Welcome to MediaReset.com

You’ve arrived at a blog about transforming the companies that publish newspapers. And it’s a blog with an unorthodox point of view.

Here it is: News will not save you.

Why not? Because the disruption that’s pounding newspaper companies is not about people Read the rest of this entry

How legacy media reps can — and must — sell more digital

How can we sell more digital? In traditional media, that question has been pounding us for years.

It’s in our heads, in our meetings, in our training, in our budgeting. Few of us are growing our digital revenues at rates anywhere near the growth rate of digital spending.

And one of the toughest challenges has been getting our core sales reps to present digital advertising and marketing solutions effectively to their existing customers.

For most of us, whether we’re in print or broadcast, it’s discouraging to look closely at how few of our core customers are buying digital from us. And, if they’re buying, it’s sad to see how weak the digital add-ons often are.

En route to a Morris Publishing Group digital sales summit a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany on this point.

I was thinking about print ads, which, frankly, I don’t do very often. More specifically, though, I was thinking about how consumer behavior has changed these days, in those moments when people encounter a product they may want to buy or a business they may want to patronize.

They go online — often via their smartphones — to learn more. I do it all the time, and I’m sure you do, too.

Then — Wham! — it hit me. The same is true of print ads.

We need to realize that, today, seeing a print ad rarely closes the deal for a consumer who might become a buyer. Far more often, it’s a trigger that sends him or her to the next step. And that next step is usually digital.

In other words, the ad needs to guide the consumer to a digital destination  where the rest of the story can be told and the consumer can move further down the purchase funnel.

If the ad is focused on a specific thing — for instance, a weight-loss program, a high-end home, or a kitchen remodeling service — most people will want to know more before they even consider picking up the phone.

For a weight-loss program, they will want details on the program. Is there a physical exam? Are there group meetings? Regular weigh-ins? A special diet? An exercise regimen? And they’ll want to know what it costs.

Rarely does a print ad explain all these things. There isn’t room, and the static print medium doesn’t allow for a carefully managed presentation that helps move the prospect step by step toward closing.

If the ad is for a high-end house, who would even think of calling the real estate agent without first seeing a good slide show or video tour and a list of all the home’s major features?

For kitchen remodeling or any other home-improvement service, what consumer wouldn’t first want to see a slide show of completed projects and some video testimonials from satisfied customers before picking up the phone?

Even with branding or image ads — for banks or hospitals, for example — anyone attracted by the ad would want to know how the branding story is backed up with actual services and quality — much more than a photo and a block of text can tell them.

In today’s world, a print ad or a broadcast spot is just a hook. It’s a way to get the consumer to the digital on-ramp, which can lead him or her the rest of the way to the advertiser.

So if we’re selling print or broadcast ads to customers without including the digital “next-step” components, we are missing a large opportunity — both for the advertisers and for ourselves.

Most ads need to feature URLs for specific landing pages on the web. Whatever the ad is pitching, the landing page needs to be built to deliver the next stage of the pitch.

This probably involves photos, slide shows, videos, testimonials, a look at choices and options, and so on — whatever it takes to reel in the customer.

Who’s going to build those landing pages? Shoot those photos and videos? Record those testimonials? That should be us.

That’s digital revenue, baby — and it’s what our clients needs to make their print and broadcast ads work. Those legacy ads have power, but they can only take the consumer so far.

Borrell chart - what drives new businessA 2015 Borrell Associates survey of SMBs supports this point. As the chart at right shows, SMBs said their own websites are the second most powerful source of leads, while print ads are sixth. By using print ads to drive people to their websites — especially if we make sure the landing page features custom content that builds on the ad — we can hook up these two successful tools and drive higher results for them.

While writing this post, I paged through the A and B sections of a local Sunday paper, checking to see how the print ads steered consumers toward digital deal-closers.

  • Fifteen ads contained not a single pointer toward any website or any digital asset.
  • Twenty-one ads contained the main URL of the business, usually in tiny print. I spot-checked some of these sites; a few were good, but most needed serious work before they could drive new business.
  • Just one ad contained a URL leading to a specific landing page supporting the ad’s message.

That ad was for a local hospital’s weight-loss program. The URL led to a good-looking page that led with an excellent video telling the story of a happy customer. The page also featured prominent photos of the program’s lead physicians and provided an abundance of well-written text explaining the program.


It was a textbook example of how print can be used to drive customers to digital, and from digital to the telephone. And it’s what some people call content marketing.

Virtually all of the other 36 ads in those two sections needed similar digital support. And we could be the ones to provide it.

