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August 2004
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October 2004

Stop Wasting Valuable Time

The September 2004 issue of Harvard Business Review has an interesting article on how organizations squander their most precious resource – the time of their top executives. For reprints go to the HBR Web site. Here’s a summary of the seven suggestions on how to get the time back:

1) Deal with operations separately from strategy
2) Focus on decisions, not discussions
3) Measure the real value of every item on the agenda

Continue reading "Stop Wasting Valuable Time" »

Two Litmus Tests

I’m thankful I had the experience of teaching high school in the mid nineties. I learned a lot about the emerging generation. They were much better teachers than I.

If you are going to be successful today in any message-based endeavor, such as Christian media, you must realize that people who are listening or watching are giving you two very crucial litmus tests. The tests are timed. Times vary, but you likely have only a few seconds to pass the test. The answer is binary. Yes or no. The viewer either tunes in or surfs on. You may need help from honest people in (or outside) your organization who “get it” to determine if you are passing or failing these two tests –

· Relevant – Better be answering the “So what?” question continually. Your audience is asking it continually.
· Authentic – Hype is dead. The byword of the emerging generation is authenticity. Christian media has not been a rich field for that crop in the past. But things are changing . . .

Who owns the time?

If you are looking for a media agency, one important question to ask is, “Who owns the time?” At BMC, the answer is, “The client owns the time.” Some agencies lure prospects with the promise to be a part of the blocks of time that they (the agency) own. Problem is, if you ever want to leave that agency for any reason, you leave your time behind because they own it, not you.

Imagine working to build a loyal audience in a time period for years only to find that you can’t take the time slot with you. Caveat emptor, baby!

Purple Cows and Free Prizes

Mike Staires and I attended a workshop/seminar with Seth Godin at Seth's offices in Dobbs Ferry, NY yesterday. It was definitely a mind-expanding, thought-stretching time as Seth laid out his thinking about quantum changes already taking place in marketing, yet still going unnoticed or being ignored by most companies.

I think Seth is an "early adopter". You can learn a lot by reading his books including Purple Cow, Unleashing the Idea Virus, and Free Prize Inside.

Spending a day at one of his seminars is a great idea for anyone who wants to "get it".

Check out his website and especially his blog.

Get the Hamburger Right

Building a Media Ministry - Part III

Before you open a chain of hamburger franchises, the first step is to get the hamburger right. It won’t matter the location of the restaurant, the beauty of the décor, the friendliness of the staff, the efficiency of the kitchen, the cleanliness of the restrooms if the hamburger isn’t remarkable.

Sometimes in our industry we see people who spend a lot on acquiring locations (media) but little to nothing on developing a unique and remarkable hamburger (the program). The early stages of your media ministry should place focus on the program, whether it is radio or television. Do something remarkable.

Get the hamburger right. Then (and only then) roll it out.

Intention – Opportunity – Budget

Building a Media Ministry - Part II

There are three elements that will ultimately determine the growth path of your media ministry:

· Intention – what’s the plan? What is the sequencing of media buys? Where do we start? What days? What times? What networks? What stations? What costs? A good professional media plan is necessary before “rolling out.” Think things through. Get good advice. And leave room for flexibility. . .
· Opportunity – any good media plan leaves room for the exceptional and unexpected opportunity. You can’t know when an opportunity is going to surface, but a good agency will have a somewhat regular stream on their radar screen.
· Budget – Like any other successful endeavor, management and stewardship of limited resources is a key. While risk taking is a must, there needs to be a budget to provide guidance for the client and the agency.

Custom vs. Template

Building a Media Ministry - Part I

Our mantra at BMC is “We help people with vision get there.” No surprise then when people ask us, “HOW do I get THERE?” Usually they mean, “How do I build my media ministry from where it is today to where I want it to be?” In the marketplace you are going to be confronted with two basic approaches:

· The Template. Usually the pitch goes something like this, “We helped so and so build their media ministry until it is now huge. There is a formula. We’ve got the formula. Come with us and we will make ‘the formula’ work for you.
· Custom. There is no “one-size-fits-all.” Your ministry is unique and should not be forced into someone’s template. After getting to know your dreams and calling, we will design a custom media plan tailored to your ministry.

Which is the best approach? I think it lies in a combination. We tend to be about 1/3 template and 2/3 custom. There is validity in a template. What has worked for others will at least in part probably work for you. But, the world of media is much too dynamic for anyone to claim we have “the plan.”

You deserve a custom plan. Yes, it will incorporate some of what has worked for others. But as a client you deserve enough of our creative talent to develop a media plan that has strong traces of your DNA in it.

Systematic Idea Generation

A few of us from BMC (Mary Ellen, Mike Staires, and I) recently attended a full-day workshop at the Wizard of Ads Academy in Austin, TX. The subject was Systematic Idea Generation and was presented Mark Fox, a rocket scientist.

Mark revealed studies showing that between the ages of 5 and 7 years old we lose over 90% of our creativity. The biggest culprit of course is school where we learn that creative thinking is not going to get you warm fuzzies, but giving a teacher the answer they are looking for will. So, as good students we spend our lives in the endless search for that right answer, that piece of information that will get us the affirmation we hunger for.

Check out Mark’s website. Go to one of his seminars if you get a chance. Check out Wizard Academy for info on when he will be presenting there. You will get tools that will help you and your organization really get outside the box in your thinking and creativity, instead of just getting a different box.

Creativity doesn’t have to be accidental, it can be deliberate.