Industry Views

Pending Business: Post-Game

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imIn case you missed it, honesty was on full display at Friday’s TALKERS 2024: Radio and Beyond conference.

Sometimes honest or transparent B2B conversations are difficult to digest. But when the truth is presented in an open forum designed to educate and motivate better to listen closely.

High five to keynoter Glenn Beck who shared his personal journey from the bottom to the top. His keynote was clear, honest messaging. Fame and fortune are no substitute for being true to yourself, honest about why and what you do in this business. What will you contribute that will make a difference? Love him or hate him, Beck is a proven, successful professional at what he does best: make you think.

Straight forward hallway conversations with fellow panelist Vince Benedetto, CEO of Bold Gold Media, were philosophical eye openers. Vince is a young, successful owner operator of small and medium market radio stations. Why is radio perceived as a “still is” good business when all his teams know is today’s success? Did someone tell him sales orders rolled in on fax machines? If that was the case, maybe radio stations should go back to faxing. Vince has no rear-view mirror, no experience with the “good old days” – just today’s and tomorrow’s successful opportunities. I explained to Vince, I’ve worked with the frenemy, and it is the generation ahead of him. We who overlook and assume the basics of over 90% radio listenership. It is us who need a look in the mirror!

A moment of honesty comment from John Caracciolo, CEO of JVC Media, was short and to the point, “Where are the bankers?” Nowhere near most local radio station owner operators. Maybe that will change as more terrestrial radio owners, managers, and talent fast forward embracing the future of digital and social media integration.

The research Salem Media Group SVP Phil Boyce shared was inspiring and thought provoking. His numbers tell the compelling story of audience dynamics and choices, especially when we hear how people are listening to radio for longer periods of time. Does anyone honestly care to pitch that key sales point?

Let’s wrap this column up with three key takeaways from the conference:

1. The radio business is alive but wrestling with a future crowded by aggressive competition from the new digital/social media frontier.
2. Successful leaders need trusted, experienced collaborators. Learn from the great Warren Buffet.
3. It takes passion, commitment, expertise, and a great team to stage the annual TALKERS conference. Thank you, Michael Harrison. I learned a lot!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Upsell

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imAlmost everything I know about pricing strategy I learned from domestic airlines. Guess what? Airlines are at it again and I hope you are watching and learning.

As a young national sales manager, then general manager, based in South Florida in the 80s, I became a student of some of the best competitive marketing strategies ever created. Anyone would be hard pressed to remember all the domestic airline brands that serviced South Florida back then. Off the top of my head, here are the nine I remember: Eastern, Delta, Continental, American, United, US Air, Pan Am, TWA, and for a short time, Florida Airlines. Depending on the routes and time of year, the competition was crazy. Once the fourth quarter holiday season began in these pre-computerized days, last-minute changes kept me at my desk way too long, showing up late for several holiday dinners. Pricing, heavy ups, and copy changes came down with minimal lead time and a mandate of no make goods. Computers were first working their way into radio stations. Inkjet printers were in development and mobile phones were still in the lab at Motorola.

Armed with a desktop calculator, pencil, and yellow pad, I worked feverishly to keep up with the airline marketing tsunami that hit the Miami market leading up to Christmas travel. Our traffic department was the only part of our radio station that worked with computers. Nevertheless, stress and anxiety ruled until all orders were correctly inputted and confirmed. Once the smoke cleared, I decided to learn from our clients, the original pricing disruptors: the airlines of the early 80s.

After visiting with marketing directors, I learned how market demand and inventory were calculated and balanced to determine pricing. Later, I studied how Southwest successfully pre-sold into markets they were about to service. The successful airlines taught me how to improve the execution of “grid card rate management.” How to fine-tune and balance anticipated sell-out levels and integrate seasonality. Later, the art of successful pre-selling became an important part of our mission.

Fast-forward to today’s airline marketing and pricing. It’s all about the upsell. Consider all the options you have once you book that economy ticket. From early boarding, extra legroom, baggage fees, refundable vs. non-refundable tickets, travel insurance, to double the points, etc.

Airline income and profits are still on the post-pandemic upswing. Domestic travelers are out in force, many travelers comfortably participating in the upsell. The strategy is working.

Few if any radio-audio sellers are skilled in upselling. Most managers are not skilled in the upsell strategy and rarely have the time to learn. The concept may feel a little awkward at first, but once you understand how to work with the spectrum of assets your platforms can offer, the upsell strategy can help increase your sales as you help your clients!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: In Car

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imWhat happened to us? Unless we move quickly, the radio business stands to lose the final frontier: in-car listening.

The numbers tell a riveting story.

The good news is 92% of Americans listen to the radio every week.

The bad news, according to Edison Research, is only 68% of homes have a radio. All of us who were trained on the 90%-plus penetration of in-home radios are officially out of touch. The in-home radio listening experience is fading fast and there is no trend in sight to reverse it. Smart speakers aside, that bedside clock radio that helped millions wake up every morning is a silent reminder of days past. That 90%-plus penetration number will soon be the domain of Smart TV as 91% of homes have internet. That’s more homes than have radios.

The good news is 73% of drivers listen to the radio in the car.

Nearly three out of every four drivers tune in. The bad news is emerging retail media will soon be the final purchase influencer, online and on location. By 2025 more ad dollars (nearly $47 billion) are projected to be invested in retail media than TV. If you are still pitching, “in-car radio is the last purchase influence before the shopper steps into the store,” you are joining the growing group of outdated radio sellers. Let’s stop the head-in-the-sand approach and review what will have better sales power in the current landscape.

1. In-car listening is typically a shared attention experience. Adjust your commercials to work in the in-car environment. Simplify the messaging, repeat critical sales points, make the call to action easy to understand and implement.

2. Frequency sells. Forever the foundation of solid radio sales, repetition works, and compelling messaging can be commuter friendly.

3. Do your homework. If your community relies on several major industries, learn how the new remote workforce impacts in car listening. Different commute patterns may be in play. Know your marketplace before you suggest a schedule.

4. Seasonal trends. Summer is here. What changes are impacting your market?

Is there a go-to resource for advertiser info on your station website?

Some things will never change:

1. Auto is typically the #1 ad category. One of the best places to start the sales cycle of buying or leasing a new car is in the car of that money draining repair clunker and radio is right there!