However, when I went to the hospital’s URL on my phone, I got kicked to a very poor generic mobile landing page for the whole hospital. So even this program could be improved.

So — 37 ads equaled 37 opportunities to make those ads work better through digital assets to land the business.

Here’s my takeaway: If we are selling print or broadcast advertising and NOT selling the digital elements needed to take consumers the rest of the way, we are wasting a big share of their dollars. They need digital to make their ads work.

And the digital assets need to be very prominent in the print or broadcast creative, so we drive the maximum number of people to the specially prepared digital conversion pages.

A program like this is a far cry from throwing in some banner-ad impressions on our websites along with a print or broadcast ad. That’s doing what’s easy for us, not what’s needed by our customers.

Of course, selling good digital along with legacy media is only a small part of the opportunity for us. Selling good digital to customers who DON’T use print or broadcast is an even bigger opportunity, since there are so many non-buyers of legacy media in our markets. That’s where digital sales specialists are essential.

But legacy media advertising isn’t dead. Our legacy (or “multimedia) reps just need to realize how big their digital opportunity is — and how badly they are letting their customers down if they don’t sell them the digital tools to maximize their results.



Four keys to leadership in times of change

When your organization needs large-scale change (and what disrupted media organization doesn’t?), how do you get it done?

Leader heading the team. Lead by example concept.Terabytes have been written about the strategies and tactics that legacy media organizations need. I’ve written my share, too, here at MediaReset.com. But I’ve seen precious little written about how to lead and manage effective change to carry out these strategies.

Read the rest of this entry

Finally — Big Data targeting on our own local media sites

For several years, local media companies have been in a nasty predicament.

We’ve worked hard for years to build sizable, high-quality local audiences on our websites. And we’ve worked hard to sell banner advertising on those sites.

But we haven’t been able to sell what savvy digital advertisers now want and expect: highly targeted impressions on our sites reaching only the individuals with the highest propensity to buy their products or services. Read the rest of this entry

Big media sales opportunity: Take Big Data to Main Street

What if your local media company had a product that could make local businesses say, “Wow! Can you really do that???”

That’s the Holy Grail of media sales — a solution that meets an urgent need for customers in a way they have never before thought possible.

I saw that kind of solution a couple of weeks ago. I promise you — it will be big. Read the rest of this entry

A 20-year story of employee ownership comes to an end

Twenty years ago, my family had a problem.

We were the sole and devoted owners of a successful stand-alone daily newspaper in Monroe, MI. But our principle shareholders — my father and his brother and sister — were advancing in years and had no solution in place to transfer ownership into my generation. It seemed we had two options. Read the rest of this entry

Visualize your new local marketing agency

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 on this blog, 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. Read the rest of this entry

Direct access — a huge disruption of local media

For local news media, the most crippling disruption served up by the Internet isn’t in news — it’s in advertising.

And it’s not just other players getting the ad spending we used to get, although there’s plenty of that going on.

The more insidious advertising disruption is that local businesses need less and less advertising than they once did. Read the rest of this entry

How to make money on mobile

Sounds like a great session for a publishers’ conference, doesn’t it? It’s a big topic for local media businesses these days, as mobile web traffic surpasses desktop traffic for more and more newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations.

mobile - smallerThat’s why I spent an afternoon searching the Web recently. Read the rest of this entry

Local retailers need e-commerce, so let’s give it to ’em

The 2015 Top 500 Guide, now in its 12th edition, ranks the 500 leading web merchants in the U.S. and Canada by 2014 online sales and other key metrics. (PRNewsFoto/Internet Retailer)

A recent email from Internet Retailer grabbed my attention.

Its purpose was to plug their new annual Top 500 Guide — a huge directory packed with stats on who’s big in e-commerce, who’s growing market share and who’s not.

But what caught my eye was their take on what’s new in the data.

For years, it said, previous guides had shown big-box stores getting drubbed in e-commerce sales by web-only e-tailers.

“But,” the email said, “…that began changing in 2013, when the chains closed the gap by growing their online sales by 16.7%, taking market share away from manufacturers and catalogers…. Read the rest of this entry

The hardest part of saving news: Changing the definition

Lots of people understand that the traditional business model around news is breaking down. Far fewer realize it’s not just the business part — advertising — that’s broken. It’s also news itself.

Why is this so hard to understand?

A planet full of people is going from a daily diet of a newspaper and a couple of news broadcasts to constant access to almost everything there is to know. Inevitably, this is causing people today to want and expect different things from their time spent on content than people did 20 or 50 years ago.

But what we produce as news has hardly changed. Read the rest of this entry


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