Taking a Bite from Apple: Learning from the Best

“Success leaves clues.” With that adage in mind, I leaned into a recent Fast Company article that proclaimed, “Apple forms the tightest emotional connections with customers of any brand in the world.”


It’s a bold statement, yet it’s readily believable and it stands in sharp contrast to the radio adage, “Find ’em. Fool ’em. Forget ’em.”

That’s bad dating advice, and it’s even worse when it’s a listener strategy and loyal fans are described as contest pigs.

On the other hand, Apple’s approach, “leaves clues” that radio can benefit from observing.

Apple Weaves Its Products Into Lives, Makes Itself Indispensable

According to the research by MBLM and Praxis Research Partners, Apple ranked number 1 in the study for “ritual,” which is the extent a brand is seen as being essential to users’ everyday existence. As one respondent said, “Apple brings me closer to everyone and allows me to be more productive and gets things done faster and easier.”

Insight for AM/FM: The relationship the audience has with their favorite personalities and station represents an invaluable emotional connection that provides listeners with companionship and access to the world during the solitude of drive time.

Being indispensable doesn’t mean you will remain there. What’s your strategy to retain and grow your P1s as you Surprise and Delight those who matter most to your ratings and revenue?

Apple Keeps Steve Jobs Alive

As Fast Company reports, “Apple products feel like they’re driven by a human vision, not by the cold calculations of some big corporation.”

Despite the fact he’s been gone since 2011, Steve Jobs still gives consumers an indelible link with a real, authentic person, and Tim Cook follows in those same footsteps.

“Historically Apple has made users feel that we are different or stood out from the crowd, we’re in it together.”

Insight for AM/FM: A human vision, not a cold calculation by a big corporation. Does technology allow stations to excel at being Live and Local or does automation simply generate more cost saving efficiencies?

This opportunity doesn’t rest exclusively with station employees. When an entire office is playing a contest and helping keep track of the clues and winning names, it feels like “we’re in it together.”

For example, when a national contest gets localized by inviting a winner into the studio to get their fifteen minutes of fame, as WEBN, the iconic rock station did here in Cincinnati last week, the brand comes to life.

Apple Starts With The Customer And Works Backward

People often connect with Apple products because they seem to be built with an understanding of what the user wants (sometimes even before the user does). Key functions are radically simplified on the device and they usually “just work.” “Its products delight, it engages, and it delivers,” the researchers said.

With this in mind, Apple isn’t interested in being first to market.

Microsoft had tablets on the market decades before Apple. Same with Blackberry and smartphones. As Tim Cook said, “It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best. We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right.”

Insight for AM/FM: Despite living in a world increasingly dominated by smartphones and digital technology, the audience continues to overwhelmingly seek us out by listening on traditional radios, especially during their commute and at-work.

In fact, while stations want their content to be conveniently accessible across platforms, whether it be on a smartphone or a smartspeaker like Alexa, the reality is that consumption of AM/FM stations on those devices is very limited and will continue to be.

As a result, absent a clear audience-centric strategy, simply streaming your on-air content on more and more platforms, primarily designed for on-demand/personalized consumption, might be counter productive and never add much in-metro listening.

Along the way, the incremental effort takes attention and resources away from on-air content. execution and audience development, which has a clear and proven monetization strategy.

Overall, while Apple creates emotional connections around the globe, AM/FM radio has a similar local relationship with our employed P1s who drive ratings and revenue.

The challenge is to maximize our core AM/FM business model, while thoughtfully and patiently planning for the future.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, thanks for working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

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