Radio Lessons From The Real World: #1 Starbucks

Apparently, size really doesn’t matter.

It’s a model the coffee giant has used with great success in creating a comfortable, non-salesy environment in their stores that has implications for radio.

When you walk into a Starbucks coffee shop and order your tall, non-fat, no whip, double shot, Cinnamon Dolce latte; the smiling cashier never gives you a hard time for not ordering a grande. They never berate you for not going venti. They simply never try to upsize you. What the Starbucks employee does is far more powerful. The strategy is not to have you order a larger coffee, it is centered entirely around enticing you to come back later that day with a discount coupon for your afternoon caffeine fix.

Can radio do the same?

We spend so much time encouraging our announcers to drive listeners to the next break, to get another 15 minutes of tuning, to creatively hook them so they discover the pay off – but are we missing a big opportunity?

In the 70s and 80s, the radio equivalent of this Starbucks Strategy was called Vertical Maintenance but it’s an art we have forgotten and should perhaps reincarnate. Creative hooks are a valuable tool and extending listening session lengths is vital; but equally important are creating new listening occasions – for me, listening occasions are the new TSL

The sad reality of radio is that our listeners don’t consume our medium like they do other mediums. A movie in a cinema, for example, has the audience engrossed in the content, uninterrupted and focused.

The world is a busy place and getting busier by the second and radio must adapt. Understanding the limitations our audience has and making listening to us more simple with well defined, entertaining offerings and structured tuning appointments makes us easy to consume time and time again. Kinda like a tall, non-fat, no whip, double shot, Cinnamon Dolce latte.

About Ronnie Stanton

Aussie kid living in Canada. His office job is VP – National Brands and Programming for Corus Entertainment . Ronnie also consults radio stations and coaches morning shows all over the world. He can be reached at [email protected]

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