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Creating a Great Marketing Plan Around The Army-Navy Game

Jason Barrett

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If the opportunity presents itself in the future, do yourself a favor and take in the Army-Navy game. It’s an experience you’ll remember and it’s one of those games that makes you feel great about living in the United States of America.

army4Ironically, I live twenty minutes from West Point and have had the chance to attend numerous Army football games during the course of my lifetime. But the energy level and big game feel that exists when Army and Navy battle on a football field is very different. Even if you’re not a big college football fan, you can’t help but get caught up in the excitement.

The game itself went down to the wire (Navy won 21-17), and produced a number of twists and turns to keep everyone on their feet, but there was a media angle which stood out and I thought it was worth sharing with you in this column.

content-mattersOften in sports radio, we’re tasked as programming teams to create excitement for a sponsor who’s spending good money with the company and wants to be involved in the content. Programmers get defensive when they hear that because the product is what the audience tunes in for and when bad/forced content enters the mix, listeners leave. If your main job responsibility is to generate ratings, it’s difficult to sign off on accepting content on your airwaves that is going to negatively impact your numbers.

However, the real reason why ratings matter is because they’re used to help station’s make money, and reps have one job to do too – add revenue! A rep is not going to admit that their suggestion is flawed or that an idea is bad when they see dollar signs and I can’t blame them for that. They’re human and trying to fatten their wallet and maintain stability with their employer.

But, they also shouldn’t be surprised or upset with the programmer, when they try to maintain the brand’s integrity, grow ratings and do what’s best for the audience. A good rep won’t be afraid to say no or direct a client towards a different path, but many salespeople are so concerned about hitting their monthly budget that they’ll grab the money, run, ignore the details, and try to repair the damage afterwards.

pizzaI remember being in a situation where one of my former morning shows agreed to do some work with a national pizza chain. As part of the partnership, they’d read LIVE endorsements, make a monthly appearance at three local establishments, and then film a video at one of the locations where they were taught how to make pizza. The client also bought recorded commercials, website and social media ads and text message sponsorships.

Sounds simple right? Well, not exactly!

The client kept pushing the rep for more, after the deal had been agreed to, and the rep was so worried about losing the business that they threw in a sponsorship of the station’s mobile app for free for three months.

But that once again wasn’t enough.

pizza2The client threatened to pull the sponsorship unless the station agreed to have the morning show go out on a one-day delivery run which would be promoted on-air, online and on text. I spoke to the morning crew and shared the dilemma with them and because they were good guys who were willing to try and keep clients invested in the brand, they agreed to do the delivery day to try and save the sponsorship.

Next, we agreed on the local towns where the guys would do their deliveries and on the day of the event, the local stores had their phones ringing off the hook. Business was up 30-40% for the day and we felt the promotion was a success.

Except, the client was once again, not satisfied.

This time, they were not willing to give us credit for their growth because the orders came in by phone and in towns where they already were performing well. They wanted some of their less successful locations to see an increase in activity, and they only wanted to count orders that were placed through the order button on the mobile app. None of this was communicated to me or the morning team prior to the promotion from the rep or the client.

At this point I was frustrated. I sat down with the rep and our national sales manager to ask how much money was being generated with the sponsorship and what their plan was to gain control of the account. The amount we charged was below expectation and their was no plan in place to get on the same page with the client.

enoughGuess what happened next? You guessed it, the client called and threatened to pull their business again. Except this time, they’d consider staying on board if the morning show did another delivery appearance in a town of their choosing.

I knew the client was taking advantage of the situation, and our rep was fearful of standing up to them, so I chose to protect my guys and the product, and decline to do anything further until a meeting was held with all involved.

The client wasn’t interested in meeting and when they pressured our rep to give in or risk losing the account, including this time having our guys do the delivery day in their own vehicles in a bad part of town, I declined and we had to walk from the business.

moneyRather than sticking up for myself, our people, and the brand, and reeling in the client, the rep and sales manager got ticked off at the programming team and pushed our boss to make a decision on the situation. They could only see the money in front of them, not the process or effectiveness of the campaign or the way that it had created a divide with the programming department. Luckily our GM was aware of the situation and ruled that the client had to be dealt with differently and offered something else or it would be passed along to another rep.

I share this story because it’s a classic case of not managing the client’s expectations and not working with them to create the right game plan. The client didn’t understand how to use the radio station and its people to increase their business and by being unwilling to listen to how to use the product properly, and not receiving the right direction from the rep, it cost them time, money and results.

