Mid-marketers better keep it real if they want to grow.
I’ve been in the media business for 25 years and have watched all the ebbs and flows imaginable during that tenure. I love technology and marvel at its capabilities every day. Being the instigator of four tech patents myself I can’t claim to be an expert, but I sure have been exposed to both the good and ugly sides of all this technology. However, it’s not the tech side that is worrying me. It’s the personal side that has me greatly concerned.
Just a few short years ago our phones rang off the hook daily, from open to close. While we’re a busier shop now than then, our phones rarely ring as much in an entire week now as they did in a single day just a few years ago. Email took care of that.
Through those conversations we got to know our associates well. We knew more than their names. We knew something personal and professional about them and after many years they became trusted allies. There was mutual respect and partnerships were formed on both sides with the clients and the media outlets. Teams were developed, and common goals were job #1.
Then came texting, QR codes, 3G, 4G and soon 5G. Great stuff but also more ways to avoid personal interaction and conversations. At the exact same time the digital and social revolution came ushering in. This was all followed by data mining, analytics and interpretation. Incredibly useful tools but it’s created issues and proven something significant.
Marketing departments stopped speaking to the sales department, creative shops aren’t speaking to media agencies and data miners have siloed their information from nearly every other division.
While people are becoming more impersonal the data shows us the need to get more personal. Not only with our consumers but with each other. However, we’re going about it in a very sterile systematic process almost defying the facts.
Think about the most recent CBS poll of millennials. 74% of them would rather text than have a conversation with each other. Less than 30% want to speak personally and that number continues to decrease every year. However, this is the same generation who wants ever company to personally connect with them if they expect any brand loyalty and they expect it to be delivered on every device.
Regional companies are generally perceived as more local than their national competitors. They usually started from more humble and local beginnings and by working harder and smarter became large companies one brick at a time.
Moving forward they need to remember that as they merchandise themselves. They can use every device and outlet available and geo-target everywhere, but they need to keep it very personal no matter how they connect with the consumer and that includes using a dose of local media in the traditional forms.
National companies can afford all the digital and social outlets and still secure national commercial feeds, throw a massive net and end up in every living room, in every auto, along every highway. Regional and mid-market companies don’t have that luxury.
Regional and mid-market companies need to carve out a portion of their budget for digital and social warfare, but they better keep some local budget for traditional media or the national companies will find themselves all alone in those arenas and have complete domination.
They need to speak personally but just as important they need to spend locally if they want locals to continue to engage and support them. That means local media outlets, it also means local promotions, charities and programs. It means local creative, teams and attitudes. Things the national companies are not built for or can do very little with.
Regional companies need to remain personal with their efforts, their advertising teams and their messages if they want to stay the local favorite, no matter how many states they expand into, until they are national.