2. Three out of four commuters drive alone and when you have someone one-on-one messaging will be heard.

3. In-car radio listening still is and always will be that uniquely personal experience.

Finally, owners and top-level management must learn to help sellers adjust to ever changing world of how to work with radio advertisers to meet the consumer where they are today.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com

Industry Views

Pending Business: Who Cares?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imDoes anyone care anymore?

The latest Pew Research study, “Americans’ Changing Relationship with Local News,” confirmed a personal experience last week. More on that later.

If you believe the survey, almost 80% of us say we no longer follow local news very closely. It doesn’t matter if you live in a top 10 all-news radio market, or a city with a heritage news/talk/information station. The survey says we just lost interest and stopped consuming local news.

Wait, what happened? Real estate taxes in many communities are through the roof. The cost of insurance, health care and basic groceries are the highest in years. Some hospitals in local communities are rumored to be discussing charging in advance for certain procedures. How about your local mall; is it still safe during weekdays? Is your local school system better or worse post covid? And those local roads; are they still in great shape? All of this in addition to the college campus in your community that may be unraveling or not. Did 80% of us really stop following and talking about local news? Perhaps it is just easier and less expensive for on-air talent, producers, and programmers to focus on Trump trials and Gaza. Do we serve the audience what we think they want and forget local?

My first-hand “we don’t care to cover local news” experience was a frightening eye opener. As I was traveling South along Florida’s I-95, a truck hauling propane gas caught fire as it was parked on the right shoulder of the Interstate. The tanks started exploding and a roaring fire emitting huge dark plumes of smoke stopped traffic for miles. Our car was second in line in the standstill, not more than 250 feet away from the fire. We could feel the explosions from the propane as local police motioned us to back up. We were speechless in our car watching this horrific scene. My fiancé searched her mobile phone for any breaking news report. Nothing. I kept looking to the sky for local news chopper, or a local news team, cruiser, or SUV with reporters to cover this from the ground. Nothing. Would a local news/talk radio station take a caller with an eye-witness account? Nobody broke in with a report.

Thankfully, local police, Florida State troopers, firefighters and Special Ops all arrived on the scene in minutes. Still no local news team. First responders did an amazing job getting this dangerous propane fire under control. After a 30-minute delay, we were finally directed past the burned out remains of the truck. As I scanned the rear-view mirror, the radio, the sky above me and the opposite side of I-95, there was still no local news reporting.

No wonder 80% of us stopped following local news very closely, nobody cares to report the story.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Talk Radio Questionnaire

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imTime to thank the lawyers in the Donald Trump trial for once again proving beyond any doubt the power of talk radio.

1. Sellers – Get ready for Mother’s Day and Christmas rolled into one.

2. Managers – Prepare a fresh new page in your talk radio media kit.

3. On-air talk radio talent – Don’t throw away that lottery ticket, your number could come in.

4. Media consultants – Hit the brakes on making TV as an automatic first choice for your political campaigns, we’ve got a story for you.

5. Owners – Play your cards right and that talk radio format may have jumped in value.

It has been widely reported that jurors selected for the Donald Trump-Stormy Daniels trial were presented a questionnaire with the following question, “Do you listen to talk radio?” “If so, which programs?” Now wait just a minute all you jury profilers out there or fans of the TV show “Bull.” This is big, but I have a few questions of my own:

1. Why would any lawyer be interested in the radio listening habits of a (potential) juror?

2. Why specify “talk radio?”

3. What’s with the need to know about specific programs?

4. What’s the definition of “listen?” Daily? How long?

Maybe it’s time to recognize just what all this means to great talk radio talent and marketers.

I’m sure by now you have figured out where this goes – influence – as in talk radio hosts, the original influencers.

The very nature of a jury selection questionnaire screening for talk radio listening and specific programs is fascinating. Did an attorney conclude that talk radio shows influenced a potential juror’s feelings, opinions, perceptions (the very currency of talk radio) when it comes to Donald Trump or Stormy Daniels or any other key player on the legal stage?

As every seller knows, talk radio talents were the original influencers and continue to drive sales every day. To the local sellers and managers in the New York DMA pitching Sid Rosenberg, Joe Piscopo, Mark Simone and the other great local talents, imagine experienced legal teams evaluating the influence of their daily shows on potential jurors. Same for the nationally syndicated talent heard in the New York DMA. Talk radio lives and is influencing in the Big Apple!

“Do you listen to talk radio?” “If so, which programs?” that line of questioning should now become part of your daily marketing testimonial. After all, if teams of well-respected lawyers feel talk radio listening can influence the decisions of jurors in one of the most historic cases ever to be tried in our country, imagine what talk radio can do for your advertisers!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Dizzying Media Headlines

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imThe media headlines are dizzying these days, yet they all share one common thread. See if you can solve this puzzle.

1. The “Golden Batchelor” is getting divorced, three months after tying the knot.

2. Netflix is changing their film strategy, that according to The New York Times, may mean fewer big advances to stars.

3. NCAA Women’s basketball final delivered more TV viewers than UConn’s back-to-back championship finale vs. Purdue.

4. Retail media networks are real and could replace terrestrial radio as the true purchase influencer.

These headlines reflect what great radio programmers learned a long time ago, and what smart sellers practice every day. The concept is elegantly simple: give the people what they want, and the rest will take care of itself.

The “Golden Batchelor” was targeted at the 55+ audience. The biggest demographic watching traditional TV. The finale drew over 6 million viewers and gave millions of seniors hope for romance at any age. Give the people what they want, and the audience and advertisers followed. The breakup, well maybe that leans more Dr. Phil, and he is starting his own network!

Netflix has a new film boss, Dan Lin, and according to a recent article in The New York Times, he wants the Netflix film lineup to have a wider appeal to more of us 260 million Netflix subscribers. Sound familiar? Give a bigger share of the audience more of what they want.

Pioneering radio programmers learned that strategy before Netflix was a business model.

Start with Top 40 music radio, go to the all-news model and park your pick on your favorite pioneering talk radio talent. Listeners got what they wanted, as audience and advertisers followed.

Nearly 19 million watched as Caitlin Clark tried one last time to drive her team to victory. Her final push wasn’t enough to defeat a determined South Carolina team. It didn’t matter to the millions who tuned in and the advertisers who were smart enough to jump on board. Give the fans a superstar from Iowa named Caitlin and an audience of millions will follow.

