helping media companies maximize revenue through effective sales of their multimedia assets

What's Happening

Are you helping your local businesses in the fight of their lives?

In a recent story, the Associated Press reported that online shopping is growing faster that shopping in brick and mortar stores.

No surprise, but since we are inundated with information about online shopping, it's easy to forget that only a fraction of total sales occur online.  That fraction is growing, but the bottom line is that local retailers still have huge opportunity in terms of protecting existing market share of total sales.  

How proactive are your local merchants in defending that market share, and how proactive is your local media company in helping them develop strategies to do so?  

Awareness is the key.  It's important that you and your advertisers understand the reasons for online sales growth.  There are strong positive elements to the online shopping experience:

- Timeliness.  Shoppers can shop when they want 24/7, with no restrictions.  They never encounter a "Closed" sign.

- Convenience.  No traffic problems, no weather restrictions or risks, and no frustration with finding a parking place (or having to put money in a meter).  Online shoppers who really think it through also realize they are saving gas every time they choose to shop online instead of locally.

- Low price and easy price comparisons.  "I found it cheaper online" is a refrain we hear too often.  Online shoppers who use price comparison services are comforted thinking that they never miss the best price.

That's a powerful list of benefits.  How can we compete?

First, remember that online shopping carries a few significant negative factors:

- You can't touch and feel the merchandise.  This is significant for a whole host of products, especially when the shopper is not already familiar with the product line.  Thus shoppers take a risk when they buy many clothing items online, and the same holds true for accessories, luggage, and even things like cutlery and furniture.

- Related to that, the returns process is often much more painful online, despite anecdotal claims of "easy retruns."  Even when there is no cost associated with online returns, the shopper usually gives up significant time and energy to complete the transaction.  

- Online shopping is impersonal, in terms of the buyer's relationship with the seller.  Many large online retailers make it very difficult for you to reach a human being when there is a question or problem.

- When you shop online, virtually all the money leaves your community and goes somewhere else.  With the possible exception of some Fedex and UPS drivers, you are not supporting any local jobs through your purchases.

That list gives local merchants significant attack points, but first they need to make sure that they are really strong where the online shopping arena is weak.  Then they need to tell the story - loudly and consistently - through aggressive local marketing efforts.

Here's a quick checklist that every local business needs to consider, painful as the process might seem:

- Are you making it as easy as possible for a shopper to visit your store?  The little things matter.  Do you validate parking?  Do you have someone who will carry packages to the customer's car?  Put yourself in the mind of the potential shopper and go from there.

- Are your hours as flexible as they can possibly be?  As we travel the country working with media companies, we are struck by the number of local businesses that do not open until 10 AM, 11 AM, or even later.  If you are only staying open from 11 AM to 5 PM, you are making it tough for typical working people to do business with you.

- Is your customer service as friendly as it can possibly be?  This is where the online experience can never match up to what you can do face to face, so maximize the advantage by making your customers feels loved.

- Are you competitive on price?  Take time to price match against your online competitors.  You may not always be able to deliver the absolute lowest price, but if you are in the ballpark then your other advantages will kick in and you will keep customers.  Conversely, if an item you carry can be found at half the price online, over time you will continually lose market share. 

- If you sell higher ticket items such as jewelry or designer clothing, would you consider a service where you bring the shopping experience to the customer's home?  If so, you wipe out most of the advantages that online sellers are using against you.  

As the local media company in your community, step up and help provide education in this area for local businesses.  Then help provide marketing campaigns that help your local stores take the "Shop Local" message to your market - loudly and consistently.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

 

 

Native advertising is your key to explosive growth in 2016.

Some time ago we reported that native advertising was a fast growing advertising trend at both the national and local levels.

A Business Insider report recently put some numbers on the trend, and those numbers are astounding.  After growing to nearly $8 billion in spending in 2015, native is set to nearly triple to $21 billion in 2018!  That's a pie you might want to grab your share of if you operate a newspaper or radio station in a competitive local market.  