IMG_6767How that applies to this article is simple. If you watched the Army-Navy game on television, listened to it on radio, witnessed it in person at the stadium, or read about it anywhere online or on social media, you couldn’t avoid seeing USAA as the game’s sponsor. They did an outstanding job of “owning” the game without interfering with it.

What does USAA do? They proudly serve millions of military members and their families with competitive rates on insurance, banking and investment services.

Seems like a great natural fit right? Well, it is!

usaa4The company understands their target audience, and by sponsoring this game, they’ve positioned themselves well to reach the people they’re after. From the field to the stadium signage to the ticket stubs, everything about the game had USAA involved in it, but they never got in the way of the actual event.

During the radio row event on Friday and Saturday, every radio station host that I spoke with, was not only excited to be there, but felt it was a positive association for their station and show. They mentioned it being one of their favorite trips of the year because unlike the Super Bowl, they didn’t feel pressured to accept guests who’d take away from the show’s direction. An all you can eat Fogo De Chao dinner on Friday night and post-game party at Xfinity LIVE on Saturday night also made them feel important and appreciated.

zuckerMuch of that credit goes to Jimmy Shapiro and Dan Zucker of the Zucker Media Group who have worked with USAA for the past few years to create the event. Jimmy and Dan have a background in sports radio so they recognize what hosts, producers and the audience are looking for, and that allows them to work with USAA to create a great situation for everyone.

USAA also deserves some praise because they respect Zucker’s judgment and follow their lead on creating a great radio experience. That willingness to listen, led to WFAN, WIP, KNBR, WFNZ, WBAL,  KFAN, KJR, Mighty 1090, Arizona Sports 98.7FM, 104.3 The Fan, 105.3 The Fan, 106.7 The Fan, 104.5 The Zone, SiriusXM, Yahoo Sports Radio, Sports Byline, ESPN Las Vegas and ESPN San Antonio ALL broadcasting from the event this year.

army314 of the top 25 markets were present, along with three national networks, and the locations targeted were not only established sports radio brands with good ratings and established audiences, but they were also in areas with strong military representation. That’s smart targeting by Zucker Media and USAA.

By having each of those brands broadcast from the event, and making the trip worthwhile, it tells the station’s programmers that they can trust the organizers to do a quality job. When you earn trust with operators, it goes a long way towards developing a strong long-term relationship.

usaa3Not only did USAA receive coverage on some of the top performing stations in the country, but they helped their own image by having people like Roger Staubach, John Feinstein, Sal Paolantonio and Kirk Herbstreit promote the game on their behalf. When those type of personalities spin the message for them, it makes the content more memorable and less likely to be rejected by the audience. If USAA was asking brands to put on the company’s local insurance reps to promote the game, it’d be a very different story.

In evaluating the sponsorship, USAA found a fit that aligns perfectly with their company objectives. Every association with this game benefits them well, including the title “America’s Game“! That’s an easy line for the audience to recall and promote.

When you have a great product and connect it with a sponsor which has a natural fit and understands how to benefit from the association, this is the kind of success that can follow:

  • Over 69,000 in attendance for the game
  • The highest television ratings for the Army/Navy game in nearly two decades
  • An increase in television ratings for the game for the fifth consecutive season
  • Radio promotion on 23 radio shows and 3 national networks on Friday and Saturday
  • The top trend on Twitter including social promotion from numerous high profile personalities

armynavyThe Army-Navy game and USAA partnership has paid great dividends because everyone understands the objective and how to promote the game. The company realizes that the campaign is built from awareness and positive association, and the star of the promotion is the game itself.

Because USAA doesn’t try to get in the way of the game and simply uses it as a way to further brand themselves, they’re well received. This makes people more likely to look to them when needs arise in their lives.

As a customer of USAA myself, I was impressed with their approach. Every piece of media had their name attached to it and when a company develops a solid reputation and connects themselves to other quality programs, it reflects good judgment and makes you feel good about supporting them.

It was evident that a lot of time, thought and creativity went into the marketing campaign for this game and because of it, USAA will see their business grow. Hopefully the members of that pizza chain were taking notes.

Under The Radar:

Seth Everett filled in for 790 The Ticket in Miami this past Saturday. No word yet on whether or not he will appear again on the radio station.

Jim Bowden is doing less hosting on SiriusXM’s MLB channel. Bowden’s ESPN responsibilities have kept him busy during the MLB off-season. Former MLB Closer Brad Lidge and former MLB OF/IB Cliff Floyd are stepping in for Jim this week with Casey Stern.