Don’t look now, but that old-school pitch of radio being the final purchase influencer as the radio plays in the car on the way to the store, is fading fast. I can’t tell you how many times I made that classic pitch, until I heard “Attention ______ shoppers” as I pushed my cart down the aisle.

Retail media networks are now online as well as “on-the-air” in store, and we are spending more and more time shopping online.

What does it all mean to you, the seller? Simple! Just find what your advertisers want and sell it!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Personal

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imThe work-life balance concept is up for a new spin. Let us start in California.

A recent article in the LA Times discussed the California “right-to-disconnect” bill, “guaranteeing workers the right to ignore after-hours call, emails and texts from employers.” It is not a law yet, but if Assemblyman Matt Haney has his way, the workday could be redefined, again.

We have moved from being overworked and underpaid to the covid-driven culture of work from home and working remotely. Dress codes took on a new meaning as we Zoomed and Teamed our way through meetings, calls, and brainstorming sessions.

As the total remote work concept is being revisited by many media companies we have moved towards a hybrid of the number of in-office days vs. total remote days. Many ad agencies and rep firms are getting increasingly comfortable leaning into mainly remote work as commercial office space vacancies hit all-time highs in many cities.

With the warp speed advances of communication in the digital world, we now have the 24/7/365 always-on mindset. Some companies hire sales and customer service reps in all time zones to align unique sales and marketing with a heightened level of customer expectations.

How disappointed do you get when you hear, “our normal business hours are_____, please call back.” Are you kidding me with “normal?” One contract required my own company, considered a small business, to maintain production teams on both the East and West Coasts to adhere to final edits and posting deadlines.

The new world truly is business unusual. The “right-to-disconnect” does have a key place in the blurred workplace. The question is how to manage such a unique concept as not answering the phone when caller ID says, “Boss.”

Let us complicate the picture with my favorite growing trend, “The 4-day Work Week.” If you are in sales or marketing, you could be drooling at the opportunity this will create. No, not more time AT the beach or golf course for you the seller. I am thinking about the new opportunities to talk to the marketing director of the resort, golf course, family get-away or any other leisure activity that could make that long weekend a permanent lifestyle fixture. Some phenomenally successful businesspeople have already placed their bets. As we redefine the work-life balance, new categories will open right in front of you. Stay focused. Pickleball, anyone?

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Confidence

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imThe thing about outstanding performance is there is one key trait in the performer we can all agree on. It was on full display in front of millions during the past two weeks. It shows up every time an athlete takes the game to new levels, or an artist moves us out of our seats and collective comfort zone.

This trait is different from the energetic enthusiasm or the excitement we see from even entry-level performers. This trait takes time, experience, discipline and coaching before you can call it your own. We all need to pause a minute and make sure it is part of the developmental skill set being sharpened every day. Because you, the seller, cannot measure it on your own. You will need feedback from a trusted manager to be sure you are developing this part of your skill set to a level that will lead you to perform at peak efficiency.

Have you filled in the missing blank?

The trait is confidence. Not to be confused with arrogance, stubbornness, or being uncoachable. There is a difference between being so gifted that the student outgrows the teacher and sheer confidence. Confidence is that measured poise that shows your focus on the goals at hand, the calm you have under pressure, the ability to lead by example and the flexibility to adjust style and strategy. Confidence is one game changer that comes through whether working remotely or on in-person calls. Confidence is defined by proven experience as opposed to years on the job. Confidence is built by holding yourself to a standard that may be higher than what others expect. Confidence is developed when you set goals and stretch goals and through determination you achieve and exceed your goals. Confidence is recognized fastest when your performance leads by example and helps others achieve their goals. How do you begin developing confidence in your own performance?

1. Start with the one person you can control: You!

2. Prepare to Win. How much time do you spend preparing your calls? It takes 10 years of medical school education to accurately diagnose a one-second heartbeat.

3. A little positive self-talk helps. Think positive as in “I can do this.”

4. Invoke the great Charlie Munger theory. Get rid of the toxic influences in your (sales) world.

5. Learn from your wins and losses. When you win business the learning curve is simple. Very few managers teach sellers how to manage a competitive loss. Ask for the type of feedback that will help you improve.

6. Collaborate. The smartest people I know constantly ask questions.

7. Expand your knowledge base, experience base, and contact base every day.

Confidence is one universal trait in every champion. What is in your planner to help build your confidence?

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Will Video Save the Radio Star?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imWill video save the radio star? I hope so.

The tea leaves have become abundantly clear. Start understanding the impact of stand-alone video offered by your radio station or forever consider yourself outdated. Are you listening, all you great programming and production gurus out there in talk radio land. The up-and-coming generation is in line to take over and we had better start shifting the development wheels into hyper-gear today.

Everything new is new and everything old is suspect. Think about this:

1. How many times have you logged into Facetime or your favorite video platform purely for the sake of staying in touch? An entire generation is being raised on video calls and remote work. Can linear talk radio carve out a future in this video intense environment?

2. I can hear the old school managers barking, “There will always be in-car listening.” True, but commute times and days are changing regularly with remote work becoming the norm. In-car audio listening is changing before your very ears.

3. Have you digested the most recent research metrics? Sorry old schoolers, the days of 95% of homes listening to terrestrial radio are over. Ever watch the preschoolers ask Alexa or Google to read them a book?

4. Young parents under 40 are now limiting “screen time.” The key word is “limit.” Doesn’t that speak volumes?

How do we turn video integration into a sales winner for radio?

1. Stop denying the trend. Embrace the wave and ride it to profitability.

2. Focus on what sells. That “security camera” look in the on-air studio is embarrassing. Start having a real dialogue internally about what it takes to win dollars in this newly competitive world.

3. Reinvent yourself. Do not be slow to move forward. This video world moves at hyper speed and leaves laggards in the dust.

4. Not everyone will make the cut. Some of your talent will work better in the video world than others. Remember this is all relatively new to terrestrial radio. As your team navigates the way through these uncharted waters communication is critical.

The foundation is still solid. Many advertisers are comfortable with radio/audio that delivers the results they expect. Those advertisers are the rock-solid foundation every radio station needs. But eyes on the future are important as we all deal with single digit growth in competitive sales markets around the country.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: March Madness 2024

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imMarch is half over, and the Madness is just beginning.

