Category Archives: Microsites

Facebook is Top Social Media Tool for SMBs

According Social Media Examiner’s 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, about seventy percent of SMBs say that social media is important to their business.  Facebook was listed as the top social media tool followed by Twitter, Linkedin and Blogs.

Generating more business exposure was cited as the top advantage of social media marketing.  Other benefits include increased traffic and improved search rankings.

But, social media marketing does take time away from the SMBs primary business of selling.  More than half of marketers are using social media for six or more hours each week.  Compare that with the thirty minutes it takes to create and order a newspaper ad and it’s easy to understand why many SMBs are still advertising like it’s 1999.

Brands can do the heavy lifting here and offer their dealers Facebook advertising, and co-branded content for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube through their advertising portals.    It not only flattens the learning curve for dealers but also ensures that additional business exposure enjoyed by their dealers includes their brand message.

Advertising on Facebook is Now Mainstream

According to comScore, Facebook ranked as the top display advertising publisher in the first quarter of 2011, serving up nearly 1/3 of all display ads in the US.

Google still leads the way in text advertising and many brands are not yet even helping their dealers place co-branded ads on Google.  With Facebook ads the learning curve for online advertising gets even steeper for SMBs.  As brand managers consider how to help their dealers allocate co-op funds, Google and Facebook need to be part of the recommendation.  Even better, they should be build into the brands’ ad builder so more dealers take advantage of these proven advertising channels.

Facebook’s New Send Button Can Replace Email to a Friend

Last week Facebook’s new Send button launched on about 50 major websites including People, Orbits, WSJ, Huffington Post and 800-Flowers.

Similar to the Like button, it lets your customers share your content.

But instead of posting your page to their own Facebook page, your site visitors can share your content via a private Facebook message or send it to non-Facebook email addresses.

A husband can privately send a John Deere tractor sale announcement, from his local dealer’s website, to his wife, as a hint for a gift rather than posting it to his public Facebook page  where his friends could ridicule him for still having a 30-year-old push mower.

According to Mashable, “Send counts toward the total number of Likes a page has. The Like total is now calculated by adding the number of Likes, shares, comments and inbox messages containing a URL.”

Tablet Computers and Local Advertising

Another challenge for brand managers is coming to the forefront very quickly and it’s the plethora of tablet computers that are hitting the market.  It’s not enough to worry about how consumers get your product information on desktop computers and smartphones, now you have to be thinking about tablet computers, too.

Here’s an interesting study about why consumers are interested in the most popular tablet, the iPad.

Shopping gets mentioned by 41% of the respondents as one of the reasons they’re interested in buying an iPad.  In 2012 it is predicted that there will be over 40 million tablets in use in the U.S., up from 9.7 million in 2010.

So, this new device is coming on fast and simply because of its portability it will have an effect at retail.  Imagine consumers standing in front of your product on a retailer’s floor relying on their tablet computer to get information about your product, instead of reading a point-of-sale piece.  Or, more likely even sooner, the retail salesperson having a tablet computer to show a demo of how your product works.

All of this relates to local advertising and how it is changing…fast.

We can’t be thinking newspaper ads are how we partner with our retailers to talk with consumers, there is a digital aspect to this that is becoming more important every day.

The good news is that the technology to make all of this work is here, today.

Newspapers Say Newspapers Still Relevant for Shopping

I see a lot of research and I always remind myself to consider the source.  Here’s some new research from the the Newspaper Association of America  and it shows that newspapers are the primary medium for consumers checking advertising.

The point they’re making is that when consumers are thinking of making  a purchase they go to their newspaper first to help plan their shopping trip.

I wonder how they asked their questions.  I just can’t imagine going to my newspaper first before I go on a shopping trip.  I think it would be time better spent online looking for information.  And, many of the studies I’ve read show a consumer preference for online research over anything else.

Maybe the most important thing to take from a study like this is that newspapers are still relevant for local advertising.  I don’t agree that they’re the most important source for information but they are still valuable for local retailers and therefore, as a marketer you have to continue to help your retailers advertise in newspapers as you simultaneously help them migrate some of their dollars to the internet.

Online Tactics Used by Retailers in 2011

Here’s a chart from a recent report by American Express Open that shows the online marketing tactics used by small businesses.

