The Emperor is wearing clothes…but it looks like a leisure suit.

Many of us may be familiar with the children’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” For those that are not, our good friend Wikipedia describes the fable thusly…

“…a literary folktale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about a vain emperor who gets exposed before his subjects.”

The Emperor is made to believe he is wearing new clothes, when in fact he is wearing nothing…zippo. (Doesn’t sound like a children’s tale, but go with it anyway.) That also describes how I have been feeling for a while in the digital “space” of a local legacy-media company…virtually naked. 

For so long, being the digital “expert” at your favorite local media company meant you were considered somewhat of an expert on new ways to market things. But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century. Being “digital” for local and regional business is no longer (never really was) about advertising or marketing for that matter. We can talk about sophisticated targeting, social media habits, and my favorite, Google Advertising certification. But as I used to say when I lived in the San Francisco bay area, “all that and $5 won’t get you across the Golden Gate Bridge.” 

It’s not that they aren’t buying what we are selling…it’s more like we aren’t selling what they are buying. 

There is no doubt that so many digital leaders and/or digital experts at legacy local media companies are well trained and educated. However in today’s business environment that expertise is out of alignment with local and regional business needs. It’s not that they aren’t buying what we are selling…it’s more like we aren’t selling what they are buying. 

Consumers today are already in a digital world when it comes to their purchasing habits…consumer and B2B.  Nobody should have to be convinced of this. Add the impact that the pandemic has had on how we conduct our lives, the concept of “being digital” for small and medium sized businesses extends well beyond the subject of advertising. The digital focus in “non-advertising” concerns far outweighs those that are limited to paid advertising. Consider the following:

  • According to the Wall Street Journal, e-commerce, as a share of global retail sales, is up by 50% in the 2nd quarter of 2020 compared to the prior year.
  • Macy’s  now reports that e-commerce makes up 40% of their total sales. 
  • In a recent global survey, more than 50% of businesses are planning to add more online experiences like digital events.
  • In the same survey 40% of businesses plan to introduce additional contactless payment methods and additional online services like “virtual try-on’s.”
  • According to Borrell Research, 57% of SMB’s  expect content marketing will be a higher priority in 2021. And while content marketing is paid advertising, someone has to develop the content.

The bottom line is that being “digital” is not an advertising thing. It hasn’t been for a long time. And to be perfectly honest, it’s really not a “thing” at all any more. It’s a ubiquitous part of our world today.  The Digital Expert at a local media company today, could be viewed as yesterday’s Vice Presidents of Electricity, a real job from the early 1900’s. ( 10/14/15.)

So being digital in 2021 is going to be less of a real specialty from which everyone will need to source. Everyone should already be digital and that extends well beyond advertising.  Things like inventory management, payment systems, content development, optimization, etc. are all going to be on the agenda, or should be for local SMB’s. And these are areas that, in many cases, do not fall within the sweet spot of current “digital specialists” at media concerns. This will change (and already is changing) in the most progressive and aware media companies among us. But my recommendation for all individuals within this space is to not wait for the company to make that adjustment. Every one of us can expand our perspective more holistically for our customers and clients. What SMB’s will need going forward is knowledge about how to run their business more effectively and that will require a smarter and a heavier reliance on digital functionalities.

If the success of local businesses in our communities is important to us, we should be in a position to offer relevant and useful input that does not always include a Facebook post or a text ad appearing on Google. And in the rare occasion when we run into a real tough challenge that is seemingly outside our purview, we can always ask the Vice President of Electricity to weigh in on the solution. 

What’s Up Doc…and what’s not.

Digital is up, traditional media is down. Not a “man bites dog” scenario you’re saying, right? 

A very recent IAB survey of ad buyers verifies the same old story…digital media spend stands a good chance at growing while traditional media spending is being cut, precipitously in some cases. And this is information fully aware of what is currently ongoing in the marketing world impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

But that story is not the real story. While it’s almost remarkable that any level of spending might be increasing given the shut downs in many communities, it is more important to know and understand those channels that can be seeing growth, (i.e. the most beneficial for local businesses.) These are channels that are either expanding as a result of their successful goal achievement for marketers, or are seeing dollars coming to them from the cutbacks in traditional media. Let’s see now…if I am a marketer cutting back 33% on my previously planned print schedule, do you think I could repurpose some of that in a more effective, and measurable media like cost-per-click or social? 

Again, that is not the story here. The IAB survey summary by itself doesn’t tell us what is driving the changes. You have to dig down to see that. And that detail is the real issue. Intimately speaking from the perspective of a traditional media world adopting more and more digital and emerging platform marketing services for local business, knowing what is working is the only way I am going to be of service to customers. And by knowing, I really mean KNOWING! 

The digital channels that are driving the growth of that broad category include…

      • Cost per Click
      • Social Media
      • Connected TV
      • Digital Video
      • Digital display

If you are a purveyor of traditional media solutions as well as digital, how well do you know the intricacies of paid search? Are you Google Ad certified? What do you really know about Social? Are you familiar with all ongoing changes impacting Facebook and Instagram? What do you know about Snapchat and LinkedIn ad opportunities? And then there is video…both digital video and that distributed through CCT. The prevalence of video in 2020 and 2021 will start to dwarf other forms of media and distribution very quickly. Are you aware of all best practices when it comes to creating and distributing video today? 