Can you feel the social media buzz driven by countless fans from Florida and Iowa to California as they brag and bet on their favorite teams?

Advertising as well is turning to the tournament page and taking on the creative themes that talk to the millions of fans who will fill out their brackets in that new age science called “bracketology.” Is that basketball novice who wins the office money pool because the uniforms were just the right color still in the office? Or how about grandma beating a few experts because she really has been a fan for over 60 years. So much for the science behind “bracketology.”

Industry surveys project nearly $2.7 billion will be wagered during the madness as the dollars flow through legal venues. This year may be a little different as fans in Iowa play a unique role. More on that in a minute.

As a forever basketball fan and a fan of great marketing, March Madness is that rare intersection of high-level athletic performance and competitive marketing execution on full display in front of millions almost every day for nearly three weeks. The summer Olympics in Paris scheduled July 26-Aug 11, come close, but the Olympic games play to a multi-sport, truly global crowd. There is nothing else in sports and marketing that compares to the prolonged, daily intensity surrounding the “Big Dance,” and this year it is truly a dance.

Fans are in for a next-level experience as Iowa’s amazing Caitlin Clark puts Women’s March Madness on the sports map once and for all. This year the social media buzz will have the additional fandom buying every ticket in sight as Caitlin’s Iowa Hawkeyes sold out arenas around the country.

So, what does all this March Madness fandemonium have to do with what we do in sales and marketing? Let’s learn.

1. Watch for marketers who get the emotional connection with the core fans. This year’s messaging will broaden beyond what you might expect.

2. As demographics change, so will creative.

3. Although your marketing may be limited to your local market, watch for new categories that can open your thinking.

Nearly 133 years have passed since Dr. James Naismith grabbed a round ball and a basket. His goal was to invent a simple game to keep a group of young men active during those maddening winter months in Springfield, Massachusetts. If he could only have imagined what he started.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Baked-In?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imIs that host read you are pitching “baked-in?”

No, I am not talking baked in the content, as in before the break with all the produced commercials. I am talking about “baked-in” the audio that will live on as long as that show is available.

Still confused? You should ask someone who has handled an actual audio podcast avail. Some advertisers and their ad agencies are shaping the future and “baked-in” is a fundamental element of the new-think that is pushing the needle on podcast CPM, while your team struggles to compete for low CPM based on old school models that are dropping like flies.

The good news is that host read is still the gold standard that moves the listener to action. The bad news is radio station sellers are hanging onto older strategies that have little room in a future filled with millions of audio podcasts that contain no music and feature comedy, news, talk, opinion, lifestyle, sports, politics, entertainment, financial, medical, legal, self-help, religion, even foreign language – as in nothing but the human voice and a little production.

Sound familiar? I call it the great sales equalizer: the host read.

So how can this magical host read have such a dramatic impact in this super-crowded environment, yet be so underappreciated on radio stations coast to coast? Let us look at the three legs of the sales stool that have never changed.

1. The seller. Most radio sellers are presenting the host read the same way they did since their first order. What is new, different, and exciting in the way you present your talent today?

2. The audience. Size matters, intimacy matters, performance matters. Can you demonstrate how your host-audience relationship fulfills those criteria and generates a response for your advertisers?

3. The inventory. Why do we still have the same number of host reads in every hour of a show? Anyone have the courage to vary the inventory or pricing throughout a show?

The podcast world is leading the way to a future filled with:

1. Baked-In host reads.
2. Pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll price differences.
3. Commercial inventory limits.
4. Impression delivery options that demonstrate clear accountability.

There is a bright future in audio sales that will look and feel different from what we take for granted today. Make sure you are on the right side of the wave and not stuck in the mud.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Curmudgeons

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imAre you a sales curmudgeon? You know, that old-school, out-of-touch terrestrial radio ad sales rep who is too lazy to learn the new digital/social media sales world?

A recent survey by Borrell and Associates says most radio station managers vote for “new blood” on the sales team to offset those old-school sellers who are oversaturated and have no more room to grow. It’s the evergreen water bottle analogy. Open that off-the-shelf bottled water and just try pouring more water into that fully filled bottle. There is no more room for even another ounce. Is that you? So full of sales knowledge that there is no room to learn? Your boss thinks it’s better to hire another seller than to wait until you decide to push yourself through the comfort zone and become more productive in the digital/social media column.

The top line “hire new sellers” concept here is true. Some living history:

1. AM vs. FM. Are you old enough to remember separate AM and FM sales teams? AM radio stations were the first big income generators. When FM music stations became popular, we first sold AM/FM combo plans. Realizing FM formats were geared to a younger audience, we hired sellers who got it. Sales teams were formed to sell just the FM stations. The internal conflict was a management nightmare, yet somehow, we managed to create two separate teams. The rest is terrestrial radio sales history.

2. Cluster Sales. When the FCC allowed owners to control more than two radio stations in a market, we went through another seismic change. Sellers who sold for one, or in some cases AM/FM combo sales, were soon allowed to pitch multiple stations owned by one owner in a market. Managers were faced with a new round of consolidation conflict. If you worked with an advertiser that needed additional markets, you were able to bring outside markets with commonly owned radio stations to the mix. Somehow, we managed.

3. Digital/Social. What took so long? Today’s terrestrial radio ad seller is an important foundational component in every radio station ad sales department. Yet the ad sales and audience growth aren’t on the AM/FM or satellite band. It hasn’t been for a while. The ad demand and growth in audience and revenue is on your computer, smartphone, apps, and earbuds. Are you ready to adapt to the digital/social media demand curve? Or are you sitting in your comfortable rocking chair.

There is no doubt new sellers plugged into new media platforms will fuel the next level of audio sales growth. But before we give up on those curmudgeons on your sales team, let’s learn how they preserve the buyer-seller relationship long enough to earn the privilege of becoming “curmudgeons.”

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Q2

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imHave we passed the disappointment of 2023?

If ad sales at your radio station finished last year up double digits (excluding digital) please skip past the next few paragraphs. If you’re in the same boat as most radio ad sellers across the country at various levels – i.e. local, national, syndication, network – last year was a struggle.

Now then, how is Q1 shaping up?

Are you making up for lost ground, like the airline business, automotive business, restaurants or are you still pushing that boulder uphill? Here is some straight-from-the-field unfiltered feedback:

1. Valentine’s Day at most restaurants was one of the busiest on record. People at the packed-in table next to ours waited two hours after sitting to be served. So much for a 6:45 pm reservation. They got free dessert. Seriously?

