By Jon Holiday ~ Managing Partner Radio Consulting Services

I’m a radio programming consultant. My job is to help companies set goals and achieve them. I know enough to know that you probably have something you want to achieve. And I know that setting goals gives you a much greater chance for success. Here’s how.

1. Be Smart

Setting a goal is as easy as putting pen to paper. Setting the right goal, in the right way, takes thought. For solid goal setting, have SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Specific means very specific, not “I want to get better ratings.” Measurable means quantifiable. Attainable? It will be a challenge but within your reach. Relevant is something meaningful to you. Time-bound means a hard-and-fast deadline. Radio, like all businesses, is clearly well suited to goal setting.

2. Check Your Motivations

Consulting does this too. We review specific areas like the health and wellness of radio stations answer the questions “How’s my business going?” and “Is this really the goal I want to work on now?” We want to be sure the new goal makes sense.

Let’s go back to “relevant.” If you say you want to lose weight but “only because of my nagging wife,” that won’t work. Likewise, say you want to be top 3 in the ratings. My first question is “Why is that important to you?” If the answer is “My competitor stinks and I want to stick it in his pompous face!” well, your motivation isn’t coming from the right place.

Now, it’s not the consultant’s job to judge the goal or the motivation. It’s that reflecting on one’s own desires is important. Sometimes, people will talk themselves out of something once they realize why they want it. More often, they’ll deepen and solidify their commitment to the goal.

Similarly, not only do you need to be honest about the effort you’re willing to put in, but you also need to figure out, with a consultant or without, how much that goal is bolstered by your values. Maybe something else is going on? You might want to think or talk that goal through before embarking on it.

3. Look Around

You want to break into the top 3. Great! So how did you break into the top 5?

We sometimes forget that you can be your own role model. You’ve accomplished hard things before. A good consultant will remind you of this, help note what tools you used and figure out how to reuse them.

It’s also useful, if painful, to look at past goals you failed to achieve and apply those lessons too. You binge-dieted to reach a weight-loss goal but then couldn’t keep the pounds off. Maybe becoming #1 won’t be sustainable. Let’s find a way to reach the destination in a more measured way.

Radio is a team “sport”. You won’t need six degrees of separation to reach someone who’s already achieved your new goal. Want to the #1 station? You probably know dozens of other broadcasters you respect and can talk to. If you don’t know any, someone you know does; use your network for contacts.

Guaranteed, these achievers are happy to talk about their accomplishments. Pull up a chair, ask “How did you do it?” then settle in for the long haul, taking notes, mental or otherwise. You don’t have to DIY everything: Stand on the shoulders of giants, or at least Steve who consistently has stations in the top 3.

4. The Mentor System

How many hours did you log with a Rubik’s Cube in the ’80s? Did you ever come close to completing it?

Today, go online, wade through dozens of relevant videos, find the person who speaks about the algorithms in a way you understand and follow his lead. Presto; Cube solved!

Radio is no different. My colleague Michael Gifford coaches and mentors radio personalities. He’s found that the quality of available content has greatly improved over the last generation, and he attributes much of the gains to the Internet.

Anyone with a Web connection has access to relevant content. Again, talk to friends about their staff’s training, then look into talent coaches. Maybe your veteran morning person is that person. Just remember, you can choose almost any mentor. Coaching is a shopping trip.

5. Changing Course

We have a friend whose goal was to get back her pre-baby body. With discipline and a training program, she did it superfast… almost. There she was, after two months of radical weight loss, dillydallying for a month at the last five pounds. Why? She realized that dropping those final five, and staying there, would mean no wine, no dessert; the little rewards she felt she’d earned as a mom. Suddenly, the original goal was no longer exactly what she wanted… so she pulled the plug.

Maybe you get to #2 and think, that’s fine but we will need to spend tens of thousands of dollars more to get to #1. As long as you’re honest with yourself. You wouldn’t be the first person to find that the thing you thought you wanted isn’t all that. Don’t be a slave to your goal if it’s not realistic. More likely though, if you’ve set your goal well, you’ll stay the course and reach the end of the rainbow.

About Radio Consulting Services

Radio Consulting Services is the multi-format consulting and programming services company advising stations on how to grow their audience. Every day, our winning Programming and Consulting team keeps radio stations on top.  For more information on how Radio Consulting Services can help your company gain more listeners, achieve higher ratings and grow revenue, contact Jon Holiday.