Digital up, traditional down. Nothing new here. And knowing this is not going to help any local business succeed, let alone survive, as we start coming out of pandemic impacted business results. There are reasons why specific channels in the digital space are going to lead the way. It’s time that all marketing service providers, especially those from within traditional marketing and media environments, become expert at how these channels work and how they will benefit local businesses.  

Coming Out Of The Shutdown, It’s Going To Be About You…Not About The Product


Why Your USP Matters More Now.

As SMB’s move to their next steps in a “hoped for” emergence from coronavirus-caused busness shut downs, are local marketing service providers ready? Do we know what our role is? Are we prepared to provide what local businesses really need at this critical juncture?

If we are focusing on product packaging, discounted bundles of media goodies and bumper sticker agendas to motivate local businesses, we might be missing a larger issue. Don’t get me wrong, providing greater value and optimistic encouragement to customers is a good thing…worthy and needed. But longer term, as those local SMB’s that have the ability to do so, regain their footing what’s our relationship going to look lke as a local marketing service provider? Several clues emerging before and during the COVID-19 world may give us direction on how we can position ourselves for success in the future.

Remember the discussions of months (years really) ago comparing DIY (Do It Yourself) and DIFM (Do It For Me) marketing? On the one hand, DIY marketing meant that local businesses were not reliant on local marketing “expertise”. Instead they were free to manage their own Google CPC campaigns, run their own targeted digital display, update their own Facebook page, and update their own online directory listings. To most SMB’s this means “free” marketing service. Wow…such a deal! The counter to this was, and still can be, that local business owners don’t have the training, the digital savvy, the tools, or the time to do this right. You can argue that point, but trends were suggesting that argument was not winning as often as we’d like.

  • All the way back in 2018, Brandmuscles’s 2018 State of Local Marketing Report surveying over local businesses “dealers, agents, franchisees and distributors of national and global brands,” 64% said that the actual SMB owner executes all marketing efforts. Another 26% said marketing is a team effort but not anyone’s full-time job and 7% have a dedicated marketing professional on staff. Only 3% said they outsource marketing to an agency or vendor.
  • Digiday’s recent quarterly benchmarking survey found that about 83% of marketers are managing their marketing either mostly in-house or completely in-house. That’s up from the 55% of marketers six months ago who said the same.
  • And very recently, SearchEngineLand had this to say about Google My Business, the ulitmate DIY marketing tool…“Google, and the pandemic, have made GMB into the most important local marketing tool for SMBs and multi-location brands.”

What’s behnd all this DIY momentum? If local marketing service providers are so “special” why would local businesses be adopting DIY so aggresively? I recently attended a local business seminar for SMB’s which shed some light on part of the answer.

The seminar was sponsored by the local community college Small Business Center. During one of the sessions, many of the attendees talked about the fact that doing their own marketing meant FREE advertising. Not one business owner countered that thought with the idea that the time they spend focusing on their own marketing meant time not accomplishing something else for which they were better equipped. That is too bad because it basically says that the time they normally spend on their “real” job is worth nothing, i.e. no loss of revenue when they are not doing their job. And it also meant that the local business owner did not think that the expertise that a local marketing services provider was worth the difference in price between DIY and DIFM. Both of these issues are on us as local experts in marketing and business consultants. And that is where this is headed.

As we (yes, we are in this together) begin to emerge from business shut-downs and slow-downs resulting from coronavirus impacts, we need to be focusing on the real value we are brigning to our communities and local busineses. Pricing and product do matter, of course. But we have to understand that too often local businesses are not placing the same value on our products as our price suggests. Our strongest value, or most powerful argument should be focusing on our expertise, our marketing knowledge, our training, and our ability to make a difference in the local business owner’s life. This means communicating differently. The words we use, our position in the market, how we view our contirution to the managemnt of a local marketing campaign need to go well beyone product and pricing.

Working at the local newspaper, radio or TV station, ad agency…all just mean that we have jobs at the local newspaper, radio or TV station, or ad agency. They don’t equate to real knowledge and expertise in local marketing. Local business owners don’t buy that argument any longer. Our Unique Sales Proposition should be about our abilities, our capabilies, our expertise. It should not be focused on our products. If we are selling anything, we need to be selling expertise and excellence in execution first instead of a bigger bundle, a lower price, or a catchy phrase.


Quote Of The Week

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.”

— Winston Churchill

Mom’s Library

(what’s your mom been reading lately?)

  • Google My Business will be more important than ever for small business in a Post-Pandemic world. More and more it is becoming the “go-to” and “came from” for information. Check out why, on SearchEngineLand.
  • Yes, flush toilets once were high tech! And it took a while for them to catch on. Want to see how long it took many modern marvels of their time to be adopted by the public, in an interesting interactive way, check out
  • We need fewer clients…said nobody ever? Not so fast, that is almost what many publishers are driving at in 2020. The catch is that the fewer also need to be better, and bigger. Publishers are searching for higher value customers with more robust opportunities and solutions. But that also will require publishrs to change themselves. Check it out on

Your MOM Knows Best

  • BTB (Before The Blog) editions of the MOM online newsletter are now available on the About page, available from the menu in the upper right hand corner.
  • Check the menu navigation up top, it’s an easy access for reports and contacts that you will need to keep handy. These will be updated as we go. MOM knows all!
  • Want to follow MOM to be the first to hear about weekly updates Just follow MOM and you’ll receive an email notification every time a new update of MOM is published.
  • Your MOM is everywhere…available on ALL devices…desktop, mobile (Android & iOS), and tablet.



