SMB Digital Marketing: The ‘Amazonification’ of Local

Today at SMB Digital Marketing, Jeff Fagel, the new CMO of G/O Digital, Gannett’s renamed local digital arm, offered a very Amazon-centric view of the local online ecosystem.

Gannett has 82 daily newspapers and is the fourth-largest owner of TV stations, and it has a big direct sales force. Two weeks ago, Gannett launched G/O Digital, which will focus on digital solutions for SMBs. It will replace Gannett Local and offer one-stop digital marketing solutions — website creation, Facebook production, distribution and other services to be named.

He summed up his view of the current local marketplace in three bullet points.

1. Prove it, or Churn It. “It is all about the reporting. For SMBs, the dashboard will be hotter than reaction to Mylie Cyrus at Video Music Awards.” But this is about more than just collecting data. What does it mean? You cannot just provide SMBs with stats, you have to help the business make sense of them.

2. Amazon will Force Malls to Shutter. He shared a prediction from the Wall Street Journal that 10% of shopping malls will close in next 10 years, and Amazon will be the culprit.

3. Amazon Will Acquire UPS. This will enable the e-commerce giant to dominate local logistics and reduce its costs. The play is to get closer to consumers at the local level.

So, Amazon is looming over all things local. Got it. Fagel then offered “3 Ways to Win” in an Amazon-centric local ecosystem.

1. Study Amazon and Transform Your Business. The future of local, according to Fagel, is Amazon Fresh (now being tested in Seattle and LA). Amazon is targeting 20 markets, offering same day deliver of groceries and beyond. It is about dominating same day delivery. Whatever, whenever, wherever. Anything you want within 24 hours. This product has Walmart running scared. They are now doing same day, same with eBay, and Google. Amazon is on the mind of any retailer out there.

Fagel quoted one of the partners at Andreesen-Horowitz, who said, “We won’t invest in anyone unless they can tell us why they won’t get steamrolled by Amazon.” So you might as well ask yourself that question first, and if you don’t like the answer, change your business.

2. Right Place, Right Time, Right Audience Wins.

Fagel used his company to illustrate this point. Gannett has relationships with national retailers to manage and digitize their circular data. G/O Digital is working with national retailers to efficiently push local offers in a scalable way. Fagel showed examples of work Gannett has done for Walgreen’s and Home Depot where a single video ad is customized with offers at the local level.

3. Shift from What You Sell to How You Sell It.

To make his point, Fagel cited a few non-media examples of how companies are finding new ways to reach customers. Jamba Juice, for example, has fought its way out of sluggish sales in its stores by installing “Go Machines” in schools.

Kogi is a food truck business that has built a wildly successful enterprise using a truck and a twitter account. Like the good humor man’s bell, but with Twitter instead.

Audi has put the idea out there that the future car buying experience may be entirely virtual. No sales people or even cars at the dealership, just video screens and technology that enables the buyer to create a customized experience.

In the local media world that difference will be gaining trusted partner status with the small-business. And relationships are a key piece of the puzzle.

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