What exactly does this mean to me?

Something occurred to me today while eating lunch and listening to an economics analyst talking on the TV about how car dealerships across the country could be affected by the bad news involving GM and Ford. I haven’t seen or heard a local car-dealer ad in months, maybe years.

Like many Americans, I don’t listen to local radio anymore, instead tuning in to XM-Sirius to microtarget for myself what I want to listen to and also to avoid the long commercial breaks that mark over-the-air radio. And I only buy a newspaper once every few months, and then only on special occasions, like to put in the scrapbook the papers the day after Barack Obama’s Election Day victory.

I do of course glance at the websites of the local papers every morning, but either the ads are poorly placed or nonexistent – whatever the case, I don’t see them, and certainly don’t remember them if they are there.

Which reminds me of what I was thinking while watching the economics analyst over lunch. Don’t know why this came to mind, but it hit me how much it used to bother me to have to listen to those Charlie Obaugh commercials on the radio, and Pat Berrang – man, oh, man, how I loathed hearing him prattle on and on about how good life was for him.

I’m not blasting them, incidentally. That I remember how much I disliked hearing their ads should tell you something about how much of an impression that they left on me as a potential customer.

But for me and many like me, who don’t listen to the radio, who don’t look at the local papers, who watch any of 500 channels on the cable or satellite at any particular time, and are thus just as likely to be out of target for local advertisers as we are to be hearing and seeing your messages, we’re being left, for lack of a better word, impressionless, or maybe a better way to put it is unimpressed.

What I’m getting at here is akin to what I’ve been saying for years about the media revolution that is The Augusta Free Press. The editorial side of the AFP includes traditional newspaper-style reporting and in-depth articles in our sister print publication The New Dominion Magazine plus new-age talk radio in the form of podcasts featuring interviews with newsmakers and analysts from the worlds of politics, economics and sports and 21st century TV news utilizing YouTube as the delivery mechanism. It’s not print news, it’s not radio, it’s not the six o’clock news, it’s all three. I submit to you that we’re all going to have to start thinking the same way in terms of getting our marketing messages to our customer base.

A thousand or fifteen hundred or two thousand dollars for an ad in a single-day run of a local newspaper makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, for example. There’s no shelf life, one, and two, declining circulations are the order of the day in the print-news business, so you’re paying a lot of money there to reach a smaller and smaller audience for that one day. Same for over-the-air TV and radio. There’s just too much competition from cable and satellite for both to sink too much into either of those traditional advertising mainstays.

I used the word microtarget above to describe how I use satellite radio to listen to what I want – be it ’90s grunge rock one minute or America Left talk the next or Blue Collar Comedy a little later on. The concept should also apply to your marketing strategy. Maybe some newspaper advertising makes sense to you – because part of your customer base is older folks and retirees who are still likely to be newspaper subscribers. No harm still committing some of your money there, not at all. The same probably holds true for buying a spot on the six o’clock news, since those audiences tend to skew older. Internet advertising, meanwhile, is a good bet to reach your younger customers – and by younger I’m meaning 18-54 in this day and age. The options there are quite varied, from latching on to the websites of established media entities like local papers and TV and radio stations to seeking out alternative entities like the AFP and even the social-networking site Facebook.

The reality of the economic downturn that we’re all operating in right now means the stakes to getting this right are even higher than they were a year or two ago when times weren’t as tight, but I don’t want you to miss the bigger point. The media landscape, short-term recession or not, is a-changin’, and it’s never, no matter how hard the old-line media giants try to put the toothpaste back into the tube, going to be the way it was before.

We’ve been talking about how this trend is going to impact the media industry itself for several years now. The focus for those on the outside looking in from the retail sector should ASAP be turning to, What exactly does this mean to me?

 

– Column by Chris Graham


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