So it’s 2019 already. You’ve seen and heard all the predictions about digital media taking over the world, and the utter and final death of legacy media. Fake news, right?

Well, let’s just say it’s “embellished news.” But for those coming out of a house built from legacy media, the we need to take stock of the situation. No, newspapers are not gone from the earth. And there are ways to market wisely outside of digital, (there’s always outdoor billboards.) But what can’t be denied is that 2019 is going to be the year that we all become digital marketers first. Multimedia? It’s not digital, it’s just another word describing a jack-of-all-trades, and remember, Jacks don’t beat Kings and Queens.

Oh yeah, about those predictions…they are not really predictions as much as they are measured forecasts based on real-world documented trends. And according to Pubmatic and StreetFightMag, here’s a high level of what 2019 will reveal for local marketing.

  • Digital media will drive advertising growth in 2019, jumping 11.3%. The only other growing media channel is OOH, with a modest 2.5% bump.
  • Print will continue its decline of recent years, sinking 17.8%, while local TV also sees a loss at 14.7%.
  • Digital ad spend in the U.S., now at about half the advertising market, is projected to hit two-thirds of that market by 2022.
  • Programmatic will account for over two-thirds of digital display ads transacted in 2019.
  • Mobile will continue to eat up a larger share of digital ad spend, hitting a whopping 71% of digital spend in 2019.
  • In-app time spent is crushing mobile web, taking 3 hours and 8 minutes of consumer attention per day to mobile web’s 33 minutes.
  • Video will constitute nearly two-thirds of non-social display ad spend. Video’s share of digital display has been rising for the past few years and is expected to continue its ascent through 2020. The big change is a substantial shift from desktop to mobile.

What’s different about these predictions from those that we’ve seen previously? Not much from the overall direction. But it’s safe to say that today we are well passed the tipping point of our business. Newspapers should not operate as if they are a “news” or “paper”, TV stations cannot assume anyone actually will sit thru entire programs attentively viewing commercials, and radio…well it’s radio you know.

It’s 2019, we are all digital marketers, expected to lead with digital. With more than 50% of all ad dollars going to digital, SMB’s are going there. Local businesses that are accustomed to our weekly banter about special sections and canned defense of static circulation numbers will continue to position us as a newspaper. That’s the real fake news. Selling-in-the-real-world is all about helping local businesses do more of what they want to do, with the best tools and solution possible, not about selling newspaper advertising.

Quote Of The Week

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

-John Wooden


Not a whole lot more to say about this.!

MOM’s Library

(what’s your mom been reading lately?)

  • What makes people click on paid search ads? Yeah, you never look at the paid ads on SERP’s, you’re an organic type of person. But paid search still works…and works well. Why? What makes people still click on them. Check out the story here on  SearchEngineLand.
  • Mobile matters. If you want any more proof, Google recently reported that more than half of its search results are powered by mobile-first indexing. Local business need to know how this affects their overal visibility. And we need to increase focus on SMB mobile performance. looking at the desktop when we are reviewing capabilites for our customers.  Good insights from SearchEngineLand.
  • Retails need…want data. But in spite of that, many still don’t act on it.  Companies that make data-driven decisions have the best chance for longevity. Yet across industries, they found that only 5% of retail and CPG enterprises qualify as data-driven. Maybe someone should help them. More on this at eMarketerRetail.

Your MOM Knows Best

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This is your MOM, at least at work that is.



2019 local media spending forecasts are in, and it’s a pretty simple picture. Just about every media should experience “lower” spending in 2019. The only exceptions are…drum roll please…DIGITAL & OUTDOOR ADVERTISING.

Outdoor advertising you say? Yes…billboards, (the non-expandable kind.) You can see the forecast chart in this week’s CHART OF THE WEEK later in this post.

  • Digital: +9.2%
  • Outdoor +3.6%
  • Direct Mail +0.2%
  • Cinema -0.5%
  • Radio -2.8%
  • Directories -5.9%
  • Other Print -7.4%
  • TV -13.5%
  • Newspaper -15.8%
  • Cable TV -16.2%

So what does this mean to me?

Well, it doesn’t mean to go out and start pitching billboards. This forecast makes ThriveHive and our news sites, all the more important in our 2019 focus. Expect to hear a steady drum beat of digital news as we move into the New Year.

Quote of the week

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”

— Jeff Bezos, CEO at


Not a whole lot more to say about this.!

MOM’s Library

(Impress your friends, your clients, and your MOM…you may not know it all but you are trying.)

