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Starbucks has much to teach us about the value of Cume over TSL

Radio Lessons #1 – Starbucks

Does size really matter? Starbucks says no.

It’s a model the coffee giant has used with great success in creating a comfortable, non-salesy environment in their stores. When you walk into a Starbucks 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 don’t try toupgrade to a Venti. There’s simply no talk of the cultish, secret Trenta.

Upsizing you is simply not part of the model.

What they do is far more powerful. The strategy is not to have you order a larger beverage; but rather to entice you to come back later that day with a discount coupon for your afternoon caffeine fix.

As content creators, 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 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 we want them to. If we were in the movie business, we would craft our art and patrons would sit in a dark room where talking is frowned upon and the seats dont swivel. They would be focussed, engrossed in our art. They would be uninterrupted in our content (apart from the kid kicking their seat behind them).

The world is a busy place, getting busier by the second and as content creators, we must adapt. If day to day living is like driving down the Vegas strip, we have to know cutting through is hard. To do that we need to understand the limitations our audience has and consciously make listening to us easier. Simpler, well-defined, entertaining offerings and structured tuning appointments just make us easier to consume. Kind of like that tall, non-fat, no whip, double shot, Cinnamon Dolce latte.