Folks, the easiest and most successful engagements we did in 2015 with local media company clients around the country were those that incorporated a native advertising component.  Local advertisers get it.  They put a high value on sponsored content appearing in a local media environment, both on legacy platforms and online.  If there is a sweet spot in terms of new revenue opporunity for 2106, it is NATIVE ADVERTISING.    

What's more, you can have a high degree of confidence in outcomes for your advertisers.  Business Inside reported that native perform better than traditional display, particularly on mobile platforms.

Click here to sign up for a Webinar on January 19 where we will show you step by step how we incorporated native advertising in a two week sales campaign that brought in over $400,000 in new revenue for one local newspaper company.

If you want to roar into 2016 on a pace to beat budget, native is your secret weapon.  Give us a call today and let's start mapping a strategy we can take to market with you as early as the first quarter.  We have proven ways to beat your competitors to the punch.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

Are Newspaper Websites outperforming Facebook?

According to a recent story on mediavillage.com, newspaper websites now attract more "mobile exclusive" millenials than Facebook, and the growth chart for newspaper websites is phenomenal!

Publishers, sales managers, and sales reps, this is GOLD.  Do not let this get away.  Print out this article, reprint it, whatever, but be prepared to get it in front of your advertisers if:

- They have interest in the mobile audience;

- 18 - 34 year olds are on their radar as target customers.

Generally we find that local business owners and managers understand the significance of Facebook in terms of local marketing, and have at least a general sense of the strong reach that Facebook offers.  Knowing that the newspaper website can meet and exceed that reach is important information in terms of making smart digital advertising decisions.

The article does a good job of backing up the claim and explaining how the data was obtained, so be sure to do your homework before spreading the good word.  Take time to read the article, and if you do not thoroughly understand it, or its significance...check with your boss or research manager...or give us a call at The Blinder Group.  Helping your local media company re-position as the full service digital marketing source in the local business community is what we do.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

10 Deadly Sins of Local Media Sales Reps - #10

SLINGING JARGON AND ACRONYMS.

As we travel around the country working with local media sales reps, we are astounded at the misuse of jargon and abbreviations in conversations with advertisers and agencies..

These sins fall into two categories:  outgoing and incoming.

Outgoing.  That's when a rep casually inserts abbreviations or jargon into conversations or sales presentations.  Recently an advertiser recounted that when she pressed a rep on a question about value, he responded "Well...we have analytics."  Oy vey.  

That's a great example, because if you live in the world or advertising, the term "analytics" may indeed be used every day around you, and you may have at least a good general sense of what the word means.  But without enhancement, the word might mean nothing to some advertisers.  The same can be said about common abbreviations such as SEO, SEM, CPC and so on.  Those letters are Greek to many advertisers, and in fact they will be put off or put to sleep if a presentation contains too many terms they do not understand.

The rep in the aforementioned anecdote might have won the day by simply taking his feature statement a bit further..."We provide meaningful analytics, which of course is just a fancy word for reports and measurements.  Let me describe some of the key statistics you will see in your monthly report from us, and how the numbers can really help you measure ROI...or return on investment...from your campaign..."

That approach works even if the advertiser already has a thorough understanding of the terms "analytics"...and "ROI."  

The basic premise here is to put yourself in the mind of the advertiser to whom you are presenting.  A little enhancement goes a long way.  These days we are often presenting "native advertising" as a feature of a local sales package, but we never drop that term into the presentation without saying something like this..."You'll be getting a strong native advertising component with this package.  Native advertising is jsut a term that the Harvard MBA's use to describe making your message about your business look more like a story and less like a traditional ad."  Here again, the clarification is helpful even if the advertiser is totally familiar with the term.

Incoming.  This happens most often with agency folks, who often have a habit of breaking the "no jargon" rule to the max.  The response needs to be that if the rep does not understand a term or abbreviation that is thrown out, he must slow the conversation down for clarification..."John just to be clear, how are you defining API?"  This does not make you look stupid, but pretending to understand an acronym might.