  • The business shopping days of the holidays are still to come! 2018 holiday shopping is not finished. 5 of the 10 busiest shopping days of the year are still yet to come. This is something to keep in mind this week as we close out all our ongoing promotions, and stop by local businesses for last-minute idea. More on this at ShopperTrak.
  • Reputation Monitoring a must have for restaurants. Reviews are key for restaurants. Getting good reviews is not always easy. What to do with them is also just as important. And for restaurants it is a key driver for business. This makes reputation management a great tool for eateries in our markets. Want to see more, check out StreetFightMag.
  • 74% of local businesses have at least 1 review…but it’s not enough. In fact the average local business has 39 reviews. How do our customers stand up next to that? Do reviews matter in search rankings? Check out the story on SearchEngineLand.

Your MOM Knows Best

  • Want to follow MOM to be the first to hear about weekly updates Just follow MOM and you’ll receive an email notification every time a new update of MOM is published.
  • Give MOM some feedback, rate any post, or leave a comment.
  • And your MOM is everywhere, available on ALL devices…desktop, mobile (Android & iOS), and tablet.
This is your MOM, at least at work that is.


How “targeted”are your Targeted Display recommendations? Are you utilizing all the targeting capabilities available to you and the client? Are you utilizing search keywords to target the audience? Are demographics, psychographics, and behaviors considered when reaching the right audience? Have you included geo-fencing and a geo-conversion zone? Are you including our newspaper site audience in the solution? That’s alot to consider, isn’t it. You don’t really need to make all of these decisions. You have a team behind you, as does the client, to help define the right targeting solutions. It’s time to get re-acquainted with the Custom Audience Request.

The Custom Audience Request is, well…just that. It’s your way to request the right combination of targeting capabilities that will result in the client’s message reaching the audience that the client has defined. No, this is not new, per say…this is just our chance to revisit how we can put his tool to use, and to make delivering a great solution a little easier. If you have been using this form, great. But my hunch is that we are not taking advantage of this level of support often enough. And we now have this form available for ALL of our sales teams across all CNC properties. So here’s a refresher, to help all of us define and deliver a better solution to our customers while taking some of the work off of our plates.

Before the sale

  • The Custom Audience Request is a “before” the sale tool. Targeted display is a great component for many multimedia solutions. But knowing exactly how it should be used and applied can be complex. That is why GateHouse has its own team supporting all audience request recommendations. Once you have defined the goals of the prospective client, by simply including them on the request form, GH will be able to send back a well-defined audience targeting recommendation. The recommendation takes into account all the goals that the client has defined but also uses sophisticated knowledge about how we can target to provide a well-crafted solution. This is something that you can share with the client in your final proposal, an impressive showing of expertise that will lend great credibility to your overall campaign recommendation.

O&O Audience

  • Custom Audience Requests allow the inclusion of newspaper website audiences in the overall recommendation. This now includes StarNewsOnline, previously not available on the Custom Audience Request. There is no reason why our local customers should have to choose whether to use nationally branded websites or our own loyal website audiences in crafting a great display solution. After all, we are targeting an audience, not a website. In addition, but utilizing the Custom Audience Request form the recommendations will also provide targeting options on sites. Remember, ROS campaigns are considered to be far less effective than targeted campaigns, we should be targeting on our own websites using the pre-defined audience segments as well.

Easy Scheduling

  • The resulting recommendations coming from the GateHouse team are also included when submitting the final ordering instructions. This means that you don’t have to determine the targeting tactics yourself when you are submitting the order, they are already included in the recommendation. This is one of the neatest benefits from utilizing this form. It makes submitting the campaign very easy for us locally, and for the GateHouse AdOps team. It also eliminates any confusion about tactics, and insures that you and the client are making the best use of all tactics that can benefit the campaign. This is time-saving for all of us.

I knew all this already. Is something changing?

The whole concept of requesting a defined targeting solution, and including in a proposal is not a new one. But we may not be taking advantage of it. Too many targeted display campaigns are submitted AFTER the fact with only sales representative input to define the tactics. That’s something that is changing now. We will now be expecting that the expertise from the GateHouse team will be included in defining the overall targeted display solution. That’s a win for the customer, and the time-saving benefit to the sales team is a win for us. So it’s a plus all the way around.

The larger story here is that all of the prospects and customers we touch are supported by multiple layers. That is to be expected when utilizing sophisticated tools. Local customers now have a team behind the solutions and services we provide. We are members of that team. The levels of expertise that we can provide to local businesses are part of our overall USP, and give us a unique advantage in our markets. It’s time we make all local businesses we touch know of this great advantage.


Quote of the week

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work”

— Peter Drucker

MOM’s Library

what’s your mom been reading lately?

  • Spending on Mobile will surpass combined in ad spending in all other vehicles by 2020. You knew this was coming. Best to make sure that all local businesses are basing their digital footprints on their mobile presence first and foremost…pass it on to all SMB’s. You will be doing them a favor. More on this at eMarketer.
  • If you want to target a local audience, make sure you include “local” in the targeting. Something that local businesses may not think of (and we should) is that searching for the same thing in different parts of the country may require different search parameters. Local terms for foods, events, places, may not be the same everywhere. This is caused some problems for larger businesses when they are creating simple campaigns. And if it causes complications for larger businesses, it will also impact local ones as well. Read the full scoop on this at StreetFightMag.
  • Google adds even more descriptions for local businesses…pass along to local customers, please. Some shoppers would like to do business with a family run store. Same could be true for veteran, or female run business. These are attributes that local businesses can be proud of. And Google is now allowing local businesses to add these descriptors to their Google My Business profile. It’s free for any business to do this. And as Google Certified sellers we should be aware of this feature that local SMB’s will want to take advantage of. You can learn more about this at SearchEngineLand. Pass it on.

