Skip to main content

Focus and Bob FM

The apparent success of Austin's KBPA radio station raises some interesting questions about the principle of focus.

KBPA is one of many Bob FM stations around the US and Canada. They all play a wide variety of music from the past four decades. In fact, the Austin station proclaims, "We play anything." Most radio stations focus on a particular genre of music, such as country, hip hop, or classic rock. Along comes Bob and differentiates itself by playing anything.

Is Bob's product focused?

In one sense, it's clearly not focused. It spans the standard musical categories. Until recently, conventional wisdom said that they would be doomed because they had "no format".

But branding and focus are not just about established categories in an industry. Branding and focus are about creating new categories in the mind. If the mind can conceive it and differentiate it from other categories, then it can be a category. There is no reason to stick to established categories. In fact, you're best off creating a new one.

A caveat to keep in mind: focusing on a category shouldn't be your only concern. Focusing on a well-defined psychographic segment of the market is also important.

Comments

The Cranky Product Manager has to disagree with you here. "Everything" is not a market segment, never will be.
Roger L. Cauvin said…
You're conflating "category" with "segment". I wrote:

"A caveat to keep in mind: focusing on a category shouldn't be your only concern. Focusing on a well-defined psychographic segment of the market is also important."

The "we play anything" message appeals only to a particular segment of the market. A category is not a segment.
Fair enough. But truly, is there really an actual well-defined psychographic segment that likes to listen to "anything"?? Intuitively, the Cranky Product Manager doesn't buy it (but market research could convince her otherwise).

And furthermore, how actionable is any kind of psychographic segment that consists of people that are truly indiscriminate about the products and the brands; where nothing that distinguishes two market offerings matters at all to them. How do you target these people, and would you even want to since they view your offering as a commodity no matter what you do?
Roger L. Cauvin said…
Cranky, let me try to distill and rephrase your questions:

Q. Is there a psychographic segment that likes to listen to literally anything (i.e. is indiscriminate)?

A. In all likelihood, no. There does appear to be, however, a segment that enjoys listening to a subset of "anything" that nonetheless spans several of the standard musical categories.

Bob FM doesn't really play "anything". That's a code word for something like "popular hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s".

Q. If there were a segment that was "indiscriminate", would it be worth targeting?

A. Probably not. Lack of any discrimination whatsoever implies apathy; a lack of an urgent problem or need.

Good questions!

Popular posts from this blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck for Prioritizing

The Goal As a company executive, you want confidence that your product team (which includes all the people, from all departments, responsible for product success) has a sound basis for deciding which items are on the product roadmap. You also want confidence the team is prioritizing the items in a smart way. What Should We Prioritize? The items the team prioritizes could be features, user stories, epics, market problems, themes, or experiments. Melissa Perri  makes an excellent case for a " problem roadmap ", and, in general, I recommend focusing on the latter types of items. However, the topic of what types of items you should prioritize - and in what situations - is interesting and important but beyond the scope of this blog entry. A Sad but Familiar Story If there is significant controversy about priorities, then almost inevitably, a product manager or other member of the team decides to put together The Spreadsheet. I've done it. Some of the mos

Stop Validating and Start Falsifying

The product management and startup worlds are buzzing about the importance of "validation". In this entry, I'll explain how this idea originated and why it's leading organizations astray. Why Validate? In lean startup circles, you constantly hear about "validated learning" and "validating" product ideas: The assumption is that you have a great product idea and seek validation from customers before expending vast resources to build and bring it to market. Indeed, it makes sense to transcend conventional approaches to making product decisions . Intuition, sales anecdotes, feature requests from customers, backward industry thinking, and spreadsheets don't form the basis for sound product decisions. Incorporating lean startup concepts , and a more scientific approach to learning markets, is undoubtedly a sounder approach. Moreover, in larger organizations, sometimes further in the product life-cycle, everyone seems to have an opinio

Henry Ford's "Faster Horse" Quote

You may have heard the ( apocryphal ) Henry Ford quote: If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have said "a faster horse". Over at the On Product Management blog , Saeed gives his take on this infamous quote. He "hates" it, and gives some compelling reasons. Saeed is spot on in his explanations. Personally, I think the quote is great, but it's a matter of interpretation. The valid point of the quote is not that it's a bad idea to facilitate a conversation with your market to better understand it. The valid points are: You must ask the right questions to get valuable answers. You must interpret the answers thoughtfully - often outside their direct meaning - to glean reliable information. Asking questions is not always the best way to "listen" to your market. (E.g., sometimes pure observational studies are more reliable.) Nonetheless, I find the quote is helpful to combat "armchair product management" in the