Mike Blinder Hosts Advertiser Workshops Generating over $500,000 of new Online Revenue!
In hundreds of cities around the world, the Blinder Group has been bringing its unique approach to interactive marketing to the people who stand to benefit most: advertisers big and small, who want to take advantage of the potential that media-based websites have to offer.
Many of the Blinder Group's media clients are now hosting advertiser workshops to highlight the advantages of a multifaceted marketing campaign. Local businesses participating in these workshops come away armed with a vast arsenal of new ideas about the kinds of steps they can implement on their own to attract new customers online. They learn how they can improve their websites, enhance their SEO ranking, and hone their marketing approach—all crucial steps to building a thriving business even when the times are tough.
Very soon the participants realize that "The internet isn't as complicated as we're led to believe," and that by partnering with local media websites, they can actually grow their businesses. In fact, many of these local businesses leave the workshop with new advertising campaigns already underway. What's remarkable is that before they attended these workshops, many local businesspeople felt left on the sidelines as Internet technology passed them by … at double-time. In just a few hours they are transformed into active, informed players, taking advantage of all the internet has to offer.
Over 400 local businesses, ranging from "mom and pop"-style operations to large, established companies, recently attended these workshops to learn the secrets of a successful web-based advertising campaign, combining strategic banner ads and online business directories. In the U.S., the most recent workshops have taken place in:
- Savannah, Georgia
- Kingsport, Tennessee
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Ogden, Utah
- Columbus, Ohio
- Andover, Massachusetts
- Danvers, Massachusetts
This is echoed by Keith Wilson, publisher of the Kingsport Tennessee Times News. "Mike has unique way of bringing lofty high tech concepts down to earth, especially for business owners who think the internet is too complicated for them," he says. "They walk in feeling like a parade has passed them by, but by the end of the workshop, not only do they have a firm grasp of how the internet can work for them. They are ready and eager to implement innovative new ideas that will help them grow their businesses.
Many of the participants are small- to medium-sized local businesses, which are all too frequently ignored by traditional advertising sales reps. Mike Blinder is on a mission to rectify this. He often cites a 2008 report by Borrell Associates entitled "Say Goodbye to Yellow Pages," which says: "The main battle for the small business ad spending is between the pure-plays, on the one hand, and the two groups with the largest local sales forces: newspapers and directory publishers." But directory publishers are fading fast. Within the next five years, traditional directories like the Yellow Pages are expected to lose 42.3 percent of their traditional business. "Main Street Goes Interactive," another, more recent study by Borrell Associates states that, "As larger businesses appear tapped out, headed for bankruptcy, or just extremely reluctant to continue longstanding advertising practices, local media companies are scrambling to find new customers along Main Street. These small- and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, in aggregate may seem like a bonanza."
The report is referring to all the local businesses that everybody seems to take for granted: restaurants, auto repair shops, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and even pizza delivery services. According to Borrell Associates, these businesses "have high hopes that the Web will save them," a fact borne out by official statistics. The most recent data states that 11.2 percent of the advertising budget of these small- and medium-sized businesses is spent on online initiatives. They are an untapped "bonanza" for media companies, who can provide them with the exposure they crave.
But Mike Blinder thinks that the actual numbers even higher now. "Sales Opportunity Network, a division of the Blinder Group, meets with 5,000 small- and medium-sized businesses every year in markets large and small, making sales calls with local media ad reps to assess the businesses' needs, goals, and desires, and to assist them in finding advertising solutions. Based on what we are hearing each and every day, I can tell you that the number today is probably closer to 25 percent!"
The events themselves were organized by local media clients of the Blinder Group, sometimes in association with local civic groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce. Invitations were sent out to local businesses, inviting them to "learn how to grow their business online in just two hours!" At each session, Mike Blinder presented an information-packed program, described as "powerful" and "dynamic" by the participants. He took complex concepts, usually hidden behind the gobbledygook of techies, and translated them into simple language that anyone could understand. A typical workshop included such topics as:
- A basic overview on the workings of the Internet.
