local media insider

When the deer all have guns... or just want to shoot them


As we worked through this week's reports, I thought a lot about Terry Heaton, author of thepomoblog.com and  book, "Reinventing Local Media."

Heaton addresses a basic problem posed by the transition of the one-to-many-media universe into a many-to-many media universe; that is, given the ability to blog, tweet, Facebook post, contest, text and and more, some advertisers don't need our audiences. They can build their own.

"It’s a very bad time to be in the audience hunting business," as Heaton put it at a recent AAN Online Conference, "because the deer all have guns."

"Our old model was: We can reach people for you, Mr. Advertiser. And all of those people who follow us will see your ad. Now the advertiser has tools to bypass us. He is creating content and reaching people in the same ways that we do."

"Our core competency of mass marketing is in permanent decay. We are always playing defense and never allowed to play offense."

Keaton's main example is the disruptive and prescient Jerry Damson automotive in Northern Alabama.

Damson runs six websites, 500 or more micro sites, 400 YouTube channels (and video production studio), a blog and direct mail,  under the wing of VP of Marketing, Ben Dobles,  a digital marketer local media companies would be lucky to hire. In other words, a local media rep's worst nightmare. 

I can imagine a sales representative asking, "What if we ran a banner ad promoting 'get a free gas card with a test drive?," only to be told, that, in fact, Damson was already running banner ads on its own site, Hondagassavings.com, on which people can compare gas mileage for various models of cars.

Dobles even buys cheap ($150 a month) over night cable spots just to power-up his SEO.

"He's’ smart. He's smarter than andy television station. And now one of the biggest media companies in Norther Alabama," Heaton says.

So what's a local media company to do?

The good news is that Damson is still a rarity. As many Jerry Damsons as there are to be found across the country, there are thousands more small businesses who just can't keep up and need companies to both train and supply services for marketing. And they need our big, fat, over-sized audiences - whether on Facebook, on-air or online.

The statistics back this up: Borrell is showing that while overall copanies are plannign to spend 60 to 70% o promotions - and a big chunk of that on social media - but at local levels the spending is seill only 12%.

As Heaton says, "If the deer have guns, you get into the ammunition business."

In fact, we are already in the business. Our core competencies match what local businesses need, even if we are not yet selling them as a service.

Heaton advises there are two new business models: a. helping people do it right and b. making content "for people formerly known as advertisers."  

To play offense,  “Exploit the core competency, but strategically move your usines to the edges.”

This week's case study how  E.W. Scripps Company  is  helping merchants build Facebook fans - and reaping five figure revenue deals in some cases as a result - shows one way become an arms dealer in the new media universe.  

See also, six contests that could double or triple your Facebook fans, and eight ways to monetize your Facebook skills and audience.  For more Heatonisms, check out his blog, it's always more than interesting. 


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