Your MOM Knows Best

  • Want to follow MOM to be the first to hear about weekly updates Just follow MOM and you’ll receive an email notification every time a new update of MOM is published.
  • Give MOM some feedback, rate any post, or leave a comment.
  • And your MOM is everywhere, available on ALL devices…desktop, mobile (Android & iOS), and tablet.
This is your MOM, at least at work that is.


Time again for Dave’s Top 10! This time it’s the top 10 take-away’s from the new 2018 SMB Survey from Borrell Associates.

  1. Avg. SMB employs 7.7 types of marketing; half digital, half traditional
  2. Traditional media users: 22% plan to increase spending, 24% plan to cut
  3. Digital media users: 47% plan to increase spending, 10% plan to cut
  4. Top reason for cutting a particular type of media: too expensive
  5. Instagram now #2 social platform w/ 50% using it; 23% rate it very high
  6. 69% of digital ad-buyers use targeting; geotargeting is most prevalent
  7. 46% of SMBs are trying something new; video is leading choice
  8. Social media is No. 1 choice for video distribution
  9. 51% who use video marketing see it as highly effective
  10. Spending on traditional types of media averages 2.7x that of digital

What does this mean to me?

Overall, the tone of this year’s survey is similar to last year’s. But digging down deeper, there are some specifics that should define our focus, now and going forward.

  • We are not alone-many SMB’s are dealing with more than 7 other providers than me. How do I stand out? What’s my USP?
  • More businesses plan to cut traditional ad spending than increase it…deal with it!
  • Anyone reducing their digital spending with me, is spending it somewhere else. How can we become indispensable?
  • Instagram is popular, and it works. Do we recommend it to local businesses?
  • We need to recommend targeting to local businesses…and we should be geo-targeting campaigns.
  • Video works. Are we prepared to discuss this with local customers?

While we don’t have the detail for the entire survey in our hands, these take-aways clearly are telling us that local businesses are willing to change and are looking for new solutions. It’s time for a change.

(Note: the above 10 take-away’s are courtesy of Peter Krasilovsky, Check it out!)

Quote of the week

“The only place where success comes before work is the dictionary. “

— Vince Lombardi

Mom’s Library

What’s your mom been reading lately?

  • Yet another Google algorithm change…how did it affect local SMB websites? Frankly we don’t know, unless local businesses know. Google changes are frequent, there’s nothing to do to prepare other than have a great local site. In fact, that is Google’s advice. Read more about this latest change from SearchEngineLand.
  • Amazon and SMB’s, it’s looking like a match. You may be surprised to hear that Amazon is making inroads as a marketing services provider for SMB’s. Don’t be, their new Storefronts, offer plain ole’ local businesses, like the ones we want to work with daily, an opportunity to offer their products on the shopping giant’s website. Some of our own local customers may be working with Amazon Storefronts today. So why not catch up on what Amazon is up to on StreetFightMag.
  • Online mattress sales…a lesson about ecommerce to sleep on. You may have heard that Mattress Firm, one of the largest brick and mortar mattress retailers in the US, is filing bankruptcy. What caused this? A combination of growing number of online competitors, and a consumer market that was served better by these online websites. This is not the tale of every retail business, it’s more a lesson in listening to your customers than it is online vs brck-and-morter…still an interesting story. Check it out at CNN Business.
  • GateHouse Media continues to grow, purchasing the Oklahoman Media Company. The Daily Oklahoman, a 100,000+ circulation daily in Tulsa, Oklahoma has a long history of excellent service and sales. This is important news even for local NC customers, because our ability to grow provides stability and strength for the long-term in all GH markets. Spread the word! More here on

Your MOM Knows Best

    • Want to follow MOM to be the first to hear about weekly updates Just follow MOM and you’ll receive an email notification every time a new update of MOM is published. 
    • Give MOM some feedback, rate any post, or leave a comment.
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This is your MOM, at least at work that is.

Your MOM Knows Best

    • Want to follow MOM to be the first to hear about weekly updates Just follow MOM and you’ll receive an email notification every time a new update of MOM is published. 
    • Give MOM some feedback, rate any post, or leave a comment.
    • And your MOM is everywhere, available on ALL devices…desktop, mobile (Android & iOS), and tablet.
This is your MOM, at least at work that is.


Everybody tells us we should be listening to our customers. It is very hard not to make a case that listening to them for their needs, concerns, and goals is very important. But  what if we could listen to local businesses telling us where they were planning to spend their marketing dollars? Wouldn’t that tell us something about how we are going to market?

Below are 6 charts showing SMB sentiment and plans from Borrell Assoc.’s 2018 SMB survey. These 6 charts tell us everything we need to know about the marketing intentions of small businesses going forward. Each chart, takes us further down the road of a significant shift in how we should perceive our own competencies, and how we need to represent them in the marketplace and with local customers.

1) What most SMB’s are NOT buying in 2018?

  • While is should be no surprise that QR codes and Cinema Advertising are not at the top of the wish list this year, ROS (un-targeted) ad banners is also included here. This begs the question, in 2018, why would anyone NOT target their ad message?