Click here to see a long list of digital marketing abbreviations from a helpful digital expert named Anubhav Garg.  This should be saved and reviewed frequently by anyone who sells local advertising for a living.  Thank you Anubhav!

If you'd like to know more about all 10 deadly sins, and what you can do about them, don't hesitate to give The Blinder Group a shout.  Our first quarter is filling up fast, but some training dates are still available.  

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

 

 

 

Will Facebook changes drive local businesses away?

Facebook has made dramatic changes in methodology regarding business pages during the past year.  It is important that your local media sales reps understand the changes, so they can help their advertisers navigate the landscape.

The average local business has around 200 "likes" - Facebook users that "like" the business in a desire to follow news from and about that business.

Many local businesses have attracted far more than the average number of followers.  Restaurants and theme parks are notable exceptions, with followers sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands.  Typically a huge amount of time, effort, and even expense went toward building these Facebook audiences for local businesses.  Some even hired staff to maintain a vigorous social media presence.

Now Facebook has pulled the plug.  In the past, if a business had 200 followers, each post on the business' Facebook page appeared on the timelines (personal page) of all 200.  No more.  Facebook now filters business posts so that only 5 - 10% of the followers now typically see a business post on their timelines.  If there is measurable "interaction" (likes and shares) then more people will get to see the post.  

Facebook is seeking to monetize the business pages that were allowed to exist for free for years.  First and most obvious is the "Boost button."  When a business posts on its business page, it is offered a Boost button option.  For a fee that usually ranges from $5 - $40, the business is presented with a one time opportunity to show the post to more people.  

We believe the Boost button is the worst buy in advertising history!  CPM's are sky high, and unless the post is designed to bring in lots of new customers or drive direct sales, the ROI is non existent.

Plus, hasn't past experience taught us that hard sell posts from local businesses generally do not work, and in fact will alienate followers and possibly cause them to "unlike" the business' Facebook page?

If posts are truly soft and social in nature, does it ever make sense to press that Boost button?

Facebook is banking on the fact that $5 - $40 seems like a small amount, and we have heard businesses say that in our recent travels to local markets around the country...but even at $5, if a business posts every day, that's $150 per month, and for some small businesses that is real money...for a questionable return on investment.

Stay close to your advertisers on this issue.  Many have still not figured out what is going on (Facebook made the changes without notifying anyone) and they are dismayed when they find out that their efforts devoted to Facebook posts are delivering negligible return.  

Advertisers who have gotten hooked on the Boost button can be rehabilitated with your help and support!

If you sell ad solutions for a local media company, it is almost certain that you have lost local digital market share to the Boost button.  That should be relatively easy money to reclaim and direct toward your own effective digital solutions.

If you run a local media sales operation or website, be sure to check out a great product from Friends2Follow.  That very cool company will help you build a live stream of local business social posts to appear on pages of your website.  Their solution provides a nifty workaround for the "Facebook problem"...when it is implemented thousands of people who come to your site for local news will be exposed to timely Facebook posts from your advertisers...without ever even visiting Facebook!

If you need help taking Friends2Follow and other effective digital solutions to market, please call us today.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is your local media company going to beat Facebook and Google, or join them?

A recent VentureBeat article claims that Facebook is beating Google on display advertising.  Newspapers are not mentioned.

VB credits Facebook's Custom Audiences product, which allows advertisers to "clone" Facebook users who most resemble those already buying the advertisers' products.  That's smart thinking on Facebook's part, but others say that a competing product from Google will put them back on top.

Google isn't exactly bleeding.  Total advertising was up 13% in the third quarter.  Most newspapers would kill to match that number.

We keep hearing that the big yellow page companies are negotiating to be the "feet on the street" in local markets for the likes of Facebook and Google.  That does not bode well for local newspapers.

For years we have been preaching that local media companies need to be "full service digital" providers in their markets.  Today that must include being able to manage Google Adword and Facebook display ad programs for local advertisers.  

