Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Row-Five Test

Gordon M. Bethune’s name was painted on the Triple-Seven at the gate next to mine.


If you’re not familiar with the name, Gordon Bethune was Continental Airline’s CEO during their turn-around and for a number of years after. During this time their customer-focused initiatives turned customers into real fans of the airline and the man running it (I’ve been a Continental evangelist for many years).

Gordon’s book, “From Worst to First” chronicles Continental’s about-face. It’s a fun read (especially if you fly) while serving up a good bit of management common sense – one piece of which, “The Row-Five Test” is the subject of this blog.

The Row-Five Test is simply about finding out what the customer sitting in Row Five values and is willing to pay for, and then giving it to him. At the same time, the Row-Five Test ideally prevents force-feeding customers things they neither need nor want - and then charging them for it.

Tom Asacker’s blog  this week had a related take. Consumers determine ‘value’ based on what he or she “feels he is getting in exchange for his time, attention, and money" adding, "whoever develops and delivers the best evolving composite of value, for their particular audience, wins.”

What value are listeners placing on your station’s offerings?

Before the end of the year, take an inventory of what’s on the air. One at a time, evaluate each in terms of how listeners perceive its value. Will they feel it's worth 'paying extra for’ in time or attention, sitting through extra commercials or not hearing one of their favorite songs?

Lists will be different across stations and listeners themselves will have a different hierarchies of what they feel has worth.  Populating a list is easy; constantly keeping the audience's perspective as you work through it is the challenge because it's so easy to mingle what’s valuable to us with what’s valuable to listeners.

The danger in doing that of course is that we could be “charging” listeners for things that fail the Row-Five Test.

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