Last week, I attended the 2014 Key Executives Mega-Conference, hosted by the Local Media Association, Inland Press Association and Southern Newspapers Publishers Association. Affinity Express attended and exhibited as a supplier for media companies but, as I sat in on various sessions, I realized presenters had information that is helpful to a wide variety of small business owners and marketers. Here are the points I think you’ll find relevant.
Session: Simplifying Digital Services Selling . . . for Easy Deployment & Big Profits!
This is how other small businesses are spending for online marketing. How do you compare?
- 12.4% online advertising
- 15.6 coupons/deals/SMS
- 72% online marketing services
- 51.7% web presence
- 12.9% online ad production (e.g., banners, ads, apps, contests)
- 12.1% online consulting and research
- 12.0% online public relations (email/reputation management)
- 11.3% online marketing support (search engine optimization)
Source: Borrell Associates.
At a minimum, the presenters thinks you should invest in the following:
- Websites—build an online presence.
- Social media—establish profiles on the channels your customers use and update regularly.
- Local listings—claim on Google Maps and other directory sites.
- Optimization—create links to other sites and vice versa; update keywords on the site for better visibility on search engines.
- Reputation management—monitor what has been said about your company.
- Search engine marketing—buy online ads.
If you need help or prefer to work with fewer providers, in many markets you can purchase these services from local newspapers:
- Sponsored Facebook posts on the publisher websites
- Native advertising (advertorials that enable an engagement with content—see more below)
- Listings in local directories on newspaper sites
- Reputation monitoring
- Online banner inventory
- Social streaming (tool that sits on home page and monitors the social posts of advertisers)—70% of SMBs use Facebook but 60% rarely update!
- Weekly print ads
Matt Lohrmann, classified advertising manager of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Walla Walla, Washington noted: “It’s shocking but 89% of SMBs do not have a mobile-compatible website. When it comes to reputation management, the difficulty is when we give the report to the advertiser and they just sit on the results and do not claim listings or take other action.” In other words, we need to follow through with the marketing services we purchase to get results or we’re just throwing money away.
According to Jerry Healey, publisher and owner of Colorado Community Media in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, sponsored content/native advertising/advertorials are stories provided by advertisers or by content vendors that advertisers can claim. The advertisers’ names are incorporated along with their quotes. As a result, advertisers are positioned as experts in their industries. Articles live for two weeks on the publishers’ website but live forever on the internet. Beyond impressions, this results in ancillary benefits such as authority, ability for advertisers to load stories on their own websites, improved SEO and more.
Daily deals were the subject of the presentation made by Katie Wilson, digital advertising director of The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa. “Get it Today” is the name of this publisher’s daily deal offering. They started the program four years ago and built email databases 10-11 years ago. Advertisers get a quarter-page print ad on the front page of the Quad-City Times, an email blast to more than 50,000 subscribers, posts on the KWQC and QCTimes Facebook profiles and a minimum of seven commercials the days on which deals are offered. Participating companies get the equivalent of $10K in advertising and guaranteed store traffic.
Session: Borrell Associates: The 2014 Ad Outlook in Your Market
Since 2008, newspapers and other legacy media like broadcast TV and radio lost 31% of total viewing time or ten minutes, whereas digital channels grew by 27.3 minutes. There is a net increase of1.7 minutes. By 2015, the time spent on digital will grow to 46.4 minutes, but consumers will curtail their total media time by 19 minutes, effectively saying “enough”.
Cable has had a significant decline, as has radio. Yellow Pages is also way down. Newspapers and cable lost half their revenues. The forecast for broadcast TV, cable and radio will be fair to cloudy. Yellow pages will continue to decline. Direct mail is continuing to go down as well and magazines are declining.
Ironically, advertisers continue to pay 4X more per minute of usage to reach the users of one medium: Yellow Pages. This is because of intent. Users tend to be ready to buy. For an average $3,200 investment advertisers got return of $81K from their Yellow Pages ads. In contrast, 82% of people who go online can’t recall the ads they saw.
When asked where they prefer to look for local businesses or services, respondents answered: Yellow Pages 65%, Google 12% and online directories 3%, according to a survey in small markets.
With all of this in mind, Gordon Borrell recommended:
- Decide what you want to be.
- Recruit younger staffers and/or people well-versed in digital marketing and listen to them.
- Be aggressive, clear marketers.
- Build new products around user intent.
- Focus more on share than year-over-year growth.
Session: What Will the Digital Natives Do?
John Temple, founding editor of Pierre Omidyar’s Honolulu Civil Beat and former managing editor of The Washington Post, commented: “Our audience is really ‘us.’ We all look at smart phones every day.[As publishers,] we see ourselves as pushing out content when that is not how it works anymore. New platforms come out of nowhere and attract 40 million people. This happens because they have recognized and tapped into a need. There is a nexus of technology and communication.”
This means we have to do a better job of thinking from the perspective of what our customers want or need. We have to respect them and the communities in which they reside. For example, an author published a book on media with a draft chapter so the audience could help him make that section better. The writer approves comments and attaches them to the appropriate content.
Regardless of your industry, go beyond publishing content and have a conversation. We spend time building an audience with engaging content and then we irritate visitors by cramming in promotional messages that disrupt or even ambush them. This approach doesn’t work anymore. Display advertising is not the future. In fact, Melissa Meyers said the goal for Yahoo! is to make the ads as engaging as the content. Advertising has to become intriguing and beneficial.
Otherwise, personalization is an imperative. The tablet will continue to play a big role because it is visual and supports longer articles. Mobile and responsive design are critical for websites.
The technology is out there to help transform business models. Reach out to providers to get support.
Session: Town Hall/Idea Exchange for Small Dailies and Weeklies
Businesses think too much in terms of products. For publishers, an example of this practice is their tendency to focus on selling individual ad types versus marketing platforms (e.g., mobile or social). There are few platforms but many products within each. Overall, it is important to sell what customers want to buy.
These are tips from Adam Burnham, vice president of interactive sales and service for Affinity Express and the moderator of this session. The comments apply as much to a range of small businesses as to publishers.
- Focus on what you can do—stop talking about what you can’t do.
- Build the strategy—base it on revenue growth.
- Create value for customers—move away from product-based selling and heaving discounting.
- Hone your effort—target categories with the biggest potential.
- Enable sales—give your sales people more time to sell.
- Monetize 100% of available inventory—sell like broadcast TV does—when was the last time you watched something on TV and 50% of the ad spots were not sold?
- Conduct local business focus groups—accept that you don’t know what you don’t know and stop assuming.
- Partner, partner, partner—focus on customer service and sales and leverage relationships for everything in which you are not an expert.
The final takeaway of the Key Executives Mega-Conference applies to all of us: change is the new mantra. Regardless of our businesses, we all have to 1) grow revenue, 2) operate efficiently and 3) innovate.
Which of these points resonated with you and what would you add to help small businesses improve their success?