Do They Think Of You As The Local Marketing Expert?
October 20, 2015
Forty-four percent of U.S. media sales managers say it's "getting harder to sell against online pure-play competitors like Google and Facebook" than it was 12 months ago. This is one of the findings from the 2015 State of Media Sales study by Media Sales Today.
It's not just Google and Facebook; it's Twitter, Pandora, YouTube, AutoTrader, Cars.com and YP.com. It's also a plethora of on-demand services like Home Advisor, GrubHub and names you've probably never heard of -- all taking budget that used to be spent on local media like yours. So how do you compete to stem the tide and start getting some of those dollars back?
There is not a single cure-all solution, but one step in the right direction is to look inward and analyze what makes your company -- not just your products or your sales team -- different.
You have a strong, recognizable brand. But so do your online competitors. And they have the cool factor on their side.
You have a history. But local advertisers are more concerned about the customers you can bring them tomorrow than your past glory.
You may even have a news director who knows the mayor, the police chief, the city council and the school board. Now we're getting somewhere!
You know your neighbors -- what concerns them, what excites them, what and who they're talking about. You know the people because you are one of them. And it's local people who buy goods and services from local businesses. The key word here is LOCAL.
Nobody knows the local market better. When you combine that knowledge with solid marketing advice, you become the local marketing expert. This is one of the ways you can stand apart from your pure-play competitors -- and give local business owners a reason to return your call.
Here are six simple things you can do to be perceived as the local marketing expert...
1. Provide value first. Share pertinent industry trends, shopper trends and marketing advice via e-mail texting or social media direct messaging. Do this without expectation of anything in return. Make sure what you send is timely, relevant to their business and not a cloaked sales pitch. This is how you establish credibility and relevance as someone who knows advertising and marketing.
2. Take time to listen and observe. Those online pure-plays won't. Make your first visit to the advertiser as a customer, whenever possible, before ever speaking to someone about media and marketing. What did you like? What was different from the other options in town or online? Then, get to know the business owner and let him/her get to know you. If they'll let you, have a conversation about their opportunities, challenges and aspirations before you try to sell them anything. Genuinely caring about the vitality of your client's business and being consistently competent goes a long way in building trust.
3. Offer an expert opinion. Experts aren't shy about offering their opinions -- just make sure it's an INFORMED opinion that can objectively help their business. Don't ask them "tell me all about your business," because experts do their homework. Don't assume they know all about YOUR business. They're the expert at plumbing, retailing, insurance or pizza making. You're the local marketing expert. Don't just take their order; RECOMMEND what you know will work for them. Don't be sheepish about asking for enough money to deliver real results. If you are, you'll leave money on the table. And when they don't buy enough to make their advertising work like you said it would, you'll also damage the trust you've worked so hard to build. Now for the local part...
4. Use LOCAL market research to support your sales proposals. Avoid using national data when local data is available. For example, use local consumer spending data, healthcare needs and local demographics from AdMall. Media spending data for your metro or TV market is available from BIA/Kelsey, Borrell Associates, or Kantar Media. Local automotive sales and registration data is available from sources like Polk.
5. Create tie-in-promotions with local events or causes that strike a local chord. You may also be able to work with local high schools, small colleges or minor-league sports teams. Use audience profiles from AudienceSCAN (also found in AdMall.com) to determine the shopping habits and media usage of those who plan to buy a particular product, support a certain type of charity or attend a show in the next 12 months.
6. Champion "shop local" initiatives like your local merchant associations and Small Business Saturday. Not only should your company be a sponsor, you should be leading the charge.
And here's one more...
6+1. Be an active participant in clubs and associations where local business people meet. It used to be common for the news reporter, the sales manager or territory sales rep to be an active member in the local chamber of commerce, Rotary club or nearest chapter of the American Advertising Federation and/or American Marketing Association. What happened? Are you too busy to take one hour of your week to network and get to know your community leaders on a personal level?
Not if you want to be the local marketing expert.
Computers can programmatically quote rates and take orders, but they can't connect on a human level and be the local marketing expert. Can you?