Author Archives: John Sullivan

Here's How a Dealer Microsite Helps Sell More Products

Here’s a good example of how a dealer microsite can make your dealer locator be more effective for you, your dealers and your consumers.

This dealer microsite is linked to directly from the dealer locator results page.

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It’s loaded with up-to-date content from the brand, has the brand approved look and feel  and the dealer adds the very important local information (price and promotion)  for a complete consumer experience.   The dealer loves it because there are no links back to the brand site where a consumer can find another dealer.

It even has a shopping cart for each of the dealer locations.

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The microsite is managed by the dealer as part of the brand’s online adbuilder.  So, when a dealer or brand has a promotion it automatically flows to the dealer microsite and to the consumer without any publication costs.

Dealer’s can link to it from their own site, use it as a landing page for a local Google adwords campaign and soon this content will build a local fan page in Facebook.

Now, this is much better than just having your adbuilder build newspaper ads.

Newspapers Battle for Limited Ad Spending

The Wall Street Journal is about to launch a New York City Metro section to fill a need for local news and pull advertising dollars away from other NYC papers.  As the New York Times has dedicated more ink to national news this left an opening.  The fledgling New York Sun covered local news well, but closed after 7 years in late 2008 as ad dollars dried up.

Forbes Online covers this well:  http://blogs.forbes.com/bizblog/2010/01/29/wsjs-metro-section-its-the-advertising-stupid/

Two online insights:

1) Local content attracts local advertisers.

As content on the Web has gone local, the advertising dollars have followed and will increasingly do so.  There is a natural lag time in advertiser behavior (as we are all creatures of habit), but recent studies highlighted in our blog note the shift in dollars: http://blog.jgsullivan.com/2009/10/23/smbs-are-thinking-online-they-get-it/ and http://blog.jgsullivan.com/2009/10/27/winners-and-losers-in-2009-marketing-budgets/

2) As newspapers continue to battle each other, the most efficient way to target local consumers is through local search on Google.

Google has 71% market share in search and offers an unprecedented ability to target messages locally around your retail store.  With more consumers using online search every day (and less reading the newspaper) this is the first place SMB’s should spend their advertising budget.  As an Authorized Google AdWords Reseller, we can help your primary suppliers craft a brand-approved program for you so it can be co-op approved.  This will stretch your advertising dollars even further as a win-win.

Social Network Sites Continue to Grow Dramatically

According to a recent report from comScore, social network sites continued to grow in 2009.

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Other findings from the report give marketers even more reason to consider social sites for local advertising.

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With numbers like these it’s no wonder that McDonald’s has developed local fan pages in Facebook so local stores can promote their own specials.  Other savvy marketers are sure to follow with local fan pages for their retailers in a wide variety of product lines.

The challenge in creating local fan pages isn’t in the cost to publish, it’s free.  The challenge is first of all to experiment with a site like Facebook, prove that it’s worthwhile and then develop the tools that easily allow your retailers to take advantage of the opportunity.

And, whatever you do don’t build another silo of information for you and your retailers to manage.  The best place to build local fan pages is inside of your online adbuilder system.  There, you and your retailer can leverage all of the good content used for newspaper ads, Google landing pages, brochures and more.  Just give the retailer another option…Post this promotion to your local fan page?   Yes.

This is the closest thing to free advertising yet.

Women Prefer Ads Over Subscription for Social Network Sites

Here’s a study from Shes Connected that relates to online newspapers and local advertising. They asked women how comfortable they would be with different ways for social networking sites to make money.  Not unlike the revenue model question newspapers are asking their readers for online newspapers.

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Display advertising is the big winner with 62% very comfortable with that approach and the subscription model the big loser with 49% saying they wouldn’t pay to go to the site.

It’s the same story for newspapers, where not surprisingly people like to read online newspapers for free and don’t mind the idea of running ads on the site.   Maybe there is good news here for advertisers in that consumers understand the concept and don’t have negative feelings about online ads, much like they’ve accepted print ads in newspapers.

Advertising on social networks is sure to happen and because they don’t have to keep paying for the “old model” like newspapers have to keep paying off their printing presses, things should work out very well for social media sites.

So, get ready to build the tools for your dealers to advertise locally on sites like Twitter and Facebook.  It will be very cost-effective.

Mobile Coupons Still Not Ready for Prime Time

According to a recent Harris Interactive study reported by eMarketer, consumers attitudes about mobile coupons are still tepid, even though the projections are for rapid growth in the next few years.

mobile-coupon-attitudesI think that consumers interested in shopping go online before they get in the car and head for a store.  So, it makes more sense to print out a coupon from an online site or clip a newspaper ad from home.

In fact, 86% of those surveyed had clipped paper coupons and 65% had printed out online coupons while only 4% used mobile coupons.

The challenge with most of these studies is to relate the answers to what we are actually selling.  Maybe mobile coupons for fast food restaurants will make sense but a mobile coupon for a riding lawn mower doesn’t, yet.

The good news is that according to this survey consumers are looking at print and online for coupons and it drives them into local retailers.

