One of the biggest changes for the internet since we all got interested in it in 1995 or so is that it filters information for your geographic location. While we’ve seen how Google allows advertisers to buy adwords based on the geographic location of the searcher, they now are allowing the organic search results to be localized as well.
You can now use the “Show options” link to request that your search results show sites in your area. In the example above, a consumer looking for new tires can select “nearby” to find the sites of local dealers in the organic search results and the adwords are location based, too.
This now puts even more pressure on local dealers to have better internet sites and thereby makes it incumbent upon brand managers to help those dealers with brand friendly content.
Because of broadband connections we now know the consumers’ geographic location without having to ask and can feed content based on that information (that wasn’t the case in the earlier days of the internet).
This is another reason for local advertising dollars to shift from newspaper ads to local Google adword campaigns and to better dealer sites. Think of the dealer site or microsite you provide for him as a newspaper ad that can be seen 24/7 in the local market without having to pay any publication costs.
The challenge is to coordinate the dealer’s site with your brand and all of the other mediums a dealer uses to advertise. The good news is that online adbuilders for dealers can make all of this possible.
Homefurnishings.com is site owned by The National Home Furnishings Association. It’s loaded with helpful information for consumers in the market for home furnishings and links consumers to local dealer microsites in a rather interesting way.
Here’s how it works to protect the brand and the dealer.
The idea is to have lots of shopping information on Homefurnishings.com for consumers just starting the process.
If the consumer decides to look for a dealer, they have a microsite for each dealer that combines the relevant shopping information appropriate to what that dealer sells along with dealer information including contact, promotions, all brands carried and more.
If the consumer is interested in a specific brand they have a microsite for sponsoring brands that has a dealer locator that links to a dealer microsite with the apporpriate soft copy, contact and promotions but only for that brand. This site also works in the brand dealer locator for consumers who enter the system from brand.com
If the consumer starts at the dealer’s local site, the microsite adds all the soft copy to the dealer’s site.
It’s rather complicated at first but in this age of digital content it is a great way to help consumers find the right dealer and brand in a system that leverages soft sell information while protecting dealers and brands every step of the way.
You can’t do this with traditional marketing tools.
The Custom Publishing Council (CPC) announced an official name change last week. It will now be known as the Custom Content Council (CCC). Formed in 1999 to represent custom publishers and content creators — anyone buying a luxury auto lately has seen their work. A slick 4-color magazine with articles about road trips, new technology coming in future models, and feedback from loyal owners fill the pages. Major universities also publish these editions as they help inform alumni and generate donations.
Just 11 short years into its cause, the CPC had to change. Lori Rosen, Executive Director stated “…Publishing sounded ancient…Marketers and content providers are constantly challenging themselves to find ways to offer their audiences the broadest possible mix of relevant content—integrating print, the Internet, video, mobile media, social media, and more…” Full announcement here: http://www.custompublishingcouncil.com/news-members-article.asp?ID=706
The CPC realized it wasn’t about print. It’s about creating and delivering relevent content in all ways consumers interact with it. Print obviously isn’t “dead”, but it continued to be the defacto standard for brand communications even as the Internet boomed. Perhaps this will signal a change to marketing groups in companies large and small to continue to connect with their consumers online.
Liberate your content from the dusty pages of print and find consumers searching for you on Google, feed your blog and start a Facebook fan site. You’ll reduce your printing and postage costs — generating less waste and more efficiency. Don’t forget your sales channel either. Your dealers and distributors need support, programs and good online tools to enable them to leverage your branded content to extend the reach of your content and make sales locally. Start here with a good dealer microsite platform and local Google search program. This will give you the ability to adapt quickly as new online avenues emerge.
The message behind the CPC name change isn’t as subtle as changing one letter to “C”. It has a resounding impact if we listen.
I’m not sure if in the history of marketing there has ever been a time where the small business advertisers were so far out ahead of the marketing departments of the brands the retailers were selling. The past isn’t worth spending too much time thinking about but a new study from the Small Business Social Index is noteworthy.
The results of the study tell us that SMBs are very willing to take the time and effort to communicate with their customers via social media sites. And, most of the conversations are about the brand name products they sell, the promotions they offer and the services they provide. Not at all unlike the information that is communicated in newspaper ads and radio spots.
However, while major brands help their retailers with traditional advertising and marketing materials, they aren’t currently helping with the digital mediums that have become so popular and the dealers admit they could use a little help. From the study:
The takeaway is that social media works, your dealers are willing to use it and they need some help. Not too much different than the scenario for local Google adword campaigns and microsite landing pages for banner ad campaigns.
Consumers are online, the dealers get it, now it’s time for the brands to adapt to digital media, too.
Here’s a great post by Ivan Todorov & Ken Martin from Blitz
The post is so well thought out that I don’t want to summarize it here and instead encourage you to read it yourself. I’ll only say that it’s all about how savvy CMOs this year will use digital platforms to make their brands a part of a consumer’s everyday life. And, I will borrow their graphic to highlight one of the points that they make in their post.
As we move to digital platforms we naturally know the physical location of the consumer seeing or hearing our message and we should take advantage of that fact. They refer to it as Engagement Level 2 or Utility, where we can lead a consumer to a location based service (LBS). Because the digital platforms listed here are geo-coded, we know what city, neighborhood or even the street address where we are interacting with the consumer.
So, let’s connect the consumer to our local retailer at every point along the continuum. It’s important to build the brand but it’s even smarter while we’re at it to deliver a consumer to our best retailers with nothing but our brand on their mind. Dealers also add services, promotions and a good reputation to our brand message.
As we move to these digital platforms we need to incorporate our local retailers strengths into our message or we’ll be ignoring one of the best aspects these digital platforms provide. It’s not national advertising anymore, it’s all local.
As a marketer you have a lot on your plate already and I know it’s difficult to just manage business in this economic environment without having to worry about the way local advertising is changing. Well, here’s another sign that doing business the way you’ve always have done business just won’t work anymore.
Facebook for the first time ever beat Yahoo for unique site visitors in January and therefore takes over second place to Google. Google passed Yahoo way, way back in 2008.
If you’re involved in local or retail advertising for your dealers then you have to be at least experimenting in social media and you should already be implementing local online search campaigns and local banner adverting campaigns with your retailers right now.
We think adding that functionality to your adbuilder for dealers is the best, smartest, fastest and least expensive way to participate in the new media and prepare yourself to move to whatever proves popular for consumers next. The content needed for a landing page or a Facebook fan page isn’t that much different than what it takes to build a local newspaper ad. And, they should all be carrying the same message and promotion simultaneously.
Sorry to say, this isn’t a good time to rest on your laurels.
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.
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.
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.
According to a recent report from comScore, social network sites continued to grow in 2009.
Other findings from the report give marketers even more reason to consider social sites for local advertising.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.