For 30 years I have been hired by the biggest and smallest media companies around the world to triage trouble and offer solutions. There is a pattern to the companies that are on the path to failure. Here, from my hard earned experience are the trouble signs:

1. GREETED BY A TRIMLINE PHONE. If a visitor to the company is greeted by a Trimline Phone and an extension directory, that business is saying “Not open for business.” Clients, friends, guests, vendors are the life of a business and greeting them with a phone rather than a wise receptionist does not show thriftiness it shows hostility.

2. BELIEVING THE BUSINESS HAS ARRIVED. My company works with two groups of companies: Dominant leaders and dead-lasts. The leaders call us because they want the new ideas and objective viewpoints that will flow to them from Sabo Media rather than to a competitor. They are secure in the knowledge that they will always need to be hungry. The dead-lasts want to get off the floor fast. It’s the companies that do not do research, ask for advisors or constantly put out feelers for new information that are doomed. In media, that means doomed immediately.

3. SALES RUNS THE COMPANY. Sales runs nothing. The show is the business. The audience seeks the show. The most successful companies we have worked for such as Standard Broadcasting of Canada and Press Broadcasting checks NOTHING with sales. Their CEO’s say, if we make the right show they can sell it.

4. COPIES NOTHING. For local media, it is a serious mistake to look to other markets for answers. The answers must be right for one city. Management that asks, “Where else is it being done?” has made a commitment to the past rather than to the future.

5. LOOKS FOR SAVINGS RATHER THAN NEW REVENUE. It is not a victory to switch from FedEx to DHL. It is a victory to raise rates every quarter gathering revenue from other media rather than from the same medium

Walter Sabo, CEO of Sabo Media operates a worldwide advisory practice. His team launched Sirius Satellite radio’s content. Young skewing FM Talk was invented by Sabo. Notably, he gave Dr. Ruth Westheimer her first job in media. Ask him what”s next Walter@sabomedia.com

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