(Market) Size Doesn't Matter
Great careers take courage, not ego. Sometimes when you are trying to successfully navigate during difficult times, the best and maybe the only next step might be moving laterally, maybe even moving down market.
It may seem like a step back or a career 'time out' but it can have significant benefits.
1. There are times when you just need clean air because of a toxic culture or poor management at a local or business unit level. Moving out from under what feels oppressive and holding you back can be like being born again.
2. Another lane is moving faster than the one you are in. It might be technology or industry or structure. Some organizations have more resource and opportunity because of strategic importance. It can also be about greater visibility or market position.
Not all business units or stations are created equal. You may find you're much better off at the market leader in a smaller operation with a bigger client or audience base than a perpetual No. 4 out of 4.
#tbt: If you are in the Broadcast News business, check out the TalentBlvd article:
"(Market) Size Doesn't Always Matter":
Same company. Same programming. Exact same moment in time. One is a top 10 market, the other top 25 market. The larger market is exactly 2x the size in terms of population. The top 10 market had ten times LESS online viewers than a market half the size. There are three groups of people that need to be very concerned with the photo below.
First, if you are an advertiser, especially producing content for the online streaming audience and you've paid DMA ranked rates, well you might want to renegotiate that deal.
Secondly, and should be the most apparent, the general management of the station has got a big problem to deal with given trends and future revenue opportunities.
The third impacted party, the on-air talent, is what specifically concerns me as the leader of a Talent Management organization.
The march up market in the business is legendary and iconic for the broadcast journalist.
Starting from a dank and dark studio at some university, the young and hopeful have traditionally marched to the beat of the top 10 or 20 drum. They start in places like Biloxi-Gulfport or Wheeling-Steubenville or Waco TX and have Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago or even New York in their sights. It was a simple and effective strategy. Follow the people, the population. Population shifts literally take decades. No worries. But then the internet happened and not just the internet, but broadband, a super highway pipeline of digital content.
People are unplugging and cutting the cord. The traditional measures of the number of TV sets in market is still a strong indicator of performance but change is on the horizon and channels (no pun intended) are shifting. The strength and reach of a television signal will no longer be an indication of eyeballs on YOU!
The future will likely bring some interesting changes to the multimedia professional. You'll have to have a multi-channel multi-screen brand. Your content and image will need to be adaptable and responsive not only to technology, but responsive to audience channel shift. This is why TalentBlvd focuses so much energy on branding of our coached talent. It's key to becoming timeless and not timed out.
Let's get back to the image above. Yes, as an anchor in a top 10 market your compensation TODAY will be significantly higher than the top 25 market but clearly you need to keep an eye on another number as an indication of audience size. Nothing has really change but the channel right? Audience size in a smaller market can be significantly larger than that of a lowly ranked station in a much bigger market.
The big takeaway here is that geography, the geo fences of zip codes, is likely to play a smaller and smaller role in determining your audience and the equity of your brand. Your march up market just got a little bit more complicated and the importance of building a digital brand much more critical to your future success.