2. Travel is back, make no mistake about it. Discount airfares are a thing of the past on the big-name airlines. At 6’2” I really believe my knees should not be touching the seat in front of me in comfort class on most major airlines.

3. Try negotiating a new car deal this month. No, not the incentives on the 2023 models, I’m talking 2024 in 2024. As the goodfellows said back home, fuhgeddaboudit.

There is nothing wrong with trying to make up for the lost income of the Covid years. After all, testing the pricing upside in business is the American way. We pay more, tip more, and adjust. It is the Darwin theory eating into our wallets every day. So why are most broadcast radio sales teams at all levels still throwing it against the wall to see what sticks? I see it every day in my marketing work. We have lost touch with the excitement, the “wow” factor, the customizations, the basic intangibles of selling the great talent we represent.

Let us learn from other successful businesses. Travel pitches pent-up demand, restaurants make sure you will get the special occasion marketing message no matter where you are, and the auto business, well the ships and chips are in!

What do we not understand about the current weakness in our broadcast radio sales strategy?

1. How current is your value proposition? Successful podcasters like Joe Rogan and Alex Cooper along with YouTubers, Facebook, Instagram, and all social media have changed the game-forever. How does your value proposition stand out today?

2. Talk radio will not go away. Programmers and talent will learn what they need to adjust to refocus one of the great radio formats ever created since someone said, “Let’s play the top 40 songs over and over.”

3. Let us start re-thinking what broadcast radio sellers need to prioritize to make a difference-today.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: The Biggest of the Big

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imSuper Bowl LVIII could have been the best ever.

The pre-game hype was over the top, blending unique Vegas themes with the traditional NFL superhype we all know and enjoy. Digital Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” with the Super Bowl Symphony, Wayne Newton sharing his life story – pure Vegas, baby – and the 2024 pre-game was a scene set like no other. Usher fans enjoyed a halftime show that was pure energy. The storylines for this game featured more themes away from the game than any other in history. Could there have been any more written about Taylor Swift and her connection to this game, impact on NFL viewership and could she make it from Tokyo on time? It seemed like Sunday morning’s New York Times digital edition devoted more front-page space to Taylor Swift than the game itself.

Ironically, Super Bowl LVIII was a stunner. The Niners missed a point after kick that could have made them Super Bowl Champions. The miss led the game into overtime and another amazing Patrick MahomesAndy Reid last minute Super Bowl win. But the real treat was all the new think in creative commercials.

No longer were TV ads limited to one or even two celebrities per commercial. It was almost a competition for how many stars you could fit into 30 seconds. After all, when a 30-second commercial cost $7 million, maybe you cast Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, J Lo, Tom Brady, David Beckham, half the cast of “Suits,” to name a few, in one ad.

Madison Avenue was under more pressure than Brock Purdy, so the creative juices were flowing. Love it or hate it, the creative pressure to make a $7 million investment in 30 seconds payoff was intense. The new think worked. Go big or go home! Stand-by for the countless industry articles measuring everything from recall to audience size. The trend is your friend, and the trend says, this could be a peek into the future of open-your-wallet marketing. But where does this put audio pricing and creative on the impact spectrum?

Odds are the creatives that just opened the door to a new chapter of multiple celebrity integrations will stimulate the next generation of “theatre of the mind” producers. They are out there, for sure. We just need to work harder to attract their talent. As for pricing, that part is up to you.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: One Special Person

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imOne person can make a difference.

I thought my first boss invented that quote. Seems he borrowed the first half of JFK’s “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” It seems in 1964 former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was describing JFK’s philosophy to a historian as opposed to offering a direct quote. Ultimately, the press attributed the quote to JFK. It’s the thought that counts.

Fast forward to my first management job in Buffalo, New York and the quote became a goal. Consider the GOATS we see in professional sports. Michael Jordan or Tom Brady could put a team on their back and 13 World Championships followed.

Now we see the phenomenon in the explosive intersection of pop culture and sports. Stand back fans, this is a lot bigger than Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. This is about the two biggest brands on the planet today joining forces to move the needle in every measurable media metric and drive the commercial value of a partnership through the stratosphere while staying within the confines of good taste.

This is about Taylor Swift and NFL future hall of famer Travis Kelce. This storyline has driven the average ticket to Super Bowl 58 to over $6,000, gameday VIP treatment will run over $35,000.

What does all this heady superstar stuff have to do with us everyday radio/audio sellers and managers watching at home? The “one person can make a difference” theory can work for you.

Here is how:

1. Practice makes perfect. Ever think about how many hours Taylor Swift rehearses? Rumor has it she sings while jogging on a treadmill. Pass the oxygen. When Payton Manning worked out at full speed on an inclined treadmill, we asked him about that grueling drill. His answer was classic, “Ever been chased by a 300-pound lineman who can run 40 yards in 4.6 seconds?” How about you? What is your sales practice routine?

2. The need to be different. Every great athlete, performer, scientist, and innovative businessperson told themselves and anyone who would listen they had the need to achieve. What would your manager say if you said, “I am ready to deliver more sales than anyone else who ever worked here!”

3. The long haul. On the way to achieving their goals, the great ones have no clock, just focus. Even the great James Madison, the youngest framer of our Constitution would “sit for ideas” waiting until he could clearly process and communicate the concepts he was developing.

Too many sellers and managers take short cuts, give up before the 9th contact or move on to other jobs thinking the grass is greener. Be the one person who makes a difference and enjoy the game!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Do You Know?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imI’m no expert, but I do have a theory.

The American media business is the most competitive and advanced in the world. Many other countries directly or indirectly control their airwaves and print publications. Not here, no way, not as long as the First Amendment protects freedom of the press. Yet with that historic, awesome guarantee in place, why are newspapers failing, magazines gutting staff and many of the newer dot coms hitting the wall?

It is inevitable that daily print publications like the LA Times and the Washington Post cut back. We’ve come a long way since Guttenberg, but low-tech printing presses, paper and ink are just not fast enough to keep up with the 24/7 information cycle. I can understand the financial woes caused by bloated staffs at Buzzfeed, Vice and most recently at Business Insider. But when Sports Illustrated gave notice to its writing crew, now you are messing with arguably the most successful sports magazine of all time.

