Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Focus Pocus

I was conducting some Focus Groups for a radio client recently, and halfway through one of the groups (when a listener was describing her view of a particular show in great detail) it struck me how powerful this type of contact with listeners really is.

Focus Groups have their supporters and detractors alike. However, regular contact with your consumers, whatever industry you’re in, just seems to me so vital, particularly in the very fast moving world of media.

Those pre-conceptions (however small) we all hold about radio are being chipped away daily. ‘Listening at work’ isn’t about the old crappy radio on top of the filing cabinet any more. It’s about hi-quality streaming and listeners experiencing brand variants to match their mood while they work.

Interacting with the radio station isn’t just about calling in with a traffic update. It’s about joining that station’s online community and getting involved in station-led online initiatives, forums and webcasts.

“The public” are a very media savvy bunch these days and talk very naturally in terms of formats, playlists, research and positioning. The mythical dark arts of the media and its methods of working are gone. We’re in a new transparent relationship, where the line between producer and consumer is fainter than ever.

I think we can sometimes forget how media aware our consumers are, when we sit in radio stations and treat listeners like they’re slightly simple folk! I was pleased at the way in which this particualr group of listeners had embraced new technology and spoke about it in normal everyday terms. It’s not “New Media” anymore… it’s just media to them.

The groups reminded me of things I already believed in, and shone a light in a few areas that may prove interesting to look at in a bit more detail. But the point is this. If you work at, or run a radio station, when was the last time you sat in room and spoke to real listeners, at length, about your product? If the answer is “too long ago”, may I suggest you change that? I think you’ll find the process will be a magical one.

1 comment:

Matt Deegan said...

I'd absolutely agree with that. Attending focus groups is the best part about them.

I find I learn very little from the reports or presentations, but by spending a couple of hours with real listeners, seeing their eyes roll or picking up something that you know a research company won't be able to interpret is where the real value lies.