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3 Marketing Lesson from a Pissed Off Radio DJ

February 3, 2014

Casey KasemI used to hang out in a lot of recording studios. One of interesting things common among almost every engineer I met was a collection of funny recordings — outtakes from famous radio personalities, celebrity swearing, and prank phone calls.

Working in a recording studio can be stressful and you have a lot of egos to deal with. My theory is that engineers and producers would keep these tapes around to play when things got tense. Plus, these guys had access to great recording equipment, which made getting copies easy.

“And Now, It’s Time for Our Long-Distance Dedication…”

One of the most popular “celebrity swearing” recordings ever is of radio legend Casey Kasem. Most people know him from the weekly music countdown show, American Top 40, which is now hosted by Ryan Seacrest. He also voiced the character of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo.

Here’s part of the recording, where Casem gets pissed about an uptempo song being played before he answers a letter from a listener…

Rumor is that an engineer Casey was working with got pissed at him and leaked the recordings as revenge. Or maybe he just found them funny. Regardless, the recordings got out and there are some important lessons you can learn from them…

3 Marketing Lesson from a Pissed Off Radio DJ

1. You Are Responsible – Casey Kasem founded American Top 40. He was the host. His name and voice were all over it.

It’s easy to think “this guy is a dick” or “it’s no big deal,” but it was his concern for the little things like this that got Casey Kasem to where he is. Little things matter.

How did Rolls-Royce become legendary for such quality craftsmanship? It was this same attitude. Sir Henry Royce once overheard one of his workers say “that’s good enough” and fired him on the spot.

Do you have to get angry or fire people to deliver a quality product? Probably not. But you’re still responsible…

What little things can you improve in your business? Delivery time? Using a system to make sure customer inquiries get the attention they need and aren’t lost?

2. Humanity – This recording provides two great examples of humanity, both of which you’ll benefit greatly from.

First of all, listen to the concern Casey Kasem shows for the listener who wrote him. The guy’s dog had died. Yeah, it’s just a dog, but if it was important enough for him to write a letter about it, it’s important enough for Kasem to care.

How can you show the same level of concern for your customers? Replying to reviews on Amazon, responding to Twitter messages, and liking posts on Facebook is a start.

And here’s the magic bullet… Ask, “What can I better do to serve you?”

When you do this, don’t take a survey and look at data from multiple-choice answers. Ask the question and actually listen to what people respond with.

This will transform your business more than anything else.

Secondly, this recording shows the humanity of Casey himself by interrupting his polished persona, the only interaction most people have with him, with something more real.

It’s not uncommon to hear words like “authenticity” or “transparency” when it comes to marketing or social media, but how many people are actually doing these things? For most, they’re another trick — simply a way to grow audiences or manipulate people.

And this is why we’re often disappointed when we actually meet “famous” people…

Be real.

3. Experience Trumps Everything – I once dropped by a McDonald’s in downtown Chicago.

It was Sunday morning. And it was busy.

Actually, busy was an understatement. There was four or five registers going at once, each with dozens of people in line.

As I was waiting to order, I saw a guy on his knees, using a cloth and spray bottle to wipe something off the floor.

As I ate, this dude was walking around, spraying everything remotely dirty and polishing it. He was everywhere.

And he owned the place.

Experience matters and “little things” make up the experience. It’s the spotless floor at a McDonald’s when you’re not expecting it, because every other McDonald’s ignores cleaning the floor and the standard is so low customers have come to expect it. It’s the right tempo music before a “death dedication” on the radio, because what happens before the main act gets people in the right mood to experience it fully.

That was the third busiest McDonald’s in the country, by the way.

Why? Not the food. The food at McDonald’s is the same everywhere. Just like one radio host has access to the same music every other radio host has.

Final Thoughts

Everybody has access to same stuff now — WordPress, music distribution via iTunes, book distribution via Amazon. Providing an “experience” and showing you’re a real person by being your true self is the only thing that will make you stand out.

And who is responsible for all this? You are.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.