Local media company execs have protested that there is not much margin is providing such services, but we argue that passing on any digital product that serves the needs of advertisers is a mistake.  That road has led to significant market share losses for newspapers.  

For local advertisers, Facebook display ads are Google Adwords all over again, in the sense that Facebook makes it easy to try their platform.  It's quick and it's trackable, and no long term commitment is required.  

It may be too late for local newspapers and radio stations to think in terms of knocking the likes of Facebook and Google out of their markets, but it is just the right time to help local advertisers by offering to manage their campaigns on those platforms.

Many advertisers want that help, but in the absence of someone stepping up with a solution they will find the time to do it themselves.  That will lead to market share losses, and loss of active advertisers.  Those are losses that local media companies cannot afford.

If you want to take quick giant steps toward being the full service digital provider in your market, call us today.

Click here to read the full story on Venture Beat's website.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

What does new Apple ad blocking mean for publishers?

Two recent articles take divergent positions, at least in their headlines.

Writing on forbes.com, Jonathon Salem Baskin proclaims "Apple Ad Blocking Should Be Good News for Publishers."

Over on TNW News, Owen Williams writes that "iOS 9 Will Hurt Publishers More Than any other websites."

Both writers seem to have an underlying hatred of online ads, especially mobile ads, and seem to hope they will go away.  Wait, that's not so good, right?

Let's sprinkle into the mix an eMarketer story reporting that "Mobile to Account for More Than Half of Digital Ad Spending in 2015."

So, is that half of all digital spending this year at risk next year?

We'll know more after September 9 release of iOS 9, but in the meantime, Baskin and Williams seem to agree that Apple mobile device users will flock to the ad blocking tools because ads are bad, and blocking them is natural.

Baskin says "Some argue that it'll be so popular that it'll put content creators and publishers out of business."  Wow.  He references yet another article on The Street that starts off with a warning that "Anyone who makes money from advertising should be worried.  Very worried."  Yikes, that includes every newspaper in the world.

Baskin suggests that erasing ads from websites is a good thing because consumers neverl liked them anyway, and that blocking them will lead to "improved ads, or replacing them with something better."  Huh?

Baskin's top suggestion to replace all those ads is...subscriptions.  He says they're "making a big comeback these days."  We're not sure that analysis is on the money.  In every local newspaper market we at The Blinder Group work, questions and concerns about paywalls are top of mind for many local advertisers.  They are not stupid, they know that hard paywalls tend to limit access to their ad content.

The Williams article first focuses on testing that indicated that speed of website loading will not be helped as much by ad blocking as has been predicted, but that news sites showed the greatest impact, averaging a 58% improvement in page load speeds.  That's because news site use Javascript to serve up ads.

In a reader comment on the TNW article, William Dowell claims "There's now a mad dash panic to institute native advertising in articles."  If he's right, it's about time, because we get huge positive results in local markets when our newspaper clients offer up good native ad solutions.  

Over at appleinsider.com we find that at least a partial solution will come from Apple itself, which now has 50 publishers on board for its new NEWS app.  The app will be immune from ad blocker software.  What a surprise.  Apple is touting that publishers get to keep 100% of ads they sell against their content in the app, and 70% of remnant ads sold by Apple.  There will be much discussion about the app and the terms, but every newspaper in America should be thoroughly investigating the opportunity.

We do know that the ad blocking tools will not only allow mobile users to opt out of seeing ads on websites, but will also prevent advertisers from tracking which sites the consumer visits.  What does that mean for popular online ad networks that utilize behavioral targeting to put the right ad in front of the right consumer at the right time?

We'd like to hear from publishers and ad directors.  How are you pursuing local mobile ad share, and what if anything will you do differently in response to the likely growth of ad blocking?

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

The importance of "full service digital" positioning in your local market

"Yes."

That one word answer is the key to the future for local media companies interested in protecting and growing digital market share.