Why Did I Get This Ad?

In this blog we talk a lot about localization.  Technology allows us to know where a consumer is geographically when they’re reading an online ad and, much like your local newspaper, we can feed an ad loaded with information about a local dealer for a specific brand.  Not much of a shock to anyone’s system.

Beyond localization is customizing the online ad based on your surfing history.  Showing ads based on information from tracking where you’ve been on the site you’re on or even other sites you’ve been too.  That’s behavioral marketing and can make people a little nervous.

So, before the FTC rushes in and regulates the industry the advertising industry has come up with a first step to inform consumers why they are seeing a specific ad.  Here’s a mock-up taken from an article in The New York Times.

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The idea is that you’ll click on the “i” icon and go to a page that explains why you are seeing this ad, assure you that they really don’t know much about you and allow you to fine tune or opt-out of the program.

No one thinks this is the only step that needs to be taken but it is a first step.  And, I haven’t read about anyone predicting how consumers will react to this message.

A few weeks ago we reported on Google’s version of the same idea on their search site and that most consumers were indifferent or even modified the settings to improve the customization of the ads.   However, just because it works on a search site and one that is as well known as Google doesn’t mean it will work everywhere on the internet.

This will be interesting to watch.

iPad, Kindle and Other E-readers Not the Answer for Newspapers

Anyone concerned about advertising on a local level is interested in the survival of newspapers.  Will the print edition go away?  Will they go completely online?  How do we best reach local consumers?

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If you have a Kindle or you’re  going to buy the iPad, you’ve noticed that they offer subscriptions to newspapers, delivered right to your device.  For example, The Boston Globe is available for only $9.99 a month.  Are e-readers the way for newspapers to charge for content while saving on printing and distribution costs?  Is this the way for newspapers to survive?

Here’s the problem, e-readers all have wireless connections to the internet, they have browsers built-in (Kindle has lousy browser while iPad from I’ve heard has a great browser) where the information for The Boston Globe is only a click away and it’s free.  So, why would I pay for a subscription?

As long as e-readers have internet connections, I don’t see how they are any different than trying to sell me an online subscription to my local newspaper.  And so far, that idea isn’t working to well as this post from Slashdot about a newspaper on Long Island confirms.  After three months they only sold 35, $5 per month subscriptions.

35-subscribers

Ok, that’s not going to work.

It Should be Called the "World Wide Local" as Even Your Tweets are Geocoded

One of the biggest changes in the World Wide Web that I’ve seen since 1995 is that it has become so much more local.  As it gets more local, from an advertising point of view, it starts to act more like a local newspaper in that we know where the reader is.  (Who knew back then that a newspaper was geocoded?)

Another indication of the localization of the web is what Twitter started to roll out yesterday.

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Now, Twitter asks you to set your location (only a limited number of big cities to choose from today) and then you can watch subject categories from your city.

Imagine having a local promotion that you Tweet about and get listed high on Twitter/Chicago.

The internet is giving us a wide range of options for reaching specific markets, many more than we had in 95 and with all this change comes confusion for local retailers.  To me it’s the job of the brand managers to sort through all of the options available to local dealers today, pick the winners and then give the dealer the tools to take advantage of these cost-effective alternatives to traditional advertising methods.

And, just when you think you have it all figured out, another opportunity presents itself.

Solution to Dealer Dis-locators

As the Internet matures brand managers are starting to understand the need to connect consumers from their brand site to their local dealer to complete the sale.  And, most often the first step should be to the dealer’s site, since the consumer is already online.

Unfortunately, most dealer locators link the consumer to the dealer’s own site which is often out of date, certainly not brand compliant and, way too often, loaded with competitive information.  Or, the dealer locator results aren’t much more than a white page listing giving address and phone number, not a very helpful next step to a sale.

Dealer microsites solve the problem by providing a site for every dealer that combines product information with local information and looks like the brand site.

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This solves the problem for your dealer locator as you can let a consumer learn more about your local dealer and even see any local promotions.

It solves another problem too, that is, the dealers hate to link to a brand site because it has a dealer locator that shows nearby competitors and often times shows products and product categories the dealer doesn’t carry.  With a dealer microsite the dealer now has a place to link the consumer knowing that he is protected.

A good dealer microsite program is a win for the brand, for the dealer and the consumer.  These sites make for great Google landing pages, too.

Newspaper Ads Vs. Online Ads for Bargain Hunters

Here’s a new report from Harris Interactive that tells us where consumers look for ads when they’re bargain hunting.

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Overall, newspapers and magazine advertisements are the favorites with online advertisements coming in second.

When you look at age preference from 18 to 44 then online wins the contest with newspapers and magazine advertisements coming in second.  The study also shows online advertisements are more popular with college graduates over newspapers and magazines.

The real takeaway from this report is that you can’t keep online out of your media plans anymore and you have to help your independent dealers get into the game.

Many brand managers get it and we’re seeing more and more demand for things like local Google Adwords or banner ads builders in RFPs for ad builders.

And, that’s good for customers and dealers.