2) What SMB’s are cancelling from their schedules, and why?

  • It looks like almost everyone shows up on this list, but the real story is the degree to which SMB’s agree on their plans to cancel and the reasons. For the most part digital channels  score much better than other media in justifying their existence in local budgets. They are not too expensive, and the targeting and tracking capabilities make digital media sustainable in most ad budgets.

3) What media channels are most popular, (or included more often) in SMB spending budgets?

  • Social media advertising is the most popular advertising channel among SMB’s. Newspapers are #2. (Note, this does not measure the $ devoted to media, just the # of times it shows up in budgets in this survey.) Also notice Email is showing up in more than 50% of the budgets, SEM in nearly 50% of the budgets, and banners in more than 1/3rd.

4) What are local ad agencies recommending more of?

  • The top 3 channels that will receive stronger recommendations from agencies in 2018 and beyond are social advertising, streaming video and SEM. Enough said…

5) What marketing channels are receiving the greatest budgets in 2018?

  • While TV (broadcast and cable) may be obvious leaders here, the #3 ranked channel here is SEM. And a little further down the list shows that display banner ads is just about even with newspapers. Does that match our own local market recommendations?

6) Is Facebook’s effectiveness changing?

  • The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming…so what! In spite of all the “noise” about what FB does or doesn’t do, local businesses feel Facebook is just as, if not more effective than ever before. Thus, their expressed desire to increase use of social media advertising.

What does this mean to me?

  • Local businesses are turning to targeted and trackable media, and are beginning to exclude media that doesn’t provide the same.
  • Social media advertising is used by a vast majority of local businesses, and continues to grow.
  • SEM remains a staple for many local businesses.
  • Video…know what is available and what works because local businesses will want to know.
  • Print remains in many budgets, but it simply plays a smaller role for SMB’s locally and across the country.

As a provider of local media services, a reliance on “print-first” is not where local businesses are living these days. It’s not in alignment with the way our customers are thinking today, and are headed tomorrow. As we move into our Q4 focus, 2018 Holiday schedules, and 2019 forecasts, digital channels (social, SEM, video, and targeted display especially) are the new leads in how we define our services. As a local representative, “digital-first” is not just a tag line. It’s a description of how our own customers are thinking today.

Quote of the week

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

— Clayton M. Christensen

Mom’s Library

(What’s your mom been reading about lately?)

  • GateHouse Media continues to grow, purchasing the Oklahoman Media Company. The Daily Oklahoman, a 100,000+ circulation daily in Tulsa, Oklahoma has a long history of excellent service and sales. This is important news even for local NC customers, because our ability to grow provides stability and strength for the long-term in all GH markets. Spread the word! More here on
  • Outdoor Advertising (Billboards) are showing some life. Adding targeting and programmatic technology to billboards is injecting some new potential into the billboard media industry. This is an interesting take on a legacy media, not unlike everything you see and here within the newspaper industry. Interesting reading here on
  • Want to help local businesses with tips to get ready for the holidays? Here’s some good ideas, even if they do come from a competitor. These are good suggestions, all local businesses can benefit from preparation now for the holidays to come. Check it out on

Your MOM Knows Best

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This is your MOM, at least at work that is.


OK, so things are tough for many of our communities right now coming out of Hurricane Florence. And that can also be said for many of us as well. Taking care of family and home make up priority #1 for all of us. And then there’s “Back to business,” right? Except for now, it’s not back to business, as usual. There is going to be little “business as usual” for many of our local customers. So when we can turn our attention back to the business sides of our lives, we may want to look at how we can do the most good, and how our customers can be effective as well as beneficial to the community.

I’m no expert here, which is why this week’s “post-hurricane” edition of MOM turns to a more published source on the subject of how to market during and after a natural disaster. You can check out the entire piece at Hunt Interaction.

First of all, local businesses still have business to run, customers to contact, and a future to look to. We do as well. While it’s not business as usual, it is business. You should check out the entire posting noted above for a more authoritarian perspective. But here are some quick tips on how we need to get back to our business.

  • Empathy and humanity are watchwords for how we conduct our business.
  • Some of our customers may have some emotions tied to the recent weather related events and how it impacts their business. We need to expect that.
  • We may see some changes in how our customers purchase and/or plan their marketing.
  • Be aware of our own customer’s situation and resources available to them at this time. Are they able to access their data, is their store open and accessible, do they have access to their current customers, etc. 
  • Most importantly, listen to what is going on in our communities. Help our customers understand those issues.
  • Go out of your way to help alleviate concerns of our customers.

We have jobs to do, our company is still a leader in digital marketing services for local business. So we will be expected to do our jobs, and letting local businesses know the best way they can stay in business, the best way they can grow their business and the most effective marketing tools to use. Frankly, our customers will expect that of us. Doing it with empathy and humanity is our focus in the short-term. The success of local businesses in our markets is, and always will be, our focus long-term.

Quote of the week

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

— Mike Tyson

Mom’s Library

(what’s your mom been reading lately?)