After ESPN 105.5 exited the format last week, don’t expect Denver sports radio leader 104.3 The Fan to go unchallenged for long. Look for another competitor to emerge real soon. An announcement could come as early as next week.

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Jeff Catlin, John Mamola, Gordy Rush & Maggie Clifton Join The 2023 BSM Summit Lineup

Jason Barrett

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We’re less than two months away from the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles. This year’s conference takes place on March 21-22, 2023 at the Founders Room inside of the Galen Center at USC. Many industry professionals are set to attend but sports media folks tend to be a last minute crowd whether it’s buying a ticket, reserving a room or committing to be a sponsor. Yes, tickets, rooms, and a select few sponsorships are still available, but the longer you wait, the more you risk not being in the room, featured as a partner, and paying higher prices for travel. To make sure you have a seat and a place to stay, log on to BSMSummit.com. For sponsorship inquiries, email Stephanie at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

I am really excited about this year’s Summit. The venue is tremendous, the agenda is coming together nicely, and there’s no doubt we’ll have great weather when we gather in LA. Some have asked me why I don’t reveal the full schedule of sessions months in advance, and it’s because I believe in swinging for the fences and trying to do big things. To do that, you’ve got to be willing to invest time and explore every opportunity that can be impactful. It’d be much easier to fill the schedule and be done with everything but if it’s going to take a little longer to deliver the best speakers, discussions and experiences for all in the room, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Those involved in the creation of this conference know that I set a very high standard for it. We’ve run some great events over the years, and it’s because we put everything we have into making sure each session is valuable to a different segment of the industry. My goal each year is to present an action packed agenda that helps people learn, gain access to information to improve themselves and/or their brands, and create a few connections and memorable moments to justify it being worth a few days away out of the office or studio. If we can do that, it makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If we can’t execute at a high level, then I’d probably pass on doing it.

Before I tell you about the four people we’re adding to our speaker lineup, I do want to remind you that we recently announced a contest for California college students. We’re giving away ten (10) FREE tickets to the show courtesy of Steve Kamer Voiceovers. If you know a student in California please let them know about this. If they’re not in California but want to attend the event, we’ve created a special college rate to make it affordable for young people. Everything is listed on BSMSummit.com.

Now, for the new additions to the lineup.

I’m excited to welcome Jeff Catlin of The Ticket in Dallas to the Summit. This will be Jeff’s first Summit visit, and I appreciate him making time to share his programming wisdom with the rest of the room. Jeff will be part of a programming panel that kicks off day #2. That panel will include Jimmy Powers of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Raj Sharan of Denver’s Sports Station 104.3 The Fan, and our next addition, John Mamola of WDAE. John has been at all of our events dating back to our first test event in Chicago. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity to offer his programming insights alongside this talented group.

Also joining the Summit lineup is Maggie Clifton, Blue Wire’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. Maggie has played a vital role in growing Blue Wire’s revenue, and I’m looking forward to having her join Barstool Sports’ SVP, Head of Sales Matt Berger, and Magellan AI’s Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth on a panel that focuses on digital monetization.

Guiding that conversation will be Guaranty Media’s Gordy Rush. The Baton Rouge Vice President and General Manager who doubles as LSU’s sideline reporter on football broadcasts is well versed in monetizing content, and understanding the opportunities and challenges broadcasters face. I’m confident those in the room charged with maximizing digital revenue for their brands will gain great value from these four professionals.

There’s much more in the works that I’m looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. Whether you own a company, manage a cluster as a GM, lead a sales team, host or produce a podcast or radio/TV show, buy advertising, oversee a brand’s social media strategy or program a network or local outlet, there’s something for every sports media professional at the BSM Summit. I invite you to come see for yourself. To do so, visit BSMSummit.com.

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Jimmy Powers to Receive The Mark Chernoff Award at the 2023 BSM Summit

“Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award.”

Jason Barrett

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As a former programmer turned consultant, I pay more attention than most to those who lead brands, manage talent, and create consistent success. When you look across the country at the hundreds of stations delivering sports radio content, and analyze who operates at a high level, there’s maybe ten to twenty who are changing the game, and others who are rising and hoping to become a bigger part of the conversation.

What makes this annual award special in addition to having Mark Chernoff’s name on it, is that it’s voted on by eighteen industry heavyweights. These are folks tasked with overseeing radio companies, major networks, and having exceptional track records of broadcasting success. So when they vote and an individual earns an honor, it means a little more.

