My Two Cents on Six Months

Another Newbie Gets a Lay of the Land

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Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
Last week, I attended the Entercom, Portland, client party. It felt a little strange being on the other side of the aisle after having spent nine years inside the radio jungle. But it was great fun because, for the most part, it is still a strange new world. One of my former colleagues asked how long it had been and I had to count it out. Six months. Now, Eric Webber beat me to the punch on this one but, since the time is nigh, I thought I would offer some observations and reflection on my upcoming six months of relative "freedom" as well.

Be prepared for nothing ... and everything
Some days, this is the ultimate moving target. Current clients, prospects and business development are always in play and it changes like airfares. One thing pops while another boils just under the surface. But that's never an excuse for killing momentum. Just when you think you're finishing something up, another great opportunity presents itself. Even in the slower times, it is a superb chance to make sure that I am staying true to the idea of evolving the business.

Find out what you really are
When I left Entercom, I figured I would become a jack-of-all-trades. That thinking was a waste of a month as I was attending to the flurry of activity that greeted me when I made the move. When things started settling down a little bit, I stripped everything down to determine the core essence of what I was about. What was telling was, that after doing this exercise, I realized that I am a writer and a teacher. Sure, part of my function is "producer," "creative director" and "voice talent." But what I really am and what I really love is being helpful in crafting a direction for a client. I've found that the easiest thing to do is try to do everything. It's the tantalizing, sweet siren that will do nothing but take me off course very quickly.

Believe in what you do and find people who share the passion
I believe in radio and audio. I believe that, when done right, radio/audio advertising and programming (whether it's terrestrial, satellite, internet, live, etc.) can make a significant impact. I also believe that there is some virtue to radio. That's why I chose to align myself with the Freeplay Foundation. That's why I am grateful to have a strong relationship with the Radio Advertising Bureau. That's why I sometimes fall on the sword to get a client as far ahead as possible creatively. It's an honest love and passion that keeps me excited about what I have chosen to do.

Everyone has the same problems
Agencies have them. Media have them. Clients have them. It's how you deal with the challenges that make you either wildly successful or extremely bitter.

The thrill of the hunt (and results) never gets old
I gave my first "real" pOne partners pitch last week. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed getting in front of people to share my business model and the reasons I do this work. I also like the "chase of success." One of my well-documented clients, Tamarack Resort in Idaho, reached out to Fish Marketing, the agency I worked with on their summer radio campaign. The marketing director mentioned that he spoke to a couple on the golf course and asked them how they ended up deciding to visit. The wife said that, over the past couple of years, they had heard the spots but never really thought much of it until this summer, when they heard the current campaign. She mentioned that Tamarack sounded really fun and they ended up booking a trip based on what they had heard. That, my friends, will never, EVER get old.

Listen (and reach out) to as many people as you can
Let's be honest, being a part of the Small Agency Diary is an amazing forum and opportunity. When I met with Marc Brownstein in Philly a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I always learn something new (or remind myself of some good best practices) every time I read his post. I feel the same about Noelle Weaver, Pete Madden, Bart Cleveland and every other person who graces these pages. What I didn't expect was an audience with whom I could reach out to whenever they chose to comment on what I had to say. Sure, I've been bashed around (deservedly so at times) for things that I write, and I realize that my style isn't everyone's cup of Oregon Chai. But, to me, all feedback is vitally important and should be honored because we're all, at some point, drinking from the same vat of Kool-Aid. Even when the feedback is difficult, it may open up a conversation that we all should probably be having anyway. Hell, I may even get to see a colleague in New Zealand when my wife and I head down there this December. I sure didn't see that one coming when I started.

Support means everything
I'm not talking about admins or assistants. I'm talking about spouses, friends, family and colleagues that, even in the face of adversity, remind you that you actually are doing the right thing and that you may, in fact, be changing more than you even realize.

I could go on for another page or two, but I sense that Ken Wheaton may just want me to wait (shut up) and save it for the day when I am celebrating the first year out there with the rest of you. Until then, thanks for being part of it all.
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