A Houston Chronicle salesperson cold called me yesterday to check if I wanted to place an ad in their real estate classifieds and it brought back memories of staying on hold, waiting to place my $500/week three liner with them five years ago. Suppress that chuckle. In 2004, one of those babies would make the phone ring off the hook and put deals on the pipeline. So I went back for more – just like everyone else.
Missing the revolution
Newspapers were effective because they owned the eyeballs through and through. Not just for real estate, either. It didn’t matter if you were looking for a dog, a job, a mansion or a pair of pliers, you had no other choice but to hit the classifieds. Due to this “monopoly”, newspapers had a cashcow of a business model: They made money from the readers (who bought the content) as well as marketers placing classified ads and big ticket “banner” page ads (who bought a shot at the readers). No wonder Rupert Murdoch once called classified revenues “rivers of gold”. That was until Google and Craigslist simultaneously pulled the rug from underneath and turned those rivers into the Mojave. Google took away the eyeballs and Craigslist made it silly to pay for classifieds. These days, your local newspaper’s classified section (if it still exists) looks like Mary Kate Olsen on a liquid diet.
The Internet revolution is going to be like all the other revolutions we have seen in history.
It’s going to be over before a lot of us even know it started
– Adolpho Suarez
People always gripe about missing the revolution. “If only someone had told me that people would use Google to find everything, I would have …”
Let this be that moment when someone tells you about a window we have never had before. The large-scale embrace of social media by the masses is giving marketers an unprecented, real time, honest look into people’s daily lives and all the thoughts, events and needs within them. And to think that this is just the beginning. What used to require top of mind awareness, now requires a mere Twitter or FriendFeed search. Individuals are using social media to organize revolutions, get corporations to listen, or scream for help. The window comes with a killer zoom, too. You can target your vision to see within 5 miles of a zipcode, in an entire metroplex or the whole world. Then, Engage. Help. Offer Value. And get as much business as you want.
But be careful as the window works both ways. The consumer now has a window into what you’re about as well. And if you’re about spamcasting and throwing your crap to the wall to see what sticks, you will be exposed for such and suffer the consequences.
This is not about a single company (Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook or what have you) but about a seismic change in the way our world works. This is the new West. And someone told you so.
Photo Credit: Grant MacDonald