If you’re in the business and follow sports radio, then you’re aware of Mark Chernoff’s accomplishments as a program director. He was one of the true architects and consistent winners, and his ability to excel as a sports radio manager has influenced and shaped many careers. Mark graciously agreed to be part of our awards ceremony a few years ago when I approached him with the idea in New York City. I’m thrilled to share that although he doesn’t attend many industry conferences on the west coast, he will be with us at the 2023 BSM Summit in Los Angeles for the ceremony.

Which brings me to this year’s winner.

It is my honor to congratulate the leader of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit, Jimmy Powers. Jimmy received the most votes from our industry panel to become our third recipient of the Mark Chernoff Award. He follows Rick Radzik of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score in Chicago. Jimmy will be in attendance at the Summit to pick up the award, and will take part in a program director panel at the show. Further details on that to be shared next week.

“It’s such a great honor not only to be mentioned in the same breath with Mark Chernoff, but to receive the ‘Mark Chernoff Award’ is really, really cool” shared 97.1 The Ticket Program Director Jimmy Powers. “With so many great program directors across the country who are deserving of this award, I truly appreciate the recognition.”

Since late 2009, Powers has led the Detroit sports radio station to unmatched local success. Brought in to build upon what was created by the late great Tom Bigby, he’s helped The Ticket become one of the format’s best examples of success. The station has consistently dominated the Male 25-54 demo, while also becoming a ratings force with Persons 12+ and Adults 25-54.

“Jimmy has done an amazing job over the years running 97.1 the Ticket,” said legendary sports radio programmer Mark Chernoff. “He knows how to work with talent, and maintain balance while managing relationships with the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, which is not an easy job. The ratings remain high, and the Ticket continues to be one of America’s top sports stations, which reflects the great work Jimmy has done as the station’s program director.”

In addition to delivering double digit shares, quarterly ratings wins, and presenting a star studded lineup and Michigan’s top sports franchises, The Ticket has taken home plenty of hardware too. The station has won the Marconi award for best sports station in 2016 and 2022. And now, they can add the 2023 Mark Chernoff Award to their trophy case.

“2022 was another big year for The Ticket, and many in Detroit deserve credit for the brand’s consistent success, but none more so than their exceptional brand leader, Jimmy Powers,” added BSM President Jason Barrett. “Jimmy has been a staple of consistency, guiding one of the crown jewels of sports radio, managing top personalities, important play by play partnerships, and helping the brand generate large revenues. I’m thrilled that our industry voters took notice of the fantastic work Jimmy has done and look forward to celebrating his career and accomplishments in Los Angeles this March.”

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California College Students Earn Chance to Win 10 Free Tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit Thanks to Steve Kamer Voiceovers

“In order to win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event.”

Jason Barrett

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With a new year comes renewed energy and optimism for the sports media business. Yours truly is looking forward to showcasing the best our business has to offer when we gather the industry in Los Angeles, CA at the 2023 BSM Summit at the Founders Club at the University of Southern California on March 21-22, 2023. Our conference is returning to the west coast for the first time since 2019. We’ve announced some super talented speakers. We’ve got additional things in the works and I plan to make additional announcements in the next few weeks.

People often ask me what the biggest challenge is putting this event together. My answer is always the same, it’s getting people to leave the comfort of their office and spend two days in a room together learning and discussing ways to grow the business. We have great sponsorship support and exceptional people on stage and are fortunate to have a lot of folks already set to attend. Our venue this year has extra space though, so I’m hoping a few more of you make time to join us. If you haven’t bought a ticket or reserved your hotel room, visit BSMSummit.com to make sure you’re all set.

If there’s one thing our industry could get better at it’s opening our minds to new ideas and information. There’s more than one path to success. Just because you’re in good shape today doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow. Building brands, growing audiences, increasing revenue, and examining new opportunities is an ongoing process. There are many shifts along the way. We may not solve every business challenge during our two-days together but you’ll leave the room more connected and informed than when you entered it.

Each year I’ll get two or three emails from folks sharing that they learned more about the industry in two-days at the Summit than they have in ___ years inside of their building. That’s truly gratifying and what I strive to achieve when I put this event together. I remember when conferences like this didn’t exist for format folks and I take the risk and invest the time and resources to create it because I love the sports media industry and believe I can help it thrive. I see great value in gathering professionals to share ideas, information, and meet others who can help them grow their business, and if we do our part, I’m confident some will want to work with us too. That’s how we benefit over the long haul.