S.I. knew how to attract great writers delivering iconic story lines. We’re talking writers like Rick Reilly, the late Frank Deford, J.F.K. – yes, the late president – Carl Sandburg and one of my favorite characters of all time the late cigar chomping New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin. Martha Stewart on the cover, not for me.

What happened here? The simple answers are: Too much debt, too much overhead, and too slow to recognize and act on shifting dynamics.

Yet People magazine, which has been around for 50 years and if you believe Statista, now reaches over 82 million readers a month! Can you name the last time People won a Pulitzer for a story? Yet we can all learn a critical lesson from the continued success of People. Even those of us in management in the radio/audio business.

Here comes my big theory which you can apply to content, sales, sales management, and everything else important in life.

1) Know your audience. People is focused on celebrities and rarely gets a story wrong.

2) Keep it simple. People is about pictures and easy to understand storylines.

3) The original target was women 18-34. As the target demo shifted and lifestyles changed, the content of People adjusted.

Let’s connect the dots in our programming, sales, and sales management world.

1) Are you in step with your audience? Listeners, and advertisers are all part of a dynamic environment. What’s in your planner that forces you to know the “audience” you sell or market to?

2) Do you keep your proposals simple and easy to understand? Fast and focused is the name of the game.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: One Billion and Counting

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communucations Corp
President

imLet’s talk streaming because I don’t get what is happening. Maybe you do.

Talk shows place decent cameras in the radio studio, maybe one in the control room, possibly a third at a “producer’s” desk, a flat screen or two with cool visuals in the background to fulfill the coolness quotient, push the video stream to YouTube or another platform and wait for the throngs of followers to find the talk radio show, view, subscribe and stay with it until the numbers are staggering.

Sometimes the video stream is promoted on air or your station’s website and the expectation is the online audience will skyrocket. After several months, the viewer numbers don’t skyrocket, or maybe the numbers develop modestly, but sales becomes the art of packaging. Because the scale necessary to move the sales needle is still not happening.

This is not a hypothetical. This is happening today at some of the best radio stations delivering high-level radio programming in markets of all sizes around the country. Why do we struggle with how to turn the best radio programming in the world into competitive online video content?

The short answer is great talk radio programming is just that: great radio programming. But herein lies the dilemma. Great talk radio talent, in any format, are natural masters of the foundational elements that can make their YouTube, Rumble, and other social media video platforms gain audience and successfully generate revenue.

Let’s identify the most important reason why:

1. Authentic. Show me one successful talk radio host in any talk radio format who does not exude “authentic.” Agree or disagree with the host on politics, sports, finances or fishing, great talk show hosts are authentic, and their audience can sense the passion coming through in every show. Now, let’s identify the nasty four-letter word, stopping many great talk talents and their content from performing competitively on current social media video platforms. That four-letter word?

2. Show. Most great talk radio talents understand what it takes to put on a great “show.” Mechanics, formatics, and unique skills are developed over time designed to maximize Nielsen performance. But often, many of these – forgive me here – old media “show” skills are not relevant to the huge audience now consuming 1 billion hours of YouTube video every day. Yet we persist and video stream the radio “show” with the expectation an online audience will skyrocket, sales will explode, and the future is as easy as hitting the send button. It just does not work that way.

The radio industry has developed many of the greatest “authentic” talents in the world. How will we plan for a future that has billions of hours of consumption?

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Cold Calling

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imLet’s take a minute to welcome back an old reliable that has been part of our sales and marketing world since Adam pitched Eve and got the first “yes” on the original cold call. No telling how cold that call really was.

But seriously, here come two shoutouts that should motivate you to re-evaluate the one strategy that has worked since the very early days of sales. Imagine knocking on 3,000,000 doors, making 3,000,000 cold calls. How many sales would you expect? According to The New York Times, a super PAC has knocked on all those doors nationwide, nearly 1,000,000 or one-third in Iowa alone, asking for the order. That’s a lot of cold calling and leave it to Iowa weather to put the “cold” back into cold calling.

Everyone reading this column would argue, TV, radio – especially r-a-d-i-o – and social media ads are more impactful, more efficient, and often more emotionally compelling than old school cold calling. Only time and results will tell if the boots-on-the-ground technique succeeded over the millions in media spend. No, this isn’t about modern-day political marketing strategy, this is about recognizing an old, proven technique that still has a role in today’s modern, hyper-speed, tech-driven world.

Do you remember the cold-calling contests that ended on a Friday with your team turning in the business cards that proved you met with those brand-new decision makers? Business cards in hand, you were well on your way to winning that weekly cold-calling contest. Talk about cold-call champions! All those business cards represented follow up opportunities that often led to long-term relationships netting many sellers nice commission checks.

Now comes the selfie, the modern-day version of those business cards, documenting proof positive you met the brand-new decision maker on the way to developing that newfound business relationship. Suddenly the old school cold-call strategy has a new world spin showing everyone on the team you are out and about in front of new business prospects, setting appointments and with newly fueled positive energy writing business and achieving your goals.

Hard to believe we are all connected to Adam’s very first sale, the 3,000,000 nationwide cold calls and the political strategists who earn big sums while still advising candidates to make sure they are getting out there, shaking hands and making those cold calls.

What’s on your planner this week?

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Calendar Secrets

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imThis column should really be called, “How I got transferred from Buffalo to Tampa.” The storyline will help explain the title and offer you a proven technique that should help you sell and earn more.

Before Zoom, Teams and other video conference platforms that drive today’s daily to-dos, sales teams worked hard to fill the day with “in-person” sales calls. Back then, most managers forgot, or did not account for how weather impacted the number, geography and quality of those money making in-person sales calls, until blizzards, hurricanes and mother nature took her toll on productivity. Those of you who work or have worked in northern markets like Buffalo know all too well what 8 to 12 inches of snow can do to a daily plan. The same holds true for southern markets that experience hurricanes that have devastated communities going back to the hurricanes that nearly destroyed Miami and New Orleans. Now it seems wildfires are becoming a more regular threat in western markets. Having experienced most of the worst, like it or not, weather is an unpredictable yet critical variable in your sales plan.

