in the room to do the same.
“Either you will be bullish on the digital age,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â he said, “Or you will be left behind.”