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QUESTION: We're one of the top morning shows in our market. Recently another station changed its format to be more competitive with ours. Now they're really IN OUR FACE and creeping up on us in the ratings. What should I do? Ignore them and continue doing my show the way I always have? Or make some adjustments to meet their challenge?


Without knowing the specifics of your situation, I can respond only with generalities. If they are targeting your station specifically, then now is the time to shore up your weaknesses and redouble your strengths. Some questions for you:

1. Where are you strongest? Characters? Trivia? Stunts? Phone Bits? Make sure you highlight your strengths every half-hour.

2. Where are you weakest? News? Sports? Older demos? Perhaps this is a good time to decide whether to improve in these areas...or to pull back on them, to cede them to the competition.

If the competition is strong enough and smart enough, you might not be able to defend every inch of your territory. The trick is not to get so distracted that you react to EVERYTHING they do. Identify the core audience you want to protect at all costs, and then superserve that core.

3. What features have become stale and predictable? Your contests? The way you execute your contests? How can you freshen them up? Or should you drop them? If you drop them, do they need to be replaced with something new?

4. Are you doing all you can promotionally? If you have strong new competition, you should be out on the street every single day, making friends for your show. This is NOT the time to catch up on your sleep.

5. Attack yourself....Now. Pretend you've somehow been cloned, and you're now going across the street to compete with your exisiting show. Where are the weaknesses in your show? How would you exploit those weaknesses to beat you?

Once you've identified those weaknesses, why don't you go ahead and negate them NOW by changing, rearranging or improving...before the competition uses them to beat you over the head?

When you say the competition is "in your face," you might mean they are directly attacking you on-air. If so, do NOT react to them on-the-air. If you have the bigger audience, then they have everything to gain by bad-mouthing you...while you only give them credibility by attacking them. When you react on-air to upstart competition, you also give them a huge psychological boost as they see how they're getting to you. This distracts you and encourages them.

Final suggestion: Pretend it's a year in the future. The competition has now beaten you badly; they now are #1 in your market. You're upset, depressed. As you look back on the past year, you're aware of some obvious opportunities you let slip by you...some big mistakes you made that have come back to haunt you. If only you had it all to do over again.....

Good news! That year is ahead of you, not behind you. Now is the time grasp those opportunities and avoid those mistakes.

The time to act proactively is NOW.

So get to it.

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