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John Frost

We Are Family




In 1979 Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” became the anthem for the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that symbolized the hope of a northeast industrial city facing economic hardship.  

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing

Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose

This season Pirates’ fans gather to watch their first winning team in over 20 years.  But this scene is different.  Yes, the stands are filled with fans wearing team colors, chanting in unison, and supporting their heroes on the field, but the difference in this setting is there was no team on the field.  These fans had left the comfort of their homes, fought the Pittsburgh traffic, parked their cars, and found their way to seats in a ballpark to watch on the video board a game being played in St. Louis 600 miles away.   

They didn’t come to ballpark to see the game (at least in person), they came to the park to be fans.

It is built into us.  With every “I’m a proud parent...” bumper sticker, posting of a political statement on Facebook, wearing the colors of our alma mater, or championing our favorite radio station, people want to communicate that they belong to something important.   

“We buy what we buy to remind ourselves - and tell the world around us - who we are. We even choose our service providers based on how closely they mirror the way we would run their company. We're attracted to reflections of ourselves. A salesperson points out this reflection, "That's you, isn't it?" and then gives the intellect the facts it needs to justify the purchase. Win the heart and the mind will follow”  Roy Williams

But that’s enough for now.  

In next week’s Frost Advisory I’ll discuss the power of Social Proof (think white ear buds for your I-Pod), and share the story of Jimmy and Betty and a tree in Tennessee.   

Part 2

Last week in a Frost Advisory cleverly titled ”We are Fam-i-ly (part one)” I shared how the need to belong is built into us.  With every “I’m a proud parent...” bumper sticker, posting of a political statement on Facebook, wearing the colors of our alma mater, or championing our favorite radio station, people desire to show others they belong to something important.   

My Pyromarketing friend Greg Stielstra shares this story.  

I hiked Burgess Falls in Eastern Tennessee last weekend and found this tree along the trail.  It was scarred with carvings.  "Jimmy loves Betty."  "Roger and Veronica true love always."  No other tree along the trail had any such carvings, but this one was covered.

In uncertain situations we copy other people's behavior.  It's called social proof and it explained why this tree was covered with carvings while others were spared.  Most people wouldn't think of carving their name into a tree in a state park, but this tree already had some carvings in it. That precedent was a sort of tacit permission to do the same and dozens of people did.

Social proof is a powerful force in marketing too.  Our world offers nearly infinite choice and people have neither the time nor the inclination to figure out which product best meets their needs.  Unable or unwilling to figure it out for themselves, they simply do what others have done.  It's why bestselling books remain bestsellers.  They're not better than other books necessarily, they're just more popular and that popularity begets more popularity.”  

After a recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic my wife wore a simple little string on her wrist for several months.  Each member of her group had cut a piece of a larger string to remind them that what happened on that trip was a part of something bigger.  In fact it was so important to her that she wore the string until it fell off.  
Mark Ramsey reminds us that we’re not just another radio format.  He urges us to contemplate the ramifications of being the largest church in town.  

Unfortunately only a handful of stations have learned the real power of our format; something beyond a bunch of unfamiliar music and disc jockeys saying something religious every once in awhile.  Few have learned it can be the most meaningful format on the dial where people really can feel a part of something bigger than themselves.  

In fact, like fam-i-ly!    


John is a partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, and has been a successful major market disc jockey and program director for such companies as CBS, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Sandusky, Gannett, and Alliance during his 38 year broadcast career.  John joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999.