  • Amazon is now in the advertising sales business…big time! And you thought you only had to worry about Google and Facebook? It looks like Amazon is becoming a power-player in ad selling. While their share of the U.S. digital advertising pie is only around 4%, that still places them #3 behind the duopoly. And this is only going to be getting stronger with forecasts placing Amazon Advertising Services ahead of their Web Services for revenue in 2021. The competitive stakes are rising, and our digital acumen in the field with local businesses needs to do the same. Check out the story here on SearchEngineLand.
  • Not every digital tactic works for every client. And that is exactly what we have said several times before. Take for example, geo-fencing. Who wouldn’t want to target their customer’s location to steal away customers? Wanting that to happen, and making it happen are two different things. And who better to hear this from, than a competitor? In this blog posting from True Measure, a digital services company  partly owned by the McClatchy Co., when to use, and when NOT to use geo-fencing is discussed. There’s wisdom in this lesson from a worthy competitor. See more on this at
  • CTR and conversions don’t matter.  Huh? But we thought those were the only things that mattered? Not according to Google. And while this really speaks specifically to Search, it’s good to take some of this advice from Google. In the end, the customer’s sales are the most important goal, and bearing for a successful campaign. Using ad campaign metrics to describe success to a client looking to see more $$ just doesn’t ring true. Use your judgement here, but also take to heart this advice from Google. Read more about this at SearchEngineLand.

Your MOM Knows Best

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This is your MOM, at least at work that is.


You might think it odd to reference Hockey just when the NFL season is now underway. (Hey, the NHL season has started already, the official season begins in less than a month, and the Chicago Blackhawks are going to be more interesting than the Bears.) But there’s another reason for using a hockey reference, and it comes from one of the greatest of all time, Wayne Gretzky.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be…”


Bear with me on this, it pertains very specifically to the intentions of small businesses across the country for the rest of 2018 and 2019.

The most recent SMB surveys from Borrell Assoc. are completed, and the results again show a clear direction for local small business marketing intentions. The complete data is available in this week’s Chart of the Week later in this blog. But the bottom line is that SMB’s across the country are stating loud and clear where their marketing dollars are going to be placed. Ant it speaks loudly to where we should be…or rather ARE…placing our emphasis.

Small businesses have resoundingly said they are going to be adding marketing dollars to things like Email, SEM, Social, and Video, to name a few. And they have just as resoundingly, said they are going to be spending less on things like Yellow Pages, Newspaper, Magazines and  Cable. This should not be a surprise to anyone seeing MOM on a frequent basis. Heck, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, not even Wayne Gretzky. But knowing it, and doing something about it are two different things. Enter, Mr. Gretzky.

Wayne Gretzky was once asked his thoughts about hockey and why he was so great. I am sure there are many versions of his responses, but the most direct quote we know of goes like this…”I skate to where the puck is going to be…” That quote has been used many times, even Apple has used it in its marketing campaigns. But it’s not the full quote. And when you look at the complete context of what Mr. Gretzky says, it becomes startlingly prescient for our own business. Here’s the quote in its entirety…

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Ok, so I emphasized the last part of that. But it says just about everything about where we are, where we should be. If we’ve been good at our jobs, we’ve been paying attention to the present. We have been where the puck is. But our customers are telling us loudly that they are racing towards a different location…where the puck is going to be. And certainly not where it has been. The analogy is startling, and should remind us of our direction. Small and local businesses have already pointed out that very direction, we already know where the puck is going to be.

There is very little similarity between hockey and local marketing. Hockey players, for the most part have fewer teeth than marketing professionals, and they tend to have better hair than most of the guys in marketing that I know. But I do think we can take something from Wayne Gretzky’s thoughts. We know where we need to be. We need to be skating as fast as we can to get there.


Quote of the week

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”

— Bill Clinton

Your MOM Knows Best

  • BTB (Before The Blog) editions of the MOM online newsletter are now available on the About page, available from the menu in the upper right hand corner.
  • Check the menu navigation up top, it’s an easy access for reports and contacts that you will need to keep handy. These will be updated as we go. MOM knows all!
  • Want to follow MOM to be the first to hear about weekly updates Just follow MOM and you’ll receive an email notification every time a new update of MOM is published. If you are a WordPress user and are logged in, just click the Follow button in the admin bar. If you are not a WordPress user, or are logged out, just click the Follow button in the lower right-hand corner of your blog’s home page.
  • Give MOM some feedback, rate any post, or leave a comment.
  • And your MOM is everywhere, available on ALL devices…desktop, mobile (Android & iOS), and tablet.
This is your MOM, at least at work that is.


UPDATE-ThriveHive Deploys Strategic Accounts Team Regionally, Added Support for Verticals

GateHouse and ThriveHive are reinforcing their support for specific business verticals with the announcement of the Strategic Accounts Team. This team brings added knowledge and expertise to our sales focus. Their mission is to grow our digital revenue and grow your active account bases. Jackie Olson from ThriveHive will be the Strategic Account representative for our region. This team will be a point of contact for opportunities that lie within high impact business segments. These are clients with the potential of spending $3,000+ month or more in digital solutions. Categories of special focus will be:

  • Higher Education
  • Healthcare
  • Real Estate Firms (not independent agents)
  • Lawyers
  • Home Services (with a fleet of 8+ vehicles): HVAC, Plumbers, Pest Control,
  • Landscaping
  • Financial Institutions (i.e. Banks, Credit Unions, Loans)

We will immediately be reviewing top 25 accounts in all markets to determine strategies to improve digital performance…for customers and for you.  Word coming soon. 

