Regular readers of the blog know that I have commented several times on the fascinating competition that has unfolded in sports talk radio in Boston. For many years, WEEI had a dominant position in the Boston market. Entrants came and went, unable to topple the station or even to survive in the market. Then, the Sports Hub (98.5) came along and knocked off the powerful incumbent. It took a substantial ratings lead in many key time slots. In the past, I've commented on how 98.5 did things a bit differently, while also focusing on a few important customer segments, so as to be successful.
I've noticed one other lesson from this interesting competition. In the mornings, the Toucher and Rich show on 98.5 has overtaken the once-popular Dennis and Callahan show on WEEI. They became successful for many reasons. However, one key thing that they have done is bring on guests in a different manner. On the WEEI show, most of their prominent guests come on the show between 8am and 10am. On the Toucher and Rich show, many key guests actually come on the show prior to 8am. Why is this important? Well, I've noticed that I miss many of the WEEI guests as I'm at work by 8:00am or shortly thereafter. Why does WEEI have its guests on after many audience members are already at work? I think, in part, it's because the guests prefer the later interviews. They don't want to get up that early, or they aren't yet prepared to be interviewed on radio at that early hour. WEEI is serving the needs of its guests, but at the expense of its audience members! The audience wants those early interviews. The Sports Hub has delivered on that previously unmet customer need.
What's the lesson for other businesses? Think about whose needs you are actually fulfilling. Yes, you have multiple constituents. However, at the end of the day, the customer's needs must come first. You never want to leave their needs and desires unmet because you are focused on other priorities.