One of the most destructive blizzards in history hit Buffalo during my first year as a young general manager. Retail contract cancellations, stranded employees, and off-the-air due to frozen antennas were draining revenues. It was December and the calendar was winning. After the ice melted and the snowplows cleared the way, we packaged everything we could before year-end to try and salvage the pacing that was leading to a bonus. The calendar won, annual bonus gone, but the learning curve kicked in.

B.G. (before Google) any research had to be accomplished old school: calls, friends, articles, and experts. We determined the average number of weather impact days, just like the guys in the theme park business. We developed a “real world” budget that accounted for weather days, the accompanying limited staffing, and a set aside percentage of revenues for cancellations.

When we began the year, the “real world” budget was put in place. By November of that year, the radio station had achieved its revenue goal for the full calendar year. The day before Thanksgiving I was summoned to the corporate office and was handed a file with a one-way ticket to Tampa, Florida. Goodbye blizzards, hello hurricanes. As a young manager, the sun was much more inviting than the snow, and I am still in Florida.

The discipline of a sales or planning calendar accompanied by “what if” is a must have.

Oh yes, make sure that pencil has an eraser.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Welcome to 2024

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imWhat do your New Year’s resolutions look like?

Chances are your resolutions included what I call the old reliable “mores.” Earn more, save more, exercise more, eat more of the healthier foods. Sound familiar? Do you break down the resolutions into daily goals? As in here is what I need to do today to meet my goals and fulfill my resolutions. How about the “less” category? Do you spend any time thinking about what you want to do less often? Let us start with some obvious candidates.

A recent survey by Frequence.com indicated 84% of respondents in marketing and advertising felt stress on the job. Maybe the other 16% had just taken their morning meds. Seriously, can you blame the stressed-out thousands who have spent a career working for companies that stand on the brink of financial peril, delist from the stock exchange, or initiate short-notice personnel cuts? Has anyone in the radio business reading this column ever experienced a fully stress-free experience for over 36 waking hours? If it is not work, maybe it is friends, family, travel issues, or anything else that you simply cannot stop thinking about.

“Less” resolution #1. Less stress on the job, unless you are in the parachute business or an air-traffic controller or emergency room doctor in New York or Chicago, you get where I am going with this.

The same survey showed 72% of respondents work for organizations expecting them to deliver more with less support. The last time I worked for a broadcast company that provided me with my own dedicated assistant, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in the first ever televised in prime time. Please raise your hand if you are a seller or sales manager with your own dedicated assistant. Anybody? How about in the past 10 years?

“Less” resolution #2. Less is more. The slogan takes on new life in the remote work environment that is a norm for many in the media buyer-seller relationship. Everyone in the chain is being asked to do more, reach increased goals, and perform to a higher standard with less support. You are either on the income money flow line or the expense side. Pick your lane and try your best to deliver measurable results.

Technology is driving change in every corner of the workplace. New strategies and technologies designed to monetize media impressions are part of our culture. Surveys show anywhere from 52-70% of sellers and marketers are challenged with keeping up.

“Less” resolution #3. Prioritize your upskilling. Pick the one area that will allow you to hit your most important “more” goals and master it. Never stop learning, just adjust your learning curve to what works best for you.

Here’s to a more productive and prosperous New Year!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: When the Package Doesn’t Work

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imIt happens to everyone at least once.

You present your package with every asset at your disposal to make the campaign a winner – host read radio, podcast, X(Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and anything else at your disposal. You work with your manager for pricing, coordinate the digital team for input, and touch base with your business department for the all-clear. Your presentation is an award winner, your enthusiasm is contagious and the deal closes. The campaign launches and to your shock and dismay the feedback from your client is utter disappointment as results are anemic. You verify everything is running properly, digital and social media are coordinated, yet the anticipated tsunami of results is barely a rain shower.

Are you kidding me right now? What in the world happened? A little history and a little reality will help you right the ship.

It’s been 60 years since Marshall McLuhan taught us the “medium is the message” and arguably became the original disruptor. He was so far ahead of his time, Musk, Zuckerberg, and Altman would be challenged. The bottom line is McLuhan got it right as we still stumble our way through the performance side of the ads.

Let us examine how we package and sell 60 years later.

Mistake #1- All creative is the same. In the example above, I listed 6 common platforms many local hosts utilize daily to spread the word.

A) Sellers focus on packaging scale, competitive efficiency and closing the business.
B) Hosts focus on product and content acceptability.
C) Managers focus on deal points.
D) Traffic and business focus on integrating systems.
E) Production is ready to deliver the deadline.
F) STOP!!!! Who is focused on matching the platform or medium with high impact creative messaging? “50% OFF” is an empty value proposition when there is no product sell-in. Who is making sure EVERY asset is delivering the creativity that engages and motivates the listener/viewer for each medium?

Mistake #2. I got this. Wake up! The multi-platform package is more complicated than the beta binomial curve for duplication. Oops, did I lose you? The concept is the radio listener may or may not be the podcast listener who may or may not be the YouTube viewer, who may or may not be the Facebook follower, and so on. You are the sales pro who put this package in motion, yet did you stop to think through: Does each medium have a unique campaign with different frequency, creative updates and feedback loops? Do you have any idea how many daily tweets it takes to sell that product or service? Or are you applying branding metrics to sales goals? And that is just the beginning.

We often forget, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, are barely 20 years old and we are still learning. Yet our terrestrial radio station heritage goes back over 100 years, so you think, “I Got this.” To paraphrase the great Marshall McLuhan, don’t drive into the future using only a rear-view mirror.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: AI vs the Personal Connection

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imReady to go back to the future?

We may need more than Doc Brown and Marty McFly to understand this one: product reviews written by A.I., not humans.

It’s the subject of a debate happening between the mighty Gannett company, owner of Reviewed, and a group of writers and editors who work there. According to The New York Times, the writers and editors group claims several reviews were A.I. generated. The posted reviews in question were run through A.I. detection software and the results were a slim to none chance humans wrote the reviews in question. Gannett says, not so fast, the reviews in question were authored by real humans.

Now here is where we need a time machine to take us a few years into the future. Let’s look at the reviews on our favorite go-to shopping, restaurant or travel review websites. How do we know who really wrote those reviews? This could be a whole new level of truth and proper disclosure in advertising.

Consider the possibilities of A.I.-generated reviews. Is every consumer offering feedback comfortable sharing their name on a Google review when many businesses ask for a positive review? There is a simple alternative to the A.I.-generated product review debate, and it’s right in front of you.

