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Are Newspapers Dead? [Dear Ginny WTH?]

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“Dear Ginny, WTH?” which is like a “Dear Abby” column for real estate objections. If you have a tough client or a marketing problem, “Dear Ginny, WTH?” is for you. Questions can be funny, they can be serious, it doesn’t matter, just ask!

Dear Ginny WTH,

Does anyone read newspapers or magazines anymore? Should I continue to place my listings and open houses in the local newspapers or do image advertising in lifestyle magazines? I calculated my cost of advertising in two local newspapers and a lifestyle magazine which includes my listings, if I have any, open houses on my listings and those that I am hosting, and an image ad monthly in a regional lifestyle magazine. I’m spending north of $20,000 a year in print advertising. Is this the smartest thing to do in these tight economic times?

Anonymous

Dear A,

You are so right about print publications. Newspaper circulation is down by as much as 50 percent in some markets. Metropolitan areas like Seattle and Denver, which were supporting two daily newspapers, are no longer. Every day I hear about another newspaper or magazine that is considering going to an all online version, so at first blush it would appear that you are investing in a dying mass media. But let’s not be so quick to make everyone take off their shoes because of one crazy man.

A survey by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press found that 43 percent of Americans believe civic life would be hurt “a lot” if their local news organization closed down. Print publications are still an important part of community.

Your business is about community and hyperlocality. You’ve no doubt been able to blend it with the internet like with your blog, social networking and search engine tactics. Traditional media still can lend you the same ability. Plus there is a different interactivity associated with print media than there is with online media. The branding impressions change as a result. You should always seek to have branding impressions coming from a variety of communication vehicles to net the best results.

Back to practicality. For your listings and open houses, why not opt for a local or community publication? In the past it might have been more effective to go for greater coverage and more widely read but hyperlocality merges perfectly with smaller, more intimate print publications, like a weekly city paper.

Or you could print your own ‘listing sheet’ and mail it to the same households in your local area that a regional paper could cover at a lower price per impression. The impact per impression would also be greater. I still believe that direct mail is effective. Call me crazy, but a targeted audience, targeted objective direct mail pieces can still net results at a low cost per acquisition.

And I think you’re smart to have some type of branding advertising in the four color magazine. I know it’s expensive, but can also net long-term and short-term results depending on the message.

You might try a reduced number of insertions or try to get the publication to pitch in add-ons like reprints, a bundled insert (promoting a listing you have), a partnership in some event or expo the publication is holding, and other co-marketing opportunities that would give you solid brand impressions. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate for the best deal. And if they won’t budge, find another marketing vehicle that gives you the type of brand impressions and coverage that the magazine did.

With each marketing vehicle, online or offline, there is effectiveness and there is perception of effectiveness. What is the perception of your clients as to what works in the market or not? Do your clients believe that Craigs List can generate quality buyers to an open house? Or do they think the open house guide of the local newspaper is what everyone regards for weekend open houses?

In the end, showing your clients that there is more than one way to effectively advertise can create brownie points for you.

Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Jonathan Dalton

    April 1, 2009 at 10:14 am

    > In the end, showing your clients that there is more than one way to effectively advertise can create brownie points for you.

    Maybe I’m a little off, but I don’t think the clients really care how you advertise as long as the house sells. It’s only when it’s not selling where you find yourself having to point out the various expensive marketing techniques that you’re using – which, if they worked, would have caused the house to sell.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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