Broadcasting Lessons from the Brewery

There was a time when many broadcasters would rather crawl inside a bottle than examine the marketing savvy that goes into creating and maintaining a successful brand. Based on current broadcast stock prices, it appears some still would!

However, the recent revival of one heritage brand proffers hope to a generation of broadcasters caught in the morass of declining budgets, Wall Street pressures and an overall weak economic climate.

Recently a new team bought the rights to the legendary Schlitz Beer and by all accounts are enjoying the gusto of home brewed success. This at a time when some major brewers are experimenting with flavored beers (think "Miller Chill") and other gimmicks to increase -- or at least maintian -- declining market share. Of course, like broadcasting, results of recent mega-mergers like parent companies of Budweiser and Miller/Coors remain to be seen.

The picture at Schlitz was not always so heady. After decades as America's top selling beer, and acknowledged as "The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous" the bean-counters outmanuevered the brewmasters in the late 1980's. First by cutting back on the quality of ingredients, they further 'saved their way to failure' by shaving marketing, distribution and packaging costs. At it's low ebb, Schlitz was available only in cans, and only in limited areas.

With new ownership came a new 'can do' attitude, which included upgrading the recipe ("The original '60s formula") returning the headquarters to Milwaukee, distributing longneck bottles and actually marketing their product -- including a strong web presence -- Schlitz has literally revived a flat brand. Granted, their 'new normal' is likely to be as a boutique beer, but a turnaround is a turnaround.

Needless to say, the previous regime did not see the value to securing the "" web domain which takes you to a place far, far away from the site.

Lessons for Broadcasters:

1.) It's far easier not to let your station brand die before reviving it.
2.) The 'ingredients' matter.
3.) Remember the four key marketing positions: Offense, Defense, Flanking and Guerilla. Don't be afraid to take a Flanking or Guerilla position if that's what's available to you.
4.) What got you here may or may not get you where you want to go next. Be flexible.
5.) The power of the brand matters -- and the digital arena provides a whole new toolbox for smart marketeers.

It will be my great honor to explore these and other brand turnarounds and the lessons on digital marketing broadcasters can learn from them at the upcoming Morning Show Boot Camp, part of the two-hour Digital super-session later this week in Nashville. Hope to see you there!