The answer should be part of your daily talk radio local sales mission statement. Demonstrate to your advertisers and prospects the proven results your on-air talent delivers every day. Chances are you may be taking for granted how to bring to life the credibility and trust your local on-air talent earns with each show. Global events, roller coaster economies and shifting political dynamics are all part of the daily conversation on your talk radio station. As your air talent distills the issues for the audience, take a few calls and engage in an energetic dialogue, they develop a bond that is unique to talk radio.

So, imagine the difference in the mind of the consumer when they hear the review or referral from a trusted source versus wondering if the review or referral they read is from a human or A.I. generated.

Is that the DeLorean time machine I hear?

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com

Industry Views

Pending Business: When it Matters Most

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imIt may seem impossible, but you need to stay in your lane.

As we live through another dark chapter in world history, staying focused on what we do in sales and marketing will be a nearly impossible challenge. We live in a 24/7, always-on world constantly updating everything from everywhere.

As we work on the sales, marketing and management side, the news/talk and information programming side are in hyper mode logging on, weighing in, competing to never miss a beat. I remember when time stood still as the events of 9/11 shocked the world and time stood still. Talk radio hosts, producers and news departments tried their best to digest the events and offer some level of understanding to a listening audience. For the first time ever, the mainland of the United States of America had been attacked.

And here we are, frozen again. This time the events unfolded halfway around the world. Once again shock, unspeakable actions, thousands of innocent deaths, massive destruction. If you have been doing this long enough, we do have some level of experience with shocking events.

Once again, our talk radio hosts, producers and news teams will be a go-to source for millions of listeners across the country. How do we stay focused, selling, marketing, prospecting as local communities react to all this that is unfolding halfway around the world?

— Our thoughts and prayers are with those in harm’s way. As difficult as it may be, try and keep the opinionated politics away from your sales process.

— Keep the conversation neutral. A challenge for sure. If you are prepared there’s always positive to bring to your sales call.

— The calendar never quits. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, are all around the corner and with that a last-minute marketing opportunity.

— Why are 66% of the U.S. adults over 40 overweight?  Blame the men, we always skew those numbers. Just helping with a little small talk …

As challenging as the next few days and weeks may become, your news/talk radio station will become an important resource for adults on the go who need to know. As you formulate your presentations, stay focused on the unique benefits only your radio station’s lineup can deliver in times of crisis. Your on-air talent have earned the trust of the audience the old-fashioned way…. by being there when it mattered most.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: In Radio Sales, It Pays to Be a Great Listener

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

Do you still struggle with keeping the dialogue moving in the right direction on your sales calls? Let’s face it, if you are not careful you could violate one of the golden rules of selling talk radio – be a great listener.

First calls are the most difficult, especially in this era of Zoom, Teams, etc. You try your best to develop rapport, build chemistry and move through a needs analysis as you learn about your potential advertiser. High achieving sellers have that special skill of blending questions and fun facts that build common ground while navigating the needs analysis through a range of questions designed to qualify the prospect and confirm a follow-up call.

Sounds simple enough, but why do most sellers fall short in the starting blocks. There is no mystery here to solve, this is Selling 101 that starts with preparation and ends with a commission check. Let’s walk through some start points:

If you are responsible for any of the 26.5 billion minutes viewed of “Suits” on Netflix, you know that Harvey Spector (lead character) earned millions doing homework and knowing how to ask the right questions. How about you? Are you prepared to ask the right questions and listen to the answers that will lead you to comeback with the right proposal? Sometimes keeping the dialogue moving can be challenging. Perhaps you’ve asked too many questions that went nowhere or just resulted in one-word answers. What to do? A recent article in Make It quoted Matt Abrahams, a public speaking expert at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, who suggests saying, “Tell me more” during a conversation is the secret sauce behind improving the communication flow.

Makes sense. Showing genuine interest in what your advertiser is saying, allowing more information to be shared, with you spending more time as the listener helps everyone develop better rapport and move closer to a win-win. I have always been a big fan of another Golden Rule of Sales: “Words matter.” Have you ever finished a call and asked yourself, “Why did I say that!?” It all goes back to preparation. If you know what to ask, how to allow your advertiser to expand on a key point, and do more listening than talking, your sales should increase, and your commission checks will show it!

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Still Learning

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

I think it was the great Michelangelo who said, “I’m still learning.” Three simple words that can make or break any of us in marketing.

I am still amazed at the success and customer loyalty at Trader Joe’s. Why is it that a homespun marketing approach develops loyalty, when I have found more competitive prices and sometimes higher quality foods elsewhere?

Yet there I was lost in the regular South Florida Sunday crowd, standing in line, basket-to-basket, ready to check out. I have never heard or seen an ad for Trader Joe’s, yet the store was packed. The scene at the 59th Street store in Manhattan was quite similar last year when I spent three months in the city, or the one in D.C. close to my daughter’s home, even the Trader Joe’s in Sandy Springs, Georgia near my other daughter’s home was slammed on a Sunday three years ago.

Too much information for a column on sales and marketing?  Believe it or not, I still can’t figure out how with no frequent buyer program, super discounts, or incentive marketing I became such a frequent shopper. I guess just like Michelangelo, I’m still learning.

Here is what I have learned from Trader Joe’s that connects the dots to our sales and marketing world.

— Keep it simple. Ever notice how the prices are clear, easy to read and seem to present a perceived value? How does your presentation packaging stand up? Does it take an IT expert to understand how to interpret your computer driven proposals?

— Everyone has something positive to say. I have never heard any of the folks at any of those locations say a negative word, even when parking was a game of musical cars. How about you? Are still blaming the boss for higher pricing or tighter credit?

— Variety is in the eye of the customer. Other stores with more square footage have greater variety. Sometimes you need it, most of the time you don’t. How many times have you thought to yourself, “There are just too many options in this pitch.”

— Got a complaint? We can fix that. Somebody please show us a local radio station training for excellent customer service. It just isn’t a long-term commitment. Maybe a perceived unnecessary expense in our business.

— Consistency. Like every successful enterprise that is public facing, consistency and dependability build trust and customer loyalty. How about us?

Sales and marketing are a dynamic process that is always adjusting to the competitive landscape and the needs of the customer. And that is why we should all follow Michelangelo’s lead and never stop learning.

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.