Industry Views

Pending Business: Coffee Talk

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imHave you tried the $7 cup of coffee at Starbucks?

A recent visit to my neighborhood location was an eye-opener. The demographics were broader than a trip to Disneyland. The service was average, as the baristas gave a hearty Moe’s welcome shoutout, heads down cranking out the orders.

A recent study showed 63% of millennial coffee drinkers are good with that $7 price because the coffee experience made them feel good. I was wowed at the acceptance of the price point. If the average consumer goes to Starbucks 16 times a month, that is over $100 a month on coffee. No wonder there more than 16,000 locations in the U.S. We just can’t get enough!

Yes, I am a student of successful marketing no matter what the product or service is. Tide, Starbucks, iPhone – what is it about the product that drives the value proposition? Quality? My gym socks do just as well in the less expensive laundry detergent. Dependability? My iPhone needs rebooting more than I would like to admit. Consistency? Ever taste Pike Place when it is from the bottom of the canister? No product or service is flawless, yet we consistently pay more for some over others. Is it marketing, packaging, or genuine performance? A little of everything.

Let us connect to our sales world.

1) There is no shortage of Tide. Yet it is still the most expensive brand on most supermarket and big box store shelves. Consumers have paid a premium for nearly 80 years because we trust the product. And therein lies the lesson for talk radio sellers. The trust your audience has in your on-air hosts is hard-earned equity reinforced every day.

2) The sit-down experience and service in a Starbucks is unique. From Manhattan to Carmel, California, locally owned coffee shops try, and some may succeed but the overall sit-down experience and service at Starbucks is consistently high-quality, meeting our expectations no matter where you are and so price barriers come down. Lesson #2 for sellers. Is your buyer-seller exchange always at a consistent important level no matter how close your relationship with your advertiser? Even when business is down?

3) There is no way to Google that answer. Put yourself in the shoes of your advertiser, especially a first-time advertiser when the wrong copy runs, an invoice is incorrect, or another issue comes up. Is it quick and easy to resolve a discrepancy? Will you invest the time and patience to ease the process?

Our talk radio business rarely integrates intangibles when it comes to pricing. Competitive, efficiencies and demand traditionally drive pricing. Yet the talk radio personalities are the ones with all the intangibles. From political influencers and offering emergency weather information to life changing news storylines that need interpretation to become more acceptable. Yet through it all, we are still the $1 cup of coffee.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Apple Heaven and Hell

By Holland Cooke

imEver lost your phone? It’s an instant sick, sinking feeling. It’s quaint to even call it a “phone,” because it’s…everything. Including us. Like the transistor radio Boomers toted in our youth, it’s audio in your pocket.

For broadcasters and podcasters, a smartphone can be the whole toolbox. MOVIES are being shot on the newest iPhone. The cameras and editing apps are that good. TV and radio can go live, anywhere there’s a signal. And, like Alexa, Siri is conversant. Dictation isn’t just a convenient voice-to-text appliance. It makes lots of apps lots handier, and safer while driving. So, when, suddenly, my phone couldn’t hear me anymore, I went Code Red.


First triage: Google. But when I satisfied myself that all my settings were as they should be, I needed a person. As expected, the patient expert on Apple’s Support line had a thick foreign accent and great people skills. She had me repeating all the steps Google recommended, and told me I had to update my OS. When repeated attempts failed, I needed in-person handholding, a/k/a The Genius Bar.

Just TRY calling an Apple Store. The local number for the Providence Place Mall location rings in Texas I was told, after I cheated by reaching out to a friend who works for Apple and got me in the door. The irony is painful: They sell telephones but can’t answer one.


Antiques Roadshow

I’ll seem my age if it’s 2023, and I’m still toting iPhone 8. Hey, it worked…until it didn’t. And the Genius Bar person explained that it had missed too many OS updates to ever catch-up. And when she ran diagnostics, enough other issues warranted the handoff to sales.

Dazzling as the latest-greatest are, I went with SE, same size/shape/appearance as the 8 being retired. It snapped right into the decorative Block Island cover case that had saved the old phone from so many drops. In the survey Apple emailed later that day, I couldn’t say enough about Matty, the sales guy who walked me through setting-up the new phone. All better now, and although it’s now sans SIM card, the retired 8 phone is a spare tire. If I want to talk to it, I’ll need earbuds. But it’s an otherwise functional iPod that will Facetime, Email, you-name-it, via WiFi.

So then?

With most AM/FM broadcast hours now automated or syndicated, stations that make local human connections will be conspicuous; and niche-topic podcasts will ooze “community.”

I write lots of commercials, and – where pertinent – we assure that “you won’t land in voicemail.” And we’ll emphasize one-on-one support. Here’s how one client – the voice you hear is the owner, whose stations are 100 miles from Dallas – sells expensive cameras, at a store in Dallas:

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke


Monday Memo: Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND — “…so are The Days of Our Lives.” The intro to that soap opera – er, daytime drama – is SO old that it outlived star MacDonald Carey, still heard voicing-over the beginning of each show on NBC-TV every weekday…until today. After 57 years and 58 Emmy Awards on broadcast television, the venerable melodrama will now be seen exclusively on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.