Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blog silence broken

My apologies for going silent for a few weeks. My somewhat limited blogging time has been focused on a blog I have with a local site in Sun Valley ( I blog on both local topics (e.g., growth related issues facing much of the Rocky Mountain West) as well as “Main Street Marketing” related topics. It’s the latter topic that has the most applicability to this blog. While greater and greater percentages of marketing budgets are going to the Internet, there’s been relatively little change with what I’m calling Main Street Marketers. These are the companies that fill most community newspapers and Yellow Pages books. They include restaurant owners, local retailers, insurance agents, real estate brokers/agents, nurseries, contractors, and franchisees of national franchises (and many more). The latest figures I’ve seen have nearly 1/3 of all media consumption taking place online yet less than 1% of the ad budgets of Main Street Marketers’ budgets have shifted to online. From the time I worked on Sidewalk (now CitySearch) starting in ’95 to seeing MSN/Yahoo/Google strive to get local businesses to spend search marketing dollars, it’s been a tough nut to crack as the cost of sale is usually quite high to profitably serve that market. That said, a > 30:1 disparity remains tantalizing and it’s clear that the newspapers and yellow pages companies have the lock on those budgets for now. I’m immersing myself in these issues as I think there will be ample opportunity to correct the imbalance between consumption and spend.


As you’ll see if you read some of my posts, many of the issues I’m discussing are what were discussed with “Madison Avenue Marketers” that have huge budgets and tremendous resources to evaluate online. Main Street Marketers don’t have those kinds of resources. Typically the owner of the business is also the Chief Marketing Officer among the many hats they wear. They are often worrying about issues that are in their face (e.g., employee turnover, excess inventory, etc.) versus having the luxury to think strategically about the fundamental changes that have happened with their customers’ behavior. One quote I got from a very successful retailer was eye-opening. He said that he just advertised in the newspaper (cutting out radio & TV) and he didn’t want to complicate his life by taking on online advertising. He went on to say that you never know if advertising works anyway so why complicate things. I had some responses that changed his perspective (and game plan) but nonetheless it’s telling to see where Main Street Marketers’ heads are at. Periodically, I’ll share what I’m learning from talking with the small business owners that I’m getting to know by living in this small town. While there are still big $$ to tap with Madison Avenue Marketers that’s going to towards TV, etc., at least as large of untapped budgets are with Main Street Marketers.


Here’s a sampling of some of the posts I’ve had geared toward that audience…


Political Phone Spam’s effect on voters -- political candidates and municipalities are also significant buyers of local media so I’m hoping to shake up their thinking so they don’t waste money doing ineffective advertising

Are you part of the problem/solution for 5 million lbs of waste?  -- I did some back of the envelope math on the amount of waste the local papers generate and why local businesses (most of who consider themselves environmentally aware) are contributing to the issue

Once every 50 year occurrence affecting valley businesses - learn more -- this recaps a session I was asked to give by the local chamber of commerce on Internet marketing

Event Sponsorship Risks & Best Practices -- I’ve been a proponent for a long time of the value of event sponsorship however it’s very easy to waste a bunch of money doing it. I outlined some best/worst practices in this mini-series.

How non-profits benefit from blogs -- the local papers get somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 from local non-profits in a community of 20,000 people. I think it’s a tremendous waste of money that could be eliminated by blogging so I advocated for that in this post.

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