Feb 10, 2010

Those who can, do. Those who know, sell.

This week, the publishing powers that be put their noggins together in New York to discuss strategies for tapping into the local online advertising market. I didn’t attend the conference (couldn’t afford it, even with the advertised $400 early bird discount), but information made its way out thanks to PaidContent.org and blogging participants.

One of the conference’s presenters, Jeff Jarvis, is a big proponent of entrepreneurial journalism and posted on his blog some very good points on what local advertisers want (and need) from hyperlocal news outlets. Advertisers want help with search-engine optimization and social networking. They want their ads to appear across a network of hyperlocal outlets, Jarvis wrote.

But what local advertisers need is an education in “the value of the internet itself,” Jarvis argued. Too true, Jarvis. Too true.

Sure, I’ve had local business owners ask about monthly visits and readership rates, but that’s where their comprehension of web metrics usually ends. (Who knows if they even get what that information means.) I’ve also had a few ask whether their businesses should be on Facebook, usually followed with an admission that they don’t know what Facebook is. Twitter is a foreign word.

These moms and pops are small retailers, restaurant owners, dry cleaners — they don’t have marketing staff to keep on top of trends in online advertising. But as confused as they may be about the internet, I’m equally stumped when it comes to explaining the internet. Yeah, I know what Twitter is and how best to use it, but I can’t convey why it makes a great marketing tool.

Those who can, do. But those who know how to explain things to small business owners with little comprehension of online advertising, sell.

What entrepreneurial hyperlocalists can use are elevator pitches on what these online tools do, and why a local business owner needs them. (Jarvis suggests doing that through seminars.) With that out of the way, hyperlocalists can finally get to why a local business owner should advertise with their news outlets.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jsrcyclist.

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