We're local too
by Lynette Sowell, Managing Editor
I wrote a column several years ago about “too much information.” In this era of the world at our fingertips via smartphones, the amount of information we have coming our way is nearly limitless. This is great for students now – hey, I proudly say I graduated from both high school and college without Google!
For those of you who own a business, you might think technology makes it easier to reach your audience so they can find your store or office and flock there. Nope. It’s not easier. If it was easy, we’d all be doing it. Business owners and operators are looking for that magic combination that will cause customers to come and go through a revolving door, then come back again.
In 2011 and 2012, there was an e-book revolution during which some independent authors struck gold and with minimal effort after writing their books, began hauling in six-figure royalties from the e-publishing giants, particularly Amazon. It was a tidal wave of cash rolling in. And then – as happens in the market – it becomes oversaturated because “everyone” is doing it. Fast forward seven years later and it’s still possible to earn money as an independent author, but that gold mine is gone.
Around the same time, small business owners discovered Facebook for business and it too has morphed. Let me tell you something – the big guys like Amazon and Facebook – will always skew things in their favor. Just because you have a Facebook page doesn’t mean your crowd will find you. It’s possible to pay Facebook for advertising and get more “likes” and also get more “reach” – the people who see your ad or see your business page. It’s possible to do those things and still hear nothing from customers.
Again, things are changing. Facebook users are getting tired of seeing ads. If you run a small business, how do you know they’re not tired of your ads? Some businesses make pitches to local Facebook “groups” to try to sell their wares and services. Again, they may reach one or two customers, but not all.
I have heard some small business owners say, “I took out one ad in the paper and nothing happened.” The fact is, there are several things that must happen. There’s awareness. Just because I’m aware of a business in town, doesn’t mean I’m going to shoot right over there and buy something tomorrow. If I don’t need it, I forget about it because of all the information floating around in life.
If taking out “one ad” was the answer, we wouldn’t see ads multiple times on television, for example. Why does one company run more than one ad? It’s awareness. Awareness needs to translate to interest: “Hey, there’s a new chicken restaurant in town! Maybe I will try it out.” (or not) But it’s not a good time for me, so I’ll wait.
In an oversaturated market – think chicken restaurants – the chicken folks need to continually get the word out about what they do. Whatever your product is locally, it behooves you to do the same. After interest, comes decision time, and then action. Because I’m aware of the new chicken restaurant, when it’s time, I might try it out. Unless I’ve seen an ad for a great deal from another chicken place to which I’m already loyal.
For example, I’ve seen a crop of new businesses in town, those who make T-shirts and embroider, both storefronts and home-based. How do you get your customers to come to you, and come back? That market is getting saturated in our community. The key is to get yourselves in front of them. Facebook might be one tool. But why would you negate an entire other market that might not see your Facebook posts?
I’ve heard it said that “nobody reads newspapers anymore.” That’s not entirely true. It’s also a sad assumption that if YOU might not read the newspaper regularly, that others don’t. In the Copperas Cove market alone, our readership is 4,000 circulation in print and more online – 15,000 to 17,000 average page views per month.
Why would someone NOT want to market to those individuals - an untapped market for them, but instead only reach out to the same several hundred folks on Facebook, who might or might not see their ads/sales pitches?
As a local business, we are dedicated to helping our community and our local businesses. It’s been said that small businesses are the lifeblood of the community, and who better to come alongside them than their local newspaper and media? Anyone can be on Facebook, but not everyone is in the newspaper. They ought to be, if they’re in business, to avail themselves of an audience that we can help expose them to. It’s not a magic combination, but it’s a partnership that can help you gain traction with new customers.
This column didn’t focus on bigger businesses because the big guys already get it – they know the value of repetition and diversifying their marketing and advertising plan. They get it, and they do it. How else are some of these bigger businesses household names?
I am ready for football season and our Bulldawg Edition. We will get our clients in front of 2,500 readers – minimum – every week of the 10 weeks of football season starting on Aug. 30, with the first publication coming out Aug. 31. That number doesn’t include our readers who access the online publication that highlights our fall football season. The Bulldawg Backer is a bargain for small business owners to get them regular, consistent exposure to create that awareness, then interest that will spur decision making and spur customers to action. If you have a small business and you’re not interested, what are you doing that works for you? If you don’t have a plan, you can get lost in the oversaturated market and be left spinning your wheels, wondering why no one’s heading your way. Even if you “put it on Facebook” and take out “one ad.”
#ReadLocal and #MarketLocal with us.