“The Essence of Strategy is Choosing What Not to Do.”

By David Kidd, BPR

This quote comes from Michael Porter, an American academic known for his theories on economics and business strategy. He is credited for creating Porter’s Five Forces analysis, which is instrumental in business strategy development today.

But the quote shouldn’t be taken out of context……it applies to one of his five “tests” of good strategy.

Strategic planning in most businesses often focuses on what to do….what the goals are and how to achieve them. Makes perfect sense.

In radio, we determine the strategic goals and articulate what the station will be…the means by which we will achieve those strategic goals….the format, the talent, the brand image, the “sound” etc.

But Michael Porter makes a great point…….we should also articulate what the station is NOT.

By establishing what you are NOT, you further define and refine the format by not only making it a much clearer value proposition for the listeners but also by crystallizing the programming vision for internal stakeholders.

What a station is NOT depends on the format and the target audience. Here’s an example for a station taking a “family friendly” position targeting females with young children.

We are NOT:

  • Boring
  • Loud
  • Fake
  • Smutty
  • Rude
  • Out of Touch
  • Try hard
  • Negative
  • Condescending/Patronising
  • Obnoxious
  • Soul less
  • Controversial


You now have additional filters through which every element on your station should pass before going to air, which will ensure that all content adheres to the brand promise.




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