From My Point Of View… Seth Godin Got It Wrong

What Seth Godin calls ‘advertising’… I call ‘national advertising’ and what he calls ‘clutter’… I call ‘the widespread ability for a small business to effectively and affordably brand their business for the first time in history.’

A couple of examples might help to understand:

  • 200 TV channels – Seth Godin calls this clutter. But really it also represents an opportunity for SMBs to engage in television advertising.
  • Magazines – The cost of publishing a magazine has dropped so much in the last 10 years that we are starting to see a number of local publications. There are now magazines that a local advertiser can affordably advertise in that are as local as a single county. The cost of ink alone would have made this prohibitively expensive a short time ago. Now, they can choose niche publication or lifestyle… choices like these were strictly in the dominion of the national advertiser a very short time ago. I don’t think of this as clutter… I think of this as progress… and opportunity.
  • Radio and Newspaper – The option to advertise in these mediums has been available to local advertisers for a long time… what has changed of course is the ability to purchase this type of advertising from Google and Yahoo, which will either contribute to the ‘clutter’ or enhance the ability of the local business to brand their business; depending on your point of view.

When Mr. Godin refers to advertising being less effective than it was in the past, again, he is referring to national advertising… and claiming that it is less effective than in the past because of the clutter. It could just be that consumers have a natural preference to local information; and since it has become more abundantly available, they are consuming more of it and less of the national stuff. To a traditional advertiser this would indeed appear as a decline in the effectiveness of advertising.

This is not semantic… far from it. The way national advertisers have eliminated local retail businesses like bakers, butchers and hardware stores. Savvy local advertisers who grasp the concept of branding and effectively leverage this new technology will be in a position to do the same thing in local service industries. This is a life and death situation for these local businesses and just like the bakers and hardware stores, who didn’t see it coming, most local service businesses won’t see this coming. The big difference is that the business that gulps down all the market share won’t come from outside, like a Home Depot, but will rather rise up from among them as they adapt the marketing techniques formerly restricted to large corporations.

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