But as much as I focus on serving the professional crowd, I also think we have a responsibility to educate young people who are interested, passionate, and taking steps to be a part of our business in the future. The BSM website is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each month and it’s become a valuable resource for folks who enjoy sports radio and television. I think it’s vital to use our platform, influence and two-day event to connect generations and I’m happy to announce that we will once again welcome college students at this year’s Summit.

Most of us who’ve been in this line of work for two or three decades learned the business without podcasts, YouTube, social media, the web or conferences delivering two full days of sessions that taught you more about the business than what’s available inside of a class room. We learned by doing, and hoping we were right. Then we copied others who had success. Some of that still exists, and that’s not a bad thing. But where our business goes in the future is going to be drastically different.

I’d like to see the difference makers in our format remembered for years to come, and practices that have stood the test of time remain valued down the line. Change is inevitable in every business and I’m excited about the road that lies ahead especially some of the technological advancements that are now available or will soon become a bigger part of our industry. I think we can embrace the future while enjoying the present and celebrating the past. The best way to do that is by bringing together everyone who is and is hoping to be a part of the sports media universe.

So here’s two things we’re doing to make sure future broadcasters have an opportunity to learn with us.

First, I want to send a HUGE thank you to Steve Kamer Voiceovers. Thanks to Steve’s generosity, TEN (10) college students will be given FREE tickets to attend the 2023 BSM Summit in March. Steve is a USC graduate (Class of 1985) and he bought the ten tickets to help young people learn about the industry, save money and make valuable connections. When I first received his order, I thought he hit the wrong button. I reached out to tell him a mistake was made and I needed to refund him. That’s when he told me what he wanted to do for students who were pursuing their broadcasting dreams just as we both did years ago. A very classy gesture on his part.

As it pertains to the contest, here’s how it’s going to work.

To win tickets to attend the Summit, students must submit a 2-minute video by email to JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com explaining why they’d like to be in attendance and what they hope to learn at the event. Included in your email should be a list of steps that you’ve taken or are pursuing to explore opportunities in the media industry. If you want to pass along a resume and audio or video clips too to showcase your work and experience, that’s fine as well. BSM will accept submissions until February 17th. The winners will be announced on Friday February 24th.

Helping me select the winners will be an exceptional panel of media executives. Each of these folks below will choose one person to attend our L.A. event. The final two will be picked by Steve Kamer and myself.

  • Scott Shapiro – Senior Vice President, FOX Sports Radio
  • Justin Craig – Senior Program Director, ESPN Radio
  • Jeff Sottolano – Executive Vice President, Programming, Audacy
  • Bruce Gilbert – Senior Vice President of Sports, Cumulus Media & Westwood One
  • Amanda Gifford – Vice President, Content Strategy & Audio, ESPN
  • Jacob Ullman – Senior Vice President, Production and Talent Development, FOX Sports
  • Greg Strassell – Senior Vice President, Programming, Hubbard Radio
  • Scott Sutherland – Executive Vice President, Bonneville International

To qualify for the BSM Summit College Contest, students must be enrolled in college in the state of California, pursuing a degree that involves course work either in radio, television, print or the digital business. Those attending local trade schools with a focus on broadcasting are also welcome to participate. You must be able to take care of your own transportation and/or lodging.

This is a contest I enjoy running. We’ve had great participation during our prior two shows in New York City but haven’t done it before on the west coast. I’m hoping it’s helpful to California students and look forward to hearing from many of them during the next month.

For students who live out of state and wish to attend or those enrolled at local universities who enter the contest but aren’t lucky enough to win one of the ten free tickets from Steve Kamer Voiceovers, we are introducing a special two-day college ticket for just $124.99. You must provide proof that you’re currently in school to take advantage of the offer. This ticket gives you access to all of our sessions inside the Founders Club. College tickets will be limited to forty (40) seats so take advantage of the opportunity before it expires.

The 2023 BSM Summit will feature award ceremonies with Emmis Communication CEO Jeff Smulyan and legendary WFAN program director Mark Chernoff, sessions with influential on-air talent such as Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Joy Taylor, and Mina Kimes, big picture business conversations with executives from groups such as Audacy, iHeart, Bonneville, Good Karma Brands, Barstool, The Volume, Omaha Productions and more. For details on tickets and hotel rooms visit BSMsummit.com.

I look forward to seeing you in March in Los Angeles!

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