13 September 2015 · By Steve Gray
Traditional media needs to begin expanding its offerings with services that could include content marketing, promotions and events, and beacon solutions. Here’s why your company should embrace the “local marketing agency” model.
When your comfortable, well-established business model is being disrupted, one of the toughest challenges is looking beyond your old business model to visualize what you must become.
In past posts, one by one, I’ve pointed out a host of new opportunities that are emerging in local media markets. In this post, I’m going to roll them up into a single new business entity we can visualize and work to develop.
Metaphorically, you could say we used to dominate our markets with a burger-and-fries kind of business. The burger was the media channel we owned – the space in the newspaper or the air time on our television channel or radio station.
We sold the burger to almost all of our accounts. And we also tried to sell them some fries on the side – such as banner ads on our Web sites and other ancillary products and services. But really, it was all about the burger.
Today, our audiences are consuming vastly more kinds of media than ever before. They still like burgers, but they’re all over the Web consuming offerings we didn’t create and probably can’t. To reach their target audiences, the businesses in our markets need more than just our burgers and fries.
And, as I wrote in my last post, we’re living in a direct-access world now, where businesses need to deploy a wide range of solutions to speak directly to the consumer.
So, in the traditional media, we have a choice: We can stay focused on selling ever-shrinking orders of burgers and fries, or we can radically expand our offerings to become a one-stop marketing provider for local businesses.
In the bewildering profusion of digital and non-digital marketing techniques now available, each local business needs a coherent plan. Few have the time or savvy to work this out for themselves, so there’s a need for someone who understands the business and the market, and who knows how to deploy and coordinate the right solutions to reach the right potential customers.
That’s what I’m calling the “local marketing agency” model.
This graphic depicts this as a single store able to deliver a wide range of local marketing services. It’s not a newspaper or a radio or television station. It’s a group of sales people who understand a wide range of solutions, backed up by a set of fulfillment people to carry out the programs they sell.
I’ve written about most of these solutions before, so I won’t go into depth on them here. However, I’ll link to the posts where I’ve described them in more detail.
As this list shows, there’s no shortage of marketing sales opportunities in local markets. Lots of businesses have lots of needs we’re not meeting today.
No media company would want to tackle them all at once. Each one requires learning a whole new kind of business. But at Morris, we’re at various stages of progress on four of the eight.
A huge question in each case is should this be part of the core sales effort, or should it be separate?
With most of these opportunities, it would be foolish to think that the people currently selling our burgers and fries can take them on. In fact, they haven’t done all that well selling fries so far. In these new areas, there’s too much to learn; the technologies are too far removed from standard advertising solutions.
And we wouldn’t want to distract our current sales people from selling the burgers and fries.
Within that agency, the best structure would be much like a traditional ad agency. That is, having account reps on the street (or on the phone) with good knowledge of the solutions we’re offering, backed up at the office by subject-matter experts on each of the solutions.
That way, the experts can help the reps fashion the right program for each business. And the agency could help the core sales reps present these new solutions to advertisers who are buying burgers and fries.
Many media markets probably are too small for that structure. But in the first opportunity on the list above – digital marketing solutions – vendors have emerged to provide turnkey back-end services to support small-market local sales reps.
The bottom line is, once you take off the blinders of our old burgers-and-fries business, it’s clear that the businesses in our markets need and want lots of other kinds of solutions. They will buy them from someone – why not us?
Author/Contact: Steve Gray is vice president of strategy and innovation at Morris Communications, based in Augusta, Georgia, USA. He previously led the American Press Institute (API) Newspaper Next program.
If this interests Bennett About Marketing readers; this post is part of the Disruptive Innovation blog at INMA.org.