Your Most Important Competitive Advantage

Why do listeners choose your brand over the Christian competition?

Why do the other guy’s listeners stubbornly insist on choosing their brand over yours?

In a world where we only consider brands that “solve the same problem” (i.e., two or more brands in the Christian music format), this is the critical question. After all, your best source of Cume and quarter-hours will be from people who are already users of the format, right?

But here’s an insight which I think might challenge your assumptions.

We assume people choose Brand A over Brand B because they think it’s better. But that’s not true. Instead, people choose Brand A over Brand B because they’re more certain that it’s good.

What’s the difference?

The difference is that being “better” means winning every conceivable attribute – something very difficult when you’re competing against an evenly matched station. But “being more certain that it’s good” is about the mind of the listener, not the attributes of the station.

In fact, winning attributes should be all about earning trust – persuading listeners that this is a brand they can count on. And trust is something much more easily captured by a brand that has been plugging away at it for years.

After all, under what circumstances are you “more certain that it’s good”? Primarily when you know it better. When you’re more familiar with it. When it has been part of your habit and your life for much longer. When it features personalities you know and have grown up with. When listeners see it everywhere in your community.

You can’t fake familiarity. It doesn’t happen overnight. And when your new competitor is fighting only for attributes they’re missing the larger point. Attributes don’t create familiarity, only familiarity does that.

So what does this mean for the established station? It means you should argue in favor of your longstanding commitment to the community. It means you should remind people how long your station has been a part of their lives. This is not for the NEW Cume, it’s for the Cume that’s at-risk when a new competitor rolls into town.

And what does this mean for the new competitor? It means you need to get as familiar as possible as fast as possible. And that’s not easy to do when the names on your air are all strangers. How do you personally respond when someone new approaches you and announces that they intend to be your best friend? You call for the straight-jacket, right?

Attributes may be proxies for familiarity, but always remember that being familiar, dependable, trusted, is the real goal, not simply checking off a win on an attribute scorecard.


Mark Ramsey is president of Mark Ramsey Media, strategic research provider to many Christian music stations including K-LOVE, AIR1, KLTY/Dallas, WPOZ/Orlando, KTIS/Minneapolis, and many others. More information about his services is at Sign up for FAITHBRIGHT, his weekly email of smart and actionable ideas for Christian broadcasters here: Reach him at 858-485-6372 or

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