Too often the answer is "No."  No, we don't re-design websites.  No, we don't handle social media marketing campaigns.  No, we don't provide digital advertising beyond the reach of our local media website.  No pay per click.  No SEO services.  No pay per lead.  No no no.

Your advertisers are fine with your answers.  They just turn elsewhere.  A few years ago we noticed that local advertisers had "some guy" or "some agency" that designed and maintained their website.  When we visit the advertiser these days, they say "Remember that guy/agency that handles my website?  Now they are also taking care of my Facebook page, search engine optimization, etc."

This represents a significant loss of market share for local newspaper, television and radio companies. all across the country...yet we do not see a rush by publishers/owners to install new product lines to make their digital offerings complete.  Many are still limited to offering ad banners on their own websites.  That's insane.

The lip service is firmly in place - "We're committed to a digital future" - but the behavior is simply not there.  

Every publisher and broadcaster claims to be all about needs analysis and custom ad/marketing solutions, but it is impossible to deliver on that strategy if you are limping along with only a couple of digital products.  

Full service digital is not an impossible dream, even in smaller markets.  The vendors are out there to fill in the holes in your digital product lineup.  Click here to see a pretty impressive full service digital/print rate card from a smaller market newspaper.

If you need help building your own digital products rate card, and taking it to market to reverse your digital market share declines, give us a call.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the self fulfilling prophesy: "Print is dead."

Trade news on the state of the newspaper business has been particularly dreary of late.  

A Poynter article examined 2nd quarter results from McClatchy - just $98,000 profit on revenues of $262 million.  Worse yet, print ad revenue declined 12.5% over the previous year!

A few articles like that, and a few wiseguy advertisers cracking that "print is history," and it is no wonder that many newspaper sales reps have become gun shy about aggressively selling print schedules to local advertisers.  

When we run Blinder Sales Campaigns for our local newspaper company clients, we strongly encourage the inclusion of a weekly print ad in the bundled ad program that we take to market.  Though digital is the "sizzle" we use to make appointments and close deals, that print ad is the "steak" that ensures strong results from the program.

Your ad sales teams have a great story to tell, and you must coach them to continue to sell the benefits of print advertising.  Here are key elements to success:

- Sell audience.  The weekly audience reach of your print newspaper likely blows away the reach of any other local ad competitor.  The more your team talks about reach as the number one determinant of success in an ad campaign, the more success they will have.  No one beats you on reach!  When we work with local sales teams, we coach them to teach their advertisers to focus on the reach question whenever they are approached with an advertising proposal.  Keep the reach question paramount in everyone's mind, and you will grow market share.

- Know and understand your numbers, and understand the source of the numbers.  This is crucial for credibility.  Too often we hear newspaper reps say that "we reach around 50% of the market" or "our circulation is right around 18,000.  That sounds like guessing, and does not inspire confidence on the part of the advertiser.  Be prepared to quote specifics - "On an average weekday we print 18,000 copies that are read by 40,000 local shoppers.  What that means to you is that every ad you run will be seen by the largest media audience in our market."

- Know your demographics, and carry a one pager that breaks your audience into demographic segments.  This is one of the basic tenets of selling local media, and we are shocked how many newspaper sales reps fail the demo test.  Not too long ago we worked with a rep who responded to an advertiser's question about demos by saying "Demographics?  We reach everyone!"  Understanding your audience composition is basic product knowledge, and it's a big red flag to an advertiser if you cannot talk intelligently about basic demographics.

- Develop and use testimonials.  Success stories should be part of every newspaper's marketing, and every rep's sales kit.  You have advertisers who are reaping huge return on investment off of print ad campaigns.  Harness the power of those stories.

We are not going to slow the growth of digital, but let's not passively contribute to the demise of print.  Print deserves better, because it works.

If you need a turbo boost of digital and print sales and sales training for your team, give us a shout today.  We still have (limited) weeks available in Q4 for your Blinder sales campaign.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup

 

 

 

Have SMB's been oversold on social media?

