Posted on March 29, 2019 by Matt George Moore The digital revolution has upended businesses far and wide — maybe even yours if you’ve traditionally relied on print advertising to spread the word about your product or service. Newspapers, naturally, have borne the brunt of a historic shift away from print media. About 93 percent of adults now get their news online, resulting in staggering losses in print advertising revenue. As publishers seek to capture and keep those online visitors, they’ve nearly doubled the number of employees in the “digital-native sector.” What does that mean for the business owner who once counted on a solid ROI for their print advertising dollar? It means it’s time to embrace digital marketing and other super-efficient ways of marketing products and services. It also means harnessing the same market and technological forces that hammered print into submission and using them to our advantage. And it means we’re all in the communications business now. Newspaper Advertising and Evolving Media Habits As researcher Michael Barthel reports, the “overall decline in (newspaper) circulation coincided with a double-digit decline in advertising revenue for the industry as a whole.” In fact, a Pew analysis shows that total ad revenue for the newspaper industry in 2016 was about a third of what it was in 2006. Barthel writes that publishers have begun “pursuing a ‘subscription-first model’ by focusing on growing the number of subscribers rather than retaining advertising revenue.” This makes sense. Consider your own media habits. Do you still peruse the print edition of a newspaper for advertising about a business’ products or services? Chances are you went straight to Google. instead. You’re not alone. By some conservative estimates, Google processes 63,000 searches per second. Local Business A new generation of marketing and advertising experts can corral those searchers and deliver them straight to your website. Yet many business owners feel disconnected from the world of SEO, CRO, and PPC. I recently spoke with a local business owner. He told me that he used to understand advertising ROI much better when print was dominant. In the “old days” — which aren’t all that old — he could run an ad in the Sunday paper and witness an uptick in customers the following week. For many business owners, the cause-and-effect isn’t as clear-cut as it used to be. Digital marketing is targeted and precise, but it’s also much more fluid. The nature of search itself is always evolving. As digital marketers, we must do a better job of explaining to our clients exactly what we’re doing and why. Furthermore, if today’s business owners want to be tomorrow’s business owners, they’ll need to understand their new role as partners in the communications business. Local Business and Digital Marketing Business owners seeking to stand out in the increasingly crowded world of digital advertising face an uphill battle. Americans are exposed to thousands of ads every day. How can a business get a slice of the “attention pie”? We’re all in the communications business now. By maintaining an open line of dialogue with our clients, digital marketers can help them understand and embrace not only what we do but how we do it. Rather than the “old days” and the one-size-fits-all print advertising approach, modern marketing is much more precise. We track, chart, analyze, and fine-tune data in order to target audiences. Then we create web pages and relevant content that help businesses capture some of those 63,000 searches per second. The whole process can seem intimidating for local business owners who have historically relied on print media. Part of our job as communicators is convincing business owners that digital marketing and eCommerce tools are opportunities to expand their reach and solidify their branding. There’s still a healthy and robust debate about the efficacy of “traditional” advertising, especially concerning print media. But distinguishing your business from others means dipping more than just a toe into the digital marketing world. You’ve got to dive in head first and start swimming.