- Online marketing applications your advertiser can deploy.
- The truth about E- commerce.
- How you can be found on the Web.
- World Wide Web marketing trends.
- How to work with local media to make the Web work for you!
The secret of the workshops' success was that Blinder was able to break web advertising down to its most basic components. At his most recent workshops, he focused on what he calls "bundled banner/local search solution." This provides advertisers with the banners ads they are all familiar with (redesigned with compelling features to highlight their unique business advantages) and online business directories, with specialized SEO advantages to get them top search engine results on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. After all, as Blinder constantly reminds his audiences, "local search, without search engine optimization, is an oxymoron."
Another one of Blinder's innovations is his insistence that advertisers address both "active" and "passive" target audiences. "Banners are not 'dead,"' says Mike Blinder. "They are the perfect way to reach out to readers who don't even know that they need your services yet." He calls this a passive target audience. "They simply have to be designed to provide strong, 'offer-oriented' messages that change often. They should contain local contact information like addresses and phone numbers placed within the actual design, so that readers can respond traditionally, instead of having to click to purchase."
For active seekers of everything from an upholsterer to an orthodontist, there are localized business directories. "These have the potential for outstanding SEO results," said Blinder, "so that even people not searching the directory are likely to find the advertisers' services by a simple search in Google or Yahoo."
The results of these workshops speak for themselves. Some 80 percent of the participants said that the reason they attended was mainly informational—they wanted to know how to grow their businesses in the fastest, most efficient way possible. But what matters most for the Blinder Group is turning theory into practice. Toward the end of each session, Blinder introduces the local media situation, while advertising reps scattered among the audience are there to help the local businesses craft individualized media solutions for their particular advertising needs.
These solutions are usually "priced to move," and because their availability is limited, the attendees feel a sense of urgency and are quick to get on board the new program. But Blinder is cautious that the pitch does not seem too sales-oriented. "Toward the end of the event I disclose that I am a consultant for the local media and that I've helped them craft unique media solutions for their specific market. On the other hand, I'm particularly careful that they don’t feel like they've just attended a timeshare meeting or some Amway coffee klatch. The solutions that I offer are the solutions that they need, and their response reflects this. My most recent workshops have raised around $50,000 of new business for local media each."
The success of this approach is obvious in the responses that appear in the questionnaires handed out at the end of the workshop. According to Cliff Richner, CEO and publisher of Richer Community Newspapers, "100 percent of the attendees at a recent Long Island workshop noted that they were "Very Satisfied" with what they learned from Mike. The best news though was that 90 percent of them asked for an appointment to learn more about the online product offerings that Mike featured."
Virtually all of the attendees asked for more information about how they could grow their businesses and increase their revenues online. With this, the workshops exceeded expectations, even of the people who planned them. Media sales reps attending the workshops had an opportunity to address their target advertisers directly, and engage them in meaningful conversations about the ideal solution for their advertising needs.
Bob LeBeauf of the Columbia Dispatch described how the program helped to expand his newspapers' online advertising to entire new categories that were previously untapped. At two packed events hosted at the city's prestigious Franklin Park Conservatory, the newspaper was able to gain over $100,000 of new advertising, and that number has continued growing since then, with new categories and new advertisers eager to take advantage of the media advertising "bundle."
But perhaps most importantly, the attendees left with important new knowledge and great ideas how to turn that knowledge into revenue. And it reminded them of the important role that local media still plays as the dominant platform with which they can really grow their business. It was a boon to the media and a boon to the advertisers. Everybody grew their business in just two hours!
Kingsport (TN) Times-News
Publisher/ CEO, Richner Communcations.
Richner Communications - Garden City (NY) Herald
Online Sales Manager
Columbus (OH) Dispatch
5300 Crosswind Drive
Columbus, OH 43228
For The Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President
Blinder Group Inc.
The Blinder Group
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