Half The Money

Uh oh…

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” That quote is reported to have been uttered by American businessman John Wanamaker.

We live in the era of efficiency, and boy, has Covid revealed how wrong our thinking’s been.

A lot of organizations focus on efficiency over effectiveness rather than being effectively efficient. It doesn’t matter how efficient you are if you are not effective.“*

One of the reasons the cost of just about everything is going up so fast is the disruption of almost every supply chain due to Covid, and Putin’s War, and mostly because businesses learned to run so lean that they weren’t ready for a disruption that could last weeks, much less months and years.

They called it the “just in time inventory management,” and it worked really well until it didn’t. Creating a bigger buffer would weigh down the balance sheet and hurt the stock price, right?

And now, it’s almost impossible to fix quickly.

Sometimes it’s easier to see what’s happening in that other business than it is in ours.

When your pharmacy can’t fill your prescription because they can’t get the drugs we outsourced to Chinese manufacturers, you’re screaming mad! They’re screwing with your health!

When your flight is canceled because one crew member got sick and there’s no one else standing by as there used to be, or a plane was delayed by weather somewhere else and your airline is so efficient that they don’t have extra open seats in other flights today, or tomorrow, meaning you spend two long days sitting in an airport waiting to get home, you’re ready to punch someone in the face.

So, let’s go back to that quote: “It doesn’t matter how efficient you are if you are not effective.” *(The Errors of Efficiency by Alex Murrell)

Radio today has been whittled down to a shadow of its former self in the name of “operating lean.”

Why pay for staffs in multiple markets when we can use voice-tracking and save so much money? Same for Program Directors, and even General Managers? We’ve found a better, less expensive way.

Except when that wildfire hits in midday and begins to burn hundreds of homes in your town, and you don’t have one live air talent to warn your listeners.

Except when your town is going to have severe weather, tornadoes, life-threatening storms in the middle of the night, and you don’t have any live talent at your station in the middle of the night.

The whole reason for your license to operate your radio station is built around serving your local listeners.

All it takes is one life to be lost, one neighborhood to be destroyed, one catastrophe unreported to prove to those local listeners that while you may be really efficient, you don’t pass their test of being effective, for being trustworthy.

And failing that test isn’t easily fixed nor quickly forgotten.