There is a lot to glean from this but one of the major changes from 2007 until recently is the increased usage of social sites by small businesses, growing from 11% to 35%.

Talking with retailers with think this is happening because Facebook is popular, free and relatively easy to work with and most retailers have at least one trustworthy person on their staff who is addicted to Facebook and therefore very willing to help with a page for the retailer.

Savvy brand managers are taking advantage of this interest in Facebook by providing their retailers with brand friendly Facebook content via their online ad builders or marcom portals.

The other findings of interest include that only 65% of SMBs have websites and very few are buying Google AdWords, even though other studies tell us that websites and search campaigns are very effective, in not critical, advertising tools for retailers today.

This study and others points out that local retailers are heading in the right direction when it comes to adding new media to their marketing plans but still need help in understanding and executing online.

A brand that can fill this void now will lockout the competition and gain more share of voice locally for years to come.

Search Engines Beat Coupon Sites

With all of the attention lately about coupon sites, such as Groupon, it was interesting to see this study at

As we’ve seen in so many other studies, search engines are an important step consumers take on their way to purchasing a product. In this study they were trying to measure the value of online coupons and coupon sites and in that research we see search engines ranked as the number one tool consumers use.

Search is one of the few places  where local buyers and sellers meet on purpose.  The challenge is that local buyers go to search engines but local retailers don’t always even know they can buy Google AdWords on a local basis, for a fraction of the cost of a newspaper ad.

It’s incumbent upon brand managers to educate and help retailers understand the value and the mechanics of local search.  It’s good for the brand, for retailers and for consumers if they can find a local outlet for a branded product they’re looking to buy.   And, if they see a coupon offer along the way, all the better.

The technology now enables retailers to customize a brand friendly template online, automatically place a buy on Google local and  have us  host and maintain the landing page.   It’s that easy.

In-Store Mobile Product Browsing Growing

Local advertising is continuing to change as consumers find new ways to shop for products.  Here’s a recent report that shows how consumers are using their phones to research products while they are in the store.

This shows that since 2009 there has been a 78% growth in consumers using their phone to research products while they are in the store.

As a marketer, have you adapted your efforts to match this phenomenal change?

One way to help your consumers, your dealers and your brand is to add mobile outputs to your ad builder.  Right now you certainly allow your retailers to customize brand friendly templates in your ad builder for newspaper ads, direct mail pieces and the other traditional outputs.

The technology is here so that you can also allow retailers to create mobile promotional pages.  You should host these pages too, so you can track the results, for your benefit and the dealers.

Local advertising is changing very quickly and you have to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant.

Google Adds Phone Support for AdWords

Google local search is a great value to retailers.  With Google, retailers only reach potential customers in their market, who are interested in buying what they have to sell, right now.   And, a retailer only pays when a customer clicks on their ad.  Wonderful, except it’s difficult to explain how this all works to a very busy, non-technical retailer.

Google has been handicapped in their sales effort because they don’t have local sales people.   Every week a retailer will get a call or a visit from a radio rep, a newspaper rep, an outdoor rep, a cable guy and probably a printer or two.  No one walks in and says,  “Hi, I’m from the internet, let me tell you how it works.”

Now, Google just announced free phone support for AdWord customers.  Not quite a sales person but at least it’s a bit of help to local retailers.

Our belief is that brand managers have to work a little harder to help retailers understand the value of local Google search and the internet.  It’s good for the brand and the dealer.

This new service from Google helps that effort.

Media Dollars Continue to Shift from Old to New

Here’s another in a long list of reports that demonstrates the move of ad dollars from traditional to new media.

This prediction, like all others, shows ad dollars moving to the internet in the next few years.  Over a 10% growth in internet spending by 2015.

And, it also shows that most of the dollars are being shifted from the old print standbys;  newspapers, magazines and directories (yellow pages).

Of interest, it shows nominal growth in everything else.

Our story remains consistent.  If you’re a brand marketing expert, working with local dealers to help them promote themselves and your brand, you need to keep the old media in play, as you add the new to your arsenal.

Now you have to help your dealers with local search, banner ads, landing pages, e-promo pages, microsites, social and mobile -  to name just a few of the new and better techniques needed to reach consumers today.

The good news is that the new mediums are cheaper, better and faster than the old.