Continuous consumer engagement has helped us differentiate ourselves: Head, Friends FM
With projected margins of about 20 per cent in FY 17-18, Kolkata-based Friends FM is riding high. Jimmy Tangree, Head, Friends FM tells us how the focus on continuous consumer engagement has been a key to their success and has helped the station differentiate itself from other players.
How has the year been so far for Friends FM? What kind of growth are you witnessing? How is the medium doing overall?
In the past four years, we have been improving our line. Our margins Y-o-Y have been going up â€“ 15 per cent in FY 15/16, 18 per cent in FY 16/17 and a projected 20 per cent in FY 17/18. So we are growing. What makes Radio different is that it gives you a direct engagement profile like no other medium. We can engage with the audience, get full demographic data, have consumer participation or innovative integrations, all in one hour. And at the end of that one hour, results are out, then and there. Today, if a client does something at night, he has the entire data detail by the next morning. So its instantaneous, live and responsive. Today radio is surrounded by ancillaries like Digital, on-ground activations and events, FB live etc. The Digital medium has also helped bring about a sense of new business because when you bundle, it adds to the top-line. Radio is the only entertainment platform that can give you a 360 degree solution. So overall business is looking good for Radio. But the crux to good business is a lot of innovation and introspective engagement. Innovation with a combination of Digital and on-ground is going to take Radio way ahead. The mantra for Radio is simple, connect and you will be successful.
The station started off being a retro Bengali music FM station but has now transformed into a much younger, fresher offering. How difficult was the transition?
Four years of being a part of the Ananda Offset Pvt Ltd (AOPL) has been an amazing experience. The kind of freedom and encouragement we got from the the higher ups gave us an opportunity to do a lot, we experimented a lot and did a lot of new things that were unheard of from a radio station. Who would have thought that an eight year old retro Bengali music channel could change over and do well. Initially we would do a lot of Bengali music but now it's a blend of Hindi, Bengali and English shows with a lot of engagement.
Is your primary target audience the youth?
We are primarily targeting people between the age of 18 to 45. Our goal is to target those who are young and also the ones that are young at heart.
Friends FM has been acquired by Music Broadcast Limited. What kind of changes can we expect to see at Friends FM as a result of this acquisition?
To be very honest, we donâ€™t really have much to update right now. Yes the acquisition has happened, subject to a clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. So people are just waiting for the clearance to come through. For now, there has been no change in the way we were running. We are still Friends FM.
For a market like Kolkata, the festive season is very critical with a large part of business coming in during those few weeks. What are your plans for this year?
Last year we did a 100 Durga puja tie-ups, 91 VIP entries, 18 activations, 3257 live updates and brought close to 199 celebs live on air. We have already started gearing up for the festive season this year. We will have all that we did last year but weâ€™ll have a lot of innovation both at the station and on-ground. Weâ€™ll be connecting, participating and engaging with the festivities. Our aim is to make people feel like they are celebrating puja when they tune in to our station even if they are not on ground.
Innovation is a big part of the work that you do with brands. Do you have a dedicated innovation team?
We donâ€™t have a separate team. All our teams, be it the sales and marketing teams or the programming teams, sit together, discuss client briefs, brainstorm, and come up with innovative client solutions. Content which engages is the finest content on air. And thatâ€™s where we score.
What differentiates Friends FM from other FM players?
We are a 24x7 live station. Night time is also super prime for us. We are the only station that is live through the night and that makes a difference because we are always connected, not just on our stations but through SMS, WhatsApp messages, Facebook etc. That is a huge differentiator and has helped us reach where we are today.
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