Streetfight just released an article on a subject that is near and dear to us at The Blinder Group:  

What Local Merchants are Missing with Social Media.51% of local businesses polled by Street Fight Insights and Thrive Analytics reported that social media is too time consuming, and 37% said they have "no expectations" in terms of return on their social media investments.

This mirrors what we at The Blinder Group have seen in local markets across North America.  Advertisers are making serious time investments in maintaining social media presence, but their reason for doing so often boils down to "because we have to be there."  

There is a void in every local market we have visited.  Advertisers need help and coaching when it comes to social media.  Half the advertisers we have seen recently were not even aware that Facebook had changed its rules so that only a small percentage of their Facebook "likes" are seeing their posts on their personal Timelines.  

That void in the market may or may not signal a revenue opportunity.  Advertisers are skeptical about spending on social media, probably because they do not have a clear picture of strategies and goals, and measurement techniques.  At the end of the day, you may have to provide a significant level of social media coaching as a value added service, to retain advertisers and to further position your local media company as the number one provider of digital advertising and services in your local market (please tell us that strategy is prominent in your five year plan!).

Somewhere around 90% of advertisers we visit in local markets have some Facebook presence.  We caution these advertisers that the Golden Age of free services on Facebook is coming to an abrupt end.  Only 5 - 10% of their Facebook business posts are now being seen by the "likes" that they spent time and money building up over the past several years.  The value of a "like" has plummeted during the past year.

Many of our local media client companies have helped advertisers circumvent the Facebook problem by using a social streaming tool from Friends2Follow.  The tool allows you to post a widget anywhere on your media website.  Advertisers' social posts stream directly into the widget, thus exposing the advertisers' posts to tens of thousands of "new eyeballs" that visit the media website every day.  In that scenario, Facebook simply becomes a posting tool.  It doesn't matter whether the advertiser has "likes" on Facebook or not.  The power of the local media website does the job of delivering audience for the clients' messages.

We encourage our media clients to figure out a way to manage social media for advertisers if they need help.  This year we have seen a sharp rise in the number of advertisers turning to a third party for social media guidance.  That means if your media company does not have a strategy in place, you are losing market share to ankle biter competitors.  

Here are some key points we stress when talking to local advertisers:

- It makes sense to have a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account for your business, because Google wants to see businesses listed on those platforms.  It's ok if you don't post too often, and it's also ok if you "don't get twitter."

- Claiming your Google+ page is the number one no cost high impact thing a local advertiser should do.  If you have multiple locations remember that there is a separate page for each physical address.  Because Google has integrated Google+ with Google Search, your Google+ page is often the first thing a consumer will see when looking for you, even before they see your website or Facebook page...yet a big majority of SMB's have completely missed this.  

- Claiming your Yelp.com business page will help your search engine optimization results.  The Yelp guys are really smart, and they have national scale, so they can boost your Yelp page link way up in search engine results.  Many advertisers hate Yelp reviews, or the prospect of Yelp reviews.  We say if you can't beat 'em, better join 'em, because Yelp pages and Internet reviews are here to stay.

- When an advertiser claims his Google+ page and Yelp page, they will be clobbered with high pressure sales pitches from each of those companies.  Yelp especially likes to imply that a paid ad program on Yelp is necessary to make your free page work.  Not true.  We caution advertisers about this because it is 100% certain they will get the sales pitches.  We tell them to either hang up, or have Google and Yelp call us.  We believe that for most advertisers in most markets, Yelp advertising and Google Adwords are not good buys at this point in time.

This kind of basic coaching and awareness building goes a long way to helping our local media clients close hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual ad packages when we come to town.  Our fall and winter dates are filling fast, but if you want some help closing the social media gaps in your market, please call or text today.

 BOB KELLAGHER     

Bob2

THE BLINDER GROUP     

215-359-8164      

BobKellagher@gmail.com      

Twitter @Bobkellagher

Facebook www.facebook.com/blindergroup