local media insider

Do you know this man?


On the plane traveling to the Borrell Local Mobile Advertising Conference yesterday, I sat next to a small business man and we had a nice chance to chat.

He employs a number of people and has been in business for 30 years in his hometown. About $2.5 million a year in sales is mostly brick and mortar to local residents.

For most of his time in business, he advertised in a newspaper and describes his newspaper rep "as a really nice person." But he gets about 20 calls a week from all kinds of advertising people - who represent products and services from daily deals to people wanting to optimize his web site. He knows that he should be implementing more digital strategies - it costs a lot less - but he's tried some things and not all of them worked.

It's gotten complicated to figure out how to advertise.

He built his business when there were only a few choices and print advertising worked best. Now, he knows he needs to change with the times.

He's very proud of a new Facebook page and already spends about 10% of his marketing on digital. He plans to increase a little bit next year for online, though budgets are still tight. He might cut print.

I tell him that 44% of people get their news on a mobile device. He says, "is that so."

When I talk about click to call he perks up, but then I lose him when I explain that people prefer using a well designed mobile news site to an APP. In fact, his eyes glaze over.

Maybe you should talk to your print rep about digital strategies, I say. What city are you in?

He says his print representative only "somewhat" understands digital.

He has tried online coupons, that did great,and although he's not really crazy about deep discounting, he might try something like Groupon.

But he can tell you one thing, at the end of the day most of his business still comes from referrals from friends and customers.

What he really likes about digital is that he can track the response and know what he's getting...If I can guarantee response, he'll give me his card!

Do you know this guy?

You should, and should not, because I made him up. But, he is based on the composite character that emerges from statistical averages in the new API report on small business soon to be released by ItzBelden. The study was a survey of advertisers in print reps' databases of accounts.

In short, he is the average newspaper advertiser, a successful entrepreneur who sees his print rep as "somewhat competent" on digital issues.

And in many ways, as an advertiser, he is behind the times.

What was surprising to me is not the speed of the shift to digital (only 23% say they will spend less on print next year), but the reluctance to keep pace with where readers already are – on digital devices.

What this advertiser doesn't know yet is that his allocation of marketing investments is still behind the cataclysmic shift of readers to online and to mobile. He needs help; he knows he needs help, but he doesn’t even know how far behind he has fallen. This is not a trend you want to gloat over.

By next year, someone will be advising him.

In short, he's your customer to win or lose.