The process for engaging Jackie and this team will be simple and is outlined here, just for guidance.

IMPORTANT-Digital Rate Card changes for Wilmington and ENC effective 9/3/18.

New digital rate cards are available now. Please access the new rate cards and keep them close for access. New cpm’s and base campaign minimum’s are in effect immediately. The new rate cards are available here.

IMPORTANT UPDATE-Coastal NC Promotion Intake and Set Up Forms (Wilmington & ENC)

Please pay close attention…use these forms at will, depending upon the sales stage you are at currently.

  1. PROMOTIONS INTAKE FORMthis is a form you will want to reference BEFORE you have made a sale, (if you want help putting together a promotion, pricing, etc.) Just fill this out with a little customer info and we will do some of the leg work for you.
  2. PROMOTIONS SET UP FORMthis form should be completed AFTER the sale. When you complete this form, we should have all the information available to start setting up the promotion.

And remember, almost all of our promotions are very focused on digital solutions!

Both of these forms are easy to find, please bookmark them in your version of My Drive. We will also make sure they are linked to MOM on a regular basis.

UPDATEGH Presentation Template

All presentations to follow the GH template, immediately please.

  • REAL presentation is available here to view how this template, and ready-to-use ThriveHive slides can be used.
  • Please note that these have been introduced and are available on the GateHouse Media Portal. Effective immediately, all ENC and SNM presentations should follow the GH template, both design and content flow. These are designed to follow the Sales Transformation steps and touch points, following the format will help guide us along the way. Please access these templates regularly. (Caution-if you download to your hard drive, be prepared to access again for any changes and/or updates that may occur from GH.)

UPDATE-ENC and StarNewsMedia reports are on MOM (Including Campaign Reports)

See the Reports page, from upper right menu of MOM!

  • ENC and SNM Campaign reports
  • ENC and SNM Monthly O&O Audience reports
  • GateHouse inventory availability (all sites)
  • ENCO&O Rich Media Calendars
  • ENC Front page sticky note calendars


NEW-Monthly Digital Dives…”Java with Jen!”

Effective with this week, Wednesday 9/12, we will be holding an extended Wednesday sales webinar, 9 to 10 focusing on specific areas of digital products and how best to apply with local businesses. You have all received NEW log in instructions for this Wednesday’s session, these supersede previous webinar log in’s for this week only. (Future invites are forthcoming.)

These sessions will be interactive, led by Jen McKay from GateHouse. And we are using Zoom, so you will need to have your digital camera’s in operation. If you do not have a separate digital camera, please have your laptops open in front of  you. Using this will help our engagement and provide y’all with much better opportunities to take to the field.

First session…Wednesday, 9/12, @ 9:00 AM. 

UPDATE-GateHouse Sales Training Center

Well no, this is not “new”, but you may not have accessed these pages yet. This is the GateHouse Sales Training Center where you can find links all training materials, web pages and training decks for just about anything we need to know. Need to know more about OnTarget, this is the place. Need to know more about working with Google Apps, you’ll find it here. Need to know where past monthly update decks can be found, this is the right place. Bookmark the Training Center, this is the FIRST place to access when you have a question about a product or tool we have.

NEW-Google Digital Sales Certification

Congratulations to everyone for passing and/or renewing your Google Digital Sales Certification. Now it’s time to upload your certificate in the GH LMS. Instructions for how to do this are here.

Please make sure you upload your certificate soon…our own CNC deadline for completing this simple task is 5:00 PM Tuesday, 9/11/18!


UPDATE-September 2018 Digital Webinars from GateHouse and ThriveHive

  • Look for the September Digital Rollout registration on the TH Training site and the GateHouse Sales Training Center (mentioned above.)


What’s Hot-2018

Here’s larger pdf view of this chart that can be repurposed for customer presentation.

These results are just in from SMB’s participating in Borrell Research’s and 2018 SMB survey, when asked “How will your (marketing) plans change? ”

  • 46% said they will increase email marketing, 50% said they would stay the same
  • 58% said they would increase use of social media, 38% said they would stay the same
  • 52% said they would increase use of video, 40% said they would stay the same
  • 46% said they would increase the use of SEM, 47% said they would stay the same

This contrasts to…

  • 39% said they would stop or decrease use of YP, 58% said they would stay the same
  • 34% said they would stop or decrease use of newspapers, 56% said they would stay the same
  • 32% said they would stop or decrease use of magazines, 60% said they would stay the same

So if you are in the local marketing services business, and you are trying to grow your share, this chart spells out everything you need to know to position yourself to do just that.

Mom’s Library

(what’s your mom been reading lately?)

  • iPad-like tablet, envisioned and developed by a newspaper company…in 1994! Yes, that is really the truth. And the newspaper company didn’t pursue it. Now there are a number of legit reasons why they made that business decision, but there’s alot of irony there. Check out the video on YouTube.
  • Local businesses get a lift when they ad online reviews to their websites. Google has endorsed the practice. This is something that all of us should be recommending to local businesses to help them improve their search ranking, and be found more often. Google loves it! But there are some specific ways to do this, and we should be on top of that as well. See more about this on SearchEngineLand.